Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Bullokar, William

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BULLOKAR, WILLIAM (fl. 1586), phonetist, lived chiefly in London from about 1520 to 1590. About 1550 he was engaged in teaching, and perceived how the sounds and names of the letters of the alphabet caused 'quarels in the teacher and lothsomeness in the learner' (his Booke at Large, 'To his Countrie,' not paged), 'In Queen Mary's time' he served in the army, under Sir Richard Wingfield (Warton, English Poetry, iii. 283), going into foreign service with him twice (Bref Grammar, To the Reader). He served afterwards under Sir Ad. Toinings at Newhaven, and with Captain Turnor in garrison (ib.); then he studied agriculture and the law (ib.); but by 1573 be had resumed teaching, and finding all the old 'quarels and lothsomeness' arising from the sounds and names of letters, he determined 'to restrain his owne businesse for halfe a yeare,' laying his 'privat doings aside' which his 'abilitie was il able to bear,' in order 'to provide some remedie' (Booke at Large, supra). Becoming convinced (ib. p. 1 ) that 'fower and twentie letters are not sufficient to picture Inglish speech,' which 'wants 40 letters altogether' (ib. p. 21), and having thought out his 'Amendment of Orthographie,' wherein button, for example, was to be spelt butn, Bullokar published a pamphlet, about 1575, to show his method. This he put 'into the hands of men of understanding,' and was checked in his scheme of publication by one of them telling him of the spelling reforms issued by Sir Thomas Smith and 'Maister Chester' (ib.) He found his projected system misrepresented also by people who did 'blowe abroad . . . untruly and maliciously . . .' that he wanted 'to change English speech' altogether (ib. Title); but on reading Smith's and Chester's works he saw that those authors had 'brought in letters of new figure and fashion . . . strange to the eye,' going much beyond his own desires, he therefore completed his manuscript, which was 'signed and allowed to be imprinted' in 1579. While it was going through the press he 'set up in this citie of London, in the most publike places thereof, a briefe shew' of his 'intent' (ib.) This was in August of 1580, and at the close of the same year the volume was issued. Its title begins 'Booke at Large for the Amendment of Orthographic for English speech,' and Bullokar announced in it that he had a thought of 'making a dictionary.' During the next three or four years he was busy in setting forth books in 'tru orthography,' all of which were on sale (his Æsop's Fables, Title-page), in spite of difficulty in their production 'because of the lack of letters' of his special sort; and in the June of 1583 he 'imprinted twenty brief articles ... in London and other places of good skill and credit . . . offering ther-by issue for the trial of his travel' (ib.) He printed a correction of his pamphlet of August 1580, which he called his 'Pamphlet for Spelling,' and desired that it should he burnt (ib.) In 1585 appeared his 'Æsop's Fables,' translated by him from the Latin. He mislaid his Latin copy after his work was over, and was consequently unable to specify which edition he had adopted, though he thought, as near as he could 'ges of,' it was 'the one printed by Tomas Marsh at London in 1580' (ib. p. 320). Accompanying the 'Fables' wore some 'Short Sentences of the Wys Cato,' still in 'tru orthography,' also translated by Bullokar from the Latin, and turned by him into English verse, he undertook the task, he says in his versified 'Preface,' that his 'chyld' might 'win the goal of happy peace . . . with ease;' and he says that in the same year he had published the 'Psalter' in his 'tru' method, he was translating Tully's 'Offices,' intending to issue his edition shortly, and he was engaged in his 'Grammar,' which, he added, 'staieth from the print against my wil' (Fables, To the Header, not paged). This last perhaps never went on to publication, for there is no evidence of the book, if by it Bullokar meant his 'Grammar at Large.' In the following year, 1586, his 'Bref Grammar' was published, 12mo (Ames, Typogr. Antiq. ii. 1215-16), 'the first Grammar that ever waz, except, my "Grammar at Large"' (Warton, English Poetry, iii. 283), this bref book or pamphlet being 'extracted out of hiz Grammar at larg for the spedi parcing of English speech' (Title). It may have been extracted, however, previous to the completion of the greater work, and as a preparation for it, according to the plan Bullokar had pursued over his 'Orthographie, or Book at Large;' and it is quite possible that death overtook him before he had made it really ready to go to press. This view seems likely from the fact that, though in the rhyming 'Preface' to the Abbreviation Bullokar again promises a dictionary, and says he has 'another book lying by him of more fame, which is not to see the light till christened and called forth by the queen,' there is no evidence of the issue or these other two works either.

There is no copy of Bullokar's 'Bref Grammar' at the British Museum or Lambeth. The copy cited from in Warton's 'Poetry' (supra), with corrections on it by Bullokar's own hand, is in the Bodleian, and was one of Tanner's books. In 1621 Bullokar is referred to, under the Latin form of Bulokerus, by Alexander Gill, head-master of St. Paul's School, in his 'Logonomia Anglica,' preface (not paged).

[Bullokar's Booke at Large, To his Countrie, and pp. 1, 21, 22; his Bref Grammar, To the Reader, not paged; his Æsopz Fablez, To the Reader, and p. 320; Notes and Queries (1860), x. 278; Watt's Bibl. Brit.; Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), ii. 951, 1215. 1216; Warton's History of English Poetry (ed. 1840), ii. 366 note, iii. 283, text and notes.]

J. H.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.41
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

Page Col. Line  
257 ii 23-22 f.e. Bullokar, William: for Sir Ad. Toinings at Newhaveri read Sir Adrian Poinings at Havre