Francis Constable

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Francis Constable

Birthdate:
Birthplace: Datchet, Windsor and Maidenhead, UK
Death: Died in Westminster, London, England
Cause of death: Plague
Place of Burial: St. Margaret, Westminster
Immediate Family:

Son of Robert Constable, II and Margery Constable
Husband of Alice Agnes Constable
Father of Alice Constable; Anne Owen Lee; Sarah Savage; Robert Constable; Roger Constable and 7 others
Brother of Robert Constable, III

Occupation: Bookseller and publisher, stationer
Managed by: Erin Spiceland
Last Updated:

About Francis Constable

Francis Constable (1592 – 1 August 1647) was a London bookseller and publisher of the Jacobean and Caroline eras, noted for publishing a number of stage plays of English Renaissance drama.

(Francis Constable the publisher is distinct from his contemporary, Francis Constable, esquire, of Burstwick in Yorkshire. Many members of the northern family, earlier and later, shared the name Francis Constable.)

Life and work

Francis Constable was baptized on 12 May 1592, in Datchet, Buckinghamshire. He was the son of Robert II Constable and Margery Barker, the daughter of Christopher Barker, printer to Queen Elizabeth I. Francis had an elder brother Robert III Constable baptized at Datchet on 9 September 1590. His brother Robert III was apprenticed on December 7, 1607 at the age of 17 to their maternal uncle Robert Barker, printer to James I of England.

It is also believed that Francis may have been apprenticed to his maternal uncle Robert Barker, who, holding the Bible patent that he had inherited from his father, in 1611 printed the first edition of the King James Bible while Robert & Francis were still apprentices. Francis became a "freedman" (a full member) of the Stationers Company on 2 July 1614. His elder brother Robert became a "freedman" on 12 December 1614.

Francis established his independent business at a series of locations in London and Westminster: first at the sign of the White Lion in St. Paul's Churchyard, from 1616-1624; then under the sign of the Crane, also in St. Paul's Churchyard, 1631; then "under St. Martin's Church" in Ludgate, 1637; then at King Street in Westminster, at the sign of the Goat, 1640, and at Westminster Hall, 1640. It is probable that he rented a stall in Westminster Hall very much earlier than 1640 but that is the first appearance of the Hall in the imprint of any book.[1]

In his career, Constable sometimes partnered with Humphrey Moseley, one of the most prominent publishers of drama and literature in Constable's generation; he also partnered with other stationers on specific projects.

Richard Constable, believed to be a relation of Francis Constable (possibly the son of his brother Robert Constable), was active as a bookseller in the late 1640s.[2]

Francis Constable died 1 August 1647 and was buried the following day at St Margaret, Westminster[3]His wife Alice was buried 2 days later on 4 August 1647, and his only surviving son Robert, at the age of 16 or close to it, was buried on 28 August 1647. It was after Robert's death that the will of Alice Constable was filed for probate on 22 September 1647. It is believed that they died of the plague that was killing many in London that summer. Drama

   Constable's first registered publication was a drama, the first edition of Samuel Daniel's "pastoral tragicomedy" Hymen's Triumph (January 1615).

He published large numbers of plays,in which he was associated for some years with Humphrey Moseley.

Among Constable's other publications in drama were:

  • the first quarto of Beaumont and Fletcher's The Maid's Tragedy, in partnership with stationer Richard Higgenbotham (1619);
  • the second quarto of the same play (1622);
  • Thomas Middleton's A Chaste Maid in Cheapside (1630);
  • Pathomachia (1630);
  • James Shirley's Love Tricks, as The School of Compliment (1631);
  • a second edition of the same play (1637);
  • Philip Massinger and Nathan Field's The Fatal Dowry (1632);
  • William Rowley's A New Wonder, a Woman Never Vexed (1632);
  • Richard Brome's The Antipodes (1640);
  • Brome's The Sparagus Garden (1640);
  • Henry Glapthorne's The Lady's Privilege (1640);
  • Glapthorne's Wit in a Constable (1640).

