Our History

There has been a deep historic printing presence permeating our building, which was originally established over 300 years ago.

John Jackson (1638-1744) served his printing apprenticeship with John White who had been made Their Majesties Printer for the City of York, and the five Northern Counties, after printing the historic manifesto of King William of Orange and Queen Mary, after King James II was overthrown in the Glorious Revolution in 1688.

In 1703, Jackson set up shop for himself on the very site where the printing house still stands today, on Grape Lane in York, naming the enterprise the Queen Anne Copy Shop (QACS) in honour of the recently crowned monarch. The addition of U and K to form Quacks was an innovation of the Sessions family, who do not feature in our story for another 280 years.

Jackson’s son and heir to the flourishing printing house, also named John, started the York Gazetteer in 1741, a publication associated with Laurence Sterne, the author of Tristam Shandy. It is known that Sterne and Jackson Junior were friends at that time, and it is likely that Jackson got the job of printing Sterne’s work, if so the company printed the first modern novel in 1760.

In 1771, the business was taken over by John Junior’s son, Francis, who ran it successfully for 19 years, after which it passed into the hands of William Storry and his son. It was subsequently acquired by T. Wickeley until 1835 when one William Sotheran became the 7th proprietor. Towards the end of the 19th Century, Sotheran sold it to Valentine Morley who passed it on to his son, Henry, when it became known as H. Morley & Sons. The business was passed down three generations of Morleys to Leslie in 1932, and deftly operated by Leslie’s wife, Annie, during his war service between 1939 and 1945.

The business was taken over by John Wheater in the mid 1960’s and sold to his father and son team, William and Michael Sessions in 1983. Michael has diligently overseen the running of the print shop ever since and carries on the family run tradition started by the printer’s originator over 300 years ago.