The Dundee Courier reports biting in a football match

Posted on June 25th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Uruguay’s Luis Suarez has hit the headlines once again, having been accused of biting an Italian player during last night’s World Cup match. The British Newspaper Archive can reveal that biting isn’t a modern phenomenon in football matches.

An article describing Sunderland football team’s experience in Germany has been discovered by one of our customers in a copy of the Dundee Courier from 1913.


100-year-old Dundee Courier reports that ‘biting is allowed’


The Dundee Courier included a shocking report from Sunderland FC’s captain, Charles ‘Charlie’ Ballany Thomson. Thomson stated that in Germany, ‘they can kick you up into the air and bite you when you are coming down’.

Sunderland FC won the English First Division in 1913. The team then went on a tour of Budapest, Vienna and Germany, winning their matches against the German teams Hamburger SV and Hertha BSC by 5-0 and 7-0.


Biting in football - reported in the Dundee Courier in 1913

Dundee Courier – Wednesday 28 May 1913
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page


Researching football history using old newspapers


The newspapers you can search online at The British Newspaper Archive will tell you a lot about the history of football. There are often strong parallels between what’s happening in the ‘beautiful game’ today and what occurred 100 years ago.

You can search over 250 newspaper titles including the Dundee Courier and Saturday sports paper, the Sports Argus.

Explore copies of old newspapers


Meet the Product Director of The British Newspaper Archive

Posted on June 24th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Ian from The British Newspaper ArchiveEver wondered what happens behind the scenes at The British Newspaper Archive?

We sat down with Product Director Ian Tester to find out who he is and what he does.


What does your job involve?

I’m responsible for growing the business in all its myriad forms.

My role covers marketing, building a better product, tweaking the pricing, choosing newspapers that we think will be of most interest and generally keeping everything running smoothly.

Less excitingly, it also involves balancing the books so we can continue to invest in more digitisation.


How long have you worked at The British Newspaper Archive?

I’ve worked here since October 2013, but I’ve spent over half my working life digitising history.

Before working at The British Newspaper Archive, I spent over six years with the family history website findmypast.

I actually started my career working with newspapers and magazines, so I know how to put them together and how they work. I published my first magazine at the tender age of 17.


What’s the most exciting thing you’ve found in the newspapers?

I find something new and amazing pretty much every week. Finding stories about your own family is always an incredible personal experience. A few years ago, I spent most of Boxing Day running my mother through her family’s numerous appearances in front of the local beak.

Here’s a snippet about my granddad Sidney Tester from the Kent & Sussex Courier:


Article about Sidney Tester, who was fined for riding a bicycle without a front light

Kent & Sussex Courier – Friday 12 April 1935
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.
View the whole newspaper page


I’m always fascinated by how much you can find out about your local area as well. I’ve recently become a shareholder in Hastings Pier, so I have been researching the history of Hastings Pier and how it has evolved, as well as uncovering some of the acts that have played there over the years.


What’s the best thing about The British Newspaper Archive?

The thing I like most is the sheer diversity of the stories our customers unearth.

We’ve got schoolchildren researching Mozart, formerly abandoned babies researching the story of their discovery and academics from a host of disciplines researching everything from the development of urban sewage systems to the evolution of fashion design.

There are genealogists with incredible family stories and people researching football history for today’s matchday programmes, symphony orchestra regional touring schedules, the development of historic gardens, extinct sheep breeds and even Victorian attitudes to sex.

Every paper we digitise can mean a thousand different things to people with a thousand different interests and you never cease to amaze me with your discoveries.


What’s your favourite period of history, historical event or historical figure?

I’m fascinated by periods of change, which is perhaps why I love working in the internet industry. I’m intrigued by the Late Medieval Period and Early Renaissance when the printing press completely changed the world and specifically European culture.

In terms of historical figures, I’d have to go for Peter the Great. He was a true Renaissance man who made Russia more Western-facing, as well as being a pretty handy boat builder. But If I could live through one period again, I’d be born in 1800 in London.

I’d get the Georgians, the best of the Victorian period and experience the white heat of the Industrial Revolution as transport, manufacturing and industry changed the world once again. I’d also get to see London without high-rises, with St Paul’s dominating from all angles.


