Not Forgetting Guil: Marshall

Guil. Marshall is born in 1647.  He is the artist formerly known as William.


Sometime at the beginning of March 1649, one Mumford, a bookbinder and “a poore man living in St. Pulchers Parish” had “taken some…Bookes to bind,” reportedly in order to earn money for his family and his pregnant wife.  Yet, according to the royalist newsbook Mercurius Pragmaticus, “Information being given (by a base Sycophanticall jade who lived neare by him)” prompted a crew of “Sectarian Raga-muffin Souldiers” forcibly to enter his house.  They then “wounded the poore man in foure or five places, cut his books to pieces and tooke what they lik’t of his goods away with them” (3H2r).

The poor bookbinder and the intruding soldiers show us something of a text’s tangibility; sheets of paper become “books,” which are in turn reduced to “pieces” – and both sit alongside Mumford’s “goods,” his material possessions.  Books, perhaps most acutely during the Civil War, are more than just “text.”  In detailing the destruction of the binder’s house and materials, Mercurius Pragmaticus, with its explicit ideological agenda, emphasises the forms of creation and labour required in disseminating texts, possibly commenting on its own precarious production.

The short anecdote about Mumford is in this instance rather sad, but it nevertheless affirms the risky romance of the royalist book trade during the Civil War and the Interregnum.  Loyalist book production was a tricky business; the violent treatment of the bookbinder Mumford indicates that all areas of non-conformist book production were potentially dangerous, complicated, or criminal.

It is in this atmosphere that William Marshall, signed variously as Will: Marshall, W.M., W. Marshall, and, perhaps tellingly, Guil: Marshall, worked the final years of his trade as an engraver and illustrator of books.  The most prominent English engraver of his generation, Marshall decorated many significant texts with frontispieces and author-portraits, from the mountainous edifice that so upset the author of Emblemes, George Wither, to what was apparently too accurate a portrait of John Milton.  Yet, it is his curious change of signature, moving from the vernacular “Will.” or “William” to the Latinised “Guil:”, for Guilelmus, that drew my attention when I began to work on his frontispieces last year, and I have been thinking about it further in recent weeks.  It seems to me that the Latin frontispieces are part of a self-conscious move towards explicitly political engraving on Marshall’s behalf and they make an impressive claim for images as an important, if not central, tool in royalist resistance, making texts into political things.


The Latinised form of Marshall’s first name first appears in a portrait of John Fletcher in 1647, and, amongst extant works, he signs himself ‘Guil’ or a variant seven times:

Year Title Marshall’s engraving Author Imprint Wing No.
1647 Comedies and tragedies written by Francis Beaumont and Iohn Fletcher… Portrait bust Beaumont, Francis and John Fletcher London : printed for Humphrey Robinson, at the three Pidgeons, and for Humphrey Moseley, at the Princes Armes in St Pauls Church-yard, 1647. B1581
1649 The royal charter granted unto kings, by God himself Frontispiece Bayly, Thomas London: Printed in the Year 1649 B1514
1649 The papers which passed at Nevv-Castle betwixt His Sacred Majestie and Mr Al: Henderson Frontispiece Charles I and Alexander Henderson London: printed for R: Royston, at the Angel in Ivie-lane. 1649. C2535
1649 Eikon Basilike Frontispiece Charles I/John Gauden London: Printed for R. Royston in Ivie-lane. M.DC.XLVIII. E269
1649 Sarah and Hagar: or, Genesis the sixteenth chapter opened. Author portrait Shute, Josias. London: printed for J.L. and Humphrey Moseley, at the signe fo the Princes Armes in Pauls Church-yard, 1649. S3716
1649 The works of Publius Virgilius Maro Portrait of John Ogilby (translator) Virgil London : printed by T[homas]. R[atcliffe]. and E[dward]. M[ottershed]. for John Crook, 1649 V608
1650 A Pisgah-sight of Palestine and the confines thereof Four maps Fuller, Thomas London : printed by J.F. for John Williams at the signe of the Crown in Pauls Church-yard, MDCL F2455

All these publishers have royalist connections, and all date from the late 1640s or, the last, from 1650.  Three are explicit royalist texts – EikonRoyal charter, and Letters which passed at Nevv-castle – and they are the three frontispieces.

