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William Dugdale

A Biography of an Obscene Publisher, Bookseller and Printer
Copyright © 2010 Sheryl Straight

The majority of this biography contains newly discovered, never before published material; particularly, information about Dugdale's ancestors and descendants...including a previously unknown third brother (also in the bookselling business) and Dugdale's marriage, which produced a son who followed in his father's footsteps. Last updated: March 21, 2010.

Family History

William Dugdale's Quaker grandparents, John and Jennet Dugdale, were born in the English town of Lancaster, an area with extensive wool and cotton mills and a considerable flannel manufacture.[1] John was employed there as linen draper.[2] About 1770, Jennet gave birth to William’s father, John, in Stockport; where he worked as a "hosier and tailor".[3] Although it has been said that he. was also a bookseller I have not yet found documents showing this to be true.[4]

On June 29th, 1797 John married Ann Platt, the daughter of William Platt, a clock and watch-maker, and Elizabeth.[5] Ann was born on February 16th, 1772 in Stockport.[6] She died at the age of 38 on January 22nd, 1810 due to complications from the birth of son, Jabez, who was born three days earlier.[7] John and Ann had 6 children, all born in Stockport, although three of them: Jennet, Samuel and Jabez died before the age of 10 and within a 3 year time span.

Children of John and Ann: [8] [9]

  • Jennet Dugdale – born April 23, 1798. She died at age 9 on April 12, 1807.
  • William Dudgale – born March 29, 1800. He died at age 68 on Nov. 11, 1868.[10]
  • Thomas Dugdale – born March 13, 1802. Thomas emigrated to the United States with his wife sometime after 1851 and before 1870, where the 1870 US Census shows him living in Newark, New Jersey, occupation: hatter. See info on daughter and grandchildren below. Thomas is still living per the 1880 US Census.
    • Married Elizabeth.[11]
      • Ann Dugdale – born abt. 1828 in Stockport. She married Thomas Blacketer August 1, 1850. Thomas was a bookseller who is shown running Dugdale shops at 51 Holywell-street (1851 England census) and 16 Holywell-street. Thomas was convicted of selling obscene prints at the 16 Holywell-street address in 1857. She immigrated to the United States in 1853. Her son, John Edward and daughter Alice, are shown living with Thomas and Elizabeth Dugdale in the 1870 US census.
  • John Lambert Dugdale – born December 31, 1803. He died in the 2nd quarter of 1856.[12]
    • Married Sarah Wedderburn in St. Anne parish, London on November 24, 1829.[13]
      • Hope Dugdale was baptized February 13, 1831. She died at the age of 6 months on Aug 14, 1831. Hope was named after Sarah’s sister, Hope Wedderburn; who (along with publisher John James Ascham) was a witness to John and Sarah’s marriage.
  • Samuel Dugdale – born December 13, 1805. He died at age of 3 ½ on July 8, 1809.
  • Jabez Dugdale – born January 19 1810. He died at age 4 months on May 12, 1810.

The surviving three brothers were educated at Ackworth School, a boarding school for Quaker boys and girls. William attended from 1809-1813, Thomas from 1812-1816, and John from 1814-1817.[14]

Marriage and Family

On May 4th, 1826 William Dugdale married Hannah Pinnell (or Pinnall) in St. Anne Soho parish.[15] Hannah, the daughter of Robert Pinnell and Fanny Warren, was baptized May 23rd, 1803 in Warminster, Wiltshire, England.[16]

Children of William and Hannah:

  • William John Dugdale – christened September 4, 1827 at St. Martin-in-the Fields church in Westminster, London, England.[18] In the 1851 England census, William's occupation is listed as bookseller at 35 Holywell-street.[21]
    • Married Jane Samuels November 8, 1846 in Deptford, Kent, England.[19]
      • They had at least one son, William Ambrose Dugdale; christened March 18, 1849 in the parish of St. Clement Danes in Westminster, London, England.[20]
  • Frances Dugdale - born June 24, 1827 in St. Martin-in-the Fields parish.
    • Married John Higdon Thornhill, a tailor, on October 26, 1845 in St. Martin-in-the Fields parish. He and Frances also ran Dugdale's shop at 5 Holywell-street while Frances' father was in prison for selling obscene prints. In 1858, John and Thomas Blacketer (husband of Ann, Thomas Dugdale's daughter) were convicted of selling obscene prints from the same address. They were sentenced to 6 months hard labor.
      • Fanny M. was born abt. 1847 in Deptford, England.
      • John H. was born abt. 1848 in Deptford, England.
      • Joan was born abt. 1848 in Deptford, England.
      • Nellie Grace was born abt. 1868 in London, England.
  • Jessie Dugdale - born the 1st quarter of 1844.
    • Married Theophilus Sebastian Judge in the 4th quarter of 1865 in St. Giles in the Fields parish. Theo was born the 1st quarter of 1840 in Windsor, Berkshire, Surrey, England. Theo, as well as his father, Jasper Judge, and many of his brothers were booksellers involved in the obscene book trade. Theophilus used many aliases during his career as a bookseller including Thomas Judge and C. Brown. He operated out of an address on Holywell-street (a Dugdale shop?) and Dugdale’s shop at 44 Wych-street, which he continued running after Dugdale’s death. He was indicted for selling obscene prints and books from that address on April 13, 1869 and sentenced to 2 years in prison. Theo died at the age of 86 in 1926 in Chelsea, London, England.
  • Elizabeth Jane Dugdale – christened January 17, 1847 in the parish of St. Clement Danes in Westminster, London, England.[22]

