The Nuthead Press of Jamestown, St. Mary's and Annapolis—
William Nuthead, the Inaugurator of Printing in Virginia
and Maryland—Dinah Nuthead, his Successor
N THE year 1671, the Lords Commissioners of Foreign
Plantations addressed to Sir William Berkeley, the royal
governor of Virginia, a series of questions relating to the
state of his government. In his reply to that one of the
questions which had to do with religious education in the
colony, Sir William, a choleric old gentleman, who had
been much vexed by the local radicals, evinced the wrong-
headed honesty of conviction which characterized many of his utterances
and actions. "I thank God," he wrote, "there are no free schools nor printing
and I hope we shall not have these hundred years; for learning has brought
disobedience, and heresy and sects into the world, and printing has divulged
[them, ..... God keep us from both!"1
It is plainly to be perceived from this declaration that there existed small
chance for the establishment of a press in Virginia under the Berkeley regime,
but Sir William's long governorship came to an end eventually, and in the
year 1682, during the administration of Lord Culpeper, Mr. John Buckner,2
a merchant of Gloucester County, brought in a press and a printer and set
up at Jamestown the second printing establishment of English America.
Begun auspiciously enough, what seems to have been the first venture of
this partnership met with such ill favor from the authorities as to discour-
age further attempts at printing in Virginia for many years. The action of
the Virginia Council on hearing that Buckner's press was preparing to issue
certain session laws is told in the following .record:3
Att a Councell held att James Citty February 21: 1682/3. .....
Mr. John Buckner being by his Excellency Thomas Lord Culpeper ordered to appear
1 Hening, W. W., Statutes at Large ...of Virginia, 2: 517.
2 John Buckner, Gent., the ancestor of a numerous family in the United States, patented 1,000 acres of land
in Gloucester County in 1669, and became a merchant with wide connections in Maryland and Virginia. Virginia
Magazine of History and Biography, 1:406, and William and Mary College Quarterly, 7: 9, 10 and 11.
Public Record Office: C. O. 5. vol. 51, No. 42,1683, Jan.-May. See Cal. State Papers, Col. Ser. A. & W. I.,
1681-1685, p. 390, No. 961.