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Licensing Act (1662)

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Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900)
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Identifier: uk_1662

 

Commentary on the Licensing Act 1662
Ronan Deazley

School of Law, University of Birmingham, UK

 

Please cite as:
Deazley, R. (2008) ‘Commentary on the Licensing Act 1662', in Primary Sources on Copyright (1450-1900), eds L. Bently & M. Kretschmer, www.copyrighthistory.org

 

1. Full title

2. Abstract

3. The Restoration of the Monarchy

4. Regulation of the Press under Charles II

5. The Licensing Act and Roger L'Estrange

6. John Locke and the Lapse of the Licensing Act

7. References

 

1. Full title
An Act for Preventing Abuses in Printing Seditious, Treasonable, and Unlicensed Books and Pamphlets, and for Regulating of Printing and Printing Presses, 1662, 3 & 4 Car.II, c.33.

 

2. Abstract
Legislation prohibiting the publication of any literary work without prior licence.

 

Drawing upon both the Star Chamber Decree 1637 (uk_1637) and the Acts Regulating Printing during the Interregnum (see: uk_1643 and associated documents), the Licensing Act set out a comprehensive set of provisions concerning both the licensing of the press and the regulation and management of the book trade. In addition, it confirmed the rights of those holding printing privileges (or patents) granted in accordance with the royal prerogative (see for example: Day's privilege for The Cosmographical Glass (uk_1559b)) as well as those who had registered works with the Stationers' Company (uk_1557). It also introduced the first legal library deposit requirement. In force between 1662 and 1679, and then again between 1685 and 1695, the Act represents the last occasion on which the censorship of the press was formally and strategically linked to the protection of the economic interests of the Stationers' Company. Its lapse led the Stationers' Company to lobby parliament for renewed protection, ultimately resulting in the passing of the Statute of Anne 1710 (uk_1710).

 

 

3. The Restoration of the Monarchy
On 1 May, 1660 when the houses of parliament voted that "government is, and ought to be, by King, Lords, and Commons"[1] the experiment of the Commonwealth came to an end. A week later Charles II (1630-1685) was proclaimed king and by the end of the month had returned from the continent to England, and then on to London. The Restoration Settlement, negotiated across two parliaments,[2] had to address a number of problems amongst which were questions concerning the legitimacy of the law itself.[3] One of the first enactments of the Convention was the Act for Confirming Judicial Proceedings 1660 which provided that no judicial pronouncements from May 1642 onwards would be set aside on the grounds that the courts lacked authority. That is, the Act affirmed the validity of all private legal transactions and proceedings conducted throughout the Interregnum. As Holmes points out, however, the corollary to this was the silent assumption of the "invalidity of all the public acts of 1642-1660 which had never received a king's consent".[4] This unspoken assumption was given explicit form in the Act for [the] safety and preservation of his Majesty's person and government, against treasonable and seditious practices and attempts 1661 [the Treason Act].[5] It confirmed that neither of the houses of parliament could exercise legislative power "without the King",[6] and specifically articulated that various "pretended orders and ordinances ... to which the royal assent ... was not expressly had or given, were in the first creation and making, and still are, and so shall be taken to be null and void".[7] In effect, the last valid legislation to have been enacted prior to the Convention was that which had received the assent of Charles I (1600-1649) during the Long Parliament of 1641.

 

4. Regulation of the Press under Charles II
With the acts and ordinances of the puritan parliaments rendered nugatory,[8] and no realistic prospect of reviving the Star Chamber,[9] the question of how best to control the press during this period of political and constitutional readjustment inevitably came to the fore. As was the case during the Tudor and early Stuart period,[10] a range of different strategies were employed. In the first place, as had been the case with his predecessors, Charles II assumed as part of his prerogative the authority to grant privileges as well as censure the printed word. Indeed, one of the first acts upon his return was to issue a proclamation calling for the suppression of two works by John Milton (1608-1674) as well as John Goodwin's (c.1594-1665) Obstructors of Justice.[11] In June 1660, the Privy Council, operating on behalf of the king, appointed John Birkenhead (1617-1679), an ex-royalist newspaper editor, as the first Surveyor of the Press, an office that would soon be taken over by the redoubtable Sir Roger L'Estrange (1616-1704).[12] The following month the Council issued a general ban upon the publication of news other than in Henry Muddiman's (bap.1629, d.1692) Parliamentary Intelligencer and Mercurius Publicus.[13] Charles II also made use of the Order in Council to direct the Secretaries of State, the Surveyor of the Press, the Lord Mayor of London, or the Stationers' Company, to suppress objectionable texts.[14] The Secretaries of State frequently issued warrants for the arrest and detention of those involved in the production and dissemination of seditious libels, or for the search and seizure of the same.[15] Treasonous sentiments, whether spoken or printed, were, not surprisingly, censured under the Treason Act 1661. These various methods of regulatory control, however, either represented an outright ban on certain print material, or sought to punish objectionable works after the fact of publication. What they failed to do was to censure and control the content of the press prior to publication in the manner of the Star Chamber Decree 1637 and the various acts and ordinances of the Interregnum. It was this desire for a more complete form of ideological control that invariably gave rise to the Licensing Act 1662.

