This week we have been busy adding 264,361 brand new pages to The Archive, with 22 brand new titles added over the past seven days. We’ve added 6 new titles from Scotland, as well as 5 brand new titles from England, and a wonderful 11 new titles have joined us this week as part of the ongoing Heritage Made Digital project in partnership with the British Library.
So from Redditch to Rutherglen, from society gossip to society reform, this week’s offerings at The Archive offer a splendid array of both locations and themes.
And read on to discover more about all of our 22 new titles of the week, as well as to discover which of our 39 existing titles we have updated. Meanwhile, using our new society gossip publication, we delve into one of the biggest scandals of the 1830s, when Prime Minister Lord Melbourne was sued for ‘criminal conversation,’ or adultery, with Caroline Norton, who later became integral in securing much needed reform for women.
We’re going to start our survey of our new titles of the week by looking at the Crim. Con. Gazette, which later became known as the Bon Ton Gazette. First published on 25 August 1838 by George Hucklebridge, this eight page, two pence newspaper was established ‘to arrest as much as possible the progress of aristocratic vice and debauchery.’ With its full title of the Crim. Con. Gazette and Journal of the Haut Ton, the newspaper had a particular focus on criminal conversation, known as ‘crim con’ in the slang of its day, or adultery, with pages devoted to ‘crim con’ cases in the courts.
Indeed, the newspaper declared how ‘conjugal infidelity’ had ‘arrived at a dreadful height,’ especially amongst the upper classes. It threatened how its pages would as a consequence ‘spare neither age, sex, rank, nor power,’ and furthermore, ‘where the life is vicious the pen will be galling.’ Dedicated therefore to targeting the moral profligacy of the upper classes, the Crim. Con. Gazette contained scathing ‘portraits of personalities,’ including one of ‘box-lobby lounger’ Mr. Cornelius Rivers, who was described as a ‘lump of senseless clay – the leavings of a soul.’ The Crim. Con. Gazette featured, meanwhile, a look at ‘Sunday in London’ and the ‘Diary of a Syren.’
The Crim. Con. Gazette was edited by John Mitford, and during his time at the newspaper it was said that he had to be kept in a kind of cellar, with a candle and bottle of gin for company. The gin bottle had to be kept replenished, for Mitford was not adverse to creeping out at night to get more, unless his shoes were taken away. On 11 January 1840 the Crim. Con. Gazette was renamed to the Bon Ton Gazette.
We continue to focus on the talk of the town with the addition of Town Talk 1822 to The Archive, which was first published on 6 January 1822 with the motto ‘Go With Me, and I’ll Tell You Excellent News.’ Professing to be ‘free from all political prejudices,’ Town Talk promised to include ‘lively and satirical articles,’ as well as to ‘shoot folly as it flies.’ It would, moreover, ‘hold up to the ridicule of our countrymen that impudent quackery which appears to us one of the curses of the present time.’
Filling eight pages, Town Talk indeed covered the ‘Talk of the Town,’ discussing the activities of the king, the latest from the theatres, and the marriages and courtships that were taking place. It also reported on the weather, the latest from America and Ireland, as well as featuring a ‘Law Report.’
And our additions this week are also dedicated to social improvement, like the Pioneer and Weekly Record of Movements, which was first published on 19 April 1851. A ‘Liberal Newspaper of Physical, Moral, Social and Political Progress,’ the Pioneer and Weekly Record of Movements described itself as being devoted to ‘all Progressive Movements,’ including ‘the Temperance, Dietetic, Medical and Spelling Reforms, Peace, Phrenology, Vital Magnetism, Homeopathy, Hydrotherapy, Co-operation, Anatomy, Physiology, and the Philosophy of Heath.’
To this end, the sixteen page newspaper featured articles like ‘The Temperance Question’ and ‘Prison Discipline,’ featuring reports on the latest inventions and news from a variety of different institutions. Costing three pence, the Pioneer and Weekly Record of Movement also contained ‘all the ordinary news of the time,’ and was published by William Horsell.
