V. The Printers and Publishers

Robert Jennings seems to have been working in London from about 1810, first at Poultry and later in Cheapside. One of the first references to him is found on the title page of a work by Virgil, Virgilii Maronis Bucolica. This was Printed by T. Bensley, Bolt Court and published by Robert Jennings, No. 2, Poultry, and Sold by J. MacKinlay, Strand.[1] Sporadic works followed such as poems of J B Drayton (1815), an edition of Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man (1819) or A Code of Signals for … Merchant’s Ships (1816). He seems to have been more successful in the next ten years and his range becomes more extensive and more demanding. In 1826 Jennings published Robert Batty’s Scenery of the Rhine, Belgium and Holland. Another guide was Augustus Pugin’s Paris and its Environs (1829-31). He had already published two books on travel, Thomas Cromwell’s History of … Colchester (1825) and even an edition of Samuel Johnson’s A diary of a journey into North Wales (1816).

Fig. 11. The Borghese Palace from Thomas Roscoe’s The Tourist in Switzerland and Italy
(1830) pub. Jennings and Chaplin.

At about the same time he was busy publishing Moore, he produced Thomas Roscoe’s The Tourist in Switzerland and Italy (see Fig.11). This would appear to be the first of a series of illustrated guide books or so-called Landscape Annuals (as Jennings Landscape Annual from 1835) appearing one each year. Italy was continued in each of the following 3 years, 1834 saw a work on France, Spain appeared in 3 separate volumes with different attention paid to Granada, Andalusia and the journey to Morocco (1836-1838) and finally Portugal (1839). The 1831 Annual was published jointly by Robert Jennings and William Chaplin and this is also reflected in some of the imprints on Moore’s illustrations. It is apparent that with the investment in steel plates he now specialised in illustrated works to take full advantage of this technology.

Another work worth mentioning here is The Keepsake. This was an illustrated anthology of poetry and prose sold annually from 1828 to 1857 during the Christmas season as gifts, the largest customer group being middle-class women. Bound in sparkling crimson watered silk with gilt-edged pages, The Keepsake featured elegant, steel-plate engravings of fashionable women, travel scenes, and romantic story pictures.[1] Jennings, together with Hurst, Chance & Co. were the publishers of the first 4 issues but Jennings and Chaplin in 1831.

Robert Jennings was working on his own when he began publishing Moore’s History and his imprint is found on the first six numbers up to February 1830. By the June issue that year he had entered into partnership with W Chaplin and their combined imprint, in a number of variations, is found on all covers and plate imprints up to 1833. However, the partnership was apparently dissolved at the end of that year.[2] The partnership is certainly absent on any publications from 1834 to 1836, i.e. the intervening years between issue No. 47 and final publication in book form. This may explain why the title page(s) bear the original date of 1829 when the partnership was still active.

Although Jennings worked with the printer J Moyes (e.g. on North Wales), Moore used the services of Richard Taylor of Red Lion Court in London to print Moore’s History. The only reference to Richard Taylor in Todd[3] is a passing reference to the Taylor family. Hence, Richard Taylor is given as a partner to John Taylor working c.1803-04 in Fleet St. Previous to this he may have been working with Robert Wilkes. There are then a number of addresses for Richard in the same London area. Rather amusingly his premises in 1805 were given as “at the back of my Dwelling House”. As sole proprietor he seems to have been in Shoe Lane (1823-2) and at Red Lion Court (1827-37). He died in 1858. His name and address are found on p.574 of Vol. I., i.e. the end of the first volume. This page is followed by a remark to the reader signed by T Moore in which he advises “Title-pages, an Index, Appendix, &c. Will be given at the conclusion of the Work. The final page of letterpress to Vol. II, however, has no printer’s imprint but the four-page Index which follows has Exeter: Printed by W C Featherstone. This was a well-known and well-respected local publisher at the time. Maxted has a list of over 50 works printed by William Charleton Featherstone between 1825 and 1858 (interestingly Moore’s work is not listed).[4] It would appear at first glance that Taylor printed all the text except the index.

