The Great Fire caused the destruction of the clerks’ press; but a few years later a prominent member of the company, whose portrait we see in the Hall, Mr. John Clarke, procured for them another press with type, and Andrew Clarke was appointed printer. He was succeeded by Benjamin Motte, whose widow carried on the work after his death. An intruding printer, appointed by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of London without the consent of the company, one Humphreys, made his appearance, much to the displeasure of the clerks, who objected to be dictated to with regard to the choice of their own official. Litigation ensued, but in the end Humphreys was appointed. He was not a satisfactory printer, and was careless and neglectful. The clerks reprimanded him and he promised amendment, but his errors continued, and after a petition was presented to the Archbishop and the Bishop of London by the company, he was compelled to resign.
[Illustration: INTERIOR OF THE HALL OF THE PARISH CLERKS COMPANY]
The increase of newspapers and the publication of the bills of mortality in their sheets taken from the records of the clerks materially affected the sale of the company’s issue of the same, and efforts were made in Parliament to obtain a monopoly for the company. This action was costly, and no benefit was derived. After the removal of the unsatisfactory Humphreys the printing of the company passed into the hands of the Rivingtons, a name honoured amongst printers and publishers for many generations. Mr. Charles Rivington was printer for the clerks in 1787, his brother being a bookseller in St. Paul’s Churchyard, to whose son’s widow, Mrs. Anne Rivington, the office passed in 1790. The printing of the bills of mortality was carried on by the company until 1850, having been conducted by the Rivington family for over sixty years.
[Footnote 56: I am indebted for this list of printers to Mr. James Christie’s Some Account of Parish Clerks.]
In addition to their statistical returns, the Company of Parish Clerks are responsible for some other and more important works which reflect great credit upon them. Foremost among them is a book entitled:
“New Remarks of London; or, a Survey of the Cities of London and Westminster, of Southwark and part of Middlesex and Surrey within the circumference of the Bills of Mortality.” It contains “an account of the situation, antiquity, and rebuilding of each church, the value of the Rectory or Vicarage, in whose gifts they are, and the names of the present incumbents or lecturers. Of the several vestries, Hours of Prayer, Parish and Ward Officers, Charity and other schools, the number of Charity Children, how maintained, educated and placed out apprentices, or put to service. Of the Almshouses, Workhouses and Hospitals. The remarkable Places and Things in each Parish, with the limits or Bounds, Streets, Lanes, Courts, and numbers of Houses. An alphabetical table of all the Streets, Courts, Lanes, Alleys, Yards, Rows, Rents, Squares, etc. within the Bills of Mortality, shewing in which Liberty or Freedom they are, and an easy method of finding them. Of the several Inns of Court, and Inns of Chancery, with their several Buildings, Courts, Lanes, etc.