Publisher / Bookseller / Printer

At the age of 18, Dugdale moved to London where he was employed by William Benbow, a radical publisher of obscene books.[23] After 4 years of learning the book trade under Benbow’s wing, Dugdale entered the printing and publishing business under his own shop at 19 Tower Street, Seven-Dials, London, England.[24]

Initially, the subjects of the books he published were not considered obscene, publishing works by authors such as Byron and Thomas Moore. Beginning about 1827, perhaps going where the money was, he moved away from the "safe" titles and started publishing bawdy, salacious, and pornographic works almost exclusively. The books were primarily reprints of English erotica and English translations of previously published French titles; the majority of the translations being done by James Campbell Reddie (c.1808-1878); with some original titles written by Edward Sellon (1818-1866).[25] By 1850, Dugdale was the primary source of pornographic literature in England.

William Dugdale, however, wasn’t the only Dugdale involved in the book trade…his two brothers, Thomas and John, as well as his son, William John Dugdale, were all booksellers: Thomas from c.1847 until c.1851, John from 1841 until his death in 1856; and son, William John, from c.1851. The 1851 English census shows the Dugdales each operating out of bookshops located in close proximity to each other on Holywell-street.[26]

Addresses & Aliases

The first known address used by Dugdale was 19 Tower Street, Seven-Dials in 1822. Over the span of the next 17 years, Dugdale set his shop(s) up at seven different addresses. In 1839 he opened up a shop at 37 Holywell Street, working from there more or less until about 1864. His last known address was at 44 Wych Street. See list of addresses below.

When Dugdale registered for a printer’s license or when he included an address as part of the publisher’s imprint he would sometimes include a false publisher or printer name such as Smith, Brown, Turner, or Young.[27] Because of this it can be difficult to positively identify who published what, when, and where. The table below makes an attempt.

One item of note: Ashbee says John, who used the alias "W. Johns", worked out of 35 Holywell Street.[28] I now think that information may be incorrect based on the following: The 1851 English census and the 1855 Hodson directory both show William Dugdale's son, William John Dugdale, bookseller, at 35 Holywell Street (and as W. Johns in the 1855 directory), not John who is listed at 50 Holywell in both documents.[29] [30]

Guilty of Obscenity

William Dugdale was sent to prison numerous times for publishing literature deemed obscene by the courts. The first known indictment brought against Dugdale for the sale of an obscene book occurred in 1830.[31]  He was found not guilty. Subsequent trials occurred in 1845 (fined)[32], 1851 (2 years in prison)[33], 1857 (1 year in prison with hard labor)[34], 1861 (2 years in prison)[35], and in 1868.[36] The latter landed him 18 months in the Clerkenwell House of Correction prison, where he died a few months after his incarceration.[37]

See also England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892 at Ancestry.com

Thomas Dugdale was found guilty of selling and publishing obscene prints from 51 Holywell Street on August 16th, 1847 and sentenced to 1 year in prison.[38]

John Lambert Dugdale was indicted twice for selling obscene prints: once in 1847 (found guility, surities to appear) and again in 1856 (2 months).[39]

The Death of William Dugdale

William Dugdale died at the age of 68 on November 11, 1868 while incarcerated at the Clerkenwell house of correction. An article posted in Lloyd’s Weekly Newspaper regarding an inquiry into the circumstances of his death reads in part: “Jessie Judge of 44 Wych-street…said she was the daughter of the deceased. She had seen him several times since he had been in prison. He had been very ill and was not ill when he entered the gaol…He was deprived of books and pen and paper and that I think affected his mind….it appeared that although sentenced to hard labour he did not do any; and had been in the convalescent ward, and on a first-class diet from the first.” Cause of death was ruled as “death from natural causes”. The jury also strongly recommended that books of a higher intellectual character than those generally distributed throughout the ward should be made available to the “high class of men who were prisoners”.

