Eighteenth-century newspaper publishing in Munster and South Leinster.

Very little research has been conducted into provincial newspaper publishing in eighteenth-century Ireland. Munter’s History of the Irish newspaper has a cut-off date of 1760, a period when provincial newspaper publishing was becoming widespread; his emphasis, accordingly, is on the Dublin trade.[1] Madden’s History of Irish periodical literature devotes two chapters to the identification of provincial newspapers, and a discussion of their ownership and political orientation.[2] The significance of the pioneering provincial newspaper ventures of the first decades of the eighteenth century lies in the very fact of their existence; information on their operation is often scanty, and drawn from later sources. A general rise in literacy, accompanied by an increase in inter-regional trade, and an extension of the market for luxury goods, facilitated the spread of provincial newspapers from mid-century. The major towns in the Munster/South Leinster region had stable newspaper publishing businesses from this period: Limerick from 1739 and Cork from 1753, followed by Waterford in 1765 and Kilkenny in 1766. By the last quarter of the eighteenth century many smaller towns supported a newspaper, Clonmel from 1772, Tralee from 1774, and Ennis from 1778. Wexford had a newspaper in 1776, but there was no lasting enterprise in the town until 1787.[3]

Apart from some early periodical publishing in the mid-seventeenth century, the earliest regular news-sheets were issued in Dublin in the late seventeenth century.[4] Printed and manuscript newspapers were imported from England and the continent in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries and were used as copy by the Dublin printers. News was mainly concerned with foreign wars and reports from foreign courts. Local news did not form part of the earliest newspapers. A small number of advertisements began to appear in the newspapers in the late seventeenth century, but they did not occupy a significant portion of the papers until the 1720s.

The most fruitful source of information on provincial newspaper publishing is in the newspapers themselves. They carry advertisements, announcements, apologies, complaints and pleas from the printer to his/her readers and potential readers. The volume and type of advertising and the longevity of the paper also point to its success or failure in the market. The newspaper proprietor’s network of subscription and advertising agents in the surrounding towns played a major part in the success of the venture and an identification of their contacts and business partnerships greatly adds to our knowledge of the book trade in a region. The Journals of the Irish House of Commons provide another rich source as printers, papermakers and others in the book trade petitioned Parliament for monetary aid to maintain and expand their businesses.

The economics of newspaper publishing in the Irish country towns in the mid-eighteenth century differed in several respects from practice in the capital. The main difference lay in access to raw materials and the extra costs that were often involved in transporting them. Access to current news could also be a problem for some inland towns, where newspaper printers were forced to wait for the arrival of the mail and other newspapers for fresh news. Sea-port towns had the advantage in terms of news gathering and importation of materials. Distribution of newspapers to country areas was a costly undertaking for both Dublin and provincial printers. The dispersed nature of Irish provincial readership involved substantial delivery costs and difficulty in exacting payment of debts.

After 1774 the introduction of the first Stamp Act, whereby a tax was placed on newspapers, pamphlets and advertisements, changed the economic equilibrium of many newspaper ventures. The basic elements of a newspaper business, however, remained the same in town and country: provision of one or more printing presses, skilled labour, and a supply of paper; the need to raise revenue from advertisements, and to enlist subscribers.


In many Irish country towns the first recorded imprint is a newspaper, and the first printer the producer of that newspaper. The initial outlay was relatively modest: a second-hand wooden hand-press complete with a set of type, a journeyman and an apprentice to operate it, a compositor, often the proprietor himself, perhaps with the help of his wife, and sufficient paper to produce a four-page issue. News was gathered from the Dublin and London newspapers, and from any nearby provincial newspapers. Several ventures were begun in the first half of the century which were unable to last, most likely due to inadequate support from subscribers and advertisers.

Newspaper editors published proposals for printing the newspaper, giving an outline of the contents of the paper, its expected usefulness, its frequency, cost and distribution, and inviting subscribers and advertisers. The level of initial interest determined whether the project was viable. Advertisements for a new newspaper title were placed in other provincial newspapers and in the Dublin press. It is also likely that fliers or prospectuses were distributed by hand or posted up, but such ephemeral items have not survived. A Dublin newspaper could be sustained by metropolitan sales alone, although most were also distributed to country readers. A provincial newspaper, however, needed a wide circulation in the surrounding counties in order to make up a sufficient readership.


