London: Michael Sparke Senior, 1643. 4to. [ii], 34 pp. FIRST AUTHORIZED EDITION. Title within woodcut border, woodcut initial and headpiece. Modern boards; numerous blank leaves following text. Item #17555
First authorized edition. There was a 1641 printing under a slightly different title and with no place of publication or printer listed (Wing, P3983); on the title-page, Prynne refers to this earlier text as “an imperfect copy … so full of non-sence errors, and mistakes almost in every line, as makes it altogether uselesse, yea ridiculous.”
Published after his release from the Tower of London, Prynne here condemns a tax that Charles I imposed on ships leaving England in the mid-1630’s. He viewed the tax as illegal and unjust as traditionally ship-tax was only collected during wartime. Even though the pamphlet was issued later, Charles’ ship-tax continued to be a significant point of protest and opposition among the people and Parliament during the Civil War. A second part containing his observations on the Great Seal of England was not included with this first authorized edition, but was released in later printings.
Prynne (1600–1669) was a prolific pamphleteer and attorney who wrote on numerous subjects from theater to theology and published nearly 200 books and pamphlets during his lifetime. He had initially written this tract during his imprisonment in the 1630s, where a friendly jailer assisted in smuggling out his pamphlets. Prynne, a Puritan who began his political career as a staunch supporter of the Parliament during the English Civil War, was released in 1641 after the Long Parliament took control of the government.