Examination of Valentine Simmes and Arthur Thomlyn (December 10, 1589)

The printer John Hodgkins joined the Marprelate project in July 1589, apparently recruited in London by Humphrey Newman, the primary distributor of the tracts (documents 15-16). Hodgkins does not appear in the records of the Stationers’ Company, and might have gained his printing experience on the Continent. But his two assistants, Valentine Simmes and Arthur Thomlin, were both licensed printers: Thomlin (sometimes “Thomlyn”) was admitted a freeman of the Stationers’ Company in 1581 and Simmes (sometimes “Symmes” or “Sims”) in 1585 (Arber, ed., Transcript, II, 685, 694). According to Simmes and Thomlin, Hodgkins swore the two to secrecy, and promised Simmes twenty pounds a year and Thomlin eight pounds; Hodgkins in addition would provide both with their meat and drink.

After their capture near Manchester on August 14, 1589, Hodgkins, Simmes, and Thomlin were questioned by the Earl of Derby, and then sent to London where they were examined by the Privy Council on August 24. Proving reluctant witnesses, they were imprisoned in Bridewell and a special committee appointed to interrogate them (Acts of the Privy Council, n.s. XVIII, 59). That committee was equally unsuccessful in extracting useful information, so the three printers were transferred to the Tower in September with instructions “to put them all to the torture” if they continued unforthcoming (Acts of the Privy Council, n.s. XVIII, 62). Hodgkins claimed that the subsequent confessions by Simmes and Thomlin were “violent extorted from them” and that he too had been forced to confess “by rackinge and great torments”; one of the commissioners, however, denied that torture was used, at least in Hodgkins’ case (document 20).

Simmes and Thomlin were first examined on October 10, 1589 (examinations not extant, but summarized in documents 15, 16, 17), and then again on December 10. In this examination they revealed for the first time the role of Job Throkmorton in the project: the printers had up that point been protecting him. Hodgkins would eventually be sentenced to death, being released only once he had signed a submission (document 20). Simmes and Thomlin were fined and imprisoned but, like those charged with harboring the press, were eventually freed and their fines remitted (BL Cotton MS Julius F vi fol. 76). Beginning in the mid-1590s, Valentine Simmes would become a major literary printer, involved in the production of books by Drayton, Shakespeare, Chapman, Greene, Dekker, Middleton, Daniel, Jonson, Marlowe, Marston, and Heywood (see Ferguson, Valentine Simmes). By 1604, his respectability was such that he even printed a book by John Bridges, whose Defence (1587) had sparked the first Marprelate tract and who had been one of Martin’s favorite targets for abuse.

Source: Lambeth Palace Library MS 2686 (formerly Manchester Papers no. 123). Printed in Pierce (1908), 335-39.

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Endorsement]: The laste examinations of Thomlynes and Symmes before the L. Chauncelor etc. 10 Decembris in the case of Job Throgmorton and Penry.

The examination of Valentyne Symmes and Arthur Tamlin stationers taken by the comaundment of the L. Chauncelor of Ingland the Xth of December 1589.

A. Abowt St James tyde [July 25, 1589] John Hodgskins dealt with these examinantes to goe with them into the country to print accidences [i.e., grammar books] etc, promisinge to Simmes xx l. [£20] a yeare and meat and drink, and to the other viii l. [£8] and meate and drink, but signifyed unto them that he had sent a press downe to the country where they should worke. Wherupon departinge all these together on foote, they came to Aderbury, to Simmes his fathers upon the Sonday after.

B. [‘J. T.’ in margin, for Job Throkmorton] That night Hodgskins went to Mr Job Throckmortons and apoynted Simmes to meet him the next morninge at Warwick and Tamlin to goe upon the monday to Coventrye. Upon the sayd monday Hodgskins meeting Simmes at Warwick (upon his return from Mr Throckmortons) told him, he had now a book, which they must presently fall a printinge and shewed him the same. It was the book intituled Theses Martinianae and sayd they must goe to a place called wolston abowt fower miles of[f]: where there was a presse, and lettres ready for that purpose.