In a similar vein was Verulam, which was first published on 1 March 1828 at the cost of one shilling. Named after Francis Bacon (1561-1626), the father of empiricism who was also known as Lord Verulam, Verulam was a ‘Scientific, Literary and Political Newspaper,’ which was published from Henrietta Street. Its noble aim was the ‘Diffusion of useful Knowledge in every department of Science and Art,’ aspiring ‘merely to the honourable office of being the depositories of the inventions and discoveries of others, and the communicators of important information to all classes of people.’
Nothing but thorough, the sixteen page newspaper contained illustrations and diagrams alongside its articles, including one such devoted to ‘Observations on Potato Flour.’ Meanwhile, Verulam contained a section entitled ‘A Few Thousand Notable Things,’ which looked at items as varied as the structure of a bird’s eye, coral islands, ‘distortions’ of the spine, and the instinct of bees, often accompanied by illustrations. The newspaper meanwhile took a look at the fine arts, political intelligence and news from abroad.
Meanwhile, as part of the Heritage Made Digital project, we are also joined this week by the reforming Holt’s Weekly Chronicle, which was first published on 17 September 1837, and began from 1838 to include engravings on its front pages. Costing three and a half pence, and spanning eight pages, Holt’s Weekly Chronicle had eight main aims, which included the ‘total abolition of the Stamp Duty,’ the repeal of the Corn Laws, the ‘extension of the system of free trade,’ the ‘advancement of education,’ voting reform, and ‘cheap government.’
Holt’s Weekly Chronicle was supportive of the London Working Men’s Association, which was a Chartist organisation established in 1836, and argued for universal male suffrage. Appealing to skilled workers, the London Working Men’s Association was founded by William Lovett, Francis Place and Henry Hetherington. Meanwhile, the Sunday newspaper featured articles on history and politics, ‘foreign intelligence’ from the likes of Spain, Portugal, the United States and Germany, as well as ‘County News’ from Brighton, Jersey, Hull, Salford and the rest of the United Kingdom.
Established ‘Pro Bono Publico,’ or ‘For the Public Good’ in February 1827 was Constitution (1827), a four page newspaper that cost seven pence. ‘Bound by obligation to no party whatever,’ Constitution 1827 pledged itself to be a ‘zealous adherent to the spirit of the British Constitution,’ meanwhile devoting ‘a considerable portion of its notices to our Asiatic dominions, to our Colonies, to European and domestic politics.’ At the same time, the newspaper would ‘feel and manifest a lively interest in Literature and the Drama.’
To this end, Constitution 1827 published ‘foreign news,’ as well as the latest from the Court of Chancery, universities, ‘police intelligence,’ as well as notices of births and deaths.
Meanwhile we are delighted to welcome the Hebrew Observer to our collection, augmenting our Jewish titles on The Archive. First published on 7 January 1853, the Hebrew Observer described itself as ‘A Weekly Journal’ of politics, literature and general news. Costing five pence, it was established by Abraham Benisch (1811-1878), a journalist and theologian who was born in Strážov, which now forms a part of Czechia. Benisch studied surgery in Prague, and it was during this time that he became passionate about the cause of restoring Jewish independence in the Holy Land.
Hoping to gain the support from English Jews, he travelled to London in 1841, where he dedicated himself to Jewish journalism and literature. Becoming an influential figure in both Jewish and Christian circles, he was also editor of the Jewish Chronicle from 1854 to 1869, and again from 1875 until his death in 1878.
Part of ‘Anglo-Jewish press,’ the first edition of the Hebrew Observer declared:
It is felt that the time has come when a Jewish organ, mindful its high vocation, should place itself at the height of the age, and take an enlarged view of the affairs of the world.
Promising to be ‘independent, enlightened [and] unflinching,’ the Hebrew Observer hoped to foster a ‘proper understanding between the Jew and his Christian fellow citizen.’ Filling eight pages, the newspaper took a look at English politics and news from abroad, concentrating also on ‘Jewish News’ and ‘Jewish Foreign News.’ The publication also possessed a ‘Column for the Young,’ and reviews of Jewish works of literature.
