William Rastell - Encyclopedia

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WILLIAM RASTELL (c. 1508-1565), English printer and judge, son of the preceding, was born in London about 1508. At the age of seventeen he went to the university of Oxford, but did not take a degree, being probably called home to superintend his father's business. The first work which bears his own imprint was A Dyaloge of Sir Thomas More (1531), a reprint of the edition published by his father in 1529. He also brought out a few law-books, some poetry, an edition of Fabyan's Cronycle (1533), and The Apologye (1533) and The Supplycacyon of Soulys of his uncle Sir Thomas More. His office was "in Fletestrete in saynt Brydys chyrche yarde." He became a student at Lincoln's Inn on 12th September 1532, and gave up the printing business two years later. In 1547 he was appointed reader. On account of his Catholic convictions he left England for Louvain; but upon the accession of Mary he returned, and was made serjeant-at-law and treasurer of Lincoln's Inn in 1555. His patent as judge of the Queen's Bench was granted on the 27th of October 1558. Rastell continued on the bench until 1562, when he retired to Louvain without the queen's licence. By virtue of a special commission issued by the barons of the Exchequer on the occasion an inventory of his goods and chattels was taken. It furnishes an excellent idea of the modest nature of the law library (consisting of twenty-four works) and of the chambers of an Elizabethan judge (see Law Magazine, February 1844). He died at Louvain on the 27th of August 1565.

It is difficult to distinguish between the books written by him and those by his father. The following are believed to be his: A Colleccion of all the Statutes (1559), A Table collected of the Yeares of the Kynges of Englande (1561), both frequently reprinted with continuations, and A Colleccion of Entrees, of Declarations, &c. (1566), also frequently reprinted. The entries are not of Rastell's own drawing, but have been selected from printed and MS. collections; their "pointed brevity and precision" are commended by Story. He supplied tables or indexes to several law-books, and edited La novel natura brevium de Monsieur Anton. Fitzherbert (1534) and The Workes of Sir T. More in the English Tonge (1557). He is also stated to have written a life of Sir T. More, but it has not come down to us.

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