The following post is by Monica Varner, Collections Manager in the Rare Book and Special Collections Division.
Thomas Jefferson’s copy of the controversial text, Doctrines of a Middle State between Death and the Resurrection, is shelved in the Jefferson Library Exhibit in the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress. Though the slim volume appears unassuming, its common appearance belies its surprising contents and its unexpected provenance.
Doctrines of a Middle State between Death and the Resurrection was published in 1721 and written by Archibald Campbell (d. 1744). Though the work is often attributed to the Rev. Archibald Campbell (1691-1756), a professor of Ecclesiastical History at St. Andrews, the Dictionary of National Biography and the English Short Title Catalogue both attribute it to the Archibald who died in 1744. In his work, Campbell sought to revive early, “primitive” Christian beliefs (which he considered more authentic and unchanged) about what happens to a soul after death and before the final resurrection with the second coming of Christ. Campbell postulated that, unlike more mainstream Catholic and Protestant beliefs, there is no initial judgment after death to decide if a soul will temporarily inhabit heaven or hell before the final judgement, nor will it enter purgatory. Rather, the soul instead enters the “middle state,” a series of tiered heavenly “mansions” which range from the more acerbically purifying to the leisurely and idyllic, and that the soul’s placement may be aided by the prayers of the living.
Before he turned to religion, Archibald Campbell had been involved in an attempted deposition of King James II led by his uncle, and, as a result, Campbell spent part of the late 17th century in Suriname, which was then a Dutch colony on the north coast of South America. After his return to Great Britain, he joined the clergy and became a bishop of Dundee, Scotland in 1711, under the auspices of the Scottish Episcopal Church, during a continued period of political, social, and religious upheaval in England, Scotland, and Ireland.
Thomas Jefferson’s copy of Campbell’s work is shelved in the Jefferson Library by its bibliographic number, Sowerby 1534. Millicent Sowerby in her description of the volume in the Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson notes several annotations as well as an inscription on the title page: “Clementina-Jane Grierson the Gift of her Father 10 Octr. 1755.” The presence of this unusual forename indicates that Jefferson may have acquired his copy, through unknown means, from Clementina Rind, the first female newspaper printer in Virginia. Rind was also the printer of Jefferson’s crucial A Summary View of the Rights of British America in 1744, which helped launch his reputation as a gifted writer and led to his nomination to draft the Declaration of Independence.
Edward C. Papenfuse, former Maryland State Archivist, wrote a comprehensive essay in 2020 describing Clementina Rind’s personal history and brief career as publisher. His image of her signature, taken from one of two 1756 letters held by the British National Archives, is transcribed as “Clementina Vane Grierson.” In the second letter the name looks even more like “Vane.” However, the pen line forming the first letter of the middle name appears to start at the lower left and end with the flourish to the upper right, making it appear like a “V” but actually suggesting a “J.” If read as “Clementina Jane Grierson,” the letters’ identical wording to the inscription in Sowerby 1534 strongly suggest the book was owned by Rind, even if the inscription was written by her father. Both signatures, in the letter and in Sowerby 1534, can be compared to an example of Clementina Rind’s later signature from 1774.
Clementina’s father (and the giver of the book) was John Grierson, a nonconformist minister who, like Archibald Campbell, skirted the edges of the status quo in his interpretation of religious doctrine. Grierson was known in London for performing “clandestine marriages” which sidestepped legal requirements for couples to marry. These requirements included an announcement of their intent to marry in advance (to “call banns”), to marry in their parish of residence, and to marry in a church. After repeated arrests and interrogations, in 1755 Grierson was arrested (two months after giving his daughter this book), tried for violating the marriage laws, and banished. In March of 1756, he was transported to America with his young daughter, Clementina, but died mid-journey of illness. Clementina herself contracted a serious fever onboard—worsened by her loss—which likely contributed to her early death in 1774. Papenfuse has identified a description of the event in the Maryland Gazette for April 29, 1756:
Around 1765 or 1766, Clementina and her husband, William Rind, were “procured” by Thomas Jefferson and his associates to move from Annapolis, Maryland to Williamsburg, Virginia to publish the Virginia Gazette. In 1773, Clementina was granted her husband’s post after his death in order provide for her young children (including her second son, John Grierson Rind, named after her father). In 1774, after Jefferson’s draft of The Rights of British America was read aloud by his friend Peyton Randolph to a group of friends in Williamsburg, Clementina was persuaded to print it for distribution without receiving a final draft from Jefferson. In Jefferson’s copy of his own pamphlet (Sowerby 3085), where on the title page the author is identified anonymously as “A native, and member of the House of Burgesses,” he has written in his own name. Jefferson also made numerous edits to the text throughout.
Clementina Grierson Rind’s significance as an early participant in the revolutionary movement in Virginia was partially due to circumstance, but it was inextricably connected, as Papenfuse argues, to her tumultuous early life and close relationship with her independently-minded father. Clementina was essentially abandoned in the New World, and her copy of Doctrines of a Middle State must have held untold significance for her as a memento mori of her father and of his strength in adversity.
Archives of Maryland Online. “Numb. 573: The Maryland gazette [for] Thursday, April 29, 1756.” Maryland Gazette. MSA SC 2731, January 2, 1752 – October 19, 1758, M 1279; image no. 918.
“Clementina Grierson Rind.” Index of Virginia Printing. indexvirginiaprinting.org/bio/356/
English Short Title Catalogue. http://estc.bl.uk/T114635
Jefferson, Thomas. A summary view of the rights of British America. Williamsburg: Clementina Rind, 1744. Jefferson’s annotated copy has been digitized: //hdl.loc.gov/loc.rbc/jeff.16823
Kornahrens, Douglas. “Praying for the Christian departed: A brief view of the doctrine and practice in Scottish Episcopacy.” University of St. Andrews. api.core.ac.uk/oai/oai:ojs.st-andrews.ac.uk:article/781
“Old Bailey Proceedings, 4th December 1755.” Old Bailey Online. https://www.oldbaileyonline.org/browse.jsp?name=17551204
Papenfuse, Edward C.. “History from the Bottom Up: Clementina Grierson Rind (1740?-1774) & James Hamlet (1822-?).” Feb. 11, 2020. Remembering Baltimore and Beyond. rememberingannapolis.blogspot.com/2021/01/clementina-rind-of-annapolis.html
Sowerby, Millicent. “Sowerby 1534.” tjlibraries.monticello.org/transcripts/sowerby/II_125.html
“Clementina Rind (d. 1744).” Encyclopedia Virginia. encyclopediavirginia.org/entries/rind-clementina-d-1774/
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