John Senex, A new map of Ireland, 1720.

In February 1771 Francis Bray of Fethard, Co. Tipperary, published proposals to print a newspaper in Clonmel, to be called the Clonmell Journal. It would be published twice a week and it was aimed at readers in ‘the extensive and opulent County of Tipperary’. The paper would contain foreign and home news and prices from the markets in Dublin, Cork, Waterford and Limerick. Subscriptions were charged at the standard rate of 8s.8d. in town, 11s.4½d. elsewhere, or 1d. for a single paper, and were collected by agents in Tipperary, Cork, Kilkenny and Waterford.[5] Response must have been slow, as another notice published in March acknowledged the support of some subscribers, and requested new subscribers to send in their names.[6] There is no surviving copy of this paper, and the establishment of the Hibernian Gazette, printed in Clonmel by Edward Collins in 1772, indicates that it failed to raise sufficient support to become viable.[7] Busteed and Knox attempted to set up a rival newspaper to the Leinster Journal in Kilkenny in 1779. It was to be issued twice a week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays, and would cost a half guinea in town and 14 English shillings in the country. They offered a reduced rate for advertisements. It seems that nothing came of the project, however, and the Leinster Journal remained as Kilkenny’s only newspaper until the publication of the Kilkenny Chronicle in 1812.[8]


Masthead from the first issue of The Hibernian Chronicle, published in Cork by William Flyn.


Masthead from Finn’s Leinster Journal, printed by Mrs Catharine Finn from 1777.

The printing business was very much a family affair, dynasties of printing families were common, such as the Griersons, King’s printers in Dublin. Marriage alliances were frequent between those in the book trade. Wives and daughters must have taken an active role in the businesses as they were in a position to take over on the death of fathers, brothers and husbands. Often the business was kept in trust by a widow until her son came of age, or until she remarried, but there are numerous instances of printing and bookselling enterprises flourishing under the direction of a woman.[9] Catharine Finn successfully ran the printing and bookselling business in High Street, Kilkenny, after her husband, Edmund Finn, died on 7 April 1777, leaving her with seven small children.[10] She continued to publish the Leinster Journal until 1799-1800 when her son, Michael’s, name appears on the imprint. In that time she extended its circulation, through the Post Office, to all parts of Ireland and to England.

Little is known of those who worked for the provincial printers; notices advertising for apprentices or journeymen yield no follow-up information. For example, in 1792 Nicholas Byrne, near the Quay in Waterford, proprietor of the Waterford Herald, advertised for a journeyman printer, who was capable of working ‘at press and case’, who understood the business, and was sober and attentive. He was offered constant employment and a good salary.[11] Newspaper printers frequently advertised for apprentices, Edmund Finn’s advertisement for an apprentice to the printing and bookselling business in 1767 specified ‘a lad of reputable Parents, with a tolerable share of education’.[12] In 1770 William Flyn, proprietor of the Hibernian Chronicle, at the sign of the Shakespeare in Cork, advertising for an apprentice to the printing business gave no indication of what type of person was required.[13] In 1788 Christopher Taylor, printer of the Wexford Herald advertised for ‘a smart lad, who had a tolerable Education’.[14] Foster Parsons, proprietor of the Ennis Chronicle, had room for one apprentice in 1791, ‘a smart lad on reasonable terms’.[15]

Our knowledge of employees is often derived from notices of their desertion from the master printer. In 1769 Daniel Casey, aged 15, apprentice to Edmund Finn, ‘eloped from service’ with four years of his apprenticeship to serve.[16] Michael Sullivan, apprentice to William Flyn in Cork, ‘eloped’ several times in 1772, stealing some of Flyn’s stock of books and offering them for sale. In his notice printed in the Hibernian Chronicle Flyn warned masters of ships that Sullivan might ‘change his name and indent for America’.[17]

Provincial printers often started their businesses by acquiring a second-hand printing press, which could be purchased easily and relatively cheaply. Once acquired a press tended to have a long and fairly trouble-free life; its wooden parts could be easily repaired locally. Prosperous Dublin printers renewing their presses would dispose of older models, printers retiring from business or whose business had failed would sell the press and type fonts to realise capital. A good second-hand press and chases could be got for about 12 guineas in the 1780s.[18]

Wooden hand press from The cabinet of useful arts and manufactures (Dublin, 1821). Newspaper seller from The cries of Dublin (Dublin, St Sepulchre’s Press, 1971).

