Administered by:
University of Cambridge
17th century Oxford University Press
Oxford's chancellor, Archbishop William Laud, consolidated the legal status of the university's printing in the 1630s. Laud envisaged a unified press of world repute. Oxford would establish it on university property, govern its operations, employ its staff, determine its printed work, and benefit from its proceeds. To that end, he petitioned Charles I for rights that would enable Oxford to compete with the Stationers' Company and the King's Printer, and obtained a succession of royal grants to aid it. These were brought together in Oxford's "Great Charter" in 1636, which gave the university the right to print "all manner of books". Laud also obtained the "privilege" from the Crown of printing the King James or Authorized Version of Scripture at Oxford. This "privilege" created substantial returns in the next 250 years, although initially it was held in abeyance. The Stationers' Company was deeply alarmed by the threat to its trade and lost little time in establishing a "Covenant of Forbearance" with Oxford. Under this, the Stationers paid an annual rent for the university not to exercise its full printing rights е money Oxford used to purchase new printing equipment for smaller purposes.

Laud also made progress with internal organization of the Press. Besides establishing the system of Delegates, he created the wide-ranging supervisory post of "Architypographus": an academic who would have responsibility for every function of the business, from print shop management to proofreading. The post was more an ideal than a workable reality, but it survived (mostly as a sinecure) in the loosely structured Press until the 18th century. In practice, Oxford's Warehouse-Keeper dealt with sales, accounting, and the hiring and firing of print shop staff.

Laud's plans, however, hit terrible obstacles, both personal and political. Falling foul of political intrigue, he was executed in 1645, by which time the English Civil War had broken out. Oxford became a Royalist stronghold during the conflict, and many printers in the city concentrated on producing political pamphlets or sermons. Some outstanding mathematical and Orientalist works emerged at this time+notably, texts edited by Edward Pococke, the Regius Professor of Hebrew+but no university press on Laud's model was possible before the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660.

Fell's scheme was ambitious. Besides plans for academic and religious works, in 1674 he began to print a broadsheet calendar, known as the Oxford Almanack. Early editions featured symbolic views of Oxford, but in 1766 these gave way to realistic studies of the city or university. The Almanacks have been produced annually without interruption from Fell's time to the present day.

Following the start of this work, Fell drew up the first formal programme for the university's printing. Dating from 1675, this document envisaged hundreds of works, including the Bible in Greek, editions of the Coptic Gospels and works of the Church Fathers, texts in Arabic and Syriac, comprehensive editions of classical philosophy, poetry, and mathematics, a wide range of medieval scholarship, and also "a history of insects, more perfect than any yet Extant." Though few of these proposed titles appeared during Fell's life, Bible printing remained at the forefront of his mind. A full variant Greek text of Scripture proved impossible, but in 1675 Oxford printed a quarto King James edition, carrying Fell's own textual changes and spellings. This work only provoked further conflict with the Stationers' Company. In retaliation, Fell leased the university's Bible printing to three rogue Stationers, Moses Pitt, Peter Parker, and Thomas Guy, whose sharp commercial instincts proved vital to fomenting Oxford's Bible trade. Their involvement, however, led to a protracted legal battle between Oxford and the Stationers, and the litigation dragged on for the rest of Fell's life. He died in 1686.