Music printer Thomas East [Este] was born about 1540. He was made a freeman of the Stationers’ Company in December 1565. From 1576 onwards, his name frequently appears as a printer of general literature. His workshop was located at Aldersgate Street. When Thomas Vautrollier died in 1587, East acquired his music type. In 1588, he printed Nicholas Yonge’s great edited collection (fifty-seven separate pieces) of Italian madrigals entitled Musica transalpina.
The publication coincided with the death of Alfonso Ferrabosco, the solitary Italian madrigalist working at the court of Elizabeth. The genre found many admirers and resulted in the foundation of the English Madrigal School which flowered until 1627. The frequent use of the name Este (with its Italian associations) and the printer’s apparent knowledge of Latin compositions, gave rise to the conjecture that he was of Italian extraction. The theory has now been discounted. Thomas East died in January 1609.