Monday, December 31, 2018

2018: The Year in Collecting (second addendum)

Another book sneaked its way here just before year-end. It's one of the charming "Bob Short" chapbooks on whist. "Short" is the pseudonym for Robert Withy as discussed here, here, and here.

There are many editions, often with provincial imprints. In the aggregate, these booklets are quite common, but any particular one is scarce. This 1819 edition, printed by John Stacy in Norwich for Reynolds in London and Stacy is a good example. The British Library copy was lost in World War II, as is indicated by the "D-" in the shelfmark D-7913.a.70. There is a copy in private hands in the UK. This one makes three. Err...two.

There are two things I particularly like about it. First are the marbled wrappers. Original bindings are the best!

Second is the advertisement for The British Melodist, a book that may not have survived exactly as advertised--there is a single copy of an 1822 edition at the University of Aberdeen, but how would that be advertised in an 1819 book? 

Anyway, 2018 is a wrap. What will 2019 bring?

Monday, December 17, 2018

2018: The Year in Collecting (addendum)

The ink wasn't even dry on my essay "2018: The Year in Collecting" when an extraordinary item turned up on eBay of all places. The book is the first American book on card games, or more accurately, one of three "firsts," all published at the same time. It is a 1796 reprint Hoyle's Games Improved by James Beaufort. It was originally printed in London in 1775 and again in London in 1788.

1796 Beaufort Hoyle, Philadelphia
Three issues of the book appeared in America in 1796, one with a Boston imprint, another New York, and this one, Philadelphia and Baltimore. When I wrote about these books in the essay "More Hoyle Collectibles," I expected the latter two books to have cancel titles. Having seen more copies, I now see that titles are not cancels, but are all the same setting of type except for the imprint. They were all printed in Boston, but distributed by booksellers in multiples cities.

1796 Beaufort Hoyle, Boston

Perhaps you can compare the type with the Boston issue, pictured at right.

The binding, pictured below, is contemporary and in remarkably good condition other than a slight loss in the red label.

1796 Beaufort Hoyle, Philadelphia

Now I have two of three issues. Does anyone know where I can pick up the one sold in New York?

Monday, December 10, 2018

2018: The Year in Collecting

A dozen books found their way to my library this year. Some are inexpensive 19c Hoyles that filled gaps in the collection. Others are gaming items unrelated to Hoyle or the games he treated. I want to highlight four of the books in detail here.

I purchased the first book, a duplicate, because of the binding, paper pasted over boards. The book, The New Hoyle printed for the George Walker (1817) is common, but the cover, though a bit tattered, shows how the book would have been offered for sale. I am a huge fan of books in their original binding.

wrapper for The New Hoyle
engraved frontispiece and title

I also like the engraved frontispiece and extra engraved title page. The frontispiece is far from fine art, but I believe it plays an important role in marketing the book. With Hoyle's writing not in copyright in 1817, a publisher needed to do something to distinguish his Hoyle from the others on the market. The engraving is more difficult and expensive to copy than the text. This edition is also distinguished by its small format and price of 3s., less than half that of the market-leading Charles Jones Hoyle published in 1814 at 7s.6d. 

Companion (1820)

Second is Hoyle's Games Improved and Selected as a Companion to the Card Table, revised and corrected by Charles Jones, 1820. The title suggests that the contents are extracted from a larger work; indeed it consists of the first 192 pages, the card games only, from Hoyle's Games Improved, a later edition of the market leader mentioned above. The full book (502 pages) includes board games, billiards, and outdoor activities such as golf and horse racing.

What is most interesting is that the extract is from the same setting of type as the complete work, allowing the typesetting costs to be shared between the two publications. The publishers extended the practice by separately issuing a work on the first two card games, whist and quadrille, again the same type, but the first 106 pages only. 

From the Longman Archive, we know that the publishers printed 4000 copies of Hoyle's Games Improved and 1000 copies each of Companion and Whist and Quadrille. The books were quite profitable: total costs were £325 and the retail price of the books totaled £1475. Hoyle's Games Improved was reprinted in 1826, so we can be sure it sold out. The others were not reprinted, but were not advertised in newspapers after the initial flurry in 1820, and likely sold out as well.

front wrapper bound in

Interestingly, Companion was sold in two different bindings, in boards for 3s. 6d. or in a paper case with gilt edges for 4s. 6d. My copy has been rebound in three-quarter leather, but the original cover with a price of 3s. 6d. is bound in; it was one of the copies sold in boards. A copy at the Bodleian shows that the paper cover was originally pasted onto boards, so the binder of my copy had to do extra work to preserve the paper wrapper.

