Day, John (1522-1584) (DNB00)

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DAY, DAYE, or DAIE, JOHN (1522–1584), printer, was born in St. Peter's parish, Dunwich, Suffolk, in 1522 (A. Suckling, History of Suffolk, ii. 274). His master may have been Thomas Gibson, whose device, a sleeper awakened by one who points to the rising sun, he used with the punning motto, ‘Arise, for it is Day.’ The first book to which his name is affixed was ‘The Tragicall Death of David Beaton, Bishop of St. Andrewes,’ in 1546, with William Seres. Down to 1550 most of his books were produced with the same partner. His first house was ‘in Sepulchres parishe, at the signe of the Resurrection, a little above Holburne Conduit.’ About 1549 he removed to Aldersgate, ‘and builded much upon the wall of the city, towards the parishe gate of St. Anne’ (Stow, Survey of London, 1754, i. 18). In September 1552 he had a license for Poynet's ‘Catechism,’ which Edward VI ordered to be published in Latin and English, but Raynold Wolf, as privileged printer of Latin books, put in a claim. It was finally agreed that ‘they bothe may joyne in pryntyng of the said catechisme’ (S. Haynes, Burghley State Papers, 1740, p. 128). It was printed by Day in English and by Wolf in Latin in 1553. Day was a zealous reformer, and suffered imprisonment with John Rogers, afterwards going abroad for a time (Foxe, Acts and Monuments, 1684, iii. 107). He returned, and is mentioned as a freeman in the original charter granted to the Stationers' Company in 1556. He printed but three or four things during Mary's reign, one a folio Sarum missal in 1557. Between July 1557 and 1558 he had license for several small pieces, the first entry in the ‘Registers’ being for an ‘Almanack and Pronostication of Kennyngham’ (Arber, Transcript, i. 75). After this period of inactivity, his publications show a marked increase of typographical excellency. ‘The Cosmographical Glasse,’ by William Cuningham, 1559, folio, printed in an italic type, with many woodcuts, is a specimen of this improvement. The book contains a device at the end, frequently used by Day, consisting of a skeleton stretched on a tomb. He was fined by the Stationers' Company for printing without license 2 Oct. 1559, and was only admitted to the livery 6 July 1561 (ib. i. 124, 161). He was one of the earliest English music-printers. In 1560 he produced his service-book, ‘Certaine notes set forth in foure and three parts to be song,’ the first church music book in English, reprinted in 1565. His notation differs from that of Grafton. In 1582 he caused a new fount of notes to be made, with letters joined to them. In 1563 he produced the first English edition of Foxe's ‘Martyrs,’ under the title of ‘Actes and Monuments of these latter and perillous Dayes,’ a work of considerable size and expense, illustrated with many excellent woodcuts. Four editions, each with additions, were issued by Day down to 1583. ‘The Worckes of Thomas Becon,’ 3 vols. folio, was another important undertaking. He became a busy member of the Stationers' Company, being warden in 1564, 1566, 1571, and 1575, and master in 1580.

In 1560 he brought out Archbishop Parker's translation of the Psalms, the first by one person of the entire psalter in English metre. He printed in 1563 ‘the whole Psalmes, in four partes, which may be sung to all musical instrumentes,’ to which Tallis was a contributor. This is the earliest collection of psalm-tunes published in England. In 1569 he was the printer, as well as compiler, of ‘Christian Prayers and Meditations in English, French, Italian, Spanish, Greeke, and Latine,’ 4to. The text of this handsome volume is in black letter and is surrounded with a woodcut border by a German artist representing the Dance of Death and scriptural subjects, in imitation of the French books of hours. It is known as the first edition of ‘Queen Elizabeth's Prayer-Book.’ A copy at Lambeth Palace is the only one recorded. It differs both in letterpress and illustrations from the editions of 1578 [see Day, Richard], 1581, 1590, 1608, &c. (W. K. Clay, Private Prayers during the Reign of Q. Elizabeth, Parker Soc. 1851, pp. xvi–xxiii).

Day found a powerful patron in Archbishop Parker, who edited the edition of Ælfric's ‘Homily’ in Anglo-Saxon type, cut by Day, then used for the first time in England, and published by him in 1567 as ‘A testimonie of antiquitie.’ The type was used in Lambard's ‘Archaionomia,’ 1568, ‘The Gospels of the fower Evangelistes,’ 1571, and Asser's life of Alfred published with the ‘Ypodigma Neustriæ,’ 1574. Astle is of opinion that ‘Daye's Saxon types far excel in neatness and beauty any which have since been made, not excepting the neat types cast for F. Junius at Dort, which were given by him to the university of Oxford’ (Origin of Writing, 1803, p. 224). ‘The Saxon fount, as will be seen by the facsimile,’ says Reed, ‘is an English in body, very clear and bold. … The accuracy and regularity with which this fount was cut and cast is highly creditable to Day's excellence as a founder. He subsequently cut a smaller size of Saxon on pica body’ (Old English Letters Foundries, p. 96). He issued the first English translation of Euclid in 1570. About this time he presented a number of books to Eton College library (Harwood, Alumni Eton. 1797, p. 184).