Pictures were certainly associated with royalist propaganda.  The production of images contributed to the arrests and fines of Marshall’s printers and booksellers.  Royston (the main royalist publisher), as we shall see, was charged for the frontispiece of the Henderson papers.  John Williams, too, was arrested “to the Gatehouse, for printing and publishing scandalous and seditious pamphlets” on Christmas Day 1649 (Calendar of State Papers 453).  Following the “Act against unlicensed and scandalous books and pamphlets,” passed on the 20th September 1649, charges almost always include a warning against seditious “pictures” and in October that year, Ratcliffe and Mottershead were subject to “recognizances” with the charge “not to print any seditious or unlicensed books, pamphlets, or pictures, nor suffer his presses to be used for any such purpose” (Calendar 523).  It is perhaps no coincidence that it was around this year Marshall’s Latinised signature appears and he produces a number of powerful royalist images.  The concern over the printing of pictures testifies to the increasing recognition of their subversive potential and their importance to the royalist book trade. The anxiety surrounding images, as much as bookbinding, suggests that for a mid-seventeenth century book-buyer, there is indeed something outside the text.

With regards to Marshall’s frontispieces, without doubt the most famous (possibly the most well-known of the entire period) is Eikon Basilike, which contains signs and symbols instantly recognisable to royalist readers and is characteristic of Marshall’s native and plain style:

Eikon Basilike appeared somewhere early in 1649, as suggested by correspondence between Dr Hammond and Dr Sheldon regarding

 …ye sight of those fruits

Of his retirements which Royston sent

Mee down with ye sad narratiues’

(BM MS Harleian 6942, ff.84)

Much ink has been exchanged regarding the nature of the printing of Eikon Basilike and its true genesis, but with regards to the frontispiece, it appears that the papers were sent to publisher Richard Royston, bearing “a Crowne’ with ‘their wreaths of thornes.” Before printing, though, “his Mtie  sent an Other figure” to be “ingraven in Copper,” according to the evidence of William Levett, former page to King Charles (and many thanks to the Haszard family, of Milford Hall, Staffordshire, for allowing me to view and transcribe the Levett material in person). Levett’s evidence includes a statement from Richard Royston that Levett later set down by hand on 18th November 1684.  It contains a blank space, presumably for an engraver’s name.  In the margin of this letter is written the precise instructions for the image, to be “ingraven in Copper…and annexled to the Booke which I haue by mee.”  The letter, in this light, suggests that the frontispiece was central to printing the first copy.  

Indeed, the precise instructions of Dr Hammond, in a letter to Sheldon on 20 May, testify to the significance of visually adorning the King’s writings: 


papers haue been done this weeke, but

are yet in expectation of a frontispiece…

(BM MS Harleian 6942 ff. 14)

Continuing the letter vertically, Hammond notes the importance of the frontispiece to the text as an object, central to its final condition.  He reveals that the frontispiece, integral to the book production,

 delayes their coming out till next weeke & becaus I suppose you desire to

haue them perfect, I send you them not till ye next.

It is the image that makes the text “perfect.” Marshall’s work suggests, at least for the mid-seventeenth century, that the frontispiece is much more than just “an elaborate allegorical and emblematic visual introduction to the book” (Margery Corbett and Ronald Lightbown 6) – it is essential to its form and meaning, as central a part of composition and reception as the work of Mumford the binder.

It is probable that Hammond’s letter refers not to the Eikon, however, but to The Papers which passed at Nevv-castle, also known as the Henderson papers.  Hammond was involved both in the Eikon, as noted above in his reference to “those fruits,” and more actively in the publication of the Henderson papers.  The latter appeared from Royston’s press later in 1649, it seems likely that Hammond is referring to this publication in his expectation of a frontispiece (see BM MS Harleian 6942 ff. 100 for discussion over the papers).

Indeed, the publisher Royston was apprehended for the publication of The Papers which passed at Nevv-castle.  Francis Madan conjectures that the papers were “intended to accompany his own current edition of the Eikon” (2) and indeed Hammond’s correspondence also suggests that the papers be “Ioyned to anther edition” of the Eikon (BM MS Harleian 6942 ff. 100).  Significantly, when it was finally printed, William Marshall provided the frontispiece – probably the engraving that Hammond and Sheldon were waiting for on May 20:

Frontispiece, BM

Again, it is most notably the frontispiece of the text that offended the authorities, and not its textual content.  The eighteenth entry in the State Papers on 31 May 1649 records that

Aldermen Pennington and Atkins were to send for the author of the book called ‘The papers which passed at Newcastle’, examine him concerning the frontispiece, and proceed against him. (Calendar 167)

Indeed, the image itself draws a visual comparison with the Eikon and the Latin inscription reads “Non enim te spreverunt Solum, sed me spreverunt, ne Regnem super ipsos,” ‘‘for they have not rejected you alone, but rejected me, not to rule over them.’  The royalist connection of Charles with martyrdom and with the true religion is already familiar.  The angelic figures at the top of the engraving, surrounding the sun, suggest a figurative play on “Solum,” but also present the image of a King who has exchanged, as Dr Juxon reportedly said, “a Temporal” for “an eternal Crown, a good exchange” (“A Perfect Diurnal…” 1744).