Addresses and Aliases (First Known Use)

William Dugdale

  • 1822        19 Tower Street, Seven-Dials [40]
  • 1824        23 Russell Court, Drury Lane [41]
  • 1830        23 Russell Court, Drury Lane (as Turner) [42]
  • 1834        30 Russell Court [43]
  • 1837        94 Drury Lane [44]
  • 1838        94 Drury Lane (as Henry Smith) [45]
  • 1838          3 Wych Street [46]
  • 1839        94 1/2 Drury Lane [47]
  • 1839        37 Holywell Street, Strand [48]
  • 1840        37 Holywell Street, Strand (as Henry Smith) [49]
  • 1842        37 Holywell Street, Strand (as Henry Smith) [50]
  • 1842        11 Holywell Street, Strand [51]
  • 1851        37 Holywell Street, Strand [52]
  • 1855        16 Holywell Street, Strand (as both W. Dugdale and Henry Smith ) [53]
  • 1857          5 Holywell Street, Strand (as Henry Smith) [54]
  • 1861        37 Holywell Street, Strand [55]
  • 1864        44 Wych Street (as C. Brown) [56]

Thomas Dugdale

  • 1847        51 Holywell Street, Strand [57]
  • 1851        51 Holywell Street, Strand [58]
  • 1855        51 Holywell Street, Strand (as D. Brown) [59]

John Lambert Dugdale

  • 1838        Address unknown (as J. Ryder) [60]
  • 1840        50 Holywell Street, Strand (as J. Turner) [61]
  • 1841        Fredrick Place. Middlesex, St. Pancras, Regent Park [62]
  • 1851        50 Holywell Street, Strand (as J. Turner) [63]
  • 1855        50 Holywell Street, Strand [64]

William John Dugdale

  • 1851        35 Holywell Street, Strand [65]
  • 1855        35 Holywell Street, Strand (as W. Johns) [66]


This work on William Dugdale is copyrighted.
The content may not be reproduced in any form without my expressed permission.


Citations:

[1] Society of Friends' Registers, Notes and Certificates of Births, Marriages and Burials "Register of Marriages for the Monthly Meeting of Morley, Cheshire from 1796 to 1831".

[2] Holden's Annual London and Country Directory, of the United Kingdoms, and Wales, in Three Volumes, for the Year 1811. London: W. Holden, 1811. Vol.3, pg.99

[3] Holden's Annual London and Country Directory, of the United Kingdoms, and Wales, in Three Volumes, for the Year 1811. London: W. Holden, 1811. Vol.2, pg.414

[4] McCalman, Iain. Radical Underworld: Prophets, revolutionaries, and pornographers in London, 1795-1840. London: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p.156

[5] Society of Friends' Registers, Notes and Certificates of Births, Marriages and Burials "Register of Marriages for the Monthly Meeting of Morley, Cheshire from 1796 to 1831".

[6] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch. "International Genealogical Index/British Isles".

[7] Society of Friends' Registers, Notes and Certificates of Births, Marriages and Burials "Register of Burials for the Monthly Meeting of Morley, Cheshire, from 1795 to 1831".

[8] Society of Friends' Registers, Notes and Certificates of Births, Marriages and Burials "Register of Births for the Monthly Meeting of Morley, Cheshire from 1781 to 1830".

[9] Society of Friends' Registers, Notes and Certificates of Births, Marriages and Burials "Register of Burials for the Monthly Meeting of Morley, Cheshire, from 1795 to 1831".

[10] Fraxi, Pisanus (Henry Spencer Ashbee). Bibliography of Prohibited Books. Vol.1, p. 127

[11] 1851 England Census

[12] General Register Office (GRO). England and Wales Civil Registration Indexes. Year: 1856, Quarter: Apr-May-Jun, District: Strand, County: London, Middlesex, Volume: 1b, Page: 262

[13] Ancestry.com Pallot's Marriage Index for England: 1780-1837

[14] List of the Boys and Girls admitted into Ackworth School During the 100 years from…1779…1879. London: Samuel Harris and Co., 1879. p.1814-1816

[15] Ancestry.com Pallot's Marriage Index for England: 1780-1837

[16] Ancestry.com. England & Wales Christening Records, 1530-1906

[17] The Evening Star (London, England) - Nov 14, 1857

[18] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch. "International Genealogical Index/British Isles".