Looking east now, with the sub-heading of ‘Commerce, Justice, Christianity,’ is the Eastern Star, which was first published on 16 July 1853, three months before the start of the Crimean war. ‘A journal devoted the elucidation of the great Eastern question,’ the first edition of the Eastern Star promised its readers that its columns would feature articles ‘on every point connected with European Turkey, Russia, and Greece,’ as well as containing ‘original correspondence from all parts of Europe, and extracts from all those papers which show sympathy with the cause we have at heart.’
With some poignancy in regards to the events of today, the Eastern Star wrote how the ‘East of Europe is one perpetual battleground,’ featuring articles on ‘The Eastern Crisis’ and ‘Russian Policy In The East.’ Claiming to circulate beyond Britain and Ireland, in France, the Netherlands, Austria, the United States, Greece, Romania and Egypt, the Eastern Star appeared every Saturday at the cost of six pence.
From the east now to the whole world, and World (London), which was first published on 9 January 1859 at the cost of two pence. Describing itself as a ‘General Newspaper of Literature, Science, Music, the Drama, Fine Arts, Commerce, &c,’ the new Sunday newspaper claimed to be ‘fully equal to the Observer [and] the Sunday Times.’ Featuring news from abroad and a look at the ‘World’ and all its news, the newspaper also contained political sketches, the latest telegrams, a look at court and fashion, law intelligence, poetry and sporting items.
Our penultimate Heritage Made Digital title this week is the sweetly named Little Times, a cheeky short-lived daily newspaper which was first published on 27 April 1867. An evening journal, it was edited by Irish-American novelist Captain Mayne Reid, who had fought in the Mexican-American war and had come to London in the 1860s. The newspaper, therefore, featured accounts of the editor’s time in Mexico, as well as containing news from across the world, with a particular emphasis on the United States. The Little Times also printed notices of births, marriages and deaths.
Our final Heritage Made Digital title of the week is the Evening Times (London), which was first published on 7 August 1852, when it promised to be ‘the cheapest daily paper ever published.’ With an emphasis on reporting the latest from the Stock Exchange and the latest prices from the various London markets, it aimed to offer to ‘Merchants, Professional Men, and others, a boon not hitherto enjoyed.’ For the Evening Times (London) would be:
Published in ample time to meet their return home from Chambers or the city, it will give, on full-sized sheets, and for little more than half price, not only the whole news of the morning, but also the latest City Intelligence down to 2 o’clock in the afternoon.
The Evening Times (London) meanwhile featured news from abroad, sporting news, railway news, shipping intelligence, assize intelligence, and notices of births, marriages and deaths.
We now move on to introduce our new Scottish titles of the week, and we begin with the Alloa Circular, a charming local paper which was established in 1868. Containing ‘the local and district intelligence, with a summary of the news of the week,’ independent publication the Alloa Circular appeared every Wednesday at the cost of just one halfpenny. By the 1880s it was one of five newspapers to be published in the Clackmannanshire town of Alloa, and it featured reports on a variety of ‘Local Matters,’ from singing competitions to the weather, from the fever hospital to the parochial board.
Next up is the Bridge of Allan Gazette, a Liberal newspaper which was first published on 2 August 1884 as a localised edition of the Stirling Observer. Circulating in the Bridge of Allan and its wider neighbourhood, it published a ‘weekly list of visitors to [the] celebrated Spa,’ whilst bestowing ‘great attention to the news and amusements of the place.’ Indeed, this publication enjoyed a wide circulation; visitors to the Stirlingshire town would send the newspaper ‘over all parts of the United Kingdom and abroad.’
Meanwhile, the newspaper reported on news from the local area, from the likes of Campsie, Alloa and Bannockburn, as well as on local sports, including tennis, cricket, quoiting and athletics. The Bridge of Allan Gazette also printed notices of births, marriages, and deaths, whilst featuring poetry and serialised fiction.