Tell us something unusual about yourself

I’m a secret smallholder and spend an awful lot of time tending bees, chickens and sheep and trying to grow vast quantities of vegetables. It’s certainly not the idyll you watch in the Good Life and it really gives you respect for farmers.

I also live in a somewhat dilapidated and ancient house, so I’m more familiar than most with wattle and daub, Victorian plumbing and lime mortar. I spend far too much time in reclamation yards and repairing timber frames.


Explore The British Newspaper Archive



Enter our competition to win a history book

Posted on June 19th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

You could win one of these fascinating history books on our Facebook page this week:
Win a book with The British Newspaper Archive


How to enter

Comment on our Facebook post to let us know which book you’d like to win before 23:59 (GMT) on Monday 23 June 2014. We’ll contact three lucky winners the following day.

What you could win

  • Alex Daley, Fighting Men of London: Voices from Inside the Ropes
  • Gill Hoffs, The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the Victorian Titanic
  • Fern Riddell, The Victorian Guide to Sex: Desire and Deviance in the 19th Century


Enter the competition


National newspapers, local newspapers and cases of breach of promise

Posted on June 17th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Denise BatesDenise Bates, historian and author of Breach of Promise to Marry: A History of How Jilted Brides Settled Scores, explains why local newspapers are often more useful for historical research than national newspapers.




Breach of promise was a legal claim. It allowed a man or woman to demand financial compensation from their ex-fiancée or ex-fiancé if they broke their engagement to marry. 

Newspapers are the best source of information about breach of promise cases, but there is a considerable difference between the reports in local and in national papers.

Competing stories and editorial policies meant that national newspapers could sometimes be unduly selective about what they reported. More rounded accounts can often be found in local newspapers.


The Times and breach of promise

With plenty of material jostling for coverage, national newspapers tended to focus on the high profile cases which readers would expect to read about. When they covered mundane ones it was sometimes to reinforce their editorial stance.

By the 1860s, The Times disliked breach of promise and seems to have included certain cases in order to demonstrate its view that the claims had little merit.

On a few occasions, The Times pointedly adopted the moral high ground by informing its readers that it was not reporting detail because it would have no interest to its readers. One such instance was the failed teenage romance between publican’s daughter Elizabeth Stacey and jockey Charles Bennett in 1863.

The Berkshire Chronicle, however, provided their readers with a full report of the hearing. A century and a half later, this detail adds to our understanding of working-class courtships.


Breach of promise reported in the Berkshire Chronicle

Berkshire Chronicle – Saturday 20 June 1863

View the whole newspaper page


The Sheffield Independent reveals essential extra detail

Reports of breach of promise hearings in local papers often contained much richer detail than the national ones, revealing the plaintiff and defendant as people and putting their court battle into context.

In 1870, The Times left key questions unanswered when it reported Julia Barnett’s fraudulent claim against Adolphus Abrahams. The article suggested that there was more to the case than a deceitful woman attempting to foist paternity of her illegitimate son onto her ex-fiance.

More detailed accounts of the trial were printed in local newspapers, such as the Sheffield Independent. These reveal that Julia was indecently assaulted in a railway carriage by an employee of the Metropolitan Railway on her way home from work. Her claim raised questions that went far beyond breach of promise law.


A breach of promise case in the Sheffield Independent

Sheffield Independent – Saturday 30 April 1870

View the whole newspaper page


Comparing The Times and the Cheshire Observer

Sometimes the only mention of a breach of promise case in a national newspaper was that it had bankrupted one of the parties. The Times reported that George Parnell applied for bankruptcy in 1883 after Harriet Stedman won her claim for damages.

A report in the Cheshire Observer revealed some unexpected aspects. The claim arose after Parnell told Harriet and her mother to ‘clear out’ of his house. He dumped the 83-year-old and her belongings in the street while Harriet was consulting a solicitor.

As no unnecessary violence had been used in evicting the old lady, Mrs Stedman was not able to sue for compensation. In disallowing her claim, the judge made his contempt for Parnell very clear to the jury.

The jury then went on to award Harriet £500 for breach of promise. This was an exceptionally large award at that time, suggesting Parnell was also being punished for his unchivalrous conduct towards an old lady.


