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A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland: 1686-1776 by Lawrence C. Wroth
Volume 435, Page 71   View pdf image (33K)
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William Parts, Public Printer of Maryland and Virginia

He advertised himself as one "Who binds old Books very well, and cheap,"
and in the same advertisement announced that he had for sale "A parcel
of very curious Metzotinto Prints" at reasonable rates.1 He imported books
from London to sell to his Maryland customers, and in the case of certain
religious works such as primers and catechisms, he seems to have imported
the sheets, later to be folded and sewed in his own establishment. It is prob-
able that as bookseller, he had for sale a variety of other articles, for the
booksellers of the time traded busily in small stores of the unclassified sort;
Bradford2 of Philadelphia had in his stock such dissimilar articles as whale-
bone, live goose feathers, pickled sturgeon, chocolate and Spanish snuff,
while a few years later, Hugh Gaine3 of New York dealt in everything from
medicines to flutes and fiddle strings.

Until the year 1737, when he was brought to book by the House, the re-
lations of Parks with the Assembly were such as to indicate that his merits
were appreciated by that body,4 while on his part there seems to have been
no dissatisfaction with his treatment by its members. Almost from his first
coming to Maryland, however, Parks had recognized the possibilities of
greatly increasing his business by uniting with it the printing of the colony
of Virginia. He made tentative proposals to the Virginia Assembly for its
printing work in the year 1727, and so well were his proposals received that
three years later he set up in Williamsburg a branch office of his Maryland
establishment. Eventually, the new office overshadowed the old in impor-
tance, so that Parks began to neglect his Maryland business in favor of
that of the colony to which later he was to transfer all of his interests. In
an act of the Maryland Assembly of April 1737, wherein he was still de-
scribed as "of the City of Annapolis," it was set forth against him that he
had neglected to print the laws of the previous session, and that because of
this neglect the Province had been put to the expense of having the laws of
that session transcribed. As a consequence of this defection by the printer,
it was enacted that thereafter the counties should not pay him unless he
should have delivered the printed laws within four months after the con-
clusion of each session. This was the last incident in connection with the

1 Maryland Gazette, July 15, 1729.

2Thomas, ist ed., 2:31.

3 Ford, P. L. ed., Journals of Hugh Gaine, Printer. 2 v. 1902,1: 27 and 28.

4 In the first appendix to this narrative is to be found a copy of the Act of 1727 for the encouragement of Wil-
liam Parks, the first enactment on the Maryland statute book in which provision is made for printing. Following
it is an abstract of later printing legislation in the Province. Isaiah Thomas, 1st ed., 2: 128, asserts that Parks
was pud two hundred pounds a year by the Maryland Assembly. With tobacco at ten shillings a hundred in
1730 (Archives of Maryland, 37: 136) it is probable that Parks's allowance of twenty-four thousand pounds of
tobacco from the counties for printing the laws, and his extra allowance from the Lower House for printing its
votes and proceedings amounted to about the sum specified by Mr. Thomas.

[71]


 

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A History of Printing in Colonial Maryland: 1686-1776 by Lawrence C. Wroth
Volume 435, Page 71   View pdf image (33K)
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