 

As was the case with the earlier Star Chamber Decrees, the possibility of a return to a system of pre-publication censorship provided a forum for various factions within the book trade to pursue their own self-interest. In November 1660 a group of printers, disaffected with the control which the publishers and booksellers exerted over the operation of the Stationers' Company,[16] petitioned the king to establish a separate incorporated Company of Printers "as the only means of preventing the printing of seditious and heretical books and papers, which have fomented the late troubles, and the distemper of unquiet spirits".[17] The petition came to nothing, however, and instead the collaboration between the Stationers' Company and the state, first formalised with Elizabeth's (1533-1603) Star Chamber Decree of 1566,[18] was to continue. On 3 July, 1661, the House of Commons, noting that "several traiterous, schismatical, and scandalous Pamphlets have been printed and published since His Majesty's happy Restauration", ordered that a Bill for the Regulation of Printing be prepared.[19] This Bill foundered as a result of the Commons' refusal to accept an exemption from the search and seizure provisions of the proposed legislation in favour of the peers of the realm.[20] When the Bill was reintroduced into the House of Lords in January the following year,[21] and sent down to the Commons in May, Charles II specifically intervened. While the Bill was in committee Sir William Morice (1602-1676), the Secretary of State, reported to the Commons in the following terms:

"That, next to the Bill for settling the Forces of the Kingdom, his Majesty held, that the Bill, now depending, for regulating the Press, and to prevent the printing of libellous and seditious Books, did most conduce to the securing the Peace of the Kingdom; the exorbitant Liberty of the Press having been a great Occasion of the late Rebellion in the Kingdom, and the Schisms in the Church: And therefore his Majesty did recommend it to the House, to take it especially into their Care; and to give a speedy Dispatch to that Bill."[22]

As a result, the committee was ordered to give "a speedy Dispatch" to the Bill and, to ensure that they made their report thereof, to sit "de die in diem, till they have finished it".[23] Nine days later, the Licensing Act 1662 received royal assent; it included a general proviso that peers' houses were not to be subject to search except by special warrant from Charles II himself or one of his principal secretaries of state.[24]

 

5. The Licensing Act and Roger L'Estrange
In substance, the Licensing Act represented a return to the Star Chamber Decree of 1637, albeit now established under the authority of parliament.[25] As Ransom observes "there was little time for theorizing and little promise in new experimentation".[26] There were, however, some noteworthy changes. For example, the draconian penalties of the earlier Decree were relaxed,[27] as were the controls on importing books.[28] The requirement that reprint editions of published works be re-licensed was abandoned,[29] as were the regulations governing the business of letter-founders.[30] The Act confirmed the rights and privileges of the two universities "touching and concerning the licensing or printing of books",[31] and at the same time introduced the first formal library deposit requirement in favour of both Oxford and Cambridge, as well as the king's library.[32] Other innovations included the fact that printing was allowed to be carried on at York under the guidance of the Archbishop and the Lord Mayor of the city,[33] that the financial penalties for the unauthorised printing and publication of protected works protected under the Act were to be divided equally between the injured party and the crown,[34] and that the Act itself was only to continue in force for two years.[35]

 