The last two books I want to talk about were included in a 19c French gaming box. First, the box:

French Gaming Box...
..with scoring markers and books

Inside are four chenille-trimmed baskets with scoring tokens for card games such as Whist or Boston. Two books, both English, fit neatly in the near-right compartment. They must have been added later. Both of the books are unique copies.

two books in wrappers from the gaming box

On the left is Companion to the Whist Table, dated 1835. It is not a Hoyle, but an extract of articles that appeared in Bell's Life in London, a weekly sporting periodical. Bibliographer Frederic Jessel had seen Bell's Life, and noted that the April 1842 issue recommended two books, The Companion to the Whist Table and The Modern Whist-Table. He had never seen either work and no copies are recorded. Jessel wrongly speculated that Companion may be the same as the Charles Jones Companion to the Card Table, discussed above.

Next is a Hoyle, a small (10.2 x 6.5 cm) book in yellow wrappers. The book has an engraved frontispiece dated 1824, but I suspect that the engraving was recycled from an earlier edition from the same publishers. There is an advertisement on the rear cover for a book on swimming that dates to 1827.

Miniature edition of Hoyle, 1827c.

This edition of Hoyle competes at a third price point, 6d., much less than either the Jones or Walker editions discussed above. The publishers appeal to different classes of readers. Again, note the engraving to distinguish this work from other comparable cheap editions then for sale.

It is a treat to have these two books, both "singletons," in original wrappers in remarkable condition. Did I mention how much I like original bindings? How did these two rarities come to be in a French gaming box?

Friday, June 8, 2018

Kicking and Screaming into the 19th Century

I have stated a number of times on this blog that my research would be limited to the 18th century. For example "The proliferation of 19c variants convinces me to stop my research at 1800" from"Bob Short's Short Rules for Short Memories" or "My Hoyle research focuses on the 18th century and so I will stop with the Jones edition of 1800" in "Hoyle's Games Improved, Charles Jones (1800)."

It's been about five years since I first realized how naive that was. As I wrote in "Second Anniversary: Continuities and Disruptions," the Hoyle story continues into the 1860s. I'll not retrace the argument here, but instead, talk about one of the difficulties I am having in moving into the 19th century.

One of the popular 19th century Hoyles was Hoyle Made Familiar, by "Eidrah Trebor" (Robert Hardie), a book first published in 1830. It is both an abridgement of Hoyle, condensing his writing substantially, but also an enlargement--it adds new games not treated in any previous edition of Hoyle (Catch the Ten, Commit, Earl of Coventry, Five and Ten, Lift Smoke, and Snip Snap Snorem).

The book stayed in print through the 1860s. There is an undated "ninth" edition published jointly by Stirling, Kenney, & Co. in Edinburgh and Wm. S. Orr & Co., London. It must have been published no later than 1847 when Stirling & Co. ceased operations. Ward & Lock in London published an undated "eleventh" edition, which was advertised in 1855. The "tenth" edition, published by Orr alone, should be from about 1850.

There are three surviving copies of the "tenth" edition:

Courtesy of the Public Library of
Cincinnati & Hamilton County
Vanderbilt University
USPCC/Clulow Collection

Levy Collection
How very odd! Look at the three imprints:
  • Cincinnati: WILLIAM S. ORR AND CO.
  • Vanderbilt: WM. S. ORR & CO.
  • Levy: WILLIAM S. ORR & CO. 
Two "WILLIAMS" and one "WM." One "AND" and two ampersands. Three different imprints. In the only three surviving copies. This is certainly annoying to a bibliographer. What is going on?

