Abbreviated title
City cries, instrumental and vocal: or, an examination of certain abuses, corruptions, and enormities, in London and Dublin
JSA Identification Number
Teerink/Scouten Number
ESTC Number
Copy and its Location
CUL , Williams 300 (1)
Publisher and Printer
City cries, instrumental and vocal: or, An examination of certain abuses, corruptions, and enormities, in London and Dublin, Vol. , pp .
London, Roberts, James Purser, John Bowyer, William, 1732.


Herbert Davis, in his edition of Swift’s prose works (Prose Writings, vol. xii, p. 343) identifies this as the first London edition, following a Dublin edition by George Faulkner. The factotum ornament on the first page of text is the same as that on p. 23 of Considerations upon Two Bills (ESTC T145270) and on p. 1 of J. Lyons, Fancy-logy ‘Printed, and Sold by J. Purser’, which makes it likely that the printer is John Purser, probably working for William Bowyer as he did when printing Considerations. There is a reference to Considerations in Bowyer’s paperstock ledger but there is no record of City Cries. Purser was a printer of newspapers, who started printing Fog’s Weekly Journal on 1 May 1731. Fog’s was an opposition paper, the organ of the Jacobite Nathanial Mist; it seems highly likely the work was given to Purser because he was willing to work for writers of such political leanings and was willing to take the concomitant risks. I suspect that the games the text plays with Jacobite interpretations of inn signs, which now seem innocent enough, were thought to be too dangerous to be published in Dublin and too dangerous for their printing to be recorded in the ledger. If this printing is a product of the close collaboration between Faulkner and William Bowyer, whom he once worked for in London, Faulkner has sent Bowyer extra copy, containing exciting new readings, and not just the sheets he had printed in Dublin.

The London and Dublin editions of 1732 differ in many small details, with the Dublin edition expanding some contractions. For the most part, however, they are line-for-line reprints of one another. Some readings in the ‘London’ edition differ appropriately from those in the Dublin one, for example, a note explaining ‘Howth’, but the London edition also has an explanation that a reference to ‘another King’ is ‘Innuendo the Pretender’, and it has a final extra section. This section explains that ‘G.R. II’ on inn signs ‘plainly signifies George, King the Second; and not King George the Second’, renouncing the innkeeper’s allegiance to George II. My suspicion is that this was regarded as too dangerous to publish without the protection of making it a reprint of an innocent original.

This is the most interesting version of this text to read, containing direct play with the king and his naming.

William Bowyer, Sr. (1663-1737) and Jr. (1699-1777) were the major literary printers of the eighteenth century. They are the focus of John Nichols, Literary Anecdotes of the Eighteenth Century, 9 vols. (1812) and their records have been studied by Keith Maslen. They developed a special relationship with George Faulkner, who had once worked at their shop, in the late 1720s and early 1730s.

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. xii, pp. 215-32, 343-5; The Bowyer Ledgers, ed. Keith Maslen and John Lancaster (London: Bibliographical Society; New York: Bibliographical Society of America); Keith Maslen, ‘George Faulkner and William Bowyer: The London Connection’, in his An Early London printing House at Work: Studies in the Bowyer Ledgers (New York: Bibliographical Society of America, 1993), pp. 223-33; 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); A Dictionary of the Printer s and Booksellers . . . 1726 to 1775, ed. H. R. Plomer, G. H. Bushell, E. R. McC. Dix (Oxford: Oxford University Press for the Bibliographical Society, 1932).