Alexander, William, 1768-1841, printer

Identity area

Type of entity

Person

Authorized form of name

Alexander, William, 1768-1841, printer

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Description area

Dates of existence

1768-1841

History

William Alexander was born in Needham Market, Suffolk, on 3rd January 1768 the third surviving son of Dykes and Martha Alexander. He was educated as Wandsworth and then apprenticed to Joseph Brown of Luton, a miller. However, after his father’s death in 1786 he returned home and took up the family business as a mealman. On 1st September 1796 he married Ann Tuke at the York meeting. They had two sons, William Henry and Joseph, although Joseph died in 1810 aged only 9.

Following economic recession during the Napoleonic Wars and a consequent fall in grain prices, Alexander was forced to close the failing business. With help from Ann’s family, the Tukes, the Alexanders moved to York in 1808 where they initially took charge of the Quaker girls’ school in Castlegate. At the same time, Alexander developed an interest in publishing and bookselling. The first four volumes bearing his imprint were published in 1811 and a premises for the new business was purchased; 3 Castlegate. He published over 200 volumes for Friends while operating the business, and was subsidiary publisher for 50 more. The publishing business was sold in 1828 to John Lewis Linney; it eventually became Sessions of York.

Alexander was active as a Friend but also as a citizen of York. He became a freeman by purchase in 1813, and was appointed chamberlain in 1818. He served as a member of the select vestry for St Mary’s, Castlegate and was an early member of the Improvement Commissioners. He was a member of the York Society for the Prevention and Discouragement of Vice & Profaneness, which founded a refuge for prostitutes wishing to escape their profession as well as being active in campaigns to abolish slavery and reform the working conditions for boy chimney-sweeps.

Alexander was also a prolific writer and the first editor, with his wife, of the Annual Monitor, a Quaker annual giving death notices and select obituaries for Society of Friends members who had died in the previous year.

He died at his home in Castlegate, York on 2nd April 1841 and is buried in the Friends Burial Ground now on Cromwell Road in the city.

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Relationships area

Related entity

Alexander, Ann, 1767-1849, née Tuke, Quaker minister (1767-1849)

Identifier of the related entity

Category of the relationship

family

Type of relationship

Alexander, Ann, 1767-1849, née Tuke, Quaker minister is the spouse of Alexander, William, 1768-1841, printer

Dates of the relationship

Description of relationship

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Occupations

Control area

Authority record identifier

Institution identifier

GB 193

Rules and/or conventions used

ISAAR(CPF): International Standard Archival Authority Record for Corporate Bodies, Persons and Families, International Council on Archives (2nd edition, 2003); Rules for the construction of personal, place and corporate names, National Council on Archives (1997).

Status

Level of detail

Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Language(s)

  • English

Script(s)

Sources

Edward H. Mulligan, Biographical Dictionary of British Quakers in Commerce and Industry 1775-1920, York, 2007.
William K. & E. Margaret Sessions, The Tukes of York - Mainly an Account of Three Generations, York, 1971.
RG6/1213 SUFFOLK: Monthly Meeting of Woodbridge, Beccles

Maintenance notes

Created by Alexandra Medcalf, January 2017.
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