Type was one of the most expensive requirements for a newspaper publisher, and one that had to be replenished fairly frequently if printing standards were to be kept up. First-time provincial printers often started with used and worn type, and upgraded their stock as the venture became successful. It is estimated that type accounted for about two-thirds of the cost of the printing-house plant.[19] When George Wilson produced his Historical remarks of the city of Waterford about 1736 he pleaded indulgence for ‘the Antiquity of [his] Types’ and appealed to potential purchasers to ‘encourage the Sale of what is Printed, I shall by that means speedily have a new font of Letters to do Business to the satisfaction of those that Employs […] George Wilson’.[20] John Veacock began business in Waterford in 1791 having purchased the printing equipment of Matthew Power, who was forced to sell to meet his debts. The equipment included a large printing press, complete with printing furniture, a range of type fonts including Long Primer with Italic, Small Pica, Pica with Italic, English with Italic Great Primer, Double Pica, two-line Great Primer, four-line Pica etc. and ‘upwards of 100 well executed cuts, for Songs &c.’[21]

In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries type was usually imported from Holland or England. From the first decade of the eighteenth century type began to be cast in Ireland by dedicated typefounders.[22] A mixture of Irish and imported type fonts was used by many printers. In making up a set of type fonts for a newspaper in 1786 Stephen Parker, typefounder in Dublin, supplied Long Primer, Roman and Italic, and Brevier, Roman, as the main fonts with lesser amounts of Pica, Roman and Italic, Script, and two-line Primer, Brevier and Pica. Four hundred pounds of Long Primer, Roman and Italic, cost £30, the whole set of letter coming to nearly £60, substantially more than the cost of the press.[23] An advertisement placed in the Waterford Herald in 1791 offered for sale a ‘font of second-hand Long Primer, sufficient for a Newspaper (has been used for that purpose) and a font of Double Pica’.[24]

Proprietors often drew their subscribers’ attention to the fact that they had invested in new fonts of type. William Flyn, bookseller, printer and proprietor of the Hibernian Chronicle in Cork, issued an apology to his subscribers in May 1770 for the poor quality of one issue of the Hibernian Chronicle due to dust getting mixed in with the printing ink. He assured his readers that in future the newspaper would be printed to their entire satisfaction as he had ‘at a great expense purchased a complete collection of quite new types, which shall appear in his paper before the 20th of the month’.[25] Foster Parsons, printer of the Ennis Chronicle, informed his subscribers in 1791 that he had ‘at considerable expense enlarged the circulation of his correspondence, and purchased an elegant fount of New Types, the arrival of which he hourly expects’.[26] In 1792 Anthony Edwards, bookseller, stationer, printer and proprietor of the Cork Courier informed the public that he had ‘lately made a large Addition to his Printing Type’ which would enable him to execute all kinds of printing work.[27] He claimed that his type came from the best foundry in Europe.[28]

Constant supplies of paper were necessary for business to expand. In Dublin paper was imported directly from abroad, mainly from France, Holland and Britain.[29] Several paper mills were situated in the suburbs, especially at Rathfarnham, Templeogue, Tallaght, Kilternan, Chapelizod, Donnybrook, Co. Dublin, Newbridge and Celbridge, Co. Kildare. Imports of printing and writing paper rose steadily from the last quarter of the seventeenth century until the 1760s. From the 1770s imports of printing paper dropped indicating that the Irish papermaking industry was beginning to have an impact on this aspect of the trade; good quality writing paper, however, continued to be imported in substantial quantities.[30] The provincial newspaper printer also imported paper from abroad, especially if the printing office was in one of the major ports: Cork, Waterford or Limerick. Evidence from the shipping notices in the newspapers reveals importation of paper and books by several booksellers, and of writing and parcel paper by general merchants through the ports of Cork and Waterford.

Writing and printing paper was purchased from Dublin paper wholesalers; local advertisements for the merchandise of importers such as William Whitestone, at the paper and stationery warehouse, the Shakespeare’s Head, 33 Skinner Row, Dublin, were carried in the Munster newspapers from the late 1760s, when the paper warehouse was newly opened.[31] Transportation costs for paper from Dublin would have been an added extra for printers in the country towns. Paper in bulk was carried in carts or truckles, or smaller parcels on horseback; transportation by sea between Irish ports is also likely, but evidence is not yet forthcoming.