Well, one important fact is that the book was stereotyped. Briefly that means that after the type was set, the printer made a plaster or paper mâché mold of the type. The original printer (or perhaps another) could pour molten metal into the mold to make a new plates from which to reprint the book. The printer could make changes or corrections by cutting or punching out faulty text and soldering new type in its place. The process was much less expensive than resetting type or leaving type standing. (Gaskell 201-4)

The bibliographical concept of edition interacts strangely with stereotyped books. An edition is "all the copies of a book printed at any time (or times) from substantially the same setting of type." So, " if a book is reprinted from an old set of plates, the result is...part of the original edition." (Gaskell 313)

It looks to me as though the fourteen (or so) different versions of Hoyle Made Familiar were all printed from the original set of type. Therefore they are all the same edition.

What do the edition statements on the title page mean? The term edition has been used in the trade not only to mean edition in the bibliographical sense, but what bibliographers would call impression ("all the copies of an edition printed at any one time") or issue ("all the copies of that part of an edition which is identifiable as a consciously planned printed unit" distinct in either form or in time). Gaskell cites an article by J. R. Payne to give a modern example (of electro-, rather than stereotyping):
Methuen ordered two sets of electrotype plates of A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh, and had twenty-seven impressions printed from them in the period 1926-41. Although all twenty-seven impressions, deriving from a single setting of type, were part of a single edition, the publishers advertised each one as another edition, so that, when a new set of electros was made in 1942 from a new setting of type, what was then issued as the 'twenty-eighth edition' of Winnie -the-Pooh was in fact the first impression of the second edition.Gaskell (314-7)
So the "tenth" edition is not an edition at all, but an impression--multiple impressions, in fact, because of the slight change on the title page. They must have been printed at different points in time.

Payne was able to determine impression and edition because the Methuen Stock Ledgers are at the Lilly Library. So far as I know, no publisher's records survive for Stirling and Kenney or William S. Orr and Co., so I'm not going to be able to sort out these books the way Payne could Winnie-the-Pooh. Oh bother!

Levy collection
Title Page Verso

There is one more mystery in my copy. Pictured at left is the verso of the title page. Note the colophon "THOS. HARRILD, PRINTER..." And if you click to enlarge, you may notice the stub of a removed page in the gutter. This looks to me to be a cancel title. The other two copies have nothing printed below the line "Entered in Stationers Hall". A cancel title generally indicates a different issue as defined above.

Usually when a book is reissued with a cancel title, it's because the publisher has changed. See the discussion of the Polite Gamester in "Every Cancel Tells a Story. Don't It? (part 1)." The reason is that the imprint gives a publisher's address telling people where the book is sold. I've never seen a cancel for the purpose of identifying the printer and can't imagine why anyone would go to the trouble. But that's what seems to be going on here.

I'm left with a very unsatisfied feeling. Fredson Bowers, citing W. W. Greg (two giants of bibliography), notes that a primary responsibility of a bibliographer is to sort out the various editions of a book and their relationship to one another. Within the edition, the bibliographer must be aware of the various issues, states, and variants of all sorts. (page 9).

I don't feel I can meet that responsibility with Hoyle Made Familiar. It's one big edition that stayed in print for three decades via stereotyping. I can see many different title pages with different stated editions (suggesting different impressions), different imprints, and often, as here, different printers (stereotypers), but how all these relate to one another is opaque to me.

I've listed all the variants in my online bibliography (and have more work to do), but don't feel as if I know the story of Hoyle Made Familiar.


  • Fredson Bowers, Principles of Bibliographical Description (Princeton University Press, 1949)
  • Philip Gaskell, A New Introduction to Bibliography (Oxford Clarendon, 1979)
  • R. J. Payne, "Four Children's Books by A. A. Milne" in Studies in Bibliography, 23, 1970, 127-39.

Friday, December 29, 2017

2017: The Year in Collecting

2017 was another quiet year in collecting. The highlights are two London Hoyles, two translations, and a couple of books that competed with Hoyle.

First, an anecdote, and a book that is more of a curiosity than a highlight. There's an old chestnut in the rare book world: A customer calls up an English book dealer, saying "I have a book by Churchill's chauffeur. Is it worth anything?" The dealer, perhaps with eyes rolling asks, "By any chance is it autographed by the chauffeur?" The customer, excitedly, "Why yes! Yes it is!" "So sorry," replies the dealer. "Autographed copies are a glut on the market. It's the unsigned ones that are rare."

