Stationers, printers and booksellers

In his will, Willam Corbett is described as a 'Stationer'. Until the eighteenth century this word usually referred to booksellers (who also commonly sold paper and pens, hence the modern meaning). The roles of publishing, printing and selling books were not as distinct as they are today - publishers and printers would generally sell books directly, as well as booksellers like William Corbett who sold books they had bought from printers.

Below is a list of the booksellers and printers recorded as being at work in Newcastle and the surrounding area in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. (Updated April/May 2016)

‘Wing’ refers to the Short-title catalogue of books printed in England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, and British America, and of English books printed in other countries, 1641-1700, compiled by the bibliographer Donald Wing (1904-1972), accessible via ESTC. Numbers beginning 'DPR' refer to Durham Probate Records, accessible via the North East Inheritance Database.


1561-1571 – John Wilkinson, merchant and shop owner in Middle St, Newcastle, sold catechisms and primers –‘iiij doss’ englyshe promers xij s / viij doss’ catachisimes in englyshe v s iiij d / xij doss’ unbound catachismes iiij s’. His will and inventory are in Durham Probate Records (DPR/I/1/1571/W2/1-7, not available online); there is a transcription of the inventory in Surtees Society 2, pp. 359-365.

1593 – Thomas Bowes, merchant in Newcastle. On his death his stock included thirteen small Latin books as well as pens, inkhorns, paper and glue. His will and inventory are in Durham Probate Records (DPR/1/1593/B5/1-3, not available online), transcribed in Surtees Society 38, pp. 235-237.

1601-1619 – William Bowdler is recorded in the British Book Trade Index as bookbinder in the parish of St. Nicholas, Newcastle, in 1601. Another William Bowdler, maybe the same person or a relative, was a bookseller in Gateshead, with will and inventory in Durham Probate Records dated 1619 (DPR/I/1/1619/B7/1-4, not available online).

1626 – William Corbett, stationer (bookseller). His will and inventory are in Durham Probate Records (DPR/I/1/1626/C7/1-7), with images and full transcriptions here.

1646-1662 – Stephen Bulkley (or Buckley), was a printer in London from 1639, who moved to York in 1642 after printing controversial Royalist pamphlets, then to Newcastle in 1646-52, Gateshead 1652-59, Newcastle 1659-92, returning to York in 1662. He mainly printed religious and political books, as well as a history of Newcastle, Thomas Gray’s Chorographia, in 1649.

1649-1660 – William London, a successful bookseller who also authored several works himself, and financed the publication of books which were printed in London, and in Newcastle by Stephen Bulkley. His shop was at the north end of the Bridge, on its west side. In 1657 he published A Catalogue of the Most Vendible Books in England (Wing L2849) – a list of 3284 titles, with 510 more titles listed in supplements in 1658 (Wing L2850) and 1660 (Wing L2848). It is not certain whether this represents a list of all the books actually stocked in London’s shop, but the level of detail given in the catalogue implies that London did have access to many of the books listed (see Kiséry 2005 and Schotte 2008 for opposing arguments on this).

1653-1658 – James Chantler, bookseller in Newcastle, known from baptism and burial records.

1653-1662 – William Hutchinson, bookseller in Durham. Financed the publication of The Arrow of the Almighty in 1653 (Wing B1095) and Fourteen queries and ten absurdities about the extent of Christ’s death in 1655 (Wing H2273).

1664 – Thomas Rowlinson (Rowlandson), bookseller in Gateshead, known from burial record.

1665-1695 – Hugh Hutchinson, son of William, bookseller in Durham. In 1665 Bishop Cosin of Durham bought books and stationery from him and employed him for bookbinding. Will and (brief) inventory in Durham Probate Records (DPR/I/1/1695/H21/1-3).

1675 – Thomas Clarke, bookseller in Newcastle and Hull. Founder member of the Newcastle Company of Upholsterers, Tin-Plate Workers and Stationers in 1675 (records in Tyne and Wear Archives, Ref GU.UP).

1675 – Michael Durram (or Durham), stationer in Newcastle. Founder member of the Newcastle Company of Upholsterers, Tin-Plate Workers and Stationers in 1675.

1676-1714 – Peter Maplesden (Maplisden) and Richard Randall (Randal, Randel), partnership of booksellers, Sandhill and Bridge Foot. Their names appear together as publishers of a number of books printed in London (Wing G777; M579; M580; M581; K663B). Maplesden died in 1697; his will is in Durham Probate Records (DPR/I/1/1697/M2/1).

1677 – Rev. William Nicholson, curate of St. Nicholas Church, was appointed to the post of librarian. By the 1720s the library had around 300 books.

1683-1699 – Joseph Hall, bookseller and bookbinder on Tyne Bridge. A number of religious tracts and sermons printed for him in London and by John White in York. ‘A catalogue of excellent books English and Latin [...] which will be sold by auction on Tyne Bridge’ was printed for Joseph Hall in 1693 (Wing C1325B – in Bell collection).

1685-1692 – John Story, bookseller. A joco-serious discourse, 1686 (Wing S6026) and a 1692 catalogue of books ‘which will be sold by auction’ (Wing C1325A – in Bell collection) were printed for him.

1688-1703 – William Werden (Warden, Worden), bookseller in Durham. (Wing G1584; P3734; D2646; C373; T1135, according to BBTI)

1692-1720 – William Freeman, bookseller in Durham.

1695-1740 – Abraham Ashworth, bookseller in Durham. Administration bond in Durham Probate Records, DPR/I/3/1740/A1/1-2.




British Library (n.d.) English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC).

Durham University (2006-2009) North East Inheritance database (pre-1858 Durham Probate Records).

Greenwell, W. (ed.) (1860) ‘Wills and Inventories from the Registry at Durham, Part II’, The Publications of the Surtees Society, 38.

Hunt, C. J. (1975) The Book Trade in Northumberland and Durham to 1860. Newcastle upon Tyne: Thorne’s Students' Bookshop.

Kiséry, A. (2005) ‘“They are least usefull of any”: catalogues, booksellers, and the invention of literature in 17th-century England’, Graduate Student Conference, Princeton University Center for the Study of Books and Media, February 2005.

Newcastle City Council (2009) ‘The Thomlinson Library’.

Plomer, H. R. (1907) A Dictionary of the Printers and Booksellers who were at work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1642 to 1667. London: Bibliographical Society.

Plomer, H. R. (1922) A Dictionary of the Printers and Booksellers who were at work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1668 to 1725. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Raine, J. (ed.) (1835) ‘Durham Probate Records Wills and Inventories illustrative of the History, Manners, Language, Statistics, etc. of the Northern Counties of England from the Eleventh Century Downwards, Part I’, The Publications of the Surtees Society, 2.

Schotte, M. (2008) ‘“Books for the Use of the Learned and Studious”: William London’s Catalogue of Most Vendible Books’, Book History, 11: 33-57.

University of Oxford (1983-2015) The British Book Trade Index (BBTI). 

Wallis, P. J. (1981) The Book Trade in Northumberland and Durham to 1860. A Supplement to C. J. Hunt’s Biographical Dictionary. Newcastle upon Tyne: Thorne’s Bookshops.

Stationers, printers and booksellers