In the first half of the century paper manufacture in Munster was insignificant. In 1746 Charles Smith suggested that papermaking, among other arts, could be established in Waterford and in 1750 he stated that ‘we make so very little [paper], and that so very indifferent’.[32] Local paper mills began to contribute significantly to the supply of newspaper printing paper from mid-century. Joseph Sexton, a Limerick merchant, spent £2,000 constructing two paper mills outside the city in 1747 and 1749. He petitioned the Irish Parliament for ‘encouragement’ in 1751, 1753 and 1755, and received grants of £200 in 1751, £500 in 1753, and a promise of ‘further encouragement’ in 1755-56.[33] He claimed to be the only manufacturer of writing paper in Munster at this period.[34] Sexton’s mills produced about 30,000 reams annually and he supplied the local newspapers with printing paper.[35] Sexton also had a wholesale outlet in Cork, where Robert King sold paper on his account ‘next the New Inn on Hammond’s Marsh’. King sold Post, Propatria and other writing paper, printing, lapping, candle and whited brown paper, and brown paper ‘sold as cheap as at the mill’.[36]

Competition emerged in 1763 when Phineas and George Bagnell, booksellers and proprietors of the Cork Evening Post in Castle Street, Cork, set up their own paper mill at Ballyrosheen, later Riverstown, near Lower Glanmire. It was constructed between 1762 and 1763 at a cost of £1,148.[37] In a petition put before the Irish Parliament in November 1763 they sought assistance to improve the manufacture of paper at their mill. The parliamentary committee reported that in the first year of operation the importation of foreign paper through the port of Cork decreased by one-third as a result of their industry, and that if given parliamentary assistance they would be able to provide ‘a Quantity of Paper more than sufficient to supply the demand of the said City’. The committee resolved that ‘the Petitioners need and deserve the aid of Parliament’, but there is no indication of a grant made to them.[38] The Bagnells continued to advertise imported paper in 1763, but they offered paper of their own manufacture for sale by wholesale and retail at their shop in Castle Street, and stated that they sold it at the lowest prices to prevent the importation of foreign paper. Paper could also be purchased wholesale directly from the mill.[39] The Bagnells began to use paper from their own mill for the printing of the Cork Evening Post in July 1763.[40] In 1771 James and John Knight of Cork went into partnership with Phineas Bagnell in the publication of the Cork Evening Post, and by 1781 they advertised paper manufactured at their own mill at Glintown, Ballinglanna, near Ballyrosheen.[41]

From the 1760s onwards sufficient printing paper must have been manufactured to supply the Munster region, even though foreign paper continued to be imported. A paper mill is referred to at Gurteens, Co. Kilkenny, on the river Suir near Waterford city, in the sale of the estate of Henry Snow Esq. in 1768; the paper mill and land were held by William McDonnel, at £25 per annum. It was stated that a ‘paper work’ and corn mills were on the premises.[42] In 1769 Caleb Beale and Samuel Neale erected a new paper mill within the liberties of the city of Cork and they sought parliamentary encouragement for the enterprise.[43] From the 1770s the Phair family had papermaking businesses in Cork and Waterford which continued into the nineteenth century when Pigot’s Directory lists Francis and William Phair at North Main Street, Cork, and Francis Phair & Co. at Little John Street and King Street, Waterford.[44] In 1774, on the eve of the first Stamp Act, Edmund Finn of Kilkenny stated that the paper for Finn’s Leinster Journal was manufactured in Cork and transported to Kilkenny.[45] William Flyn continued to import paper and in 1773 he received Post, Propatria, Demi, Royal and Imperial papers made by the ‘noted Sterlings of Rotterdam’.[46] Christopher Taylor, printer of the Wexford Herald, offered Irish as well as English and Dutch paper for sale at his shop in Main Street, Wexford, in 1788.[47]


