Seal of approval?

Frontispiece of The Kings Supremacy (1660) Folger Shakespeare Library copy, Washington DC.

I’m working on Robert Sheringham (1602-1678) at the moment. The title page of his one political work, The Kings Supremacy (1660) features a print of the royal seal. This has been taken as symbolising royal approval for the tract though when it was circulated in the Netherlands in the 1650s, Hyde claimed that Charles did not appreciate Sheringham’s literary defence of his authority. Anyone have any ideas as to whether the use of the seal *might* indicate official sanction? The printer, William Godbid, was mainly known for publishing music, so there is no obvious indication there.

Published in: on August 11, 2010 at 2:17 pm  Comments (2)  
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  1. Hi Ted

    I have only just caught up with this post: I don’t know the full answer, but certainly during the 1640s there are pamphlets which claim to be printed with the royal imprimatur, and which have a woodcut of the coat of arms, but which are obviously fake. “His Majesties last proposals to the officers of the armie” (E.536[13]) is one such example of a pamphlet which is probably printed to generate sales with fake but plausible information. There are various versions of the royal arms floating around as woodcuts at that time, some of which seem to be shared between printers. I *suspect*, but cannot prove, that lots of them apart from my example are knocked up by printers as a handy selling point. But the example shows that you certainly can’t assume the presence of the arms automatically means its sanctioned by the king. If you have the time it may be worth looking at who else is using the woodcut at the time (doing a search on EEBO for pamphlets with Majesty in the title is a good way to flush them out).

    Plomer’s dictionary of printers doesn’t say anything about Godbid being a royally-approved printer, either (compared for instance to the way that John Bill and Robert Barker were the “king’s printers” in the 1630s).

    • Many thanks!

      It certainly looks like this is another fake one – C. C. Weston identified the original version of Sheringham’s pamphlet, published anonymously in Paris in 1652 under the title, A Remonstrance of the Un-lawfulness of the Warre, undertaken by the Pretended Parliament of England/ This version bears the royal coat of arms, though Hyde reports that Charles II disapproved of the pamphlet.

      Yes, Godbid seems to have mainly specialised in publishing musical works, so there doesn’t seem to be any indication of political allegiances there.

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