Extract from the Will of Mr. William Bowyer, Printer, who died on the 18th of November, 1777, when he had nearly completed his 78th year.
“And now I hope I may be allowed to leave somewhat for the benefit of printing. To this end, I give to the master and keepers, or wardens and commonalty, of the mistery or art of a Stationer of the city of London, such a sum of money as will purchase Two Thousand Pounds, three per cent. Reduced Bank Annuities, upon trust, to pay the dividends and yearly produce thereof, to be divided for ever equally amongst three printers, compositors or pressmen, to be elected from time to time by the master, wardens, and assistants, of the said company, and who at the time of such election shall be sixty-three years old or upwards, for their respective lives, to be paid half yearly; hoping that such as shall be most deserving will be preferred. and whereas
I have herein before given to my son the sum of Three Thousand Pounds four per cent. Consolidated Annuities, in case he marries with the consent of my executors: now I do hereby give and bequeath the dividends and interest of that sum, till such marriage takes place, to the said Company of Stationers, to be divided equally between six other printers, compositors or pressmen, as aforesaid, in manner as aforesaid; and, if my said son shall die unmarried, or married without such consent as aforesaid, then I give and bequeath the said capital sum of Three Thousand Pounds to the said Company of Stationers, the dividends and yearly produce thereof to be divided for ever equally amongst six other such old printers, compositors or pressmen, for their respective lives, to be qualified, chosen, and paid, in manner as aforesaid. — It has long been to me matter of concern, that such numbers are put apprentices, as compositors, without any share of school-learning, who ought to have the greatest: in hopes of remedying this, I give and bequeath to the Said Company of Stationers such a sum of money as will purchase One Thousand Pounds three per cent.
Reduced Bank Annuities, for the use of one journeyman compositor, such as shall hereafter be described, with this special trust, that the master, wardens, and assistants, shall pay the dividends and produce thereof half-yearly to such compositor: the said master, wardens, and assistants, of the said company, shall nominate for this purpose a compositor who is a man of good life and conversation, who shall usually frequent some place of public worship every Sunday, unless prevented by sickness, and shall not have worked on a newspaper or magazine for four years at least before such nomination, nor shall ever afterwards whilst he holds this annuity, which may be for life if he continues a journeyman: he shall be able to read and construe Latin, and at least to read Greek fluently with accents; of which he shall bring a testimonial from the rector of St. Martin's, Ludgate, for the time being: I could wish that he shall have been brought up piously and virtuously, if it be possible, at Merchant Taylor's, or some other public school, from seven years of age till he is full seventeen, and then to serve seven years faithfully as a compositor, and work seven years more as a journeyman, as I would not have this annuity bestowed on any one under thirty-one years of age.
If, after he is chosen, he should behave ill, let him be turned out, and another be chosen in his stead. and whereas it may be many years before a compositor may be found that shall exactly answer the above description, and it may at some time happen that such a one cannot be found; I would have the dividends in the meantime applied to such person as the master, wardens, and assistants, shall think approaches nearest to what I have described. and whereas the above trusts will occasion some trouble; I give to the said Company, in case they think proper to accept the trusts, two hundred and fifty pounds.” — Extracted from Anecdotes, Literary and Biographical, of Mr. Bowyer, by J.N. [John Nichols?] in Gent. Mag. Sec. 1778, p. 570.
6,000l. stock was immediately transferred by the executors of Mr. Bowyer, and now stands in the name of the Company; the yearly dividend is 180£. — Hansard's Typographia, p. 280. Note.