With that in mind, I acquired a "twelfth" edition of Hoyle's Games, described here. I've written about the authorized "twelfth" and its piracies, noting many differences. The most salient is that the authorized editions are signed by Hoyle and by the lead publisher Thomas Osborne; the piracies are not. Well, here is a twist--a book that is authorized, signed by Osborne, but not signed by Hoyle. The condition is terrible, but the price was commensurate, so I'm amused to have this copy and will always associate it with Churchill's (presumably fictitious) chauffeur. 

typical copy
signed by Hoyle and Osborne
oddball copy
signed by Osborne only

Back to the more serious purchases. The best single item is a substantial condition upgrade, a copy of Whist.3 (1743) in the original Dutch paper wrappers. Francis Cogan advertised his books as "done up in fine gold embossed paper" and this is what he meant. I am reliably informed that such papers were actually made in Germany and the common term "Dutch" is a corruption of "Deutsch." I like nothing better than a book in its original binding.

Whist.3 wrapper
Whist.3 Hoyle autograph and title page.

 This was the second book to be autographed by Hoyle.

Epitome of Hoyle

The other Hoyle is an abridgement from the early 1780s, one I write about in the essay "An Epitome of Hoyle, a Discovery, and two Coincidences."  I'd never seen a copy for sale before and it was a treat to add this to the collection. 

1821 Italian translation
As my collection of London Hoyles grows more advanced, the biggest opportunity for me is continental translations. In 2012, I had written that I was not aware of any Italian translation of Hoyle's Whist. I have since identified an 1821 Milan edition that came bound with an almanac. I found a copy for sale and was surprised to see that it was in an original binding and did not include the almanac. The two books have different title pages, but otherwise the same setting of type. Hence they are two bibliographical issues; mine seems to be the only extant copy without the almanac.

1773 Liege imprint
As I noted in another 2012 essay, Hoyle was translated into French more often than any other language. Sometimes, Whist was published as a stand-alone text. Other times it was included in the various editions of the Académie des Jeux. The translation at left was published in Belgium in 1773. All three copies I have seen, mine included, are bound with a 1774 copy of Greco's Le Jeu des Échecs translated from Italian. The book was reissued with a cancel title in 1781 with the imprint "Paris : Les libraires associés."

Most of the card games from the Académie des Jeux were translated into English as the Academy of Play. The translation did not include Hoyle, avoiding potential copyright problems in London. In fact, the Academy of Play competed with Hoyle and was published both in London and Dublin in 1768. The Académies presented only rules for games and not strategy, as noted in the footnote at right below.

Academy of Play
Dublin (1768)

Academy of Play footnote

The note identifies the need for a manual on the game of Quadrille, dismissing Hoyle as "nothing more than instructions for the better playing of those, who have already learned the Game; for it is impossible for any one to form any idea of the game by what is there laid down." Yes, strategy is what Hoyle was about, and the footnote has an ironic sound to me. 

That brings us to The Annals of Gaming (1775). I was outbid on a copy in a 2004, but bid more aggressively this time--the book is quite rare in the trade. As I have written, Annals competed with Hoyle, but was focused more on cheating than on strategy. The essays originally appeared in the Covent Garden Magazine, a monthly periodical containing tame, but erotic engravings and essays, and a monthly article on gaming.

There were a handful of lesser acquisitions and an interesting book on the way, but that will have to wait for another time. 

Happy New Year, everyone. Let's see what 2018 brings!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Biographical Notes on Robert Withy (part 2)

With this essay, I am going to provide long extracts from two interesting sources on Robert Withy without added comment.

The first is a genealogical work, His Pedigree, with Memoirs old and new, Delineated by G. R. G. Pughe, of Mellor Vicarge, 1902, available for download from the Internet Archive. It  has 50 pages of rhyming couplets giving the history of Mr. Pughe, whose ancestors include our Robert Withy! The section on Robert and his son, also Robert, are on pages 17-18:
My mother's maiden name was Withy, and her family
I will accordingly distinguish as The Withy Tree.
The oldest Withy provable as her progenitor
Was Hilborne Withy, Coleman Street, an Upholsterer.
Robert, his eldest son, was long remembered as "Bob Short,"
Whose calling was stockbroking, whilst whist-playing was his forte.
His eldest son and namesake was a money scrivenir,
Or, what we designate at present, a solicitor;
He was of Buckingham Street, Strand, also of Bletchingly
In Sussex, and of Brighton. I may mention, by the bye,
That Robert, the solicitor, was no monogamist,
But, as in houses so spouses, quite a pluralist.
He married thrice. Miss Burton was the first upon his list.
One of his many daughters, Mary, lived at Cheltenham,
Also at Stapleton (it would rhyme better Stapletam).
Sarah, another of his daughters, married Mortemer
Rodney, an Honourable, I, of course, must honour her,
He was the son of George, the second Baron and the son
Of great George Brydges Rodney, who, for victory well son
Over the French when led in vain by Comte de Grasse, became
Promoted to the Peerage with a handle to his name,
And reached in seventeen eighty-three the zenith of his fame.
His Pillar on the Breidden Hill reminds my family
Of our affinity as well as as of his victory.
In eighteen fifty-six, and at the age of sixty-four,
Seven years my junior, died at Lanfanque this Mortemer.

