Clementina Rind (d. 1774)


Clementina Rind was a public printer for Virginia and publisher from August 1773 to September 1774 of one of two Virginia Gazettes printed in Williamsburg. Born about 1740, she married the Maryland printer William Rind after 1762 and they moved to Williamsburg later in 1765 or early in 1766. There, in May 1766, William Rind established the Virginia Gazette in direct competition to a paper of the same name published by Alexander Purdie and John Dixon. He soon also became the colony’s public printer, publishing all of the government’s official documents. Rind died in 1773 and Clementina Rind took over the newspaper and won appointment to succeed her husband as public printer. She managed the business well and supplemented her income by printing other material, such as Thomas Jefferson‘s tract A Summary View of the Rights of British America (1774). Although nonpartisan, her Virginia Gazette included news that suggested solidarity with the patriot cause in the years before the American Revolution (1775–1783). She died in Williamsburg in 1774.

Early Years

Rind was born about 1740, but the date and place of her birth and the names of her parents are not known. Little is known of her childhood, education, and early adulthood. It is possible that she was the Clementina van Grierson who arrived with her father in Maryland from London in April 1756. Sometime after 1762 she married the Maryland printer William Rind. As a young boy, he had apprenticed with and was later a partner of Jonas Green, the Annapolis printer of the Maryland Gazette. Clementina Rind likely maintained a friendly association with the printer’s wife, Anne Catharine Hoof Green, as their husbands’ lives were closely interconnected. The Greens and the Rinds worked alongside each other, may have lived near each other, and attended Saint Anne’s Parish church in Annapolis. The Rinds had four sons and one daughter, the eldest born in Maryland, the others after they moved to Williamsburg late in 1765 or early in 1766.

With William Rind

Colonial-Era Printing

The Rinds moved to Virginia when William Rind, encouraged by several patriot-minded Virginians including Thomas Jefferson, agreed to establish a free and open press in the colony in the wake of the Stamp Act crisis and in direct competition with Alexander Purdie and John Dixon’s newspaper, the Virginia Gazette. Rind announced the establishment of his printing office on May 9, 1766, and issued the first issue of his Virginia Gazette a week later with the motto “Open to All Parties, but Influenced by None.”

William Rind won a competitive contract as public printer for the colony and supplemented his newspaper income by printing Virginia’s laws, resolutions, proclamations and journals of the House of Burgesses. Clementina Rind and their older children learned much about the printing trade that flourished under their roof. Isaac Collins, who later established the New-Jersey Gazette, completed the final year of his printing apprenticeship within their household by 1767. The Rinds enjoyed a comfortable standard of living in Williamsburg and beginning in 1767 occupied a brick building on the Duke of Gloucester Street that served as both residence and printing office. On August 19, 1773, William Rind died at the age of thirty-nine. Because of his outstanding debts, Clementina Rind risked losing all his possessions. According to the estate inventory his household goods were worth about £272, the most valuable being his printing equipment, which included two presses, four fonts of type, and other tools. During this unsettling time, the Rinds’ landlord offered for sale three Williamsburg tenements including the “brick house on the Main Street, where Mrs. Rind lives.”

Clementina Rind’s Deed of Trust

Clementina Rind managed to hold onto her husband’s printing press, in part because she could justify her need to make good on his contract as the colony’s public printer. When the contents of their home were offered for sale less than two months after his death to satisfy his debts, she purchased some of his household items and printing equipment on six months’ credit. When full payment came due in April 1774, she executed a deed of trust with Williamsburg mayor John Blair and three other men. She listed as security for this loan the printing press and the household goods she had purchased earlier.

Public Printer

Rind had a brief but active widowhood. She assumed responsibility for her husband’s estate and for printing the Virginia Gazette within a week of his death. She quickly announced her decision to continue her husband’s newspaper: “Being now unhappily forced to enter upon Business on my own Account, I flatter myself those Gentlemen who shall continue to oblige me with their Custom will not be offended at my requesting them, in future, to be punctual in sending Cash with Advertisements … May that All Ruling Power, whose chastening Hand has snatched from my dear Infants and myself our whole Dependence, make me equal to the Task! An unaffected Desire to please, an indefatigable Attention to my Business, and the Assistance of Persons whose Abilities and Attachment I can rely on, will, I hope, make me not entirely unworthy of Encouragement from the Public in general, and from the Honourable House of Burgesses in particular; whose Favour I once more take the Liberty to solicit, and in whose generous Breasts it lies to bestow Happiness and Plenty on my orphan Family, if they find me capable of being their Servant.”

The Bodleian Plate

Rind shouldered the new responsibilities for her orphaned family with the assistance of a relative, John Pinkney, who may have been her husband’s brother-in-law, and one enslaved man named Dick who probably worked as a semiskilled artisan. As the capital of colonial Virginia, Williamsburg provided Rind with the opportunity to garner news and to print the laws of the colony in addition to advertising the goods and services of her neighbors in the pages of her gazette, a four-page weekly appearing on Thursdays. She occasionally reminded her customers to remit prompt cash payments so that she could settle her books and pay her creditors, and she appreciated those who punctually paid their subscriptions, including Thomas Jefferson and George Washington.

In December 1773 an anonymous person writing in the rival Virginia Gazette accused Rind of violating the paper’s principles of free expression by refusing to publish a libelous piece an anonymous author submitted. In her reply published on December 30, 1773, Rind explained that the article dealt with an incident that should be aired in a court of law rather than in her newspaper. She agreed, however, to print the article if the author disclosed his name. She also printed news of local interest such as educational reforms at the College of William and Mary and the arrival from Great Britain of the governor‘s wife, Charlotte Stewart Murray, Countess of Dunmore.

