Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Siberch, John

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SIBERCH, JOHN (fl. 1521–1522), the first printer at Cambridge, has sometimes been identified with Johann Syber or Sibert, who printed at Lyons between 1482 and 1498; but it is more probable that he came to England from Cologne. He set up the first printing-press at Cambridge in 1521, in which year and in 1522 he printed there nine or more books. The house in which he lived was between the Gate of Humility and the Gate of Virtue, within the precincts of Gonville and Caius College, and it bore the sign of the ‘Arma Regia.’ Siberch styled himself ‘primus utriusque linguæ in Anglia impressor,’ and it was on the title-page of his ‘Augustinus’ that Greek type was first used in England. He was probably the bookseller named as an old friend by Erasmus in a letter written from Basle on Christmas day 1525 to Robert Aldrich of Cambridge, afterwards bishop of Carlisle: ‘Saluta mihi ueteres sodales … Gerardum, Nicolaum, et Ioannem Siburgum bibliopolas.’ The art of printing was not again exercised at Cambridge until Thomas Thomas was appointed university printer in 1583.

The books known to have been printed by Siberch are, in order of date, as follows: 1. The ‘Oratio’ addressed to Cardinal Wolsey at Cambridge by Dr. Henry Bullock, 1521. Four copies of this, the first book printed at Cambridge, are known, viz. at the British Museum, Bodleian Library, Lambeth Palace, and Archbishop Marsh's Library, Dublin. 2. St. Augustine's ‘Sermo de miseria ac brevitate hujus mortalis vitæ,’ 1521, of which the only extant copy is in the Bodleian Library. 3. Lucian's ‘Opusculum περὶ διψὰδων,’ 1521, edited by Dr. Bullock, with the addition of his above-mentioned oration to Wolsey. Two copies are in the British Museum, and a third is at St. John's College, Cambridge. 4. Archbishop Baldwin's ‘Sermo de altaris sacramento,’ 1521 (Bodleian, Cambridge Univ. Libr. &c.). 5. Erasmus' ‘De conscribendis epistolis,’ 1521 (Brit. Mus., St. John's Coll., Cambridge, &c.). 6. Galen's ‘De temperamentis,’ translated by Thomas Linacre, 1521 (Brit. Mus., Bodleian, &c.). 7. Bishop Fisher's ‘Contio,’ delivered on the day of the public burning of the writings of Martin Luther, translated into Latin by Richard Pace, 1521 [1522]. Two copies are in the Bodleian Library, and another is in the Althorp collection. 8. Papirius Geminus’ ‘Hermathena,’ 1522 (Brit. Mus., St. John's Coll., Cambridge, &c.). 9. Two leaves only of an unknown edition of William Lily's ‘De octo orationis partium constructione,’ discovered in the library of Westminster Abbey. Facsimile reproductions have been published of Nos. 1, 2, 6, and 8.

[Bibliographical Introduction by Henry Bradshaw prefixed to the facsimile edition of Bullock's Oratio, 1886; Ames's Typogr. Antiq., ed. Herbert, 1785–90, ii. 1410–13; Bibliographica, 1895–7, ii. 28 (art. ‘English Provincial Presses,’ by W. H. Allnutt).]

R. E. G.