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The Premier Protestant Printer, John Dye and his connections to Little Bradley

23rd March 2018 | Clubs, Local History Society


by Wickhambrook History Society

If you visit Little Bradley church, I am sure you will be struck by the monument to John Daye, his wife Alice le Hunte and their thirteen children. But who was John Daye?

Wendy Barnes has been researching the history of Little Bradley for thirty years and keeps discovering more, thanks to the internet.

She told us of John Daye, probably born in Dunwich in 1522, who by the age of 25 was a printer in London. In Tudor times to be a printer was more like being a publisher today with involvement in all aspects of producing a book. He was very lucky to be granted a licence to print the first Bibles which made his name and furthered his career. Henry VIII had decreed that all parishes should have a Bible and this was enforced in the reign of Edward VI. When Mary became Queen, John Daye weathered the storms for a while but was finally sent to the Tower for printing ‘noyghty’ (naughty) books. He then went into exile on the continent where he improved his printing and engraving skills. He returned to England under the Protestant Queen Elizabeth and added a wide range of titles to his work, from more religious ones like the Book of Psalms to scientific and educational volumes by Nostradamus, Roger Ascham and John Dee. His most famous publication is Foxe’s Book of Martyrs which is not only technically superb but also the second most important book for Protestants through to the 19th century.

When he became ill in later life, his wife Alice planned to bring him to her family home in Little Bradley but he died on the journey, in Saffron Walden in 1584.

Wendy brought this turbulent time in history to life for us. A fascinating story.

Our next meeting is the AGM on Tuesday 17th April at 7pm. This will be followed by History of the Town Crier by Mike Wabe.

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Wickhambrook History Society

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