C. When they came to the foresayd place, Mrs Wigston was at Coventry at a fast: and as they thinck Mr Wigston was not at home. One Mrs More did intertayne them. Upon the foresayd monday at night Hodgskins sent unto Coventry for Tamlin: who upon Twesday in the morning came to Wolston unto him. Thus all these beinge mett together agayne, and findinge there, paper incks presse lettres and all thinges ready: they beganne to prepare them selves to work.

D. So that upon the Thursday after (to theyr remembraunce) they fell to printinge. Duringe the which worke Simmes himselfe was the onely correcter.

E. Mrs Wigston came home upon the sayd Twesday at night, and on the Wednesday in the morninge (they being abowt theyr worke) she came unto them, and bad them very hartily welcome etc. At diverse times after she came likewise unto them, and did excuse in kinde sorte theyr badd intertaynment.

F. Abowt Thursday (as these examinantes thinke) Mr Harrison alias Bridges alias Penry came unto them, and badd them welcome.

G. [‘J. T.’ in margin, for Job Throkmorton] The Friday after as they do think a gentleman came unto them, as they were printinge whom since they understand to be Job Throkmorton, and badd god speed them. Immediately after his cominge, he read that which was in printinge, and found fault in some places with the orthography. Then he looked upon the written copy, and bicause it was in diverse places interlined, he asked Simmes yf he could read the sayd place, so interlyned, poynting him unto them. Amonge the which places there were two, wherin Simmes doubted: And Mr Throckmorton did presently read them distinctly and readily unto him. Furthermore at the sayd time he asked Hodgskins softly in his eare, whether these examinantes were good workmen and able to serve the turne: and Hodsgkins answered yea. This in effect Simmes overheard. At that time likewise the sayd Harrison came in unto them with the sayd Throckmorton.

H. [‘J. T.’ in margin, for Job Throkmorton] Simmes affirmeth that he received, at the first, but on[e] or twoe sheets of Theses Martiniana: and he thinketh the rest was brought thither by the sayd Throckmorton.

I. This book being finished upon the next monday after (as they thinke): then Hodgskins delivered unto them, copy of Martin Senior which he had acquainted them with all upon the friday before. This copy was of the same hand writing with the former. And Simmes thinketh that Mr Throckmorton was the author of it.

K. Abowt the Wednesday following (as they remember) the sayd Mr Harrison came unto the working howse: and having stayed there a while, he went up to the chamber, where the bookes printed were usually folded.

L. Here it is to be observed, that when Hoskins hired first this examinantes, he told them that when they came into the country, a gentleman should give his word for the payment of theyr wages: and that he cawsed them to sweare before theyr going from London that they should never disclose any thing that he should committ unto them to be printed. At this time then, after Harrison was gone up into the chamber, Hoskins told Simmes how he the sayd Harrison was the man what wold give his word with him for the payment of theyr wages. Wherupon after they had lefte work (Harrison taryinge there all night,) Simmes desired to talk with him. And so Hodsgkins and he comminge to Harrison (after some speach of the foresayd promise) he ratefyed the same: so as they wold be faithfull unto Hodgskins. At what time Simmes agayne renewed his oathe for his secrecy.

M. Abowt the Twesday after they made an end of Martin Senior. Upon the Friday before this, Hodgskins had told Simmes that if the brethren thought good, when Martin Junior was finished, they wold take in hand the printinge of another book. But now upon the Twesday he sayd to Simmes it was resolved that for feare of beinge taken there, they should depart to another place.

N. Thereupon they prepared themselves. They tooke downe the presse which Mrs Wigston sayd shold be hidd under a load of strawe or hay they doe not remember whether. They packed up three payre of cases with lettres of three sortes, and that after none [i.e., noon], a cart which Hodgskins had prepared came by that way, and receaved the sayd cases with theyr lettres: likewise also the ink that was lefte and abowt twelve reame or paper was then loaded.

