Tuesday, August 9, 2011

JOHN BILLS 1576-1630

[Ancestral Link: Mary Elizabeth Bickmore (Schow), daughter of Isaac Danford Bickmore, son of Isaac Motor Bickmore, son of David Bickmore, son of John Bickmore, son of Elizabeth Andrews (Bickmore), daughter of Elizabeth Bills (Bickmore), daughter of Samuel Bills, son of Thomas Bills, son of John Bills, son of John Bills.]

King James Bible 1611
From Authorized King James Version (wikepedia)
The original printing of the Authorized Version of the King James Bible was published by Robert Barker, the King's Printer, in 1611 as a complete folio Bible. It was sold loose leaf for ten shillings, or bound for twelve. Robert Barker's father, Christopher, had, in 1589, been granted by Elizabeth I the title of royal Printer, with the perpetual Royal Privilege to print Bibles in England. Robert Barker invested very large sums in printing the new edition, and consequently ran into serious debt, such that he was compelled to sub-lease the privilege to two rival London printers, Bonham Norton and John Bill. It appears that it was initially intended that each printer would print a portion of the text, share printed sheets with the others, and split the proceeds. Bitter financial disputes broke out, as Barker accused Norton and Bill of concealing their profits, while Norton and Bill accused Barker of selling sheets properly due to them as partial Bibles for ready money. There followed decades of continual litigation, and consequent imprisonment for debt for members of the Barker and Norton printing dynasties, while each issued rival editions of the whole Bible. In 1629 the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge successfully managed to assert separate and prior royal licences for Bible printing, for their own university presses – and Cambridge University took the opportunity to print revised editions of the Authorized Version in 1629,] and 1638. The editors of these editions included John Bois and John Ward from the original translators. This did not, however, impede the commercial rivalries of the London printers, especially as the Barker family refused to allow any other printers access to the authoritative manuscript of the Authorized Version.
found on ancestry.com

John Bill
John Bill was a publisher from 1607-1639 and was publisher to King James I of England in 1613. He is buried at St. Anne's Blackfriars London
found on ancestry.com

John Bill 1576 Publisher
John Bill was born 1576 at Much Wenlock, Shropshire, England and died after 1639, probably at London, England. He was buried at St. Anne's, Blackfriars, London, England. He followed the occupation of Publisher 1607-1639 and was Publisher to King James I of England in 1613.
found on ancestry.com

King's Printer Project
In the Jacobean period the King’s Printers were Robert Barker (1570–1645), and the two Shropshire men, Bonham Norton (1564–1635) and John Bill (1576–1630). At this time the office of the King’s Printer included the privilege to print the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer in English. John Norton (1556/7–1612), Bonham’s cousin held a quite different patent, to the office of King’s Printer in Latin, Greek and Hebrew from 1603 until his death in 1612, when his rights to the office passed to Bonham Norton. But the rights to the office of King’s Printer in English were in dispute, and Robert Barker, Bonham Norton and John Bill—who held the office either alone, or together in various partnerships from 1603–1645—fought bitter legal battles in the Court of Chancery for more than a decade to establish their rights to a share in the business.1

Robert Barker held the office of Queen’s/King’s Printer in English from 1593, through a reversionary patent first assigned by Queen Elizabeth to his father Christopher Barker senior.2 Even though Robert Barker had manor houses and landed interests with valuable rents to support his family he was greatly in debt, partly due to costs incurred through the printing of the Authorized Version of the Bible in 1611.3 In 1615 he assigned houses and lands to Bonham Norton and John Bill as security in lieu of debts.4 These debts became entangled with the KPH when, in 1615, for the sum of £5000 Robert Barker entered into a three-way KPH partnership with Bonham Norton and John Bill on behalf of his son, Christopher Barker. This three-way KPH partnership followed Christopher’s marriage to Bonham Norton’s daughter, Sara, in 1615, and ran until 1617 when Robert Barker assigned his present and future interests in the KPH to Bonham Norton and John Bill alone for the sum of £6,500.5 Under Barker’s management the KPH lacked investment and had no stock of books belonging to the office, but Bonham Norton and John Bill invested heavily in the office, and as Bonham Norton was, from 1613, King’s Printer in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, the two offices became entangled politically and financially. Furthermore, through John Bill’s good managing of the business (which drew in overseas investments through his Continental contacts) the office began to pay. These Continental contacts emerged from a joint-stock partnership which Bonham Norton, John Norton, and John Bill had set up in 1603. This long-running partnership, from 1603-1619 was designed to import continental books and stationary, and to produce books at home and abroad. 6 It operated through an intricate web of book-trade contacts and markets, which John Bill was able to draw into the operation of the KPH. The KPH institutions extended their power as instruments of cultural production in Jacobean England. James’s desire to define a national culture and influence European thought through the printed word meant that the Salopians’ book-trading became as important culturally for the king as it was financially for the partners.7
In May 1618, conscious of the profits to be made by the KPH, Robert Barker wanted the business back, or financial compensation, claiming he had only assigned the office to Norton and Bill on trust for money they had loaned him. There followed a Chancery Petition from Robert Barker against Norton and Bill8 , for the reassignment of the patents, assets and profits of the KPH which led to cross-petitions from Norton, and the involvement of successive Lord Chancellors and even the king, James I. In May 1619 Barker obtained a Chancery decree in his favour from the Lord Chancellor Francis Bacon.9 Bacon ordered Bonham Norton to reassign his share of the KPH to Robert Barker while Barker was ordered to repay to Norton what he owed. John Bill was found to be a bona fide purchaser of the KPH, a finding which may have been ‘grounded vpon a reference from the Kings Matie’ to the Lord Archbishop.10 Bill also presented Chancery petitions against Norton in a bid to defer paying Norton money he owed, while defending his position as King’s Printer. 11 Bill continued to enjoy the protection of James I and managed to hang on to his share of the office, partly due to ‘extra iudiciall’ references from the king until his death in 1630, when his share passed to his son John Bill junior. 12 But Robert Barker was still short of money in 1619 and was unable to fulfil the conditions as laid down by Francis Bacon’s 1619 decree in Chancery, and so he and Norton came to various short-lived accommodations and agreements over the rights to the KPH. The case consequently rumbled on, through a series of Chancery petitions and cross petitions 13, until 1629/30 when Chancery, once again, eventually found against Norton and in favour of Robert Barker—despite the fact that Barker had bribed Bacon to make the decree of 1619 in his favour, and may possibly have bribed Lord Keeper Thomas Coventry to do the same in his 1629 ruling. 14

Norton was fined heavily by the court and remained in prison, possibly until his death in 1635.15 Robert Barker continued as King’s Printer even after being committed to prison for debt in 1635, where he remained until his death in 1645.
found on ancestry.com

The King James Bible
Robert Barker was the King's Printer and, thus, when the new King James Bible was to be printed, the work fell to him. Realizing what a large financial undertaking this was, he took as his partners Bonham Norton, John Norton and John Bill. Within five years of the new Bible being published, the partners had a falling out. The above information is from "In the Beginning: The Story of the King James Bible And How it Changed a Nation, A Language, and A Culture" by Alister McGrath, published by Anchor Books, New York.
found on ancestry.com

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