While the Act did secure the stationers position within the book trade, the company's role in the process of regulating the press was at the same time considerably diminished. Whereas the earlier Star Chamber Decrees had vested the responsibility for conducting searches in the Master and Wardens of the company alone,[36] now they shared that role with "one or more of the messengers of his Majesties chamber, by warrant under his Majesties sign manual, or under the hand of one or more of his Majesties principal secretaries of state".[37] In short, the responsibility for the suppression of unlicensed material shifted to the Surveyor of the Press, who acted under the authority of the Secretary of State, and whose work was supplemented and supported by various other messengers of the press.[38] After the Act was passed, a number of defects were observed, including the fact that there was no clear indication as to who should licence books that did not fall within the categories of works set out within the 1637 Decree and incorporated into the new legislation.[39] This omission was remedied and the position of the Surveyor further entrenched when L'Estrange replaced Birkenhead in August 1663. As part of his appointment he was given the responsibility for licensing "all books and printed pictures, except those on law, state affairs, heraldry, divinity, physic, philosophy, and arts and sciences, or such for which the King's printers have a patent".[40] L'Estrange himself was not pleased that the Stationers retained any responsibility for implementing the provisions of the 1662 Act at all. Indeed, throughout his long tenure as Surveyor, which lasted until 1688, his relationship with the company was fractious at best.[41] In the tract which in effect secured him his position as Surveyor, Considerations and Proposals in Order to the Regulation of the Press (1663), he made clear his scepticism as to the extent to which the stationers could be relied upon to regulate the content of the press.[42] As Greene points out, for L'Estrange, those who undermined the control of the press were "the very figures who [were] supposed to be the allies of press regulation: the printers and booksellers ... of the Stationers' Company".[43] In any event, and regardless of this shift in regulatory supervision, the most important aspect of the legislation for the stationers was that it confirmed the rights of those holding printing privileges (or patents) granted in accordance with the royal prerogative, as well as those who had registered works with the company itself.[44] That security, however, proved to be relatively short-lived. The Act itself was renewed in 1664 and again the following year, this time until 1679, when it was allowed to lapse,[45] before being renewed once more in 1685. Thereafter the Act continued in force until May 1695 when, with the close of the last session of William III's (1650-1702) second parliament, it finally expired and pre-publication censorship of the English press ceased.[46]

 

6. John Locke and the Lapse of the Licensing Act
The decision to allow the Licensing Act to lapse for the final time was taken by the Commons. In November 1694, a committee had been appointed by the Commons to inspect what laws are "lately expired and expiring which are fit to be revived and continued". This committee, in January 1695, resolved to renew, amongst others, the 1662 Act, a suggestion which was however rejected by the House on 11 February 1695 without division. When the Continuation Bill reached the House of Lords, absent the Licensing Act, it was amended to re-include the 1662 Act, and returned to the lower chamber. In response, the Commons appointed a committee to prepare a set of reasons objecting to the amendment. Edward Clarke (1649/51-1710), MP for Taunton, reported that the committee had prepared a number of objections and presented them to the house whereupon it was ordered that "a Message be sent to the Lords, to desire a Conference upon the subject-matter of the amendments made by them to the said Bill" and that Clarke carry that message forward.[47] The following day, 18 April 1695, the House of Lords agreed to allow the Bill to proceed without the clause restoring the 1662 Act.

 

As to why the Commons decided to let the Act lapse, much of the substance of its attitude to the legislation in early 1695 had its genesis in the life-long friendship that existed between Edward Clarke and the philosopher John Locke (1632-1704). In 1675 Clarke, then a barrister of the Inner Temple, married Locke's cousin Mary Jepp (d.1705), and in February 1682 a correspondence between the two men began, which would last the rest of Locke's life.[48] Benjamin Rand notes that "[i]t was chiefly to carry on to the better advantage such deliberations of measures before Parliament that Locke, [John] Freke, and Clarke later formed the ‘College.'"[49] The ‘College', headed by John Freke (1652-1717),[50] represented an intimate group of friends (principally Freke, ‘the Bachelor', Locke, ‘the Castle', and Clarke, the ‘Grave Squire') who shared opinions on contemporary political events and aimed to promote various legislative measures in parliament, mainly through the agency of Clarke.[51] Locke had first written to Clarke about the 1662 Act, when it was decided that it should be renewed in 1693, counseling him to "have some care of book-buyers as well as all of booksellers". Locke complained about the monopoly which the stationers exercised over the "ancient Latin authors", the poor quality and high cost of their publications, and the deleterious impact this was having upon the work of scholars.[52] Much of his criticism was picked up and expanded in a highly critical commentary on the 1662 Act and its impact on the printing trade in England which he wrote in 1694. In this commentary Locke did make reference to the importance of securing the "liberty to print";[53] however, as with the earlier correspondence with Clarke, most of his vitriol was reserved for the "lazy, ignorant Company of Stationers", those "dull wretches" who abused the registration process for their own gain, and whose "monopoly of all the Clasick Authers" resulted in the production of books which were "scandalously ill printed both for letter paper and correctness", for which they charged "excessive rates".[54] Rejecting the idea that anyone should have a right to print any book in perpetuity as being "very unreasonable and injurious to learning", Locke continued:

