1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hansard, Luke

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HANSARD, LUKE (1752–1828), English printer, was born on the 5th of July 1752 in St Mary’s parish, Norwich. He was educated at Boston grammar school, and was apprenticed to Stephen White, a Norwich printer. As soon as his apprenticeship had expired Hansard started for London with only a guinea in his pocket, and became a compositor in the office of John Hughs (1703–1771), printer to the House of Commons. In 1774 he was made a partner, and undertook almost the entire conduct of the business, which in 1800 came completely into his hands. On the admission of his sons the firm became Luke Hansard & Sons. Among those whose friendship Hansard won in the exercise of his profession were Robert Orme, Burke and Dr Johnson; while Porson praised him as the most accurate printer of Greek. He printed the Journals of the House of Commons from 1774 till his death. The promptitude and accuracy with which Hansard printed parliamentary papers were often of the greatest service to government—notably on one occasion when the proof-sheets of the report of the Secret Committee on the French Revolution were submitted to Pitt twenty-four hours after the draft had left his hands. On the union with Ireland in 1801, the increase of parliamentary printing compelled Hansard to give up all private printing except when parliament was not sitting. He devised numerous expedients for reducing the expense of publishing the reports; and in 1805, when his workmen struck at a time of great pressure, he and his sons themselves set to work as compositors. Luke Hansard died on the 29th of October 1828.

His son, Thomas Curson Hansard (1776–1833), established a press of his own in Paternoster Row, and began in 1803 to print the Parliamentary Debates, which were not at first independent reports, but were taken from the newspapers. After 1889 the debates were published by the Hansard Publishing Union Limited. T. C. Hansard was the author of Typographia, an Historical Sketch of the Origin and Progress of the Art of Printing (1825). The original business remained in the hands of his younger brothers, James and Luke Graves Hansard (1777–1851). The firm was prosecuted in 1837 by John Joseph Stockwell for printing by order of the House of Commons, in an official report of the inspector of prisons, statements regarded by the plaintiff as libellous. Hansard sheltered himself on the ground of privilege, but it was not until after much litigation that the security of the printers of government reports was guaranteed by statute in 1840.