ROBERT WALDEGRAVE (d. 1603/4), one of the great puritan printers of the period, was born near Fawsley in Northampton, where Sir Richard Knightley would house the Marprelate press for the printing of the second tract (ODNB). In 1584, the Court of High Commission directed the
Stationers’ Company to seize Waldegrave and any unlicensed books they found in his shop, an
action likely prompted by his publication of two aggressively Presbyterian works, William
Fulke’s Briefe and plaine declaration (1584) and A dialogue, concerning the strife of our churche (1584). Waldegrave was subsequently committed to prison for six weeks; he claimed to
have been imprisoned again the next year, this time for twenty weeks, for printing another series
of manifestos (see Black, ed., Marprelate Tracts, 133-35). Waldegrave’s legitimate printing
career in England ended in April 1588, when his shop was raided after he had printed the
Presbyterian manifesto The state of the church of Englande (1588) and the court of the
Stationers’ Company ordered that his press, type, “and printinge stuffe [be] defaced and made
unserviceable” (Greg and Boswell, eds., Records, 28; Arber, ed., Transcript, 1:528). When the
first Marprelate tract appeared later that year, it was therefore not only illegal in itself, as an
unauthorized publication, but it was also printed by a man who had been barred from practising
the trade. Martin Marprelate discusses the predicament of the fugitive Waldegrave, “utterly
deprived for ever printing again,” as part of his general attempt to particularize and make human
the consequences of repression. In this case, he presents the plight of Waldegrave’s “poor wife
and six orphans, without any thing to relieve them” as a further example of Archbishop
Whitgift’s “unnatural tyranny” (Black, ed., Marprelate Tracts, 23-24). As it happened, Martin
was wrong about his friend’s future career: after a brief period in La Rochelle, Waldegrave
eventually fled north to Scotland, where James VI named him King’s Printer. Waldegrave
continued to print books that irked English officials and English stationers (his publications
included, e.g., a “pirated” edition of Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia). But Waldegrave also became
an important figure in the development of Scottish printing: over one hundred books bear his
Edinburgh imprint, including first editions of several titles by King James himself. Despite
James’s attempts to win Waldegrave a pardon, his exile lasted until the death of Elizabeth in
1603.