The Featherstone company of lithographers and printers would produce two maps of Exeter in the 1850s.[5] William Charleton Featherstone was born circa 1794-95 in Plymouth and died 3rd February 1858 in Exeter. He married Jane and they had one son, Samuel, but it was Jane who registered William’s death and it was probably she who announced the sale of her late husband’s business to John Pollard in the Exeter Flying Post of 18th March of the same year. William worked from a large number of addresses and he is listed at 67 Fore Street in Pigot’s 1822 directory and under the Weekly Times Office 1828. As early as 1825 he printed a broadsheet on the proposed railway to Exeter (printer to J Godfrey). Between September 1832 and April 1833 eighteen issues of The Western Spy were published: the first two under Featherstone, the others by W C Pollard. He also published the Western Times for a while but severed connection with the paper to start up Featherstone’s Exeter Times in 1836 which was not successful and ran for only four months.

Henry Fisher (fl.1816-37d) and his son were well-known publishers at the Caxton Press in St. Martin-le-Grand, London, from the mid-1820s to nearly 1850. According to Todd[6] Henry Fisher had started the Caxton Press Office in Liverpool but moved to London after it was destroyed by fire in 1821. He opened premises at Owen’s Row in Clerkenwell and 38 Newgate St (an address still being used in 1848). However, he had already maintained a warehouse at 87 Bartholomew Close. This address is given in an insurance document from 1814.[7] Presumably he was distributing his Liverpool-printed religious material from there. He received £36 000 insurance compensation[8] after the fire and this may have given him the incentive to review his situation. In 1825 Robert Fisher graduated from Cambridge University and joined the company. From 1827 the business was running as the Caxton Press and the name P Jackson occurs. From 1833-40 we find the imprint Fisher, Son & Jackson and from this time Fisher & Jackson. In 1842 the company completed Fisher’s County Atlas of England and Wales, an atlas originally started by Gibson; this included a map of Devonshire based on earlier maps by J & C Walker.[9] The Walkers would provide the Devon map for Henry Fisher’s Devonshire Illustrated.

In 1829 and again in 1834 they produced two parts series as Devon and Cornwall Illustrated. The former was published in London by H Fisher, Son & Co., Jones & Co. from their Newgate St. address, as well as by Jones & Co., Finsbury Square, and distributed in Plymouth by J Gibson. Once completed Devonshire and Cornwall Illustrated would have been made available to the general public and was sold with the publisher’s imprint of H Fisher, R Fisher and P Jackson in 1832, handsomely bund and gilt, price £2 2s. It is also known to have been sold as Fisher’s Picturesque Illustrations of Great Britain and Ireland. Third Series, comprising Views in the Counties of Devon and Cornwall by Fisher, Son and Co. and J Gibson in London in 1834[10]. The inclusion of title pages and index in Part 9 of this later series clearly indicates a 9-part set. Given a possible 36 part set for the first issue this would give the equivalent of four issues per month and ties in neatly with the new price – 4s. - and the dating of 1834 is based on an advert for another work on the back cover of both.

The Fisher company certainly were well versed in the production of this sort of publication. The adverts for the various works they had recently published or were in the process of publishing make frequent reference to parts issues. Issue 5 of Devonshire & Cornwall Illustrated referred to one of the works being written by J Britton, Picturesque Antiquities of the English Cities, which was to be completed in six numbers each to contain ten engravings.

The back cover of this issue also has an advert for Lancashire Illustrated, in many ways a companion to Devon & Cornwall Illustrated, with Sixty-five engravings in 16 numbers. Another “companion” issue seems to have been Ireland Illustrated which was also heavily advertised on the covers of Devon and Cornwall Illustrated. From the 33 inspected parts these two works are each mentioned at least a dozen times. The inclusion might be a single line reference (2 issues), a small paragraph (8 issues) where Devon and Cornwall is omitted in the list three times or the complete back cover (Ireland issues 7 and 26, Lancashire issues 5 and 9 which has a half page announcing engravings still in the engraver’s hands, 18, 23, 24). In issue 22 (Fisher’s Illustrations 48) the works on Ireland and Devon and Cornwall receive a larger mention and this is followed by the suggestion to buy A Lancashire New Year’s Gift as This day is published ... Lancashire Illustrated.

Fig. 12. Typical back cover to Fisher; here to Numbers 30 and 33.

