Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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FLEET, Thomas, printer, born in Shropshire, England, 8 September 1685: died in Boston, Massachusetts, 21 July 1758. He learned the business of printing in Bristol, England, and came to America at the age of twentyseven and established himself in "Pudding Lane ;' (now Devonshire Street), Boston. He married Elizabeth Goose, daughter of a wealthy Bostonian, 8 June 1715. His motherinlaw, who lived at his house, spent her whole time in the nursery and in wandering about the house, pouring forth, in unmelodious strains, an abundance of rhymes for the amusement of Fleet's infant son, greatly to the annoyance of the whole neighborhood, and of Fleet in particular. He endeavored for a long time, by every means in his power, to put an end to it; but his good mother-in-law would not be silenced. Finally he conceived the idea of quietly writing down her songs, which he did, and published them in book form under the title, "Songs for the Nursery ; or, Mother Goose's Melodies for Children. Printed by T. Fleet, at his Printing House, Pudcling Lane [now Devonshire Street], 1719. Price, two coppers." The book was popular and remunerative.
In 1731 Fleet built himself a mansion on the corner of Water Street, having for his sign a heart and crown. Here he lived with his family, prosecuted printing and editing, and maintained a shop and an auction room. In 1733 he became proprietor and publisher of the "Weekly Rehearsal," which two years afterward was changed to the "Boston Evening Post," and in its management he continued until his death. He possessed a vein of keen though coarse wit that was suited to the times, and aided the popularity of the paper. His eldest son, Thomas, over whose cradle the celebrated "Mother Goose Melodies" were gathered, aided his father, and after his death succeeded him in the management of the paper. From 1.779 till 1801 his descendants published "Fleet's Annual Register," and printed the first edition of Hutchinson's "History of Massachusetts."
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