William Squire’s Breeches Bible

Breeches Bible page containing ownership inscriptions by William Squire

Day Shift – 20/07/2010 – 02:10 PM
Presenter: Carol Duncan
Interviewee: Gionni Di Gravio, Archivist, Newcastle University

University of Newcastle Archivist Gionni Di Gravio discusses an interesting document that fell out of the University of Newcastle’s Breeches Bible.

Broadcast Notes:

One day one of my work colleagues asked me to look at a document that had fallen out of the Breeches Bible held in our Morpeth/Renaissance Collection. It was of Italian origin and they wanted to know what it was all about. What struck me in the first instance was that it was from Livorno in Italy. It was along this coast of Livorno (or Leghorn) where the famous Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned in 1822. I had spent a number of weeks on a pilgrimage chasing his memory all over Italy back in 1993, so it was exciting to handle a relic from those times. The document was dated the 20 April 1781 and appeared to be a consignment note or receipt.

Italian consignment note found in University’s copy of the Breeches Bible

I have left a copy with my father to have a go at translating, but here is my attempt:

A di 20 di Aprile 1781 In Livorno
On the 20th April, 1781 in Livorno

Ha caricato con il Nome di DIO, e di buon salvamento una volta tanto
in questo Porto di Livorno

A shipment with [or in] the name of God, and of good condition for once
in this port of Livorno.

L J U[lti]mo Bevmo Monsig. Proporto, i Nicario Generale Antonio Baldovinetti, per conto e lincie di Chii petta
sopra a Navicello nominat San Ranieri, Pad Gio Batta Pucci Toscano

L J [Last] Monsignor Bevmo proposes, the Vicar General Antonio Baldovinetti, on behalf of lincie di Chupetta
aboard the Navicello by the name of San Ranieri, Pad Gio Batta Pucci Toscano

per condurre, e consegnare in questo suo presente viaggio in Roma AS Eta L Sig. Marchese Lorenzo Quistigniani, o chi per erro
to conduct and deliver in this his present trip to Roma A.S. Eta L Signor Marquis Lorenzo Giustiniani, or whomever

le appie nominate, e numerate Mercanzie, asciutte, intiere, e ben condizionate, segnate come di contro, e cosi promeete detto Padre
at the foot of the labelled and numbered Merchandise, dry, interred, well packed, clearly marked, and so this promises the Patron

a suo salvo arrivo consignarle, e di nolo li sara pagato Pavoli uno Perglas
on his safe arrival deliver, and the freight charges will be paid by them.

e per fede del vero sara questa con altre simili firmata da detto Padrone
and in good faith this will be signed by that other similar patron

e non sapendo scrivere, per lui da terza persona, ed una complita l’altre restino di nullo valore. N.S. l’accompagni a salvamento, Amen.
and unable to write, to him by another person, and a full the other remains of no value. N.S. take her to safety, Amen.

I dico un Pacchetto Contenente Carte Stampate Involte con carta, e Ammagliato con spago, con La Sua Direrrione come sopre
I say a package containing printed papers, wrapped with paper and bound with twine, with its Directions as above


Antonio Candrini Uffi
Antonio Candrini Uffi

The Old “Navicello” from the Port of Livorno still exists and has been restored here http://public.fotki.com/Magwa/cruising/msc_monterey/ports_of_call/porto_di_livorno_-/20060412livorno384.html Whether there was more than one I am not sure. Our consignment note appears to say that the name of the Navicello is the San Ranieri.

Some of the names mentioned in the document were traceable. The Vicar General Antonio Baldovinetti is one notable Jansenist (a counter-reformation movement within the Catholic Church and deemed a heresy) who was later driven out of Leghorn around 1790 by what he believed was an 0rchestrated campaign from Rome.

Another name in the document with a marvelously long name of Prince Lorenzo Giacopo Angelo Filippo Domenico Louis Ignatius John Giuseppe Vincenzo Giustiniani, (bapt. 2 Oct 1767; d. 22 Mar 1843)?] has possible English links to the Clifford family through the family of the Earl of Newburgh.

And it is through this link that provides the possible connection as to how this book came down to us in the Morpeth Collection.

Our copy has no title page, but further along is a title page of sorts for the concordances (see image above).

On this page the owner of the book, William Squire, signed ‘Squior’ and dated his copy of this work with the inscription ‘1644 William Squior his booke 1649 [?]’

William Squire’s Signature and Date

In addition at the top right hand side of the page is another marginal note with a decorative motif or doodle:

William Squire’s Curse to Book Thieves

It is rather faint, so we have heightened the contrast to read his threat to anyone that would dare steal ‘his booke’:

William Squire’s Curse to Book Thieves (Higher contrast image)

It reads:

William Squior his booke
He that steals it shall be
hanged on a hooke but if
the hooke fails he shall be
hanged on a nail but if
the nail fails he shall be
hanged on the […] hooke

We can’t make out the second last word, so if anyone has any ideas on what it could be please let us know.

Who was William Squire or Squior? Well we think we have tracked him down. He was a student at Trinity Hall Cambridge (a known seat of Puritanism in England) later a Fellow of University College Oxford in 1655. He probably placed the inscription in his book to ward off his fellow students with light fingers. Such inscriptions relating to ‘hanging on a hook’ were relatively common for the times, I haven’t been able to find as full a rendering as ours yet. Squire became Rector of Rolleston Parish in Derbyshire, a notable polemic theologian and author of a couple of anti Romanist works. He died on September 1677. We also found an entry for him in Anthony Wood’s Athenæ [i.e., Athenae] Oxonienses : an exact history of all the writers and bishops who have had their education in the most antient and famous University of Oxford, from the fifteenth year of King Henry the Seventh, A.D. 1500, to the author’s death in November 1695 : Representing the birth, fortune, preferment, and death of all those authors and prelates, the great accidents of their lives, and the fate and character of their writings. To which are added, The Fasti, or Annals, of the said University. In two volumes Wood, Anthony A, 1632-1695:

William Squire – Biographical Entry

So this bible appears to be the copy William Squire possessed as a student in Cambridge.

For people interested in the history of the The Breeches Bible (or Geneva Bible)  see the numerous references on the internet, Wikipedia says it was was the first mechanically printed, mass-produced Bible ever made available direct to the general public and predated the famous King James Version. It was the bible was used by the dramatist Shakespeare, political and military leader, Oliver Cromwell, the poets John Milton and John Donne, the founder of Presbyterianism, John Knox and author of the classic Pilgrim’s Progress John Bunyan. It was also the Puritan bible of choice taken to America aboard the Mayflower.

Our copy appears to have been published sometime after 1611, and doesn’t contain any illustrations, so might have been a cheaper, student edition of the time. William Squire signed the book around 1644, which was around the time its final edition was published.

This is a investigative research case for CSI – Archives Hunter Region Division – What we would like to know is:

1. Was William Squire the book’s first owner?
2. Is there a connection between William Squire and the Italian characters in the Livorno consignment note?
3. How did the consignment note end up in an English Anglican Church collection?

Anyone who is able to add to this information, provide a better Italian translation, or provide further information on the characters in this story is very welcome to do so by contacting us archives@newcastle.edu.au

Gionni Di Gravio
20 July 2010

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