Newspapers, printed sheets published at stated intervals, chiefly devoted to intelligence on current events. Newspapers were preceded in antiquity by the Roman Acta Diurna, which were daily, official, written reports of public occurrences; and in modern Europe by periodical publications in manuscript. Of the origin of newspapers in England, Alexander Andrews says ("'History of British Journalism," London, 1859): "First we have the written news letter furnished to the wealthy aristocracy; then, as the craving for information spread, the ballad of news sung or recited; then the news pamphlet, more prosaically arranged; then the periodical sheet of news; and lastly the newspaper." The first regular series of weekly newspapers hitherto discovered was entitled. The Weekly Newes from Italy, Germanic, etc." (1022). The "English Mercuric of 1588," long regarded as the first printed English newspaper, was proved a forgery in 1839 and again in 1850 by Thomas Watts of the British museum. Prominently connected with most of the early weekly sheets, which appeared under the name of " Weekly Newes," "Times Newes," "Newes," etc, was Nathaniel Butter, who is regarded its the father of the regular newspaper press.
The first attempt at parliamentary reporting was made in 1641; the first advertisement was inserted as early as 1048, and the first paper exclusively devoted to advertisements and shipping intelligence appeared in 1657. The news given in the papers treated chiefly of foreign affairs. Home politics were scarcely discussed till after the abolition of the star chamber in 1641. Various partisan sheets were published during the civil war, chiefly under the name of "Mercuries," and counting among their most eminent editors Needham, Birkenhead, Digby, and Heylin, the last regarded as the ablest of them all. Many of the papers were notorious for their eccentricity and coarseness, and still more for their bitterness. After the restoration the censorship of the newspapers became more stringent. A semi-official organ, edited by Sir Roger L'Es-trange, who was the licenser of the press, and held for some time a kind of monopoly of journalism, was supplanted in 1665 by the "Oxford Gazette," published during the temporary removal of the court to that city on the outbreak of the plague. On the return of the royal family to the metropolis (1666) it appeared as the "London Gazette," and, as the official organ of the government, was placed under the control of the under-secretary of state.
The press was for a long time subjected to many persecutions, and the licensing act was not abolished until after the accession of William and Mary. In the mean time the first commercial newspaper, the " City Mercury," was published in 1675; the first literary paper, the "Mercnrius Librarius," in 1680; the first sporting paper, the "Jockey's Intelligencer," in 1683; and the first medical paper in 1686. From that year to 1692, 26 new journals sprang into existence, including the first bearing the title of a reform paper, the "Mercurius Re-formatus;" the first publication in the style of "Notes and Queries," the "Athenian Mercury;" the first ladies' paper, the "Ladies' Mercury;" the first agricultural and an increasing number of literary journals. Daily newspapers did not make their appearance until the 18th century. The first daily morning newspaper was the "Daily Courant" (1709), consisting of but one page of two columns, and containing five paragraphs translated from foreign journals. The leading London weekly journals at that time were mostly sold for a penny; supplements with the latest news commanded an extra price.
Home affairs were then little discussed; foreign news supplied the staple of newspaper information, and correspondents were employed in the principal cities of Europe. In 1726 appeared the first number of the "Craftsman," which obtained for a time a circulation of nearly 12,000 copies. In 1730 200 half sheets a month were issued in London alone, besides daily and weekly journals. The aggregate number of copies of newspapers sold in England in 1757 was about 7,000,000; in 1760, 9,000,000; and in 1767, upward of 10,000,000. The " North Briton," edited by Wilkes, who was so conspicuous in consolidating the liberty of the press, first appeared in 1762. The " Englishman," established in the same year, attracted attention in 1766 on account of several of Burke's contributions. The letters of Junius began to appear in 1767 in the "Public Advertiser," and contributed powerfully to raise the political importance of the daily press. The leading daily journals of London in the latter part of the 18th century were the "Morning Chronicle" (founded in 1769), the "MorningPost" (1772), the "Morning Herald" (1781), the "Times " (1785), and the "Morning Advertiser" (1794). The "Times," destined to eclipse all other English journals, originally appeared under the name of the "Daily Universal Register." It was printed and published by John Walter of Printing House square, who, in the impression of Jan. 1,1788, added to the original name of his journal that of the "Times." Its circulation at the beginning of this century was only 1,000 copies a day, while that of several others was about 4,000. The "Morning Chronicle" and " Morning Post" were at this time the most important of the London journals, and both possessed great literary merit as well as political influence; Coleridge, Southey, Lamb, Wordsworth, and several of their friends writing for the " Post," while Fox and Sheridan were among the " Chronicle's" contributors.