All three of these works, as mentioned, were said to be Forming Part of the General Series of Fisher’s Grand National Improvements, and Jones’ Great Britain Illustrated. When the Devon-Cornwall parts series was reissued in 1834 the back cover was advertising Westmoreland, Cumberland, Durham, and Northumberland, Illustrated. Another serial issue this was to appear in Numbers with four engravings at 1s, or in Parts with eight engravings at 2s. Other counties followed in due course.

They were also very quick to present advertising content about their works, hence in Issue 11 we already find testimonials for Devon & Cornwall Illustrated: The Literary Gazette wrote that The views in this Part (Part I) are seventeen in number, and are beautifully executed; the Plymouth Chronicle thought it was very good value a price (4s) infinitely below its value; and Alfred of Exeter is quoted: As it advances, it improves in public estimation: Alfred being The West of England Journal, And General Advertiser.

Just as Jennings was happy to publish a “drawing-room” book, probably a coffee table book by today’s criteria, so too Henry Fisher. Although he entered this market two years later than Jennings, on the cover of No. 29 (of Devon & Cornwall Illustrated) we find an advert for Fisher’s Drawing-room Scrap Book. At the end of a full half page advertising the work and its layout we are told: Unlike the other Annuals, the Drawing-Room Scrap Book will not anticipate its proper season; and on that ground alone is entitled to attention as a genuine and desirable Novelty for A Christmas present, or A New Year’s Gift.

Generally speaking, Fisher appears to have had more interest (than Jennings) in generating sales for his works by advertising or indeed, the sale of surplus stock. Every back cover to Devon & Cornwall Illustrated contains adverts for a variety of the company’s publications. The Edinburgh Review of 1832 includes an advert for four Fisher works including Devon & Cornwall Illustrated – “the latter being Parts I to VIII containing 129 views (Nine Parts will complete the series)” – which must refer to the quarterly edition with three Numbers per issue. However, the advertisement goes on to announce that: 


The ORIGINAL DRAWINGS (about 400) executed for the above works, are now offered for sale, together or singly. Each series has been carefully mounted and bound up in a handsome volume, and would form most interesting and elegant Drawing-room Scrap Books. Noblemen and Gentlemen disposed to purchase any entire series will be dealt with on very liberal terms.[xi]


In addition we know that Fisher had advertised Devon & Cornwall Illustrated fairly extensively in 1829. There were high profile advertisements placed in the Western Times, Woolmer’s Exeter and Plymouth Gazette, Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post and Flindell’s Western Luminary throughout September 1829 as well as in Alfred (i.e. The West of England Journal, And General Advertiser) quoted above. Jennings, on the other hand, had no advertising on his back covers of Moore’s work – the first six Numbers all reprinted the Address, for example. A brief review of the same local newspapers for August and September 1829 reveals only two small adverts in the Western Times on 22nd and 29th August.[xii]

Fig. 13. Back cover of Moore with Address to the public.


Part VI: The Engravers.

Return to Introduction

[i] See Hathi Trust digital library search under Robert Jennings for a list of possible works connected to him.

[ii] Verbatim. See romantic-circles.org/editions/lel/ksintro for a very good review of this popular periodical.

[iii] Todd (1972).

[iv] See Maxted’s list (2014)  at bookhistory.blogspot.com/2014/10/devon-imprints-exeter-featherstone.

[v] Bennett & Batten (2010).

[vi] Todd (1972) p.69.

[vii] James M‘Kenzie-Hall (1).

[viii] Ibid.

[ix] Batten & Bennett 2000/2010, entry 120

[x] The author has Parts 1 and 9. 

[xi] James M‘Kenzie-Hall (1) see p.190.

[xii] [xii] Copies of these newspapers are held at Devon Archives and Local Studies and were inspected by Ian Maxted. Moore’s History was advertised in two small adverts in The Western Times on August 22nd and 29th; Fisher’s work was advertised in Western Times (29th August and 5th, 12th and 19th September), Woolmer’s Exeter and Plymouth Gazette (5th and 12th Sept.), Trewman’s Exeter Flying Post (3rd, 10th and 17th Sept.), in Flindell’s Western Luminary (8th and 15th Sept.) and in The Alfred on 15th September (i.e. West of England Journal and General Advertiser).


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