A final source, also amusing. and also in verse is An Invocation To Edward Quin, Esq. as delivered at a society called The Eccentrics, on Saturday the 26th of Nov. 1803, by John Gale Jones (available for download from Google Books).

There are merely two lines that relate to Withy (page 37):
Did W*thy tell thee with his parting breath,
That all must share the fatal stroke of death?
It is the notes to the couplet that provide biographical interest:
 "Did W*thy tell thee," &c. The late Robert W*thy, a respectable stock-broker, and an honorary member of this society. This gentleman was author of a little tract well known among card players, intituled, "Ten Minutes Advice to those who play at Whist," signed, "Bob Short." He lately departed this life, and his death was generally believed to have been prematurely hastened by pecuniary embarrassments. Consistently with the maxim of "de mortuis nil nisi bonum." I shall merely state, that he was one of the first founders, and, by way of distinction, called "the Father of the Brilliants," a society from which, in consequence of an act of felo de se, that threw the poor landlord into a prison, and consigned his helpless wife and children to beggary and ruin, this most honourable and valuable institution, like a phoenix from the ashes of a conflagration, dates its origin and existence! Mr. W*thy was much attached to these societies; and notwithstanding his advanced age (nearly 70 years) was constant in his attendance, and assiduous in regulating its concerns. He was a facetious and pleasant companion, but, unfortunately, very irascible in his temper, and one of those who take every thing to heart! A double entendre, or a humourous allusion, afforded him great satisfaction; and he frequently indulged the company with an amorous song. When he was reproved for his levity, and reminded of his age, his reply was, that early habits are not easily eradicated; and that an old coachman always remembers with pleasure the crack of his whip!
One more biographical essay to follow.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Biographical Notes on Robert Withy (part 1)

I wasn't able to attend this week's conference on Bibliography Among the Disciplines, but did follow a bit on Twitter under the tag #BxD17. One of the memes was "When you fall down a rabbit hole, go for it!" In that vein, my latest rabbit hole is Robert Withy.

I've written about him and his publications about whist and quadrille many times. The most important essay was a series (parts one, two, and three) establishing conclusively that it was he and not Anna Letitia Barbauld who wrote Short Rules for Short Memories at the Game of Whist under the pseudonym "Bob Short".

The rabbit hole is the Withy biography. I happened on some fascinating sources and wanted to pull them together, much as I did for bookseller Francis Cogan. The most important source is an article in Miscellanea, Genealogica et Heraldica, volume III, new series, edited by Joseph Jackson Howard, London: Hamilton, Adams, and Co., 1880. The article is called "Pedigree of Withy of Berry Norbert and Westminster" and includes information compiled by the Vicar of All Saints', Lambeth and transcribes genealogical information from the Withy family bible. It is available for download from Google Books.

I have a couple of other interesting sources that I will save for later; now here is the first part of a chronology of what I've learned about Withy:

1732-12-11 Robert Withy is born, the son of Hilborne (an upholsterer) and Elizabeth Withy of Coleman Street, London.

1747-07-07 Hilborne binds Robert as an apprentice to the bookseller John Rivington for £105. [McKenzie, Stationers' Apprentices]

1754-09-03 Withy is free of the Stationers' Company. [McKenzie]

1755 Withy begins a bookselling and print-selling career. Some of his imprints are at the sign of the Dunciad in Cornhill. See this lovely broadside advertising his business. Other imprints show Withy in partnership with John Ryall at Hogarth's Head opposite Salisbury Court, Fleet Street. A broadside from that business survives as well. [ESTC]

There are 107 entries in ESTC listing Withy as a publisher. I haven't gone through these in detail to find out what role he played or how many were in partnership with John Ryall. The first 101 are dated from 1755 to 1767, when, as we shall see, Withy left the trade.

