The Abree Family

James Abree

Birth: 1690/1

Father: William Abree, of Winchester

Married: Mary Simmons on 23 September 1722, in Deal, Kent, England

Occupation: Printer, publisher and bookseller
James was apprenticed to the London printer Ichabod Dawkes from 1705 to 1712. He moved to Canterbury in 1717 and started publishing a newspaper, The Kentish Post or, The Canterbury News Letter. James is remembered as one of the first writers of editorials in newspapers, and he seems to have been the first to sustain the form from the early barrage of criticism that editorial writers received their readers furious at what they saw as tampering with the news, and so contributed heavily to the continued presence of editorials in newspapers today.

A Dictionary of the Booksellers and Printers who Were at Work in England, Scotland and Ireland from 1668 to 1725 p664 (Henry Robert Plomer, 1922)
ABREE (JAMES), printer and bookseller at Canterbury. Over against the Three Tuns, (a) Castle Street ; (b) St. Margaret's Parish. 1717-68. Settled at Canterbury in 1717, and began by printing a sheet, containing the names of the mayor, aldermen and common council, who had encouraged the revival of printing in the city. On October 23rd, 1717, appeared the first number of a newspaper called The Kentish Post or, The Canterbury News Letter. The early numbers were printed for the proprietors by Thomas Reeve, in quarto form with a cover. It was afterwards printed by James Abree in partnership with W. Aylett and then by Abree alone, and it then took the ordinary form of a small folio, and appeared twice a week. The Kentish news in this sheet was confined to a few inches of space on the last page, and was of very little interest; but many Kentish advertisements were inserted. In 1718 Abree printed Thomas Hardres's Panegyrical Poem on the Fair and Celebrated Beauties in and about the City of Canterbury, folio; in 1726-7 several quarto pamphlets in a quarrel between doctors Packe and Grey of Canterbury, and in 1740 Poems on Several Occasions, by an anonymous lady. Abree was also a bookseller and stationer, and sold wall papers and patent medicines. He circulated by his chapmen many books published in weekly or monthly parts, by London publishers. About 1764 he took into partnership George Kirkby, the son of a Canterbury clergyman, in favour of whom he retired in 1768. Kirkby then dropped the publication of the Kentish Post, and entered into partnership with another Canterbury printer, James Simmons, who was then publishing a rival sheet, called The Kentish Gazette, or Canterbury Chronicle. James Abree died on August 20th, 1768, aged 77, administration of his effects being granted to his daughter.

The Gentleman's Magazine January 1739 p10
N.B. Mr Raikes, the ingenious Printer of this Journal, having form'd a Scheme to oblige his politer Readers with somewhat more then a bare Repetition of the Articles of News, from the London Accounts, had, by enlarging his Paper, made room for an ingenious Essay every Week, under the Title of Country Common Sense; but the Crowd of his Customers, not approving of any Thing that required the Use of Reflection, cry'd out. That these Essays, which were design'd for improving their Morals, encouraging Arts and Industry, and rectifying several Abuses, deprived them of a great many Relations of News, perhaps most of them false or insignificant: So that he was forced to return to his old Method, the Country People having no Taste for Mr Country Common Sense's Writings, tho' it appears by this ESSAY ON RIOTS how honest, and how capable an Author was engaged both to serve and entertain them.
  We hope to be indulged in taking Notice that the Printer of the
Canterbury News-Letter has, in the same Manner, appropriated a Part of his Paper for a Course of Essays, under the Title of the Kentish Spectator; but either that Country is better disposed to Literature, or Mr Abree, having no Opponent, is determined not to be over-ruled by the lowest of his Readers, who have no Taste, or a very vitiated one; and therefore he proceeds with his Scheme, and we may some time see Occasion to quote from him.

Poetic Sisters: Early Eighteenth-century Women Poets p131 (Deborah Kennedy, 2012)
James Abree was an important figure in the literary world at the time. In 1717, Abree had established The Kentish Post, or Canterbury News Letter, a bi-weekly paper that published much news from London but carried many advertisements from Kent. Henry R. Plomer notes that in the book trade, Abree specialized in books of sermons and theological works, but "amongst those of a different character was a volume by a local poetess entitles "Poems on Several Occasions. Canterbury: Printed by J. Abree, MDCCXL, 8 vo"; and to this was prefixed an interesting list of subscribers, the bulk of whom were Kentish people." The "local poetess" was Dixon, whose name was omitted from the title page of her book. Her publisher also had a bookstore in Canterbury, selling everything from maps to medicine to chapbooks: "At James Abree's shop could be had all the ordinary stationery ware, such as writing paper, sealing-wax, pens of all kinds, ink, pocket-books, note-books, playing-cards and almanacs, and also paper for covering walls. ... Patent medicines of all kind were to be had at Abree's printing-house."

Death: 20 August 1768, aged 77
A Dictionary of Printers and Printing p719 (Charles Henry Timperley, 1839)
1768, Aug. 20. Died, JAMES ABREE, printer and proprietor of the Canterbury News Letter, aged seventy-seven years, who was for many years the only printer in that city.

Burial: 1 September 1768, in Deal, Kent, England


Mary (Abree) Pickering

Baptism: 17 August 1723, in St Margaret, Canterbury, Kent, England

Father: James Abree

Mother: Mary (Simmons) Abree

Married: Thomas Woolley Pickering on 2 March 1746, in St Mary Briden, Canterbury, Kent, England

Thomas was born in 1719/20, the son of Alexander Pickering and Mary Woolley. He was an officer in the Royal Navy, and was promoted to lieutenant on 8 May 1740 (Magnę Britannię Notitia 1741 p157), but never proceeded beyond that rank. Thomas received a certificate of exemplary conduct when a lieutenant on the Deptford on the occasion of the mutiny on board the Hardwicke Indiaman in 1746. Thomas died on 21 April 1792 in Canterbury, aged 72, was buried on 28 April 1792, in St Margaret, Canterbury, Kent.
The Gentleman's Magazine May 1792 p480
21. At Canterbury, in his 73d year, Thomas Woolley Pickering, esq. one of the oldest lieutenants of his Majesty's navy, having been promoted to that rank in 1740.

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