There appear to have been two Thomas Simpsons, father and son.
Lawley refers to "Mr. Thomas Simpson, who for nearly fifty years
stood at the head of the printing trade in Wolverhampton and printed
some of the best local books of that period. He was a native of this
town and was brought up in the printing establishment of Mr. Joseph
Smart, thus carrying on from the same office the succession of local
typographers up till 30 years ago". The first work under T. Simpson’s
imprint is a work by Bishop Milner dated 1811.
The title page from Oliver's history
of St. Peter's, 1836, by T. Simpson, Market Place.
|Lawley continues: "The year 1845 was marked by the issue
of several important volumes from the Simpson press, a
circumstance which gives me the opportunity of referring
more particularly to this famous family of Wolverhampton
"The earliest of them … was apprenticed to the trade in
Wolverhampton, and commenced business on his own account in
1760, printing, between that time and his death, which occurred
in 1798, many local works.
"He was succeeded by his son who carried on the business
until 1830, worthily sustaining the firm’s reputation for the
excellence of its typographical workmanship.
"His son, the late Mr. Thomas Simpson, was apprenticed to Mr.
J. Wood of Birmingham and his father dying when he attained the
age of 21 he came to Wolverhampton and assumed control of the
He became the most famous of the family and printed more books and
pamphlets than any other local printer during the one hundred and sixty
years that the town has had the honour of being in possession of a
printing machine. He was not only a printer but a lover of books and
there were few local authors of his day with whom he did not have
business or friendly relationships. Nor was he merely the printer of
other persons’ literary labours. He himself undertook the responsibility
of issuing several volumes of local interest with a view of placing in
local collectors’ hands copies of books which had become rare. … He
married Ellen, daughter of the late Mr. John Corser, of the Oaks, and
retired from the business in 1866, leaving it in the able hands of the
late Mr. John Steen …. Mr. Simpson, on retiring, spent much time
travelling abroad but finally settled down in Dorking, leaving one son,
now a practising solicitor in Shipston-on-Stour."
An election poster
(right) and Simpson's imprint from it above
Mander adds: "In the well known view of High Green,
c.1820, a low four-gabled house at the corner of the High
Street is distinguished by a placard bearing the words
Printing Office. This marked the ambitions of Thomas Simpson
.. and afterwards 'Simpson and Steen'".
Simpson must have taken Steen into partnership before he retired as
Lawley notes a book dated 1852 on which the imprint is Simpson and