The Virginia Gazette

The Virginia Gazette was a four-page colonial newspaper first published in Williamsburg, Virginia in 1736. Through four different iterations, it stayed in print until 1780. These iterations (sometimes competing) are denoted by the different publishers under whose leadership the Gazette continued. They are:

  1. 1736-1780, Virginia Gazette 1, printers - William Parks; William Hunter; Joseph Royle; Alexander Purdie; Alexander Purdie and John Dixon; John Dixon and William Hunter, Jr; John Dixon and Thomas Nicolson
  2. 1766-1778, Virginia Gazette 2, printers - William Rind; Clementina Rind; John Pinkney
  3. 1775-1780, Virginia Gazette 3, printer - Alexander Purdie
  4. 177?-1780, Virginia Gazette 4, printer - John Clarkson and Augustine Davis

The Gazette, as a rare example of preserved colonial print culture, is an invaluable resource for students of the Virginia colony (and by extension the American colonies) during the 1700s. Reading the Gazette can be awkward at times, especially if you are not used to the way the s sometimes looks like an 'f', but generally its format and appearance maintain a resemblance to modern newsprint almost 300 years later. Pages are aligned in three major columns, and small block images help denote the nature of each article. For instance, notices related to horses have small print block, cartoon like images of horses in the upper left-hand corner. Runaway slave notices have a small caricature of a slave with a walking stick, cap, and scarf. The variety of font sizes and styles and alignment remind one of how tedious setting the print manually would have been for one of these (another reason these were not printed daily, aside from cost and distribution issues).

While cleaning out boxes of paperwork in my garage, I uncovered two photocopies of pages of The Virginia Gazette I had made at the Virginia Historical Society earlier in my career. To give some idea of the content, I've copied excerpts below. As much as possible, I've tried to maintain the formatting as it appears in the Gazette.

Taken from Purdie and Dixon, Virginia Gazette 1, July 06, 1769, as noted above:

  • BEDFORD, June 16, 1769.
    MARY PROTHERO, my wife,
    having gone from me with one Cuttings, who I'm told
    she calls her husband, I hereby advertise the public that I will
    pay no debts of her contracting; and as she and this Cuttings
    intend for England, to get some money she is heir to by the death
    of Mr. Thomas Prothero, of Bristol, I forbid any person whatever
    from carrying her out of this colony. Cuttings is a silversmith
    by trade, and a remarkable small man. It is probable he may
    have changed his name.
    ROBERT TAYLOR.
  • BALTIMORE town (Maryland) May 25, 1769.
    RUN away, about three weeks past, an
    indentured servant man named EDWARD NEALE,
    a native of Ireland, by trade a barber, a small well made person,
    about 5 feet 4 inches high, wears black hair, which he generally
    keeps genteelly dressed, and is of a remarkable fresh complexion.
    He stole and carried with him a gold watch, a new narrow gold
    laced hat, with a button and loop, variety of ruffled shirts, &c.
    and many other very good clothes unknown. I have been in-
    formed since he absconded that he has sold the gold watch, and
    many of the other clothes, to one Abraham Lee, at the mouth of
    Choptank river, for payment of a boat he purchased from him, in
    order to transport himself to some part of Virginia. Another
    fellow, by trade a barber, ran away from this town with him,
    who also took his passage from Choptank in the same boat, with
    an intention to settle in some part of Virginia. It is imagined
    they have a considerable sum of money with them. Whoever se-
    cures the said Edward Neale, and brings him to me, with the
    clothes he stole, or any part of them, shall have a reward of 10l.
    currency in dollars at 7 s 6 d. paid by
    JOHN STEVENSON.
    N. B. It is requested if he should be taken his lodgings may
    be immediately searched, and every thing secured, as he is a very
    artful fellow.

Taken from Purdie and Dixon, Virginia Gazette 1, April 7, 1768, as noted above:

  • Doctor ROWAN,
    From LONDON,
    Now at Mr. Robinson's in York,
    CURES the scurvy, leprosy, ulcers,
    cancers, blotches, evil, old sores, green wounds, piles,
    fistulas, inside or out, without cutting, also deafness, and all in-
    flammations in the head or eyes; he discharges all rheumatick
    and gouty pains out of the body and nerves, cures fevers, agues,
    yellow jaundice, scald heads, straightens crooked limbs, cures
    the headach in a few minutes, cures the venereal with or without
    physick, discharges worms out of men, women, and children,
    and many other disorders too tedious to be inserted, though in-
    curable to others, and on being conformable to directions.
    No cure no money.

Conveniently, the Gazette is now available online, and students, researchers, or history buffs can view scans of each page that has been preserved. These are available at http://research.history.org/DigitalLibrary/BrowseVG.cfm

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