[19] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch. "International Genealogical Index/British Isles".

[20] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch. "International Genealogical Index/British Isles".

[21] 1851 England Census

[22] Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch. "International Genealogical Index/British Isles".

[23] McCalman, Iain. Radical Underworld: Prophets, revolutionaries, and pornographers in London, 1795-1840. London: Cambridge University Press, 1988. p.156

[24] Byron. The Two Visions; or Byron v. Southey. Containing The Vision of Judgement. London: W. Dugdale, 1822

[25] Mendes, Peter. Clandestine Erotic Fiction in English 1800-1930, p.421

[26] 1851 England Census

[27] Fraxi, Pisanus (Henry Spencer Ashbee). Bibliography of Prohibited Books. Vol.1, p. 127

[28] Fraxi, Pisanus (Henry Spencer Ashbee). Bibliography of Prohibited Books. Vol.3, p. 180

[29] 1851 England Census

[30] Hodson's Booksellers, Publishers and Stationers' directory for London and Country. London: Hodson, 1855, p.69, p.71

[31] The Times (London, England) - May 28, 1830

[32] The Times (London, England) - Oct 29, 1845

[33] The Times (London, England) - Sept 04, 1851

[34] The Evening Star (London, England) - May 11, 1857

[35] The Times (London, England)  - Oct 14, 1861

[36] The Times (London, England) - Jun 19, 1868

[37] Fraxi, Pisanus (Henry Spencer Ashbee). Bibliography of Prohibited Books. Vol.1, p. 127

[38] Proceedings of the Old Bailey. Tenth Session, 1847, p.783

[39] Ancestry.com England & Wales, Criminal Registers, 1791-1892.

[40] Byron. The Two Visions; or Byron v. Southey. Containing The Vision of Judgement. London: W. Dugdale, 1822

[41] Byron. Mazeppa: a poem. London: W. Dugdale, 1824

[42] Singular Life And Adventures Of Miss Fanny Hill. London: Re-Printed by Turner, 23 Russell Court, [c.1830]

[43] Middlesex Sessions of the Peace: Enrolment, Registration and Deposit  (Printers Notices)

[44] Proceedings of the Old Bailey. Second Session, 1837, p.219

[45] Middlesex Sessions of the Peace: Enrolment, Registration and Deposit  (Printers Notices)

[46] Middlesex Sessions of the Peace: Enrolment, Registration and Deposit  (Printers Notices)

[47] Pigot & Co.’s  Directory of London, 1839

[48] The Fly. A Literary and Pictorial Miscellany. Advertisement for "Memoirs of Harriette Wilson". London: 1839. p.88

[49] Middlesex Sessions of the Peace: Enrolment, Registration and Deposit  (Printers Notices)

[50] Middlesex Sessions of the Peace: Enrolment, Registration and Deposit  (Printers Notices)

[51] Middlesex Sessions of the Peace: Enrolment, Registration and Deposit  (Printers Notices)

[52] 1851 English Census

[53] Hodson's Booksellers, Publishers and Stationers' directory for London and Country. London: Hodson, 1855, p.69, p.74

[54] Middlesex Sessions of the Peace: Enrolment, Registration and Deposit  (Printers Notices)

[55] The Times (London, England)  - Oct 14, 1861

[56] The Times (London, England) - Jun 19, 1868

[57] Proceedings of the Old Bailey. Tenth Session, 1847, p.783

[58] 1851 English Census

[59] Hodson's Booksellers, Publishers and Stationers' directory for London and Country. London: Hodson, 1855, p.83

[60] Adventures, Intrigues, And Amours, Of A Lady's Maid. Printed by J. Ryder, Porto Bello Passage, 1822 [c.1838]

[61] The Wedding Night. J. Turner, 50 Holywell Street [c.1840]

[62] 1841 English Census

[63] 1851 English Census

[64] Hodson's Booksellers, Publishers and Stationers' directory for London and Country. London: Hodson, 1855, p.69

[65] 1851 English Census

[66] Hodson's Booksellers, Publishers and Stationers' directory for London and Country. London: Hodson, 1855, p.71


Further Reading:

Bibliography of Prohibited Books by Pisanus Fraxi (Henry Spencer Ashbee)

Clandestine Erotic Fiction in English 1800-1930 by Peter Mendes

A Long Time Burning by Donald Thomas

Radical underworld by Iain McCalman

Victorian Babylon by Lynda Nead

Line drawing by Boris




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