O. Mrs Wigston gave unto these examinantes half a crowne a piece, and so that night they departed with Hodsgkins towardes Warrington in Lancashire.

P. Upon the Friday next they came to Warrington: And the Monday after the sayd cart came thither likewise. At the unloadinge of the stuff in the street, some of the lettres fell owt of the boxes to the ground: Diverse standing by and marvayling what they shold be Hodgskins answered they were shott. They tearmed themselves accordinge to Hodgskins directions to be saltpeter men.

Q. The Thursday after Hodgskins having prepared a howse in Newton lane abowt a mile from Manchester to work in: these examinantes were sent thither, to prepare theyr frames, for theyr cases: and upon the Monday after all the stuff was brought from Warington thither. Then they beganne to sett up theyr presse: and upon Thursday they fell to printinge of more work for cooper. They had not wrought the sayd Thursday above three howres: but they were apprehended, havinge printed abowt six quires of one side.

R. Before they were apprehended Hodgskins told these examinantes that the next book or the next but one wch they had to print shold be in Latin. Simms doth thinke that More worke for the Cooper was likewise of Mr Throckmortons penninge: for that it was the same had that martins senior and martin Junior was. The writen copyes of martin senior and martin Junior, Simmes doth verily think, they are in a Settle by the bedside where he lay in Newton lane.

S. After they were apprehended and as they were ridinge by the way, at diverse times as they might (beinge narrowly lookt unto) Hodsgkins dealt with these examinants in effect as followeth: that they should remember theyr oath, and in any wise be secret even untill death rather than to detect where martin Senior and Martin Junior were printed, or once to make any mention of Mr Wigstone: that there imprisonment assuredly should be but for some short time, where they should want neyther meat drink nor money: that they shold be allowed for the time they were in prison, ratably as though they had been workinge: and that after they were delivered he wold agayne sett them to printe in Ireland.

T. Furthermore Hodgskins told them by the way that he verily thought they were detected by the lettres which fell downe at warrington when the carte was unloaden: and willed Simmes that he should never lett any of the brethren know of it.

U. When Theses martinianae were finished, Humphrey Newman (termed then Humphrey Brownbread) was at Mr Wigstons and gave them unto Mrs Wigston the first copy that was finished to gett the thankes from Hoskins.

X. Furthermore as they were comminge up Hodgskins told Simmes, that notwithstandinge this presse and these lettres now taken, we have sayth he, as yow know a presse at Mr Wigstons and some lettres, and beside we have two sortes of lettres at a marchauntes howse in London which were bought of Walgrave.

Y. Upon occasion of speach whilest they were in Lancashire Simmes asked where Walgrave was. Hodgskins aunswered that he had played the knave notably with the brethren in that having gotten the copy of Cartwrightes booke agaynst the Rhemish Testament he was gone to print that for his owne commoditye and had given the brethren over.

Z. When martin Senior was in printinge Simmes, this examinate, perusing the copy found falt with some things in it towardes the end as beinge written withowt sense, whereupon Hodgskins cariinge the Copy to Harrison, he strooke owt certayne lines and interlined that which should be supplyed.

֎When this examinate Simmes mett with Hodgkins first at Warwick: he shewed him as they were going to Wolston a letter which he thinketh was written from Mr Throckmorton: It was directed to Mrs Wigston as he supposeth for theyr intertaynement. By the welcom which Mrs More gave them these examinates thinke that Mrs Wigstone had some knowledge before of theyr comminge and had given directions accordingly to Mrs More.

As they were comminge up to London and talkinge of more printinge hereafter: Hodgskins told Simmes that they had an other copy of More worke for the Cooper, which should serve them an other time: and that this was but the first parte of the sayd booke, the other parte beinge allmost as bigge agayne.

(Signed) Valentine Symmes
X Arthure Tamlynes marrke.

Walsingham. Buckehurst.
Anderson. Foretscue.
Francis Gawdy. W. Aubrey.
W. Lewyn.


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