We move a little west for our next new title of the week, which is the Dumbarton Herald and County Advertiser. This Liberal newspaper was established in 1851 and circulated ‘in the county of Dumbarton, and the West of Scotland generally.’ Appearing every Thursday at the cost of one penny, the Dumbarton Herald published a summary of news from the week, as well as local news from the likes of the Vale of Leven, Argyllshire, Kilmaronock, Rothesay and Glasgow. Published in Dumbarton, a town on the north banks of the River Clyde, which in the nineteenth century became an important centre for ship building, the newspaper put a particular emphasis on reporting on the latest ‘shipping intelligence.’
Zig-zagging back east, we’re delighted to welcome the Dunfermline Journal to The Archive, which was established in 1840 and was known as the main local paper of Dunfermline, a town in Fife which was a former Royal Burgh. Liberal in its politics, it circulated in Dunfermline and the ‘adjoining counties,’ appearing every Saturday priced at one penny. With a first page filled with adverts, the newspaper contained ‘District Intelligence’ from surrounding towns, as well as original poetry, serialised fiction, letters to the editor, and notices of births, marriages and deaths.
Now for our penultimate Scottish title of the week, which is the Leith Herald. Founded in 1846 and neutral in its politics, the Leith Herald circulated in the port area of Leith, the nearby city of Edinburgh, and ‘their districts.’ A diverse local newspaper, the Leith Herald had columns devoted to agriculture and gardening, as well as extracts from the comic papers, poetry, ‘foreign and colonial news,’ as well as a ‘Ladies’ Column.’ Appearing every Saturday at the price of one pence, the Leith Herald also featured the latest from the Leith Police Court.
Our final Scottish title of the week is the immensely thorough Rutherglen Reformer and Cambuslang Journal, which was established in the south Lanarkshire town of Rutherglen, which lies just south east of Glasgow, in 1875. Circulating in ‘Rutherglen, Cambuslang, Glasgow and district,’ the Friday newspaper advocated ‘Liberal principles,’ whilst providing ‘the news of towns and district…in full.’ Priced at one pence, the Rutherglen Reformer consisted of four pages, and printed original tales, ‘Local Sketches on Familiar Subjects,’ and ‘Selections for Ladies.’ It is still published to this day.
We move across the borders now and down into Yorkshire’s East Riding, where we are delighted to welcome the Howdenshire Gazette to our collection of newspapers. Published in the market and minster town of Howden, famed for its annual horse fair, the Howdenshire Gazette was founded in 1863 and was a localised edition of the Goole Gazette. Independent in its politics, this newspaper appeared every Friday priced at one penny, featuring the latest from the area, with a particular emphasis on Goole and its shipping operations, whilst also containing letters to the editor and more general news.
Next up is the Retford, Worksop, Isle of Axholme and Gainsborough News, which was established in the Lincolnshire market and inland port town of Gainsborough in 1855. Covering the counties of Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, this title reported on the news from Retford, one of the country’s oldest market towns, including the latest from the Retford Borough Police, as well as from Worksop and Gainsborough, and the news from the Gainsborough and District Petty Sessions. In 1968 the publication became known as the Gainsborough News, before it eventually became a freesheet and ceased publication in 2012.
Travelling south, our next new title of the week is the Redditch Indicator, which was established in 1859 and described itself as a ‘Weekly Newspaper for the Needle District.’ Redditch, a town in north east Worcestershire, produced at one point in history 90% of the world’s needles, this industry growing from the Middle Ages onwards. And its newspaper, the Redditch Indicator, was neutral in its politics, featuring news from the local area, as well as from abroad. It also featured poetry, and the latest from the publication’s ‘London Correspondent.’
Our penultimate new title of the week is the Essex Weekly News, which was first published on 14 March 1862 in the Essex city of Chelmsford. Appearing every Friday at the cost of one pence, this independent newspaper circulated in Chelmsford, Colchester, Romford, Southend, Borehamwood, Epping, Stratford, Maldon, Witham, Braintree, Dunmow, ‘and all the towns and villages of the county; also in Middlesex, Hertfordshire, Kent, and Cambridgeshire.’
