11 Blows On His Buttocks

17th Century Printing Press

These fragments come from a contemporaneous description of the methods and customs of a 17th Century Printing House. One shilling was worth about £4, a crown was 5 shillings, and a penny about 35p.

Persons Instrumental about Printing

The Master Printer who is the Soul of Printing; all other workmen about it are as Members of the Body.
The Letter Cutter, the Mould-Maker, the Letter Caster, the Letter Dresser; all called Letter Founders.
The Compositer, the Corrector, the Press-Man, the Ink Maker; all go under the Notion of Printers.

Customs of the Chappel

Every Printing-House is called a Chappel, in which there are these Laws and Customs for the well and good Government of the Chappel, and for the orderly deportment of all its Members while in the Chappel.

Every Workman belonging to it are Members of the Chappel, and the Eldest Freeman is Father of the Chapel; and the Penalty for the Breach of any Law or Custom is in Printers Language called a Solace.

1. Swearing in the Chappel, a Solace.
2. Fighting in the Chappel, a Solace.
3. Abusive Language or giving the Lie in the Chappel, a Solace.
4. To be Drunk in the Chappel, a Solace.
5. For any of the Workmen to leave his Candle burning at Night, a Solace.
6. If a Compositer fall his composing Stick [a sort of wooden ruler] and another take it up, a Solace.
7. For three Letters and a Space to lie under the Compositers Case, a Solace.
8. If a Press-man let fall his Ball or Balls [used to ink the letters] and another take them up, a Solace.
9. If a Press-man leave his Blankets [woolly cloths] in the Timpan [frame] at Noon or Night, a Solace.
10. For any Workman to mention joyning their penny or more a piece to send for Drink, a Solace.
11. To mention spending Chappel Money till Satur-Day Night, or any other before agreed time, a Solace.
12. To play at Quadrats or excite others in the Chappel to play for Money or Drink, a Solace.
13. A Stranger to come to the Kings Printing-House and ask for a Ballad, a Solace.
14. For a Stranger to come to a Compositer and enquire if he had News of such a Galley at Sea, a Solace.
15. For any to bring a Wisp of Hay directed to a Press-man, is a Solace.
16. To call Mettle [metal] Lead in a Founding-House, is a Forfeiture.
17. A Workman to let fall his Mould, a Forfeiture.
18. A Workman to leave his Ladle [for pouring molten metal into moulds] in the Mettle at Noon or at Night, a Forfeiture.

And the Judges of these Solaces or Forfeitures and other Controversies in the Chappel or any of its Members was by Plurality of Votes in the Chappel; it being asserted as a Maxime that the Chappel cannot Err. Now these Solaces or fines were to be bought off for the good of the Chappel, which never exceeded 1 s. 6 d; 4 d; 2 d; 1 d. according to the Nature and Quality thereof.

But if the Delinquent proves obstinate and will not pay, the Workmen takes him by force and lays him on his Belly over the correcting stone and holds him there whilest another with a Paper board gives him 10 l. in a Purse viz. 11 blows on his Buttocks, which he lays on according to his own Mercy.

Customs for Payments of Money

Every new Workman to pay for his Entrance half a Crown, which is called his Benvenue, till then he is no Member, nor enjoys any benefit of Chappel Money.

Every Journeyman that formerly worked at the Chappel and goes away, and afterwards comes again to work pays but half a Benvenue.

If Journeymen Smout one another they pay half a Benvenue.

All Journeymen are paid by their Master Printer for all Church Holy-days that fall not on a Sunday whether they work or no, what they can earn every working day, be it 2. 3. or 4 s.

If a Journeyman Marries, he pays half a Crown to the Chappel.

When his Wife comes to the Chappel she pays 6 d. and then all the Journeymen joyns their 2 d. a piece to make her drink, and to welcome her.

If a Journeyman have a Son born, he pays 1 s. if a Daughter, 6 d.

If a Master-Printer have a Son born, he pays 2 s. 6 d. if a Daughter, 1 s. 6 d.

An Apprentice when he is Bound, pays half a Crown to the Chappel, and when he is made Free, another half Crown: and if he continues to work Journeywork in the same House he pays another, and is then a Member of the Chappel.

It is Customary for all Journeymen to make every Year new Paper Windows about Bartholomew-Tide, at which time the Master Printer makes them a Feast called a Way-Goos, to which is invited the Corrector, Founder, Smith, Ink-maker, &c. who all open their Purses and give to the Workmen to spend in the Tavern or Ale-House, after the Feast. From which time they begin to work by Candle light.

The Printers, Journeymen, with the Founders and Ink-makers have every Year a general Feast, which is kept in the Stationers Hall on or about May-day. It is made by 4 Stewards, 2 Masters, and 2 Journeymen; and with the Collection of half a Crown a piece of every Guest: the charges of the whole Feast is defrayed.

About 10 of the Clock in the Morning on the Feast day the Company invited meet at the place apointed, and from thence go to some Church thereabouts in this follow|ing Order. First, 4 Whifflers (as Servitures) by two and two walking before with white Staves in their Hands, and red and blew Ribbons hung Belt-wise upon their Shoulders: these makes way for the Company.

Then walks the Beadle of the Company of Stationers, with the Companies Staff in his Hand, and Ribbons as afore.

Then the Minister, whom the Stewards have engaged to Preach the Sermon· and his Reader or Clerk.

Then the Stewards walks by two and two with long white Wands in their Hands, and all the rest of the Company follows in like order till they enter the Church &c. Service ended, and a Sermon for the occasion finished, they all return to their Hall in the same order, where upon their entrance each Guest delivers his Ticket to a Person appointed, which gives him admittance; where every one Feast himself with what he likes best, being delighted all the while with Musicks and Songs, &c.

After Dinner the Ceremony of Electing new Stewards for the next Year begins: then the Stewards withdraw into another Room, and puts Garlands of Laurel or Box on their Heads, and white Wands in their Hands, and are Ushered out of the withdrawing Room thus; first, the Companies Beadle with his Staff in his Hand, and Musick sounding before him, then followed one of the Whifflers with a great Bowl of White-wine and Sugar in his right Hand, and his Staff in the left, after him follows the eldest Steward.

Then another Whiffler as aforesaid, before the second Steward: in like manner another Whiffler before the third; and another before the fourth Steward.

And thus they walk with Musick sounding before them three times round the Hall, and in the fourth round, the first Steward takes the Bowl from his Whiffler and Drinks to one (whom before he resolved on) by the Title of Mr. Steward Elect: and taking the Garland of his own Head, puts it on the Steward Elects Head, at which all the Company claps their Hands in token of Joy.

Then the present Steward takes out the Steward elect, and Walks with him hand in hand, (giving him the right Hand) behind the three other Stewards another round the Hall; and in the next round as aforesaid, the second Steward Drinks to another with the same Ceremony as the first did; and so the third, and so the fourth. And then all walks one round more hand in hand about the Hall, that the Company may take Notice of the Stewards Elect: and so ends the Ceremony of the Day.

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3 Comments

  • October 27, 2011 - 11:11 am | Permalink

    Great source of fascinating information.

  • October 25, 2011 - 5:12 pm | Permalink

    Fascinating! Thank you so much for sharing.

  • October 21, 2011 - 7:26 pm | Permalink

    The Way-Goos feast it still celebrated by some modern print/publishing organisations – though it is now called a wayzgoose. In fact, until recently there was a commercial printers in Nottingham of that name.

    The ‘Paper Windows’ that were made before the Way-Goos refer to the fact that the paper makers stopped making paper for print, and used the pulp to make waxed paper for windows – used by the yeoman class before glass became more widely available.

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