In 1813 there were 56 journals in London, of which 8 were published every morning, 7 every evening (the first evening paper having been established as early as 1778), 7 every other evening, 16 every Sunday (the first Sunday paper had appeared in 1788), and 18 weekly on other days. The " Courier" was then considered the best informed daily journal. The remarkable success of the " Times " was ascribed to a firm attitude toward the government and a freedom from party ties; to an efficient system in securing the earliest transmission of news; to a constant care in improving the mechanical resources of the paper, and in securing the best available talent; and above all to the application of steam power to its printing press in 1814, the number for Nov. 29 in that year being printed on one of Konig's newly invented machines. In 1815 the number of newspapers in the United Kingdom amounted to 252, viz.: 55 in London (15 daily), 122 in other parts of England and Wales, 26 in Scotland, and 40 in Ireland; and Cobbett's weekly "Political Register," established at the beginning of the century, was sold in 1817 to the extent of 50,000 copies a week. ( After the close of the Napoleonic wars the growth of English journalism was exceedingly rapid, and in the course of a decade the increase both in the number and circulation of newspapers was very great.
On Jan. 29, 1829, the "Times" came out on a double sheet, composed of 8 pages of 48 columns. The reform excitement greatly increased the sale of that and of other journals, and nearly 13,000,000 copies of newspapers passed through the post office in 1830. In 1832 there was one newspaper to every 55,000 of the population, against one to 90,000 in 1821, and one to 110,000 in 1782. The free expression of political opinion through the press was rather increased than checked by the fact that the editors of various unstamped newspapers, among them the violent "Poor Man's Guardian," were prosecuted during the discussion on the reform bill. In 1833 the number of journals published in the United Kingdom was about 400, and of copies passing through the post offices of Great Britain and Ireland nearly 42,000,000. - A new stimulus was given to newspaper enterprise in 1836 by the reduction of the stamp duty from four pence to a penny, causing in the first year of the full operation of the new act an increase of 8,000,000 in the stamps issued, and of 61 in the number of newspapers, which a year before the reduction was 397, and a year afterward 458. Fourteen of the new journals were established in London alone, including a shortlived ultra-liberal morning newspaper called "The Constitutional" (in place of the old "Public Ledger"), of which Laman Blanchard was the editor, Thornton Hunt the sub-editor, Douglas Jerrold the dramatic critic, and Thackeray the Paris correspondent.
A socialist organ was published by Robert Owen, the " New Moral World," and a Chartist organ by Fear-gus O'Connor, the "Northern Star." The "Economist," celebrated for its collections of financial and commercial statistics and disquisitions, was established in 1834 by James Wilson (died in 1860), whose ability, first manifested in the conduct of this journal, raised him to the secretaryship of the treasury. The "Illustrated London News," the first of the great illustrated newspapers, was founded in 1842 by Herbert Ingram. The stamps on newspapers in the United Kingdom increased from 65,000,000 in 1843 to 71,000,000 in 1844. The railway mania produced in London many newspapers devoted to railway matters, their number amounting to about 30 in 1845, but only three of them survived the crisis of 1846. The "Daily News" was established in 1846, under the editorship of Charles Dickens; he was soon succeeded by Charles Wentworth Dilke, who established in connection with it the " Express " evening journal.
The "Daily News" at one time enjoyed a circulation second only to that of the "Times." The ordinary daily circulation of the latter rose from 23,000 in 1846 to 29,000 in 1848, and to 36,000 in 1852. In 1854, during the Crimean war, its average daily circulation was 51,648, about double the aggregate of all the other daily morning journals, which was only 26,268. The number of newspaper stamps issued in 1854 in the United Kingdom was about 120,000,000. In 1855 the stamp duty was totally abolished as a tax, making it optional with the publishers to use the stamp as a means of paying postage on such copies of their impressions as were to be sent through the mails. The five-penny papers, except the "Times," which followed their example later, immediately reduced their price to 4d., the six-penny weekly papers to 5d., and the three-penny papers (which were established on the abolition of the four-penny tax in 1836) to 2d.; while a great number of penny weekly and daily papers sprang up. The prices of the leading metropolitan dailies have since been still further reduced, as will be seen by consulting the list given below; but of the many new daily papers established since 1855, only the "Daily Telegraph," the "Standard," and the " Pall Mall Gazette " have taken a permanent place among the leading London journals.
The following is a list of the principal daily newspapers now (1875) published in London, with their prices and some indication of their character: