Humphrys genealogy

Genealogy research by Mark Humphrys.

My wife's ancestors - Dicey - Contents

William Dicey

William Dicey.
Northamptonshire Central Library. On display at County Hall, Northampton.
From Art UK.

William Dicey,
born 25 Dec 1690.
See Wikipedia.
Pioneer printer and newspaper owner. Pioneer of cheap print.
Originally of Basingstoke, Hampshire.
His sister Elizabeth married 1701 to John Cluer who ran a printing business in Bow Church Yard, London.
William is named in father's will 1703.

Move to London:
He went to London.
He worked with his brother-in-law John Cluer in London for a time.
He is described as a "printer" at mar 1711.

He mar 6 Apr 1711, London, to Mary Atkins [born est c.1693 since still having children in 1734].
See entry from here in London Clandestine Marriage Registers. The terms of his apprenticeship say he is not to marry for 7 years. This may explain why he married secretly days before becoming an apprentice.
Robert Dicey's will of 1757 mentions his uncle "Robert Atkins", then living.

William was apprenticed as a "leather seller" for 7 years to John Sewers, of the London Leathersellers Company, 17 April 1711.
See indenture from here in London, Freedom of the City Admission Papers.
He was "turned over" to John Cluer before the 7 years were up (before 1718).
His son was born 1719 in St Giles Cripplegate parish, London. Though baptised in St Mary-le-Bow church (Bow Church Yard).
By 1719 he was an experienced printer, and he moved into the new business of provincial newspapers.
In 1719 he established the St Ives Mercury newspaper, in St Ives, Cambridgeshire.

Move to Northampton:
He formed a business partnership with Robert Raikes the Elder (who was initially his competition in St Ives).
In 1720, he and Robert Raikes founded the Northampton Mercury newspaper. First edition 2 May 1720. This was the first press in Northampton. The press was next to the George Inn, opposite All Saints' Church, S of Market Square, Northampton. See modern map.
He also got into the business of selling patent medicines.
In 1720 he and Robert Raikes partnered with Benjamin Okell in selling "Dr. Bateman's Pectoral Drops". It was sold as a cure-all for all sorts of ailments. In fact, it was basically opium.

He settled in Northampton.
His son is bapt in Northampton in Jan 1721.
He became a freeman of the Leathersellers Company on 7 August 1721, although he seems never to have practiced this trade.
His brother-in-law John Cluer joined him in the patent medicine business in 1722. John sold the medicine in London.
In 1722, William and Robert Raikes founded the Gloucester Journal. First issue 9 April 1722. This was the first press in Gloucester.

He and Raikes divided the newspaper business in Sept 1725. Raikes became owner of the Gloucester Journal. William became owner of the Northampton Mercury.
He built up a successful business in Northampton, as a printer and seller of books and maps and prints. Also a successful patent medicine business.
In 1726 the patent for "Dr. Bateman's Pectoral Drops" was re-issued to Okell, Dicey, Raikes and Cluer.
John Cluer's will mentions the Letters Patent of 31 March, 12 George I. This is 31 March 1726.
William's son was bapt at Northampton in Apr 1726.
He moved the Northampton Mercury to larger premises at 11 The Parade, Market Hill, Northampton, in 1728. (Market Hill is apparently the old name for Market Square, or mainly the S side of Market Square.)
John Cluer died in 1728. Elizabeth re-married in 1729. She and her 2nd husband continued running the Cluer business in London.
In 1733, William purchased a large house at Market Hill, Northampton for £500 [Neuburg, 1969].
The Dicey business sold patent medicines throughout Britain and Ireland. They sold Dr. Bateman's Pectoral Drops to the American colonies from at least 1733. They also sold to Antigua. See [Simmons, 2000].

Takes over Bow Church Yard, London, business, 1736:
In Nov 1736, William took over the running of the former John Cluer business in London from his sister Elizabeth and her 2nd husband.
William's son Cluer joined him in the business and was sent to London to run the business there.
The Diceys erected a temporary printing press on the frozen River Thames in London during the Frost Fair at Queenhithe in 1740 [Stoker, 2014, p.150].

Mary dies, 1748:
She died 28 Dec 1748.
She was bur 1 Jan 1749, All Saints' Church, Northampton. See burial entry from here.
1754 catalogue: William and his son Cluer printed a catalogue of their publications in 1754. It shows they printed a range of maps, prints, music and chapbooks: "Printed and sold by William and Cluer Dicey, at their warehouse, opposite the south door of Bow-church in Bow-Church-yard".
They were "easily the most important figures of their time in popular publishing" [DNB].
[Simmons, 2000] says: "The Diceys are well known to print and book historians. No other producers of cheap print operated on the scale suggested by the Catalogue and the family has generally been regarded as its" [cheap print's] "most important printers and sellers in the eighteenth century to about the 1790s."
[Neuburg, 1969] notes the Dicey business sold reading material to the poorer classes around England, among whom literacy was increasing across the 18th century. He says the Dicey family are important figures in the growth of a literate public in England.

