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Ralph Newbery (1535-1608)
Born: 1535 at Waltham St. Lawrence, Berkshire
Master of the Royal Printing House
Died: 1608 at Littlewick Green, White Waltham, Berkshire

Ralph Newbery was a native of Waltham St. Lawrence in Berkshire. Abandoning the rural plough, he travelled to London at the age of twenty-five and entered the printing business. He eventually headed up  his own business as both printer and publisher in Fleet Street, a little above the Conduit near St. Dunstan's Church. Thomas Powell, the publisher, had been the previous tenant of the house and Powell had succeeded Thomas Berthelet. Newbery was made free of the Stationers' Company on 21st January 1560, was Warden of the Company in 1583, and again in 1590, and a Master in 1598 and 1601. He also rose to be Master of the Royal printing house of Queen Elizabeth and King James. Ralph gave a stock of books and the privilege of printing, to be sold for the benefit of Christ's Hospital and Bridewell. Newbery's first book, 'Pallengenius', was dated 1600 and his name appears on many of the most important publications of his day, such as 'Hakluyt's Voyages,' 'Holinshed's Chronicle' (1584), a handsome Latin Bible in folio (by Junius Tremellius, 1593) which he published in conjunction with George Bishop and Robert Barker. Among the other productions of his press may be noted 'Ecloges, Epitaphes and Sonattes,' written by Barnaby Googe (1563); Stow's 'Annals' (1592 and 1601); 'A Book of the Invention of the Art of Navigation' (London, 1578); 'An Ancient Historie and Curious Chronicle' (London, 1578). In 1590, he printed, in Greek type, Chrysostom's works. No book was entered on the Stationers' Registers under his name after 31st May 1603, when he received a license, together with George Bishop and Robert Barker, to issue a new edition of Thomas James's 'Bellum Papale.'

Ralph seems to have retired from business in 1605. He had purchased the manor of Beenhams Heath, in his home parish of Waltham St. Lawrence, in 1593 and that of Woolley Fiennes, in adjoining White Waltham, in 1602. Ralph seems to have spent his retirement between these two manors, but eventually sold Beenhams in 1607. His descendants lived at Feens Manor at Littlewick Green until 1665. By a deed, made shortly after his death in 1608, Ralph's son, Francis, settled a house and land, according to his father's wishes, for the benefit of the poor and needy inhabitants of Waltham St. Lawrence. The house is the fine Wealden hall-house in front of the church which now serves the village as the 'Bell Inn'.

John Newbery, apparently a brother, was a publisher at the sign of the Ball, in St. Paul's Churchyard, from 1594 till his death in 1603, when his widow, Joan, continued the concern for a year longer. Nathaniel Newbery pursued the same occupation from 1616 to 1634, chiefly dealing in puritan tracts.

Partly Edited from Sidney Lee's 'Dictionary of National Biography' (1894)

 

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