Gregory Dexter of London and New England, 1610-1700

Gregory Dexter of London and New England, 1610-1700

Gregory Dexter of London and New England, 1610-1700

Gregory Dexter of London and New England, 1610-1700

Excerpt

I have sought, in the pages which follow, to give some account of the life of Gregory Dexter. Perhaps I should say "lives," for, from the somewhat harassed position of the biographer, Gregory Dexter did lead two lives: one as a printer in London during the early years of the English Revolution and the other as a prominent figure in the young and struggling colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.

In a sense these two careers split with almost crystalline precision along the line of cleavage marked by his crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. But since in this world the organic is never as rigidly exact in its behavior as the inorganic, the cleavage was not as neat and complete as it might have been. Thus I hope to be able to show that Dexter, in his last years in England, engaged in a sort of printing, much of it for Roger Williams, which turned his face toward New England. And, again, I hope that I have established, in my account of Dexter's first years in America, evidence of a brief return to his old trade, on this occasion in behalf of the press at Cambridge in New England, the first printer's shop in British America.

But, extending in opposite directions ftom these bridgeheads, lie the two principal parts of Dexter's career. That which runs back into the London printing trade will be, I trust, of interest to bibliographers and somewhat to students of English history, especially insofar as it is reflected in the activities of a London printer who worked on the side of the Parliamentary party. This section of the book must remain, perforce, rather specialized in its point of view, which is that of bibliographical examination. On the other hand, the second half of the book-- that dealing with Dexter in Providence -- is largely a matter of local history, to which I believe I have brought some new light, but which remains, nonetheless, another specialized field.

Consequently I fear lest bibliographers will be interested in only the first half of the book and will ignore the second, while those who approach it as American history will reverse that formula. Under the circumstances I can only point out that it was Gregory Dexter's life and he lived it; I have had to accept it as I found it.

I can also draw the bibliographical reader's attention to the fact that here is the story of what happened to a trained printer . . .

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