"[T]is very absurd and ridiculous that any one now liveing should pretend to have a propriety in, or a power to dispose of the proprietie of any copys or writeings of authors who lived before printing was known or used in Europe."

Rather he suggested that, for those purchasing copies from authors, "it may be reasonable to limit their property to a certein number of years after the death of the Author, or the first printing of a book, as, suppose, 50 or 70 years".[55]

 

The parallels between Locke's commentary and those reasons presented by the Commons to the Lords for refusing to renew the 1662 Act are clear. While the committee's report on the Licensing Act did acknowledge the unwelcome prospect of a "great Oppression" re-emerging with the appointment of a new licensor, their arguments, like Locke's, had little to do with freedom of speech and the liberty of the press.[56] After beginning with the observations that the 1662 Act "in no wise answered the end for which it was made", and that the writers of "treasonable and seditious" books might, in any case, be left to punishment at common law, the Commons' committee preferred instead to focus on the more practical and commercial implications of reviving the Act. These concerned the restraint to trade that the Act represented, the Company of Stationers' abuse of their position, and the monopoly they enjoyed over work by "Classick Authors".[57] As Kenyon notes, it was the perceived problems generated by the company's control over the trade which the Act facilitated "rather than any abstract love of freedom" that persuaded the Commons to abandon the legislation for good.[58] In any event, with the lapse of the Act, the monopolistic control which the stationers had enjoyed in their regulation of the commercial book trade came to an end, and a new period in British politics began in which parliament and the party system had to renegotiate its attitudes to, and relationship with, an embryonic, independent fourth estate.

 

7. References

Governmental papers and legislation

Act for Confirming Judicial Proceedings, 1660

Act for [the] safety and preservation of his Majesty's person and government, against treasonable and seditious practices and attempts, 1661, 13 Charles II, c.1

 

Books and Articles

Astbury, R., "The Renewal of the Licensing Act in 1693 and its Lapse in 1695", Library, 5th Series, 33 (1978): 296-322

Barnard, J., and McKenzie, D.F., ed., The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume IV 1557-1695 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)

Blagden, C., The Stationers' Company: A History, 1403-1959 (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1960)

Cranston, M., John Locke, a biography (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1957)

Crist, T., "Government Control of the Press after the Expiration of the Printing Act in 1679", Publishing History, 5 (1979): 49-77

Cruickshanks, E., Handley, S., and Hayton, D.W., ed., The House of Commons 1690-1715, Vol. III. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002)

De Beer, E.S., ed., The Correspondence of John Locke, in Eight Volumes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978)

Greene, J., The Trouble with Ownership: Literary Property and Authorial Liability in England, 1660-1730 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005)

Hamburger, P., "The Development of the Law of Seditious Libel and the Control of the Press", Stanford Law Review, 37 (1984-85): 661-765

Holmes, G., and Speck, W.A., The Divided Society: Party Conflict in England 1694-1716 (London: Edward Arnold, 1967)

Holmes, G., The Making of a Great Power: Late Stuart and early Georgian Britain, 1660-1722 (Harlow: Longman, 1993)

Kenyon, J.P., Stuart England, (London: Penguin Books, 1978)

Kishlansky, M, A Monarchy Transformed: Britain 1603-1714 (London: Penguin, 1997)

Kitchin, G.W., Sir Roger L'Estrange: a contribution to the history of the press in the seventeenth century (London: Kegan Paul & Co., 1913)

L'Estrange, R., Considerations and Proposals in Order to the Regulation of the Press: Together with Diverse Instances of Treasonous and Seditious Pamphlets, Proving the Necessity Thereof (London: A.C., 1663)