A breach of promise case reported in the Cheshire Observer

Cheshire Observer – Saturday 10 March 1883

View the whole newspaper page


Visit Denise’s website to order a copy of Breach of Promise to Marry: A History of How Jilted Brides Settled Scores.



Family tree research: How newspapers can help

Posted on June 16th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Newspapers are a fantastic resource for family history research. They can reveal incredible details about your ancestors.


View 3 newspaper articles for free

You’ll find millions of pages from local British and Irish newspapers at The British Newspaper Archive. They date from the 1700s to the 1950s.

Register a free account and the first three newspaper articles you view are on us.

Create a free account

Find a photo of your ancestor

LisamarieLisamarie has a subscription to The British Newspaper Archive. She got in touch to show us the amazing discovery she made.

‘I recently found this photo of my great-great-uncle in a newspaper article on your website.

I have been searching for one since my grandmother told me about meeting him before the First World War. Thanks for making a wish I have held since I was 15 years old come true.’

Lisamarie found a photo of her ancestor at The British Newspaper Archive

Dundee Courier – Saturday 02 September 1916
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.
View the whole newspaper page


Learn about your relative’s life

There are millions of stories just waiting to be unearthed. Maxine found a reference to her great-great-grandfather in the Aberdeen Evening Express.

‘The article said that he was riding along in 1883 when he came across a herd of elephants!

I love how it states that my great-great-grandfather’s horse was ‘unused to this type of pedestrian’ as well as the comedic sequence of events that followed.’

Maxine found a newspaper article about her great-great-grandfather at The British Newspaper Archive

Aberdeen Evening Express – Tuesday 03 July 1883
View the whole newspaper page


Search for your ancestors

All of the words in the newspapers are searchable, so try looking for a person’s name, a place or historical event to get started.

Search for an ancestor’s name


Copies of old newspapers reveal a World Cup myth

Posted on June 11th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

England took part in the World Cup for the first time in 1950. Like this year’s tournament, the football matches were held in Brazil. The English national team met the United States in the group stages and suffered a shocking 1-0 defeat.

The game has gone down in football history and has a rather interesting urban myth attached to it. Many say that English newspapers reported a 10-1 win, assuming that there had been a typing error in the message they received from Brazil.


England World Cup team 1950

Nottingham Evening Post – Tuesday 13 June 1950
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page


Copies of old newspapers reveal the truth

There are over 8 million newspaper pages online at The British Newspaper Archive, so we thought we’d take a look to see if the rumours were true.

We searched copies of old newspapers from 1950 for the words ‘England US World Cup’.

The United States were certainly seen to be the underdogs. On the day of the football match, the Derby Daily Telegraph confidently reported that ‘ENGLAND EXPECT A COMFORTABLE WIN’:


England faced the US at the 1950 World Cup

Derby Daily Telegraph – Thursday 29 June 1950
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page


World cup shock for England

The Western Morning News was printed early the day after the infamous football match. While it was clearly shocked by the result, the newspaper correctly reported the score as 1-0.

The article stated that England had lost ‘against the 500-1 outsiders’, having played poorly. England’s manager Walter Winterbottom was reported to have sat glumly in the stand.

Winterbottom later said that ‘the team played very badly indeed, especially the forwards, who were far too eager’.


Copies of old newspapers show the England vs United States World Cup score in 1950 was not reported as 10-1

Western Morning News – Friday 30 June 1950
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page


There was no fluke about it

Not one of the historical newspapers online at The British Newspaper Archive reported the score to be 10-1. It appears that this World Cup story is a myth.

The Aberdeen Journal stated that ‘it was pathetic to watch English football beaten by a side most amateur elevens would beat at home, and there was no fluke about it’.


Historical newspapers reveal the truth behind the World Cup myth

Aberdeen Journal – Friday 30 June 1950
Image © D.C.Thomson & Co. Ltd. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page


240,000 extra newspaper pages now online

Posted on June 9th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Thousands of historical newspaper pages were added to The British Newspaper Archive in May, including three great new titles. We hope you enjoy exploring the new additions.

Search the newspapers

More newspaper titles available to search

You’ll now find editions of London’s Penny Illustrated Paper, the Dundee, Perth and Forfar People’s Journal and the Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald online.