William purchased a new property in Northampton in 1754 [Neuburg, 1969].
His will dated 3 Apr 1755. He is a Leather Seller, citizen of London, now living Northampton. His will says he still has a one third share of "Dr. Bateman's Pectoral Drops".
The minutes of the Northampton Hospital committee for 15 Nov 1755 show that Mr. Dicey, owner of the Northampton Mercury, agreed to insert items of news for the hospital occasionally for free. (Later, in 1764, his daughter married a surgeon at the hospital.)

William dies, 1756:
He died 2 Nov 1756, Northampton, age 65 yrs.
He was bur 7 Nov 1756, All Saints' Church, Northampton. See burial entry from here.
His will pr 20 April 1757, Prerogative Court of Canterbury.
William and Mary had issue:

  1. Cluer Dicey,
    eldest son,
    born London, 28 Jan 1715 (using new style, regarded at the time as the end of 1714).

  2. William Dicey,
    born in St Giles Cripplegate parish, London,
    bapt 12 Apr 1719, St Mary-le-Bow, London. See entry from here.
    Must have died in infancy. There is another William.

  3. Robert Dicey,
    born 16 Jan 1721 (regarded at the time as end of 1720),
    bapt 26 Jan 1721, Northampton, All Saints. See entry from here.
    He managed the Northampton Mercury for his father from 1747 until his early death in 1757.
    He mar Grace ---- [she is named in his will].
    His will dated 11 Mar 1757. He is Gentleman, of Northampton.
    He died 28 Mar 1757, age 36 yrs.
    His will pr 9 April 1757, Prerogative Court of Canterbury.

  4. Rev. Edward Dicey,
    born 8 Feb 1722 (regarded at the time as end of 1721),
    bapt 6 Mar 1722, Northampton, All Saints. See entry from here.
    He was educ Trinity College, Cambridge. A.M. (Master of Arts).
    He was Rector of Walton, Buckinghamshire, 1751 to death 1790.
    He mar Martha Scawen.
    He is referred to in his brother Cluer's will of 1772. He is listed as of Walton.
    He died 31 Mar 1790, age 68 yrs.

  5. Mary Dicey,
    born 16 Sept 1723,
    bapt 10 Oct 1723, Northampton, All Saints. See entry from here.
    Mentioned as unmarried in father's will 1755.
    Though her brother Robert's will 1757 lists her with two children so they must have arrived quickly.
    She mar 1755-57 to --- Hawkins and had issue:

    1. (son) Hawkins, born 1755-57.
    2. Mary Hawkins, born 1755-57.

  6. Elizabeth Dicey,
    born 5 Oct 1724,
    bapt 27 Oct 1724, Northampton, All Saints. See entry from here.
    She mar --- Chapman.
    She is listed as deceased in Cluer's will of 1772, p.5.

  7. William Dicey,
    second William,
    born 22 Mar 1726.
    He was bapt 15 Apr 1726, Northampton, All Saints. See entry from here.

  8. Amy Dicey,
    born 14 Aug 1727,
    bapt 8 Sept 1727, Northampton, All Saints.
    See entry from here.
    She mar pre-1755 to [possibly Mr. "Rilsby"].
    She is listed as married in father's will 1755. Surname hard to read.
    Also listed in her brother Robert's will 1757. Hard to read there too.
    She died 1758.

  9. Ann Dicey.
    Mentioned as unmarried in father's will 1755.
    She mar pre-1764 to Benjamin Hill [of Northampton] and had issue.
    In 1764, she and her husband sued her brother Cluer for non-payment of her inheritance from her father.
    She is listed as living in Cluer's will of 1772, p.5.

  10. Charlotte Dicey,
    or Charlotta,
    born 18 Jan 1734 [regarded at the time as the end of 1733].
    She was bapt 12 Feb 1734, Northampton, All Saints. See entry from here.
    She mar 1stly to John Yeates and 2ndly to Dr. William Kerr.
    [Burkes LG] confuses her with her niece Charlotte the dau of Cluer Dicey.
    See discussion: Charlotte Kerr is daughter of William Dicey not Cluer Dicey.

Extract from DICEY in [Burkes LG, 1862].

Extract from DICEY in [Burkes LG, 1875].

Marriage of William Dicey, 6 Apr 1711.

An ad for Dr. Bateman's Pectoral Drops, 1728.
Sold by John Cluer in Bow Churchyard, London, and by William Dicey in Northampton, and by Robert Raikes in Gloucester.
From British Museum.

An impressive colour print of Charles I.
After a 1633 portrait.
Print made by "William Dicey and Company, in Bow-Church-Yard" (before 1756).
Possibly made at the time of the Jacobite rising 1745.
From British Museum.




Sources yet to be consulted


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