1756-02-01 Withy marries, as is noted in the London Evening Post of February 3:
Sunday last Mr. Robert Withy, a bookseller in Fleet-Street, was married to Miss Amelia Hope, daughter of Roger Hope, Esq. of Windsor, an agreeable lady with a handsome fortune. 
One the one hand, this is clearly our Robert Withy. On the other, the marriage does not show up in Miscellanea, which notes two marriages, the first of which is the listed immediately below. What is the story of this ignored marriage? A mystery!

1758-03-16 Withy marries Mary, daughter of William and Elizabeth Johnson. The couple had thirteen children from 1759 to 1778, most of whom died in child birth or infancy. There were two sons name Robert who did not survive, followed by a third Robert (born 1768-06-20) who went on to become an attorney and author. [Miscellanea]

1762-03-02 Thomas Dale becomes an apprentice of Withy. [McKenzie]

1766-08-20 Withy leaves the print-selling trade, selling his remaining inventory at auction. The 19 page catalogue survives, titled:
A Catalogue of the Remaining Part of the Stock in Trade, of Mr. Robert Withy, of Cornhill, Print-Seller, who is going into another branch of business: Consisting of a great variety of prints, elegantly framed and glazed for furniture, and in portfeuilles; maps and plans upon rollers; drawing-books copper plates perspective machines, and other effects...which will be sold at auction by Samuel Paterson, at Essex-House in Essex Street, in the Strand, on Wednesday August the 20th, 1766, and the two following days, to begin each day exactly at twelve o'clock. [ESTC, ECCO]
1767-05-21 Withy sells his books and copyrights at a bookseller trade sale. [ESTC] At this point, Withy became a stock broker and auctioneer.

(updated 10/20/2017 with more complete and primary source information on the next section)

1768-02-04 An advertisement appears in the Gazetteer and New Daily Advertiser: As we shall see, it was Withy who placed the advertisement.
An estate for seven years to be sold. To prevent trouble, none need apply who cannot deposit four thousand pounds, five hundred of which to be advanced on making out the title, which is a very good one, and the remainder not to be paid till the deeds are executed. Enquire of C. D. at Baker's Coffee-House, Exchange Alley. 
Nonetheless trouble ensued, and quickly. That day, the House of Commons issued two orders as a result of that advertisement. They ordered that Charles Say, printer of the Gazetteer and the person who keeps Baker's Coffee House attend Parliament the next morning, Friday, February 5. (p580)
[Aside: My account is taken from the Journals of the House of Commons. an 1803 reprint, available for download from Google Books. The Journal reports orders, such as the two above, and who was giving testimony, but not always the substance of the testimony.]
The proceedings continue over the next week and a half:
  • On February 5, the House discussed a bill that might possibly be relevant to our story, a bill for the further and more effectual preventing bribery and corruption in the election of members to serve in Parliament. (583) The orders for Say and the keeper of Baker's House were carried over until Monday. (584) On Monday they were carried over until Tuesday. (589)
  • On February 9, Charles Say, printer of the Gazetteer testified that Robert Withy delivered handwritten copy of the advertisement to Say's clerk, Hugh Jones, on February 3. Samuel Purney, keeper of Baker's Coffee House, said that Withy asked him to delivery any letters which came in response to the advertisement to Withy's home. Purney did so.Withy was directed to appear on Thursday Februrary 11 and bring in any letters he received. Purney and Jones were also directed to attend. (596)

