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A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland: 1686-1776 by Lawrence C. Wroth
Volume 435, Page 3   View pdf image (33K)
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The Nuthead Press William and Dinah Nuthead

The foregoing incidents in the history of the neighboring colony are re-
lated here for the reason that they have a direct bearing upon the story of
the press in Maryland, and in particular upon the life of the first Mary-
land printer. It seems clear that the orders which Howard brought with
him to Virginia effectually put an end to the venture of John Buckner and
William Nuthead. To Buckner, the merchant and planter, the failure of the
press meant only disappointment and vexation; to Nuthead, the printer, it
meant ruin. Under circumstances so distressing as this, it has been the im-
memorial custom for the Virginian to move to Maryland, and Nuthead,
not long after his press had been stopped, packed his equipment and betook
himself to the traditional place of refuge. In Lord Baltimore's province, he
lived and worked at his vocation from 1686, or earlier, until his death in
the year 1695.1


The decade from 1685 to 1695 is less well known than almost any other
period of Maryland history, for the reason that the documentary record
for these years contains many lamentable gaps. During the Protestant
Revolution of 1689, and for two years thereafter, the records were kept
either badly or not at all, and in the removal of the capital from St. Mary's to
Annapolis in the year 1694 many of the precious documents of earlier years
were damaged, while of those which remained intact a number of impor-
tant volumes were consumed by the fire which destroyed the State House
in the year 1704. On account of these several losses, it is not possible to tell
the story even of the principal events of the period in satisfactory detail,
much less to relate consecutively the history of an individual citizen of the
Province in those troublous years. In the documents which have survived
accident and neglect, however, there remain a sufficient number of refer-
ences to one William Nuthead of St. Mary's to enable the investigator to
delineate in outline his life in Maryland, and to claim for him the distinc-
tion of having established and operated the first Maryland press. The exist-
ence of his or of any other printing office in seventeenth-century Maryland
has been questioned, but it is believed that the evidence which will now
be adduced establishes beyond doubt the fact that the press of William
Nuthead was in more or less regular operation at St. Mary's during the
years from 1686 to 1695.

The first recorded evidence of the presence of a printer in Maryland
occurs in an act of Assembly for October 1686, in which provision was

1 For a brief statement of Nuthead's venture in Virginia, see Bruce, P. A., Institutional History of Virginia in
the 17th Century. 2 v. N. Y., 1910,1:402 and 403.



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A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland: 1686-1776 by Lawrence C. Wroth
Volume 435, Page 3   View pdf image (33K)
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