The third frontispiece that Marshall signed Guil: is Thomas Bayly’s The royal charter granted unto kings. Bayly’s text is itself founded upon visual imagery, dependant upon both emotional and political pictures.  He writes that “Kings are lively representations, living statues, or pictures, drawn to the life of the great deity” (C4r), drawing on a familiar royalist platform for propaganda.  It is a sentiment that pervades the printing practices of the London royalists, present in Dr Hammond’s esteem of the frontispiece in his correspondence and in the vividness of Charles’s prose in the Eikon.  It may also go some way to explaining the visual “parallels” between God and the King in Marshall’s frontispieces.  Bayly even makes a direct comparison with the “carver or engraver,” who can erase his image if he “mislike” it (C3v).  The engraver was clearly an important part of the royalists’ literal and metaphorical image-making.

Royal charter, frontispiece, BM

The hand extending from the clouds is commonplace in all early modern iconography, and Marshall is particularly fond of it.  In this instance, Bayly’s text itself provides some justification for the image, as he notes that “Emperours used to stamp their coyne with a hand coming out of the clouds, holding a crown, and placing it upon their head; we have no such Hieroglyphicks in our Coyne, as a hand coming out of a cloud…” (D3 recto). The gesture, in this light, takes on some rather provocative political overtones, aligning the monarch with an emperor, and harking back to the glorious Roman empire – the homeland of learned Latin alluded to here by the newly Latinate Guil.  Indeed, the Latin draws together the three Guil frontispieces, here stating that Charles’s flowers and lyre/lute are seen as lions (tuere leones), in comparison to the Tree of Jesse (Flos Jesse) and the Lion of Judah (Iudaeq. Leo).  The Tree of Jesse is known to be a symbol of growth and birth, often compared to Jesus, and the Lion of Judah also represents Christ.  Both images are related to the “Root of David” (Revelations 5:5).  Tellingly, it is the cult of King David that is central to Caroline iconography, and in Eikon, Charles writes: ‘I come far short of Davids piety; yet since I may equall Davids affections, give me also the comforts and the sure mercies of David (P6 recto).  The Latin on all three frontispieces clearly engages with the body of writing surrounding Charles’s “martyrdome.”


If Mumford’s ordeal in March 1649 suggests that books are not simply text, that all aspects of creating the object of a book – from printing to binding – are politically sensitive, then Guil: Marshall‘s three Latin frontispieces show the importance of picture-making.  It is the images that riled the authorities and that still catch our attention, as much as the words inside those dangerously bound covers. Perhaps (if possible in this incredibly brief survey of Marshall’s later work) they also affirm the interrelatedness of Civil War writing, tasking us to see not only the “collaborative, multimedia text” (Elizabeth Skerpan-Wheeler 111), but the text as a composite political object, with all the “scandalous and seditious” material of bindings, covers, books, and pictures.


Appendix: An up-to-date table (20 March 2013) showing state of the frontispiece and known whereabouts of the first issue of the first edition of Eikon Basilike, due to the absence of accurate information elsewhere (including the ESTC).

Library Frontispiece
Cambridge University Library (includes Sir Geoffrey Keynes Collection, British & Foreign Bible Society, & Peterborough Cathedral Missing frontispiece, but no clear signs of forced removal.  Seen personally
Exeter Cathedral Library The first issue was stolen 35 years ago. Contacted library.
Duke University Although the ESTC states two copies, the librarian and the catalogue only know one, which is missing a frontispiece, no clear signs of removal. Spoke to library.
Harvard University Contains a first state frontispiece. Contacted library, who kindly sent a photograph for confirmation.
Henry E. Huntingdon Library and Art Gallery Although I have had no response from the librarian, the scans on Early English Books Online and the microfilm (Early English Books 787:25) are also wanting frontispieces.  It seems unlikely that they would have omitted the frontispiece from a full facsimile copy.
Library Company of Philadelphia Although the photographic reproduction is unclear, it matches the Harvard copy’s faint ceiling pattern, suggesting it is also first state.
Alexander Turnbull Library, New Zealand Third state frontispiece, which was likely added during rebinding. Contacted library, who kindly sent a photograph for confirmation.