In 1572, finding his place of business in Aldersgate too cramped for a stock valued at between 2,000l. and 3,000l., he procured ‘a lease of a little shop to be set up in St. Paul's Churchyard. Whereupon he got framed a neat, handsome shop. It was but little and low, and flat-roofed, and leaded like a terrace, railed and posted, fit for men to stand upon in any triumph or show’ (Life of Parker, ii. 525–6). This was opposed by the mayor and aldermen, but the archbishop interceded with Burghley, and Day was permitted to continue in ‘his long shop at the north-west dore of Paules,’ mentioned on the imprint of four books in 1578, and none other. Day is supposed to have been the workman who printed at Lambeth ‘De Antiquitate Britannicæ Ecclesiæ,’ 1572, with a preface by Parker, whose name is usually given as that of the author. This was the first book in England privately printed, and only fifty copies are supposed to have been struck off. About one half (all of which differ somewhat) can now be traced. The text, says Dibdin, is ‘a full-sized, close, but flowing italic letter’ (Typogr. Antiq. iv. 126). Before Day's time Roman and italic type were not usually mixed, and were not cut to range. He, however, cut them uniformly. Writing to Burghley, 13 Dec. 1572, Parker mentioned that he had engaged Dr. Clerke to answer Nich. Sanders, ‘to the better accomplishment of this worke and other that shall followe, I have spoken to Daie the printer to caste a new Italian letter, which he is doinge, and it will cost him xl. marks; and loth he is and other printers be to printe any lattin booke, because they will not heare be uttered, and for that books printed in England be in suspition abroade’ (ap. ARBER, i. 454). The ‘Fidelis Servi Responsio’ of Clerke was printed by Day in 1573, in a handsome Roman type. In ‘Io. Iuelli vita authore L. Humfredo,’ issued by him in the same year, there are some Hebrew verses in characters from wooden types. Parker informed Burghley, 13 Nov. 1573, that the lives of Day and his wife had been threatened by one Asplin, ‘a printer to Cartwrighte's booke.’ Day and Toy, the binder, had been zealous in searching out the obnoxious books proclaimed 11 June previous.

In the famous representation made about August 1577 to Elizabeth, on the part of the stationers and printers, complaining of ‘priuilidges granted to privatt persons,’ Day is stated to have ‘the printinge of A B C; and catechismes, with the sole selling of them by the collour of a commission. These bookes weare the onelie relief of the porest sort of that companie’ (ib. i. 111). He held the license for the Psalms in metre and A B C from the Earl of Leicester. The privileges were found so irksome that certain printers combined to produce and circulate some popular books, and Roger Ward proceeded to print ten thousand copies of the A B C with Day's mark. From this arose the Star-chamber case of Day v. Ward, 7 Feb. to 10 July 1582 (ib. ii. 19, 753–69). In his report, December 1582, on the printing patents of 1558–82, Christopher Barker [q. v.] complains of the abridgment of his own patent by those of Day and Seres, and states that the former has license for the ‘Psalmes in meeter … which, being a parcel of the church service, properly belongeth to me. … The small catechisme … belongeth to me also, which Master Jugge solde to Master Daye’ (ib. i. 115–16). Among all those who yielded up copyrights, 8 Jan. 1584, for the use of the poor of the Stationers' Company, Day was by far the most liberal, giving no fewer than thirty-six (ib. ii. 787).

Day fully deserves the praise of Dibdin, that ‘there are very few of our earlier printers to whom both literature and typography are more deeply indebted’ (Typogr. Antiq. iv. 41). Archbishop Parker ‘had a particular kindness’ for him, he being ‘more ingenious and industrious in his art, and probably richer too than the rest’ (Life, ii. 525). He is the first English letter-founder of whom we possess authentic records, and his new Anglo-Saxon, italic, Roman, and Greek types are remarkably fine. His music has already been noticed. He introduced a variety of mathematical and other signs, and was liberal in the use of handsome woodcut initials, vignettes, and other illustrations. He was a steady supporter of the reformed religion, and promoted the ‘Acts and Monuments’ of John Foxe, who for some time lodged in his house. Day had a prosperous and active career of nearly forty years, during which period he produced about 230 works, many of importance.

There is a fine head of Day at the age of forty, by a foreign artist, to be found in several of his books, and a smaller one, both reproduced by Dibdin. Day's portrait is the earliest genuine representation of an English printer. He married two wives, and had thirteen children by each of them. The name of the first wife is not known. That of the second, a gentlewoman of good birth, who survived him, was Lehunte. He died at Walden in Essex, 23 July 1584, aged 62, and was buried 2 Aug. at Bradley Parva in Suffolk, where there is a monumental brass with inscription (see plate in Gent. Mag. November 1832).

The names of only four of his twenty-six children are known: Bartholomew, buried 6 May 1581 at Bradley Parva; Richard (1552–1607?) [q. v.]; John (1566–1627–8) [q. v.]; and Lionel (1570–1640).

[Ames's Typogr. Antiq. (Herbert), i. 614–80; the same (Dibdin), iv. 41–177; biography and genealogy by J. G. Nichols in Gent. Mag. November 1832, pp. 417–21; Timperley's Encyclopædia, 1842; E. Rowe Mores's Diss. upon English Typogr. Founders, 1778; T. B. Reed's Old English Letter Foundries, 1887; Bigmore and Wyman's Bibliography of Printing, i. 155–6; Martin's Cat. of Privately Printed Books, 2nd ed. 1854, pp. 1–14; Notes and Queries, 2nd ser. xi. 213, 260; Strype's Annals, I. i. 203, 267; Granger's Biogr. Hist. of England, 1824, i. 332; Nichols's Illustr. iv. 231–2, 640; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. iii. 550, 570, 572, 589, viii. 673; Cat. of English Books in British Museum printed to 1640, 1884, 3 vols.; Edinb. Review, January 1852; Cotton's Editions of the Bible in English, 2nd ed. 1852.]

H. R. T.