The Martin Marprelate Press: A Documentary History

Edited by Joseph L. Black - TS5

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The Martin Marprelate Press: A Documentary History offers a freshly edited collection of twenty primary documents, mainly from manuscript archival sources, connected with the underground press that produced the Martin Marprelate tracts (1588–1589), the anti-episcopal satires that sparked the most famous pamphlet war of the English Renaissance. These depositions, examinations, investigative summaries, trial records, and other documents provide extraordinary evidence, unmatched for early modern England, for the day-to-day workings of an underground print campaign. Many of these documents have never appeared in print.
As a collection, these materials are of interest to scholars who work in Tudor and Stuart literature, politics, religion, law, and the history of books and reading. Spelling is modernized for accessibility, and each document is annotated and supplied with a headnote that explains its context and implications. A short introduction outlines the broader social, cultural, and historical significance of the Marprelate controversy as a whole.

170 pp.
ISBN 978-0-7727-2484-7 softcover, 978-0-7727-2486-1 hardcover
Published: 2020
The scholarly research is very sound and very well-written.” — Micheline White, Carleton University

“This is a timely and reliable critical edition of an important set of documents which enriches our knowledge of the socio-religious complexity of the late Elizabethan period. The Introduction is informative, presents a wealth of evidence in an accessible style, and offers a persuasive narrative about the network of persons involved in the creation, production, and distribution of the pamphlets.” — Goran Stanivukovic, St. Mary’s University


The Documents

The Search for the Press
1. Letter from William Cecil to John Whitgift (14 Nov. 1588)
2. Letter from the Court of High Commission (16 Dec. 1588)
3. Proclamation against the Marprelate Tracts (13 Feb. 1589)
4. Letter from John Whitgift to William Cecil (24 Aug. 1589)

Depositions and Examinations
5. Depositions of Nicholas Kydwell, William Staughton, and Cutbert Cook (14 Nov. 1588)
6. Deposition of John Good (14 Nov. 1588)
7. Examination of Walter Rogers (29 Nov. 1588)
8. Deposition of Stephen Chatfield (late 1588?)
9. Examinations of Nicholas Tomkins (15 Feb. and 29 Nov. 1589)
10. Deposition of Henry Sharpe (15 Oct. 1589)
11. Examinations of Valentine Simmes and Arthur Thomlin (10 Dec. 1589)
12. Examinations of John Udall (13 Jan. and 13 July 1590)
13. Bill of Information against Elizabeth Crane and her Answer (11 Feb. and 17 May 1590)

Summaries of Evidence
14. “Brief Instructions” (21 Sept. 1589)
15. “Brief of the Depositions” (late 1589)
16. The “Puckering Brief” (early 1590)
17. Brief compiled for the trial of John Penry (c.1593)
18. Matthew Sutcliffe, extract from An Answere (1595)

Trial Records
19. Arraignment of Richard Knightley, John Hales, and the Wigstons (13 Feb. 1590)
20. Arraignment of John Hodgkins (late 1590 or early 1591)

Appendix: Biographies