The Business of News in England, 1760–1820 by Victoria E. M. Gardner

By Victoria E. M. Gardner

The company of reports in England, 1760-1820 explores the trade of the English press in the course of a severe interval of press politicization, because the state faced overseas wars and revolutions that disrupted family governance.

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William Bouverie, Viscount Folkstone, however, had exchanged correspondence on the matter with a proprietor in his constituency and argued for the provincial press. 101 Pitt replied that the matter was fair, for the London proprietors had to divide their savings with their vendors, limiting their advantage. Although Bouverie’s objections were ignored, crucially for the provincial press, an allied advertising duty rise was not passed, thereby reducing potential newspaper acquisition by the lower orders while retaining the favour of newspaper proprietors.

Most radical newspapers were opposed locally by loyalist groups, or prosecuted into submission or out of existence by the authorities, most usually for the distribution of Paine’s Rights of Man, or for seditious libel or treason. National legislation that also touched the press was brought in in tandem, including the Habeas Corpus Suspension Act (1794), which enabled the arrest and imprisonment of individuals without trial and the Treasonable Offences Act (1795), which extended the crime of treason to include speaking and writing.

Newspapers were part of a multimedia commons that engaged in, and reflected, contemporaries’ 28 The Business of News in England, 1760–1820 heterogeneous engagement with the world—one that simply could not rely on gossip, supposition, or the press in isolation. Offering mere snapshots of the fast-moving metropolitan news, the London titles regularly inserted apologies and addenda correcting misinformation. More affordable weekly titles published in country towns, with free delivery via postboys, promised and produced a slower but purportedly more accurate account that could be adjusted as new information came in over the week.

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