Laslett, P., ed., John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970)

Loewenstein, J., The Author's Due: Printing and the Prehistory of Copyright (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2002)

Lord King, The Life of John Locke, with Extracts from his Correspondence, Journals and Common Place Books, vol.1 (London: Henry Colburn & Richard Bently, 1830)

Patterson, L.R., Copyright in Historical Perspective (Nashville: Vanderbilt University, 1968)

Rand, B., The Correspondence of John Locke and Edward Clarke (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927)

Ransom, H., The First Copyright Statute: An Essay on An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, 1710 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1956)

Siebert, F.S., Freedom of the Press in England 1476-1776 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965)

Thomas, P.D.G., The House of Commons in the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971)

Treadwell, M., "The stationers and the printing acts at the end of the seventeenth century". In The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume IV 1557-1695. Edited by Barnard, J., and McKenzie, D.F. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002).

Walker, J. "The Censorship of the Press during the reign of Charles II", History, 35 (1950): 219-38


[1] Journal of the House of Commons (CJ), 8: 8.

[2] The Convention, which met between April and December 1660, and the Cavalier Parliament which first met in May 1661.

[3] In general see G. Holmes, The Making of a Great Power: Late Stuart and early Georgian Britain, 1660-1722 (Harlow: Longman, 1993), 27-43, and M. Kishlansky, A Monarchy Transformed: Britain 1603-1714 (London: Penguin, 1997) 213-39.

[4] Holmes, 28.

[5] Act for [the] safety and preservation of his Majesty's person and government, against treasonable and seditious practices and attempts, 1661, 13 Car.II, c.1.

[6] s.2.

[7] Those specifically mentioned concerned the "imposing of oaths, covenants or engagements, levying of taxes, or raising of forces and arms"; s.3.

[8] See: uk_1643.

[9] See Kishlansky, 229; see: uk_1637.

[10] See: uk_1518; uk_1538; uk_1557; uk_1559; uk_1566; uk_1586.

[11] Cal. St. P. Dom. Charles II., 1660-61, 189. The works by Milton included his book Angli Defensio pro populo Anglicano: contra Claudii Anonimi, alias Salmasii, Defensionem Regiam (London: Typis Neucombianis, 1658) and his rejoinder to Anthony Walker's The portraiture of his sacred Majesty in his solitude and sufferings.

[12] G.W. Kitchin, Sir Roger L'Estrange: a contribution to the history of the press in the seventeenth century (London: Kegan Paul & Co., 1913).

[13] F.S. Siebert, Freedom of the Press in England 1476-1776 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1965), 289-293. Similarly, in May 1680, after the lapse of the Licensing Act, 1662, Charles issued a proclamation ordering the suppression of all newsbooks except those properly licensed by authority; J.L. Lindsay, Bibliotheca Lindesiana, Vol. V: A Bibliography of Royal Proclamations of the Tudor and Stuart Sovereigns, and of others published under authority, 1495-1714, with an historical essay on their origin and use by Robert Steele (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1910), 450.

[14] Siebert, 251-52; J. Walker, "The Censorship of the Press during the reign of Charles II", History, 35 (1950): 219-38, 222-23.

[15] See for example: Cal. St. P. Dom. Charles II., 1660-61, 568; Cal. St. P. Dom. Charles II., 1661-62, 50, 54, 106.

[16] See C. Blagden, The Stationers' Company: A History, 1403-1959, (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1960), 147-52.

[17] Cal. St. P. Dom. Charles II., 1660-61, 372-73. L'Estrange later argued that the printers should neither be incorporated nor given the responsibility of regulating the press writing as follows: ‘'Tis True, The Printers in a Distinct and Regulated Society may do some good as to the General Business of Printing, ... but the Question is Here, how to Prevent a Publique Mischief, not how to Promote a Private Trade. But are not Printers the fittest Instruments in Searches? They are, without Dispute, Necessary Assistants, either for retrieving Conceal'd Pamphlets, or for Examination of work in the Mettle, but whether it be either or the Honour, or Safety, of the Publique, to place so great a Trust in the Hands of Persons of that Quality, and Interest, is submitted to better Judgments"; R. L'Estrange, Considerations and Proposals in Order to the Regulation of the Press: Together with Diverse Instances of Treasonous and Seditious Pamphlets, Proving the Necessity Thereof (London: A.C., 1663), 27.

