Abbreviated title
A defence of English commodities
JSA Identification Number
Teerink/Scouten Number
ESTC Number
Copy and its Location
CUL, Hib.7.720.4
Publisher and Printer
A defence of English commodities. Being an answer to the Proposal for the use of Irish manufactures, Vol. , pp .
London, Roberts, James, 1720.


Although Davis prints this as the first edition of this tract, he has possibly been misled by the Dublin edition’s (Teerink/Scouten 1661) having the title, An Answer to the Proposal for the Universal Use of Irish Manufactures rather than A Defence of English Commodities. The ‘To the Reader’ of this volume says the original tract is to be seen in Roberts’s shop. It also provides a summary account of why the piece should be read as Swift’s. If the Dublin edition is the first, this one still retains interest as a likely example of the co-operation between Dublin and London in this period.

James Roberts (?1672-1754) was a master printer and also the outstanding trade publisher of the first half of the eighteenth century (though he seems to have been favoured by Whigs rather than by Tories). He took over the printing business from his widowed mother when he came of age, and in 1713 inherited the trade publishing business of his mother-in-law, Abigail Baldwin. A very large number of pamphlets and books were distributed through his shop in Warwick Lane. He was Master of the Stationers’ Company from 1729 to 1733. All my information on Roberts comes from the research of Michael Treadwell.

References: The Prose Writings of Jonathan Swift, ed. Herbert Davis and others, 16 vols. (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1939-74), vol. ix, pp. 269-77, 378; Michael Treadwell, ‘James Roberts’, , in The D ictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 154, The British Literary Book Trade, 1700-1820, ed. James E. Bracken and Joel Silver (Detroit, MI: Gale, 1995).