Constable worked with many London printers on these and other projects, including Richard and Thomas Cotes, Nicholas Okes and his son John Okes, and Elizabeth Allde, among others. Other works

Inevitably, Constable also published a wide variety of other literature beyond the drama. He published the second edition of William Vaughan's The Spirit of Detraction in 1630. He issued multiple editions of Thomas Scott's satire Philomythie, or Philomythologie, Wherein Outlandish Birds Beasts and Fishes are Taught to Speak True English Plainly, in 1616 and after; and multiple editions of Henry Peacham the younger's The Complete Gentleman, from 1622 on. He published items of the religious literature that was so common in the era, like Alexander Ross's Three Decades of Divine Meditations (1630). And religious poetry: Richard Braithwaite's The Psalms of David (1638). He published Peacham's Thalia's Banquet in 1620, and his elegy Thestylis Astrata in 1634; and Glapthorne's poem Whitehall in 1643. Constable also was responsible for texts in medicine and anatomy.[4]

And Constable also issued works of social criticism and contemporary controversies, like Machiavel's Ghost, as He Lately Appeared to His Dear Sons, the Modern Projectors (1641; attributed to John Taylor the Water Poet). He issued one notable volume in the utopian literature, Samuel Hartlib's A Description of the Famous Kingdom of Macaria (1641) — plus a supply of political and legal materials involving the start of the English Civil War and the Commonwealth era.[5] Family

Francis Constable and his wife Alice had fifteen children[6]:

  • Alice, baptised 24 September 1615, St. Gregory by St. Paul, London.
  • Sarah, baptised 16 March 1616/7, St. Gregory by St. Paul, London. (Married Anthony Savage aft. 6 October 1646 at London[7].) She and her husband were among those who presented the will of her mother for probate.
  • Joan, baptised 11 September 1618, St. Gregory by St. Paul, London.
  • Mary, baptised 21 October 1619, St. Andrew, Enfield, Middlesex. She was among those who presented her mother's will for probate.
  • Elizabeth, baptised 24 October 1620, St. Gregory by St. Paul, London.
  • Anne, baptised 21 February 1621/2, St. Gregory by St. Paul, London.
  • Margaret, baptised 26 June 1623, St. Gregory by St. Paul, London. (Married Robert Hunny 1 July 1642 at St. Margaret, Westminster.)
  • Rachel, baptised 24 September 1624, St. Gregory by St. Paul, London.
  • Simon, baptised 14 August 1625, Datchet, Buckinghamshire; buried 29 November 1627, St. Andrew Undershaft, London.
  • Robert (twin), baptised 24 August 1626, St. Andrew Undershaft, London; buried 10 September 1626.
  • Roger (twin), baptised 24 August 1626, St. Andrew Undershaft, London; buried 10 September 1626.
  • Alice, baptised 16 March 1627/8, St. Andrew Undershaft, London.
  • Frances, baptised 5th July 1629, St. Andrew Undershaft, London. She was among those who presented her mother's will for probate.
  • Rachel, baptised 18 July 1630, St. Andrew Undershaft, London. She was among those who presented her mother's will for probate.
  • Robert, baptised 2 October 1631, St. Andrew Undershaft, London; buried 28 August 1647, St. Margaret, Westminster.

An interesting claim is made in many genealogies that one of Francis's daughters, Anne Constable, married Richard I Lee, an important figure in the colony of Virginia[8], who was the ancestor of Confederate General, Robert E. Lee.

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Francis Constable's Timeline

1592
May 13, 1592
Datchet, Windsor and Maidenhead, UK
May 14, 1592
Datchet, co. Bucks
May 14, 1592
Datchet, co. Bucks
May 14, 1592
Datchet, co. Bucks
1615
1615
Age 22
London, England
1616
March 16, 1616
Age 23
London, Middlesex, England
1622
February 21, 1622
Age 29
London, Middlesex, England
1626
1626
Age 33
1626
Age 33
London, England
1629
1629
Age 36
London, England