[18] See: uk_1566.

[19] CJ, 8: 288. The eventual title of the Bill which was brought before and passed through the Commons was An Act for regulating unlicensed and disorderly printing; CJ, 8: 313-14.

[20] Ibid., 315.

[21] Journal of the House of Lords (LJ), 11: 353, 365.

[22] Ibid., 425. See also Charles II's message to the Commons on 15 May; ibid., 429.

[23] Ibid., 425.

[24] s.19; the general search and seize provision within the Act otherwise provided that searches could be carried out on the authority of the King, or the secretaries of state, or at the instigation of the master and wardens of the Company of Stationers (s.15).

[25] See for example Blagden who writes that with the passing of the legislation "[t]he clock was put firmly back to 1637"; Blagden, 148. See also: H. Ransom, The First Copyright Statute: An Essay on An Act for the Encouragement of Learning, 1710 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1956), 77; L.R. Patterson, Copyright in Historical Perspective (Nashville: Vanderbilt University, 1968), 137; and, Siebert, 239.

[26] Ransom, 77.

[27] For example, whereas erecting a printing press within the city of London without first giving notice to the Company of Stationers might result in imprisonment under the 1637 Decree (Ordinance 13), it only resulted in a £5 fine under the 1662 Act (s.10). Similarly the edict in the Decree that any person setting up an unauthorised press was "to be set in the pillorie, and whipt through the Citie of London, and suffer such other punishment, as this Court shall order or thinke fit to inflict vpon them" (Ordinance 24) did not feature in the later Act.

[28] For example, a new section within the 1662 Act allowed stationers to freely import any work neither prohibited nor published within ten years prior to importation (s.20).

[29] Ordinance 18.

[30] Ordinances 27-30.

[31] s.18.

[32] s.17.

[33] s.24.

[34] s.6. The Act also provided that should the owner of the protected work not sue within six months of infringement then his share of the financial penalty was available to anyone else who should sue for the same within the next year; ibid.

[35] s.25.

[36] See for example 1637 Decree, Ordinance 25.

[37] s.15.

[38] Siebert writes as follows: "During the years 1662 to 1666 the duties of detective were assigned to Roger L'Estrange as Surveyor of the Press, but beginning in 1667 the messengers were directly responsible to the secretary. These messengers included John Wickham, Ralph Rutter, Andrew Cooke, John Wilson, and Robert Stephens. During the later years of the century John Gellibrand was appointed inspector of printing presses, and he together with Robert Stephens conducted most of the work of investigation. Armed with particular or general warrants issued by the secretary, these messengers made intensive searches in public and private houses for surreptitious printing, seized papers and person, and carried them before the secretary"; Siebert, 252-53.

[39] Cal. St. P. Dom. Charles II., 1662-63, 54-55.

[40] Ibid., 240. In exchange for his services L'Estrange was granted an exclusive licence ‘to print and publish all narratives not exceeding two sheets of paper, mercuries, diurnals, play-bills, quacksalvers' bills, &c. &c.'; Siebert, 292.

[41] For commentaries upon the extent to which the stationers often acted to frustrate the efforts of L'Estrange in censuring the press, see Walker, 237-38, and T. Crist, "Government Control of the Press after the Expiration of the Printing Act in 1679", Publishing History, 5 (1979): 49-77 (50).

[42] Describing the stationers as the "most Dangerous People of all" in facilitating the distribution of seditious and heretical literature, L'Estrange wrote that they were "not to be entrusted with the care of the Press". He continued that, under the Act, "they are Entrusted (effectually) to search for their own Copies; to Destroy their own Interests; to Prosecute their own Agents, and to Punish Themselves: for they are the Principal Authors of those Mischiefs which they pretend now to Redress, and the very Persons against whom the Penalties of this Intended Regulation are chiefly Levell'd"; L'Estrange, 6, 24.

[43] J. Greene, The Trouble with Ownership: Literary Property and Authorial Liability in England, 1660-1730 (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), 31.

[44] s.6; see also s.22.

[45] In general see Crist, 49-77.