Virginia Gazette

Rind’s management of the printing office associated with the Virginia Gazette proved so successful that in April 1774, she announced that she had purchased “an elegant set of types from London.” The next month, when she petitioned the House of Burgesses to be appointed her husband’s successor as public printer, she received the profitable post with a total of sixty votes of the eighty-seven cast and was granted a salary of £450 per year. Her success in maintaining the printing operation in the nine months since her husband’s death led the assembly to give its overwhelming support to her alone rather than in a joint capacity with another printer. A wise negotiator and self-sacrificing parent, Rind confronted the General Assembly, arguing for her continued subsistence all the while maintaining a gendered language of deference.

In addition to publishing the Virginia Gazette and printing government work, Rind sold books, almanacs, religious pamphlets, and executed orders for printed forms. Although only five publications have been attributed to her press, one was a pamphlet that played an important role in developing a revolutionary ideology in the colonies. Thomas Jefferson’s tract A Summary View of the Rights of British America, which she printed in the summer of 1774, offered timely insights to the delegates of the Virginia Convention who elected the colony’s delegates to the Continental Congress in August.

Later Years

The Bostonian's Paying the Excise-Man

Rind played a significant, though short-lived role in the public life of the colony. Her tenure as printer coincided with Virginia’s increasing opposition to British imperial policies. She helped shape political consciousness on the eve of the Revolution. Despite the nonpartisan motto of her paper, the content she included became patriotic expressions as British injustices moved closer to home. News of the destruction of tea in Boston harbor met with more boycotting of British goods, and the closure of the Boston port as a result of the Coercive Acts met with an explosion of sentiment against infringed liberties in the pages of her press. Rind included news of the General Assembly’s resolutions and support for a public fast day in solidarity with New England’s patriots.

During her thirteen months as a printer in Williamsburg, Rind made a name for herself. The extant works she published reveal a glimmer of her character—the deference and responsibility she practiced in her role as public printer to the colony, her concern for the security and care of other widows and orphans, and her growing consciousness of the political nature of events influencing the Williamsburg community in the years preceding the Revolution. As a gatekeeper and conduit for news, she was at once a consumer and creator of information. Print culture uniquely positioned Rind in Virginia by engaging her intellect in the diffusion of knowledge, establishing her in a large web of social, economic and political connections, and embedding her more deeply in the daily and long-term economic viability of her community and colony in the critical years before the Revolution.

Rind died in Williamsburg “after a tedious and painful illness” on September 25, 1774, and was buried probably near her husband at Bruton Parish Church. A brief obituary in the rival Virginia Gazette of Alexander Purdie and John Dixon paid tribute to her as “a Lady of singular Merit, and universally esteemed.” John Pinkney continued her printing business for nine months and used the revenue toward the care of her orphaned children. In February 1776, printer John Dixon became guardian of the Rind children. The Williamsburg Masonic lodge, of which William Rind had been a member, assumed financial responsibility for the clothing and schooling of two of the Rind boys as late as 1779. Rind’s daughter, Maria, later became a governess in the Williamsburg household of St. George Tucker, where she met and married the Tucker children’s tutor, John Coalter, still later a judge of the Virginia Court of Appeals. James Rind read law in Kentucky and Virginia.

William Alexander Rind, following in his parents’ printing profession but not in their patriot leanings, went to the Maritime Provinces of Canada in 1788 and later served as King’s printer and published the Royal Gazette and Miscellany of the Island of Saint John. He married the daughter of a Philadelphia loyalist and in 1798 returned to the United States where he began publishing the Virginia Federalist in Richmond on May 25, 1799, and then the Washington Federalist in Georgetown, District of Columbia, the following year.

ca. 1740
Clementina Rind is born.
April 1756
Clementina van Grierson arrives with her father in Maryland from London. This may be the future public printer of Virginia, Clementina Rind.
After 1762
Clementina Rind and William Rind, a Maryland printer, are married.
Winter 1765—1766
Clementina and William Rind move from Maryland to Williamsburg.
May 9, 1766
William Rind announces the establishment of his printing office in Williamsburg. A week later he begins publishing the Virginia Gazette.
William and Clementina Rind and their family occupy a brick building on the Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg.
August 19, 1773
William Rind, the publisher of the Virginia Gazette, dies in Williamsburg and is buried at Bruton Parish Church.
April 1774
Clementina Rind, now managing the Virginia Gazette, announces the purchase of new type from London.
May 1774
The House of Burgesses appoints Clementina Rind the new public printer of Virginia.
Summer 1774
Clementina Rind publishes Thomas Jefferson's tract A Summary View of the Rights of British America.
September 25, 1774
Clementina Rind dies in Williamsburg and is buried probably near her husband at Bruton Parish Church.
February 1776
The printer John Dixon becomes guardian of the children of the late William and Clementina Rind.
May 25, 1799
William Alexander Rind begins publishing the Virginia Federalist in Richmond.
Further Reading

  • King, Martha J. “Clementina Rind: Widowed Printer of Williamsburg.” In Cynthia A. Kierner and Sandra Gioia Treadway, eds., Virginia Women: Their Lives and Times. Volume 1. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2015.
  • Weyler, Karen A. Empowering Words: Outsiders and Authorship in Early America. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2013.
APA Citation:
King, Martha & Dictionary of Virginia Biography. Clementina Rind (d. 1774). (2020, December 07). In Encyclopedia Virginia. https://encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/rind-clementina-d-1774.
MLA Citation:
King, Martha, and Dictionary of Virginia Biography. "Clementina Rind (d. 1774)" Encyclopedia Virginia. Virginia Humanities, (07 Dec. 2020). Web. 22 Jun. 2024
Last updated: 2021, December 22
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