56 other titles were also updated, including the Aberdeen Journal, the Kent & Sussex Courier and the Morpeth Herald. A full list of recent additions is provided below.

The Penny Illustrated Post

Aberdeen Evening Express – 1910

Aberdeen Journal – 1799, 1803, 1805, 1809, 1812, 1815, 1821, 1823, 1825, 1846, 1849, 1852, 1853, 1854, 1855, 1856, 1864, 1869, 1875, 1876, 1877, 1878, 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1885, 1887, 1890, 1891, 1896, 1899

Burnley Gazette – 1905, 1906

Cambridge Chronicle and Journal – 1861

Cheltenham Chronicle – 1854

Cheltenham Looker-On – 1844

Cheshire Observer – 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917

Chester Chronicle – 1790

Coventry Herald – 1863

Derbyshire Times and Chesterfield Herald – 1885, 1939, 1944

Dundee, Perth and Forfar People’s Journal – 1858, 1859, 1860, 1861

Durham County Advertiser – 1814

Edinburgh Evening News – 1916, 1919, 1923, 1931, 1942

Evening Telegraph – 1889, 1893

Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald – 1913, 1915, 1924

Gloucester Citizen – 1939, 1943

Gloucester Journal – 1896, 1902, 1915

Grantham Journal – 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934

Hamilton Advertiser – 1914, 1915, 1916

Hartlepool Mail – 1899

Hastings and St Leonards Observer – 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946

Hull Daily Mail – 1888, 1910

Kent & Sussex Courier – 1895, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1917, 1921, 1924, 1925, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950

Lancashire Evening Post – 1889, 1890, 1907, 1909, 1921, 1929, 1932, 1938

Leamington Spa Courier – 1881, 1882, 1883, 1884, 1914, 1917, 1918

Leeds Intelligencer – 1813

Leeds Mercury – 1836, 1842, 1875, 1898

Leicestershire Mercury – 1836

Lichfield Mercury – 1879, 1880, 1881, 1882

Lincolnshire Chronicle – 1919, 1922

Lincolnshire Echo – 1931, 1933, 1934

Liverpool Daily Post – 1859

Luton Times and Advertiser – 1859, 1860, 1867, 1868, 1877, 1879, 1885, 1896, 1897, 1911

Maidstone Telegraph – 1861

Manchester Courier and Lancashire General Advertiser – 1889

Morpeth Herald – 1892, 1893, 1894, 1895, 1896, 1898, 1899, 1900, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1915, 1916, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954

North Devon Journal – 1897

Northampton Mercury – 1912

Nottingham Evening Post – 1913, 1938

Oxford Times – 1862

Penny Illustrated Paper – 1862, 1863, 1864, 1865, 1866, 1867, 1868, 1869, 1870

Portsmouth Evening News – 1939

Sheffield Daily Telegraph – 1886, 1888, 1895, 1899, 1910, 1911

Sheffield Evening Telegraph – 1889, 1907, 1912, 1914

Shields Daily Gazette – 1866, 1884, 1910

Southern Reporter – 1878

Staffordshire Sentinel – 1889, 1911

Sunday Post – 1914, 1915, 1917, 1918, 1919

Sunderland Daily Echo and Shipping Gazette – 1904, 1910, 1913, 1919, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1950, 1951, 1952

Surrey Mirror – 1880, 1889, 1900, 1901, 1940, 1941, 1942, 1945, 1946

Sussex Agricultural Express – 1877, 1883, 1911

Taunton Courier, and Western Advertiser – 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1943

West Briton and Cornwall Advertiser – 1939

Western Daily Press – 1886

Western Gazette – 1886, 1910, 1929

Western Morning News – 1894

Whitstable Times and Herne Bay Herald – 1905, 1906, 1907, 1908, 1909, 1911, 1912, 1913, 1914, 1915, 1916, 1917, 1922

Yorkshire Evening Post – 1906, 1943

Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer – 1869, 1873, 1880, 1881, 1906, 1926


70th anniversary of the D-Day landings

Posted on June 6th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Today we commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

On 6 June 1944, Allied forces invaded Normandy which was, at that point, occupied by the German Army. It is estimated that over 8,000 people lost their lives on this one day.

D-Day reported in British newspapers

News of the invasion reached British newspapers during the day on 6 June 1944, so you’ll find initial reports in late editions or in the copies published the following day.