[46] See R. Astbury, "The Renewal of the Licensing Act in 1693 and its Lapse in 1695", Library, 5th Series, 33 (1978): 296-322. See also M. Treadwell, "The stationers and the printing acts at the end of the seventeenth century", in J. Barnard and D.F. McKenzie, eds., The Cambridge History of the Book in Britain, Volume IV 1557-1695 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), and P. Hamburger, "The Development of the Law of Seditious Libel and the Control of the Press", Stanford Law Review, 37 (1984-85): 661-765 (714-17).

[47] CJ, 11: 305-06.

[48] See generally: B. Rand, The Correspondence of John Locke and Edward Clarke (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1927); E. Cruickshanks, S. Handley, and D.W. Hayton, eds., The House of Commons 1690-1715, 5 vols. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), 3: 576-98.

[49] Rand, 38.

[50] John Freke, a barrister and well known Whig, was a friend to both Clarke and Locke. Of these three men Rand writes: "The friendship existing between [them] was always of the most intimate kind"; ibid., 21. See also E.S. De Beer, ed., The Correspondence of John Locke, in Eight Volumes (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1978), and M. Cranston, John Locke, a biography (London: Longmans, Green & Co., 1957).

[51] The most important legislative measure with which they were concerned was the Coinage Act; Rand, 41. Cruickshanks, Handley and Hayton note that Clarke "became the philosopher's mouthpiece in the Commons and consequently the most important member of Locke's ‘college', a policy making and parliamentary pressure-group that was particularly active in the mid-1690s"; Cruickshanks et al., 577. De Beer writes that the College was "vigorous politically" from the end of 1694 until early 1697, after which it became less active, being mentioned in Locke's correspondence for the last time in 1701. Throughout this time Locke wrote letters both to Clarke and the College. The letters addressed to Locke were written generally by Freke, and signed by him and Clarke, or by him alone. See De Beer, 5: 199.

[52] Rand, 366.

[53] In this regard, he rejected the need for the 1662 Act arguing that, in any case, any man printing seditious material would be answerable for it at common law.

[54] He would later write of booksellers in the following terms: "Books seem to me to be pestilent things, and infect all the trade in them ... with something very perverse and brutal. Printers, binders, and sellers, and others that make a trade and gain out of them have universally so odd a turn and corruption of mind, that they have a way of dealing peculiar to themselves, and not conformed to the good of society, and that general fairness that cements mankind"; quoted in P. Laslett, ed., John Locke, Two Treatises of Government (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), 7. Laslett continues: "This profound suspicion of book tradesmen, rather than any argued belief in liberty of expression, made John Locke the champion of the freedom of the press"; ibid.

[55] J. Locke, "Memorandum on the 1662 Act" in De Beer, 5: 785-95. For a slightly different version, see Lord King, The Life of John Locke, with Extracts from his Correspondence, Journals and Common Place Books, 2 vols. (London: Henry Colburn & Richard Bently, 1830), vol.1 (see: uk_1693).

[56] G. Holmes and W.A. Speck, The Divided Society: Party Conflict in England 1694-1716 (London: Edward Arnold, 1967), 67.

[57] CJ, 11: 305-306.

[58] J.P. Kenyon, Stuart England, (London: Penguin Books, 1978), 350. To this, however, might be added one further explanation for the Commons' position which had nothing to do with either censorship or the operation of the book trade but rather concerned a more fundamental conflict of constitutional authority between the two chambers. On 9 April, Clarke wrote to Locke with the observation that "the Commons will not agree to the amendment for many reasons and particularly because they allow not the Lords to begin a Bill in which there is any pecuniary penalty that being a sort of raising money which the Commons says belongs solely to them"; De Beer, 5: 326. Robert Harley, holding office as Speaker of the House of Commons, echoed these sentiments in his letter of 8 January 1702, to the Archbishop of Canterbury who was proposing to introduce a Bill for the Better Regulation of Printers and Printing Presses in the Lords in 1702. Harley wrote to the Archbishop: "[T]his caution is necessary that it have not any pecuniary penalty when sent down to the Commons"; Lambeth Palace Library, Todd M.S., 930 (25). Thomas, writing on the legislative process in the eighteenth century, notes that "[b]ills could be introduced first into either the House of Commons or the House of Lords, except for certain categories of bills: all finance measures necessarily originated in the House of Commons; and it was the privilege of the Lords that all acts of grace should begin in their House"; P.D.G. Thomas, The House of Commons in the Eighteenth Century (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971), 47.


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