With a circulation of 20,000, the Essex Weekly News spanned for pages and contained the latest from the Essex Assizes and the Romford Union. Indeed, the newspaper placed an especial importance on crime, reporting on all the latest murders, instances of bigamy and perjury cases from the county and beyond. It also reported on sporting and local intelligence, whilst printing notices of births, marriages and deaths. The Essex Weekly News later became the Chelmsford Weekly News, and it is now known as the Chelmsford and Mid-Essex Times.
Our final new title of the week is Pulman’s Weekly News and Advertiser, which ran with the sub-title ‘For Somerset, Dorset, and Devon.’ Founded in 1857, and published in Yeovil, Somerset, Pulman’s Weekly News cost just one pence and appeared every Tuesday, reporting on the news from across Somerset, Dorset and Devon. Containing also more general news, as well as news from abroad, the newspaper was founded by West Country publisher George Philip Rigney Pulman. Published to this day, the newspaper is regarded by communities ‘as a reliable source of news.’
Now, we’ve also added new pages to 39 of our existing titles. This week’s highlights include the over 80,000 pages we’ve added to specialist railway title Herapath’s Railway Journal, whilst we’ve added over 25,000 pages to national tabloid the Daily Record. Meanwhile, over 14,000 new pages have joined the Cambridge Daily News. Find a full list of all of our new and updated titles at the end of this blog.
Criminal Conversation with Lord Melbourne – A Scandal from 1836
In 1836, Caroline Norton left her husband George Chapple Norton. He in turn sued Caroline’s close friend, and then Prime Minister, Lord Melbourne, for criminal conversation, or adultery. And even though our new newspaper the Crim. Con. Gazette was first published in 1838, its first edition featured reporting from the trial which had occurred some two years before. This was testament to the impact of the scandal; whilst such reporting was integral to the Crim. Con. Gazette‘s mission of addressing immorality even in the highest corridors of power.
Appearing for the plaintiff, George Chappel Norton, was Sir William Follett, who set the scene for the jury as follows:
The plaintiff is Mr. Norton, brother and heir presumptive of Lord Grantley. Mrs. Norton is the daughter of the late Mr. Thomas Sheridan, who united considerable personal attractions with a great deal of talent for which her family has long been celebrated. They were married in the month of July 1827, Mr. Norton being at that time 27 years of age, and Miss Sheridan 19 years of age. It was a marriage of affection, at least, on the part of Mr. Norton, it was one of unbounded affection.
The Nortons, after their marriage, were living in reduced circumstances, at least for ‘the rank of the parties.’ They lived in a house near Birdcage Walk, and when George Norton’s position of Commissioner of Bankrupts was ‘reduced,’ his wife Caroline petitioned the Home Secretary Lord Melbourne. Thus their friendship began, and George Norton was then appointed a Police Magistrate in Whitechapel, which meant that he was out of the house all day. Lord Melbourne then became a regular visitor to both Caroline and her husband, Follett outlining how:
…Lord Melbourne was a constant visitor at the house at times when Mr. Norton was not there. He began by coming to the house shortly after the duties of the Home Office were (I suppose) discharged – about 3 o’clock. He came constantly three or for times in the course of a week, sometimes oftener, sometimes less, but still a constant visitor. He was in the habit of leaving shortly before Mr. Norton came home.
He then described Caroline Norton’s behaviour during the visits of Lord Melbourne:
From Mrs. Norton’s conduct, you gentlemen, must infer what else took place. She goes to her room, prepares herself to receive Lord Melbourne; dresses, arranges her hair, and gets the room ready before he comes. While he was in the house, she frequently goes into her bedroom, whilst he is there. Her hair is disordered, her dress is disordered, she goes again to her bed-room to set it to rights. Having arranged her hair, she comes down again to Lord Melbourne.