The need for information and news inspired the earliest newspapers; the latest and most reliable reports were sought in order to attract and maintain readership. News was gathered from other newspapers, from in-coming packets, from personal correspondence, and any other available source. Taking copy from other papers was accepted practice, in fact to quote from a Dublin or London title was to lend authenticity to the report. The earliest Dublin newspapers consisted of a single folio sheet printed on both sides, issued twice a week and given over mainly to international news. A supplement or postscript was published if a packet arrived between issues. Dublin newspapers of the early century left a blank half sheet for ‘those Gentlemen and others who write to their friends in the country about Business’ as it was cheaper to post a single sheet to the country towns. In this manner newspaper and letter could be combined in one at the cheapest letter rate.[48]

International news was abstracted from a variety of continental news-sheets, Gazettes from Paris, Amsterdam, Harlem, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Leyden, Lettres à la main from Paris and The Hague and a range of printed and manuscript gazettes from London.[49] In the early decades of the eighteenth century there was a close connection between printing office and coffee house; many Dublin printers had their premises next door, or in the same building, as a coffee house. The foreign newspapers used by the printer as copy were made available to the coffee house clientele. In Dublin and the other cities and towns they were the gathering places for those in search of the latest news, from gossip to international correspondence. Throughout the eighteenth century they prided themselves on the number and variety of newspapers that they received. Black has noted the importance of the French language press in the provision of foreign news for the English press, especially the French language Dutch papers. He points to the incidence of newspapers established or written by Huguenots living in London, such as Abel Boyer and J. de Fonvive.[50] These French-speaking proprietors had the advantage of being capable of doing quick translations from the foreign newspapers. It is not clear if the Gazettes available in Dublin were in French, or in English translation, but it is likely that some, at least, were in French.

Official bodies ensured that they had access to the newspapers, which acted as much-needed information sources. In the late seventeenth century and throughout the eighteenth century official newspapers were imported from London for the use of administrative bodies and when they had finished the papers were passed on to the burgesses and coffee house clientele. The official papers included the London Gazette, a twice-weekly paper which was the most widely circulated official publication, the News Letter and Votes of parliament, which appeared daily during the parliamentary session and provided an outline of parliamentary proceedings. An extant ledger showing the distribution of newspapers by one London supplier, Charles Delafaye, covering the period 1710 to 1714, shows that he also supplied Irish readers. Thirty-two Irish readers are listed, the majority in the Dublin area, but some from in and around Cork, including the Mayor. John Tyrrel of the Dublin Post Office received about 120 papers a week during the parliamentary session of 1710 for six customers, and this increased the following year.[51]

The Irish parliament inserted proclamations and advertisements in the Dublin and provincial newspapers, this amount of government expenditure allowed many newspapers to survive difficult times, but at the price of supporting government in its columns. The official government newspaper, the Dublin Gazette, announced appointments to public offices, published proclamations, promulgated new legislation and listed bankruptcies; it reached a narrow readership and popular newspapers were used to reach a wider public.[52]

Corporations of towns and cities throughout the country subscribed to a range of newspapers, and used the local, and occasionally the Dublin, press to publish their own notices. In 1704 the Common Council of Derry ordered £5 to be paid to Mr Alex Coningham ‘for ye publick benefit and satisfaction of ye City’ to receive one year’s supply of the London Gazette, Postman and News-Letter ‘to be kept at his house, to be seen and us’d by all members gratis’.[53] In 1688 the Corporation of Kinsale resolved to subscribe to the News Letter and Gazette if the total cost was no more than £3 per annum, otherwise the News Letter was to be got at 30s. When the ‘Soveraign’ had read the newspapers they would be made available in the Jury Room ‘for the burgesses to view’.[54]

In 1694 the Corporation of Youghal paid 40s. per annum to Mr Reed, innkeeper, to keep the ‘Public News’ at his inn. Reed stated that he: ‘formerly kept the Public News to encourage trade to his house, discovering the charge to be more than the advantages, has declared he will discontinue unless the Corporation contribute toward the cost’. The following year it was decided that the Mayor of Youghal would ‘procure the Public News to be every Post sent to this Town’.[55] With the proliferation of newspaper titles in the last quarter of the century the Corporation of Youghal decided in 1786: ‘that in future the Corporation are not to be furnished with more than one two-day English and one two-day Irish newspaper’.[56] A ledger covering the years 1781 to 1783 and 1811 to 1813, identifies accounts for English and Irish newspapers, parliamentary votes, army and navy lists, and Lloyd’s list, supplied to a range of customers such as the Mayors of Dublin, Cork and Kilkenny; David Murphy’s Hotel, the Mercantile Committee Room, and the Commercial Coffee Room in Waterford; the Commercial Buildings, Chamber of Commerce, and Royal Coffee House in Limerick; the Coffee Room in Youghal, Co. Cork; the Post Office, and Club Room in Kinsale, Co. Cork.[57]