Works Cited:

Pecke, Samuel. “No. 288, Tuesday, January 30.” A Perfect Diurnal of Some Passage in Parliament.  1649. The Norton of English Literature Volume B.  Ed. George M. Logan et al.  London: Norton, 2006.  1741-1744. Print.

Bayly, Thomas.  The royal charter granted unto kings, by God himself.  London: 1649. Print.

Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, 1649-1650.  Ed Mary Anne Everett Green. Vaduz: Kraus Reprint Ltd, 1965. Print.

Charles I and John Gauden.  Eikon Basilike.  London: R. Royston, 1649. Print.

Corbett, Margery and Roger Lightbown.  The Comely Frontispiece: The Emblematic Title-Page in England 1550-1600.  London: Routledge, 1979. Print.

Hammond, Henry.  Letters.  BM. MS. Harleian 6942, ff.84, 100, 114.  British Library, London.

Madan, Francis.  A New Bibliography of the Eikon Basilike.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1950. Print.

Nedham, Marchamont et al.  Mercurius pragmaticus: communicating intelligence from all parts, touching all affairs, designes, humours, and conditions throughout the Kingdome…Part 2 Num. 45 (March 5 to March 12, 1649).  Print.

Skerpan-Wheeler, Elizabeth.  “Authorship and Authority: John Milton, William Marshall, and the Two Frontispieces of Poems 1645.”  Milton Quarterly 33.4 (1999): 105-114.  Project Muse.  Web.  12 Mar. 2013.



  1. Enjoyed your tables – Jason would be proud! 😉 Interestingly enough I’ve been thinking about royalist books this week too, since I’ve been reading Richard Baker’s “Chronicle of the Kings of England”, which was first printed in 1643 and dedicated to the future Charles II. It seems to have been enormously popular – it ultimately went through 13 editions, and from what I can tell influenced almost all the chronicles that came after it – but funnily enough its second edition didn’t come out until 1653… In any case, sadly (for my purposes!) Baker’s royalism didn’t extend so far as to encourage a favourable account of Edward II’s reign 😉 he goes to great lengths to justify the noble rebellion against him, “that it might not be interpreted as rebellion, which was indeed Providence”…

    1. Interesting!
      That reminds me of something I’d been meaning to ask you about – what you know of John Taylor’s List of English Monarchs/Brief remembrance of all the English monarchs. I’m interested in the pictures, and I’m trying to find out more…
      The original octavo (STC 23736) has head-and-shoulders portraits of the monarchs, engraved, but the section in Taylor’s 1630 Works has new images – cruder woodcuts but full length (and more interesting).
      I haven’t found anything about where these woodcuts came from, or whether they are unique to those two texts (though that’s surely unlikely in the earlier instance), but the full-length pictures in the Works depict “bad” monarchs with their swords facing down, and/or in a particularly un-kingly pose. I think they’re quite interesting. It seems Taylor is more forgiving of Edward than what you say of Baker, but the King does look rather melancholic…

      1. I’m afraid to say I can’t be much help with the pictures :-/ they are on my (very long) list of things to investigate, as I think Taylor’s works on the monarchs are really interesting (particularly the shift from first person in the “Brief Remembrance” to third in the “Memoriall”, and the fact that in the latter there’s nothing about Edward’s life at all, just eight lines of grisly death!) but I haven’t got there yet. I think you’re right in thinking the engravings in the 1618 edition probably came from another book (why waste all that money on a first edition that might not even sell very well?) but I haven’t spotted them anywhere else yet – will of course give you a shout if I do! 🙂

      2. PS – you probably already know this, but I think the full-length portraits first appear in the 1622 edition of the “Briefe remembrance” (STC 23738). Consistent at least with the idea that they bothered to commission some original images once they knew the book was commercially viable 🙂

  2. Malcolm jones · · Reply

    if you ‘re interested in Marshall as a ‘political’ engraver, have you seen my attribution to him – in part via the otherwise oddly out of order panels labelled W followed by M, on the engraved broadside Syons Calamity” in my book, The Print in Early Modern England”.

    1. Thanks Malcolm; It’s been a while since I’ve thought about Marshall, but I’m a big fan of The Print in Early Modern England and will be sure to revisit it to look at this.

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