RICHARD GRAFTON (d. 1572), English printer and chronicler, was probably born about 1513. He received the freedom of the Grocers' Company in 1534. Miles Coverdale's version of the Bible had first been printed in 1535. Grafton was early brought into touch with the leaders of religious reform, and in 1537 he undertook, in conjunction with Edward Whitchurch, to produce a modified version of Coverdale's text, generally known as Matthew's Bible (Antwerp, 1537). He went to Paris to reprint Coverdale's revised edition (1538). There Whitchurch and he began to print the folio known as the Great Bible by special licence obtained by Henry VIII. from the French government. Suddenly, however, the work was officially stopped and the presses seized. Grafton fled, but Thomas Cromwell eventually bought the presses and type, and the printing was completed in England. The Great Bible was reprinted several times under his direction, the last occasion being 1553. In 1544 Grafton and Whitchurch secured the exclusive right of printing church service books, and on the accession of Edward VI. he was appointed king's printer, an office which he retained throughout the reign. In this capacity he produced The Booke of the Common Praier and Administracion of the Sacramentes, and other Rites and Ceremonies of the Churche: after the Use of the Churche of Englande (1549 fol.), and Actes of Parliament (1552 and 1553). In 1553 he printed Lady Jane Grey's proclamation and signed himself the queen's printer. For this he was imprisoned for a short time, and he seems thereafter to have retired from active business. His historical works include a continuation (1543) of Hardyng's Chronicle from the beginning of the reign of Edward IV. down to Grafton's own times. He is said to have taken considerable liberties with the original, and may practically be regarded as responsible for the whole work. He printed in 1548 Edward Hall's Union of the. .. Families of Lancastre and Yorke, adding the history of the years from 1532 to 1547. After he retired from the printing business he published An Abridgement of the Chronicles of England (1562), Manuell of the Chronicles of England (1565), Chronicle at large and meere Historye of the Affayres of England (1568). In these books he chiefly adapted the work of his predecessors, but in some cases he gives detailed accounts of contemporary events. His name frequently appears in the records of St Bartholomew's and Christ's hospitals, and in 1553 he was treasurer-general of the hospitals of King Edward's foundation. In1553-1554and1556-1557he represented the City in Parliament, and in1562-1563he sat for Coventry.
An elaborate account of Grafton was written in 1901 by Mr J. A. Kingdon under the auspices of the Grocers' Company, with the title Richard Grafton, Citizen and Grocer of London, &c., in continuation of Incidents in the Lives of T. Poyntz and R. Grafton (1895). His Chronicle at large was reprinted by Sir Henry Ellis in 1809.
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