Cork Corporation was in regular receipt of London and Irish newspapers. In 1704 the Lord Mayor paid £4.19s.0d. to Mr De-laffa for the ‘Public News’, and in January 1713/14 Mr Charles Delafay was paid £36 for six years newspapers, with the proviso that ‘he desist sending any more’.[58] This was clearly the same Charles Delafaye who supplied the papers from London. In 1715 the Mayor sent for ‘the News from London at the cheapest rate he could agree for’ and by 1716/17 the Corporation expended 6 guineas for ‘the English news, four papers and the votes of Parliament’.[59] English and Irish newspapers and Votes of both English and Irish parliaments were supplied to the Council by Walter Pallisser in the 1740s and 1750s and by Edmond Browning in the 1760s and 1770s.[60] In 1776 William Maturin, clerk of the Munster Road at the General Post Office, began to supply Irish and English newspapers.[61] Local booksellers supplied the Cork newspapers to the Council. Cork Corporation’s own resolutions and advertisements were printed in the local newspapers, first in the Cork Intelligence and later in the Bagnell’s Cork Evening Post, Flyn’s Hibernian Chronicle, Knight’s New Cork Evening Post and the Cork Gazette.

By the middle of the eighteenth century, when the provincial press began to develop, the format of the paper had become established. Foreign news, particularly in times of war or political upheaval, was the main feature; accounts from London, especially parliamentary reports and society gossip, formed another important section. News from Dublin included ‘parliamentary intelligence’, society news, births, marriages, deaths, bankruptcies, appointments and promotions. Country news was made up of short reports from various towns around the country, often concentrating on the assizes, reports of crime and accidents. Items that featured in many newspapers included market prices, the assize of bread, shipping news and accounts of exports and imports. Occasional sections contained reports of race meetings, theatrical reviews, anecdotes of famous people, prose extracts from celebrated contemporary works, and poetry, either by amateurs or well-known poets. Articles from correspondents on topics of their choice were often included; they always used a pseudonym, usually in the form ‘A Freeman’, ‘Hibernicus’ etc. and they frequently used this space to issue tirades against new legislation, the excesses of government and so on. Advertisements took up considerable space in most newspapers.

Provincial newspapers adopted this format, providing news from abroad, from Dublin, from around the country and from the local area. Market prices, shipping and port news, exports and imports were given for the local area rather than for Dublin; articles and poems were by local contributors. Advertising was generally confined to the area of circulation of the paper, although some Dublin businesses also considered it worth their while to insert advertisements in regional newspapers.

The collection of news was the main function of the newspaper, and all other items gave way to an interesting or startling news feature. On publication days when no packets had arrived less newsworthy items were inserted to fill the space. When the Waterford Herald was launched in 1791 the editor drew readers’ attention to the fact that six packets arrived in Waterford weekly, thus supplying the paper with fresh news regularly.[62] The packets brought merchants’ correspondence, official and private mail and newspapers. In August 1793 it took 63 hours for the mail to be transported from the General Post Office in London to Waterford on the Carteret packet.[63] Adverse weather conditions could greatly extend the duration of the passage, and strong winds often forced the ships to return to port in England. A report in the Waterford Herald in February 1793 informed readers that: ‘the prevalence of contrary winds, for several days past, had prevented any of the packets from Milford arriving since Friday morning last. – Mails due – Holyhead, one – Milford, five’.[64] The mail had high priority and prompt delivery was assured when conditions permitted. A notice entitled ‘His Majesty’s Packets from Waterford to Milford’ stated this clearly:

Passengers going to Milford are requested to take notice, that from recent Regulations in the conveyance of the Mail to the Packets, they will be enabled to sail from Bolton every day, except Thursday, from one to two in the afternoons, unless prevented by the weather, and those who are not on board with or before the Mail, will lose their Passage most certainly.[65]