  • On February 11, Withy admitted placing the advertisement, but said that he had received no replies. Purney testified that Withy had frequently ordered letters directed to C. D. to be sent to him. Withy did not bring in any letters, saying that he had received none in response to the advertisement. Purney, contested that claim, informing the house that he had received letters since February 4 which he had delivered to Withy. (603)
  • Withy then opened up. He said that he had received letters from John Reynolds about the borough of Milborne-Port; and that he received instructions from Reynolds to place the advertisement and to refer replies to Reynolds. He received replies from three attorneys, Hickey, Seagrave, and Coulthurst, all whom he referred to Reynolds. Withy claimed he was present at a conversation between Reynolds and Hickey in which Reynolds said that there were some boroughs available at a reasonable price, naming Milborne Port, Reading, and Honiton. Hickey made a deposit for the borough of Redding, and Hickey identified his principal as Mr. Nightingale. (603)
This gives enough clues to sort out what is going on. Milborne Port and Honiton were "rotton boroughs", defined in the Wikipedia as Parliamentary boroughs so small that could be used by a patron to gain influence within the House of Commons. Milborne Port is mentioned specifically. A Rowlandson print from 1807 satirizes Honiton as a rotton borough. So, it seems that Parliament is investigating an effort to buy a seat in the House of Commons. Back to the proceedings.
  • Parliament ordered Reynolds, Hickey, Seagrave, and Coulthurst to attend the next day, and ordered Withy to be taken into custody to ensure his appearance. Withy was to speak with no one outside the presence of the Serjeant at Arms, and to send or receive no letters. (603).
  • On February 12, Hickey, Seagrave, and Coulthurst, and Withy appeared, but Reynolds was apparently out of town. There was much testimony, including Withy recanting some details of his earlier testimony.The attorney Hickey was not present at the meeting where Reynolds named the three boroughs; it was Reynolds and not Hickey who made the agreement about Reading; and that Nightingale was the principal of Reynolds. The proceedings were continued until Monday February 15. John Reynolds was charged with "corrupt practices relating to several boroughs", Withy was to be held in custody until Monday February 15 to be further examined. John Reynolds was ordered taken into custody to answer the charge. (606)
  • February 15, the House had a first reading of the bill for preventing bribery and corruption in the election of members to serve in Parliament. (610)
  • February 15, John Reynolds still could not be found. Parliament petitioned His Majesty, to issue a royal proclamation for apprehending John Reynolds with the promise of reward. Hickey and Withy were examined, both separately and together, although there is no report of their testimony. The House voted 83 to 37 that Joseph Hickey was guilty of a corrupt attempt to obtain a seat in the House on behalf of a client and he was taken into custody. After further testimony, it was ordered "that the said Robert Withy be discharged out of custody, without paying any fees. (610)
And so ends the story, at least as to Withy. In a 1774 treatise on election law by a "Gentleman of the Inner-Temple", the author noted it was singular to discharge a prisoner without paying any fees. (p116).

Not so for Hickey and Reynolds. On February 18, Hickey petitioned to be discharged, admitting his guilt and promising to avoid incurring censure of the house. He was order to be discharged the next day. (p617). Reynolds was not so fortunate. He was brought to the House on the 18th, and after his testimony and thought of others, including Withy, he was confined to Newgate. His Majesty was requested to direct the Attorney General to prosecute Reynolds.

1778-01-07. Wife Mary dies delivering twins.

1781-01-31 Withy advertises a card with rules for whist in the Morning Herald and Daily Advertiser:
No Puff Poz. This day is published, neatly printed on a card. The fourth edition, with additions. Price on 2d. or 1s. a dozen. A New Year's gift for grown masters and misses. Hoyle Abridged; or Twelve short standing rules for short memories, at the Game of Whist. By Bob Short. Printed for the benefit of Families to prevent Scolding, and sold by the author, at Baker's Coffee-house, Exchange-alley, where he attends daily to answer all questions relating to the game of whist. Advice to the poor gratis...N. B. Signed by the author in such a manner as to defy all counterfeits. 
There is one surviving card in the John Johnson Collection at the Bodleian Library. One side has "Twelve Short Standing Rules for short Memories at the Game of Whist" beginning with "Lead from your strong suit." and "Lead thro' on honour." The other side has an advertisement for Withy's business:
Robert Withy, Stock Broker and Auctioneer, begs leave to inform his friends and the public that he continues to buy and sell by commission, at public or private sale, estates, life annuities, mortgages, reversions, government and all other securities, also the same valued, and lives insured on the most reasonable terms.
The utmost value given for household furniture and other effects, to be remov’d or sold on the premises. All orders directed for him at Baker’s Coffee House, Change Alley, or at his house...
 This takes us to the beginning of his writing about whist. More soon...