The case, however, suffered from a lack of real evidence, providing nothing but innuendo as above. Witnesses were called, many of them servants from the Norton household, including one Ninette Eliot, who worked as a housemaid and lady’s maid for the Nortons in 1831. She attested how:
I have seen Lord Melbourne and Mrs. Norton in the room together – they were both sitting on the sofa with Mrs. Norton’s hand in Lord Melbourne’s hand…I never saw them touch each other on any occasion. I have seen Lord Melbourne kiss Mrs. Norton. When he went into the room one day he did so.
Under further questioning, she elaborated how the kiss was:
Upon her cheek. I saw Lord Melbourne’s face close to Mrs. Norton’s as I was shutting the door, and I heard the kiss. Mrs. Norton was sitting in the chair when Lord Melbourne entered, and she rose up, and advanced to meet him.
This was perhaps the best evidence of any ‘criminal conversation,’ but it did not stand up in court. Rather, it provided some cheap titillation at the cost of Caroline Norton, a sort of What The Butler Saw scenario.
The Attorney General acted in defence of Lord Melbourne, and he refused to call any witnesses for the case. The Crim. Con. Gazette describes how:
He would rest upon that which he should demonstrate to the Jury – that no case had been made against his client – that all the material facts that had been urged were false, and that from the facts that really did exist, no inference whatever unfavourable to his client could be drawn. He asserted his innocence, and that there was no proof whatever on which a Jury could satisfactorily come to a conclusion of his guilt. This was the most extraordinary case that was ever brought into a Court of Justice.
It did not appear that the separation which took place in March last was occasioned by any immediate suspicion entertained by the plaintiff of the honour of his wife; some family quarrel, which accidentally arose between them, led to the separation, and subsequently to that time the inquiries had been made which led to the present investigation.
And the jury agreed, immediately when asked replying that they had all found in favour of the defendant, Lord Melbourne, the verdict being passed at 11.30pm that evening.
But what of Caroline Norton? Whilst Lord Melbourne continued as Prime Minister, following the separation from her husband, she campaigned tirelessly for the rights of women in marriage. Her children had been taken away from her, and her campaigning led to the passing of the Custody of Infants Act in 1839, which allowed women to petition for the custody of their children following a separation. She was a key advocate in divorce reform too, helping to pave the way for the Matrimonial Causes Act of 1857, which saw divorce cases now being tried in a civil rather than ecclesiastical court. Finally, Norton’s reforming helped to influence the Married Women’s Property Act of 1870, which allowed women to be the legal owners of the money they earned, and they could now inherit property.
From fodder for the scandal, Caroline Norton transformed her narrative to one of reform, and her story is an integral part in the history of women’s fight for equality.
|Alloa Circular||1875, 1879-1887, 1889|
|Bridge of Allan Gazette||1884, 1888-1890|
|Crim. Con. Gazette||1838-1840|
|Dumbarton Herald and County Advertiser||1853-1855, 1867, 1877, 1885-1890, 1892|
|Dunfermline Journal||1852, 1880-1892, 1895|
|Essex Weekly News||1862-1881, 1883, 1885, 1887-1896, 1898-1915|
|Evening Times (London)||1852|
|Holt’s Weekly Chronicle||1837-1838, 1855|
|Howdenshire Gazette||1873-1893, 1897|
|Pioneer and Weekly Record of Movements||1851|
|Pulman’s Weekly News and Advertiser||1859-1861, 1865-1879, 1886, 1889, 1893-1895, 1897-1899|
|Redditch Indicator||1864-1866, 1868-1870, 1872, 1874, 1877, 1893|
|Retford, Worksop, Isle of Axholme and Gainsborough News||1874-1875, 1877, 1888-1891|
|Rutherglen Reformer and Cambuslang Journal||1879, 1885, 1889, 1891|
|Town Talk 1822||1822|
This week we have updated 39 of our existing titles.
You can learn more about each of the titles we add to every week by clicking on their names. On each paper’s title page, you can read a FREE sample issue, learn more about our current holdings, and our plans for digitisation.