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Published for eight years between 1730 and 1738, the Grub Street Journal was edited by Richard Russell (1687-1759) and John Martyn (1699-1768). Russell was a physician who believed in the medicinal powers of seawater, and he became highly respected and his approach was very popular. Martyn was a botanist, who published notable books in the field, becoming well-known and respected in the academic world. The Grub Street Journal was a satire on the journalism of the time, named after the road that was home to many publishing houses, which attracted low quality and ethically dubious writers. Many legitimate publications found themselves mimicked and parodied (often unflatteringly) by publishers and writers on Grub Street, turning the name of the road into shorthand for poor quality, ‘hack’ journalism. 


“News.” Grub Street Journal, 8 Jan. 1730

“News.” Grub Street Journal, 22 Jan. 1730

“Arts and Culture.” Grub Street Journal, 26 Mar. 1730

“News.” Grub Street Journal, 23 Apr. 1730



The proliferation of international news in the 18th century is reflected in this archive, as Burney’s collection contained a selection of publications from outside of the United Kingdom. While many news publications at the time would reprint news from sources in other countries, publications made in various places also found their way to the UK. In this guide, we have selected a few examples: publication from nearby shores, which include the Dublin Mercury from Ireland; the United States, including the Boston Gazette and the New England Courant; and the colonies, in this case the Caribbean, with a rare edition of the Weekly Jamaica Courant.


“News.” Boston Gazette, January 8, 1721 - January 15, 1721

“News.” Dublin Mercury [1722], 7 Mar. 1723

“News.” New England Courant, February 5, 1722 - February 12, 1722

“News.” Weekly Jamaica Courant, 5 Aug. 1718



The North Briton was a radical newspaper that began publishing in 1762, and one of the most prominent critical voices of government at the time. Published as a response to Tobias Smollett’s (1721-1771) The Briton, The North Briton is associated with the radical politician John Wilkes (1725-1797). It gained notoriety with its 45th issue, which was highly critical of King George III (1738-1820) praising the Treaty of Paris: Wilkes was subsequently arrested and imprisoned in the Tower of London for libel against the King. During his courtroom speeches after challenging his arrest, he inspired a movement focused on freedom of speech. Wilkes fled to France after reprinting the 45th issue, and was again arrested. After Wilkes fled, the remaining issues were published by William Bingley, who was also arrested for inflammatory content in issues 50 and 51.


“News.” North Briton [1769: Reprint], 1762

“News.” North Briton [1762], 1762

“News.” North Briton [1769: Reprint], 1762

“News.” North Briton [1762], 1762



The Post Boy began in 1695, founded by journalist Abel Roper (1665-1726) as a Tory response to the Flying Post (also in this archive), which had been founded by George Ridpath (d. 1726), a Scottish Whig journalist. The Post Boy gained notoriety when Roper used it to voice dissent against the proposed peace in the War of Spanish Succession, which led to his arrest. He was pardoned after publishing a redaction, but the episode led to many satires and attacks in other publications. Roper was again brought to court after Queen Anne’s death, after offending the Whig government, but by this point in 1714 his involvement in the paper had declined to the extent that he claimed no responsibility for the articles, or knowledge of who wrote them. The active publisher, John Morphew (d. 1720), confirmed that Roper had long since stopped taking profits from the paper, and Roper was released, disappearing from the public eye until his death


“News.” Post Boy, June 6, 1695 - June 8, 1695

“News.” Post Boy, July 20, 1695 - July 23, 1695

“News.” Post Boy, August 6, 1695 - August 8, 1695

“News.” Post Boy, October 22, 1695 - October 24, 1695



Launched as a daily publication in 1711, The Spectator ran for a year before closing. Edited by Richard Steele (1672-1729) and Joseph Addison (1672-1719), its aim was laid out in the 10th issue, to “enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality”. It focused on offering readers information, topics and ideas for conversation and discussion, and became an indispensable resource to the growing affluent class who needed to present themselves well in polite society. It was also one of the earliest publications to be aimed at a female audience, and gained a respectable readership in the colonies. In London, it gained a substantial audience in coffeehouses, with estimates that thousands of people in London were familiar with the content, either as readers or listeners. It borrowed much of its approach from Steele’s previous publication The Tatler, which is available in the 17th and 18th Century Nichols Newspapers Collection.


“News.” Spectator [1711], 1711

“News.” Spectator [1711], 1711

“News.” Spectator [1711], 1711

“News.” Spectator [1711], 1711



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