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Licence granted to Thomas Tallis and William Byrd in 1575 (modern English)

July 28, 2012
Thomas Tallis


Elizabeth by the grace of God, Queen of England, France and Ireland

To all printers, booksellers and other officers, ministers, and subjects greetings.  Know you, that we for the special affection and goodwill that we have and bear to the science of music and for the advancement thereof, by our letters patent dated the 12th of January, in the 17th year of our reign have granted full privilege and licence to our well beloved servants Thomas Tallis and William Byrd, two of the gentlemen of our chapel, and to the survivor of them, and to the assignees of them and over the survivor of them for eleven years next ensuing, to imprint any and so many as they will of set song or songs in parts, either in English, Latin, French, Italian, or other languages that may serve for music either in church or chamber, or otherwise to be either played or sung, and that they may rule and cause to be ruled by impression any paper to serve for printing or picking of any song or songs, and may sell and utter any printed books or papers of any song or songs, or any books or quires of such ruled paper imprinted.  Also we strictly by the same forbid all printers, booksellers, subjects and strangers, other than is aforesaid, to do any of the previous, or to bring or cause to be brought out of any foreign countries into any of our dominions, any song or songs made and printed in any foreign country, to sell or put to sale, upon pain of our high displeasure, and the offender in any of the previous for every time to forfeit to us, our heirs and successors forty shillings, and to the said Thomas Tallis and William Byrd or to their assignees and to the assignees of the survivor of them, all and every the said books, papers, song or songs.  We have also by the same willed and commanded our printers, masters and wardens of the Masters of Stationers, to assist the said Thomas Tallis and William Byrd and their assignees for the due executing of the previous.


Modern English version by Tony Trelease, July 2012.

The original document can be found in:

Fellowes, Edmund H., William Byrd A Short Account of his Life and Work, Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1923, Appendix A, pp.118-119.

in the Fellowes book after the capitalised title there is the following reference:

Rot. Pat. 17 Elizabeth, pars 7, m.2.

Image of Thomas Tallis courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The original text is also published on this website.

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