Explore D-Day reports in local newspapers

Here’s a selection of newspaper headlines from the day of the D-Day landings.

Hull Daily Mail, 6 June 1944


Hull Daily Mail – Tuesday 06 June 1944
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page


Lancashire Daily Post, 6 June 1944

Lancashire Evening Post – Tuesday 06 June 1944
Image © Johnston Press plc. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page


Nottingham Evening Post, 6 June 1944


Nottingham Evening Post – Tuesday 06 June 1944
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page

The ‘Ocean Child’ and the sinking of the RMS Tayleur

Posted on June 5th, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Gill Hoffs, author of The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the ‘Victorian Titanic’ used The British Newspaper Archive extensively for her research. She got in touch to tell us the touching story of the ‘Ocean Child’.

We’d love to hear about what you’ve discovered too – email




Sinking of RMS Tayleur by Gill HoffsPut simply, my book could not have been written without The British Newspaper Archive. 

The 1854 disaster made headlines around the world, but has since been largely forgotten. It was the subject of a massive cover-up and was then eclipsed by another shipwreck in 1912, the Titanic.


Discovering the victims of the disaster


Previous books and articles about the RMS Tayleur have focussed on the vessel itself, how the iron hull confused the compasses and contributed to the ship crashing into a cliff in the middle of the day. I wanted to let the unfortunate emigrants speak for themselves.

The accounts of the shipwreck in The British Newspaper Archive allowed me to read their words for myself and revealed the names of many of the hundreds on board.

I was then able to search for other mentions of them – important instances in their childhoods, what happened to the survivors afterwards, their births, marriages and deaths.

In one case, I even discovered what one of them looked like – the double of my own little boy – and his story made me cry.


‘Boy, about twelve months old’


Of the 70 children on board the Tayleur, only three survived. One was an anonymous baby nicknamed the ‘Ocean Child’ who was plucked from the wave-swept deck by an elderly man just before the ship sank.

In a time before cheap photographs, the enterprising reverend looking after the orphan placed a description in the newspapers. The child was described in the following way:

‘Boy, about twelve months old, unweaned, fine skin, blue eyes, dark eyelashes, light curly hair, square prominent forehead, two lower teeth, without any marks whatever on the body; of a lively affectionate disposition, and has apparently been much petted; supposed to belong to the middle classes’.

Description of the Ocean Child

Bath Chronicle and Weekly Gazette – Thursday 02 February 1854

View the whole newspaper page


Piecing together the Ocean Child’s story


It was incredible to be able to follow the newspaper reports and establish what happened to the child. The little boy was fostered for a month by Reverend Armstrong of 22 Herbert Place, Dublin before being reunited with his grandmother.

The detail in some accounts is amazing and very helpful for researchers:

The Ocean Child is reunited with his family

Dublin Evening Mail – Wednesday 22 February 1854

View the whole newspaper page


According to a reporter who visited little Arthur, he became ‘an object of attraction to visitors’.

Arthur Charles, the Ocean Child of the RMS Tayleur
Hereford Times – Saturday 04 March 1854

View the whole newspaper page



Buy a copy of The Sinking of RMS Tayleur: The Lost Story of the ‘Victorian Titanic’ to read more about the tragedy and find out what happened to Arthur and the other survivors.



Marconi patents the radio

Posted on June 2nd, 2014 by The British Newspaper Archive

Guglielmo Marconi applied for a patent for his new invention – the radio – on 2 June 1896. The British and Irish newspapers available online at The British Newspaper Archive reveal just how popular it became.

You can explore thousands of adverts for Marconi radios like these, published up until the 1950s.

Oh! Why don’t we get a Marconi?

Marconi advert in the Dover Express, 1936

Dover Express – Friday 16 October 1936
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page


The man behind your “Marconiphone”

Marconi advert in the Gloucestershire Echo, 1933

Gloucestershire Echo – Monday 20 February 1933
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page


There’s only one Radio good enough for you

Marconi advert in the Derby Daily Telegraph, 1935

Derby Daily Telegraph – Saturday 07 December 1935
Image © Local World Limited. Image created courtesy of THE BRITISH LIBRARY BOARD.

View the whole newspaper page