London newspapers arriving on the packets were abstracted as soon as they arrived. On one occasion the readers of the New Cork Evening Post were informed: ‘By the Packets arrived this day the London Gazette of Saturday last received at the Tontine Coffee House, and as no duplicates of it has been received in town, we are enabled only to give the following particulars, which contain the substance of its contents’.[66]

Major world events, such as the war of the Austrian Succession (1741-8), the seven years war (1756-63), and particularly the French revolution and revolutionary wars, gave rise to intense reporting. These reports were sometimes accompanied by maps, showing fortifications and defence plans for towns, or battle formations of rival forces at sea. The American war of independence was widely reported in the provincial newspapers. Letters arriving on ships, both private and public, which covered events in America, were reproduced in full. News from Cork came to the fore in the winter of 1796-7 when the French fleet appeared in Bantry Bay. The main drama unfolded between Friday 23 December 1796 and Wednesday 4 January 1797. Official dispatches and private letters were reproduced in the local and Dublin newspapers. Expresses from Cork, Kinsale, Cobh, Limerick and Waterford were seized on by the Dublin newspapers in an attempt to get the most up-to-date information.

Literary subject matter began to take its place in the Dublin newspapers after the 1720s, as noted by Munter.[67] This strand can also be seen in the provincial press. In the second year of its publication Edmund Finn decided to expand the literary content of the Leinster Journal. He invited his readers to submit articles and poetry:

for the utility and amusement of the Public he intends to enlarge the size of this paper, thereby to make room for such entertaining pieces as the Learned and Ingenuous shall, from time to time, think proper to furnish him with […] That part of the paper called Poet’s Corner (which for want of room has some time past been omitted) will now be revived, and kept open to such moral and ingenious pieces as shall be clear of party invectives; and those correspondents who heretofore furnished this literary table with original delicacies, are hereby invited, with all the hospitality the Leinster Journal is capable of, to renew their correspondence, and ingenious lucubrations.[68]

In 1772 William Flyn offered the pages of the Hibernian Chronicle as ‘a rendezvous for volunteer authors of both sexes’, a first, he claimed, for a Cork newspaper.[69] Occasionally literary pieces in prose or poetry were inserted to tie in with the publication of a book, or the performance of a play. In 1792 Dr James Saint-John’s Memoirs were published by subscription; in the same year poems and extracts from his works appeared in the Waterford Herald.[70] Also at this time his Antiquities of Waterford: The Historical Entertainment of the Stage of Waterford was published by subscription and was running at the theatre in Waterford.[71]


A newspaper was chiefly sustained in two ways: by attracting a strong base of subscribers and by revenue from advertisements. The more successful provincial newspapers had a wide circulation in neighbouring counties, with advertisers assured of a substantial readership. Before the 1774 Stamp Act it cost one British shilling (or 1s.1d. Irish) for the first insertion of an advertisement of not more than eight lines, and 6d. for each continuation in Finn’s Leinster Journal.[72] The advertiser was entitled to a better rate for advertisements inserted for a quarter or a year. These rates were modified slightly from time to time, costing 3d. per line for a first insertion and 1d. per line thereafter, or a special rate of 2d. and 1d. per line for advertisements exceeding eight lines.[73] Advertisements had to be paid in advance ‘for ready money only’.[74]

Advertisements were usually inserted by prosperous businesses, especially those dealing in luxury commodities: wine and spirits, drapery and millinery, books and periodicals, patent medicines, garden plants and seeds, teas and other luxury foods. Notices of auctions, sale or letting of lands, stallions, election notices, theatre performances, government announcements, schools, and individuals offering services, together with the luxury trade, made up the bulk of advertisements. The printer of the paper was often the contact for individuals and services; in 1768 Edmund Finn of Kilkenny was forced to issue a directive: ‘those referring to the Printer for particulars of advertisements must send letters post paid’.[75] Prominent among the advertisements were those of the printer of the newspaper, offering a wide range of goods and services. This free, or almost free, advertising was one of the main advantages of publishing a newspaper.

The Stamp Act of 1774 and following acts placed an enormous burden on advertising; ½d. duty was placed on every single-sheet newspaper and pamphlet, 2d. was charged on every advertisement, this was raised to 6d. in 1780.[76] The cost to advertisers in Finn’s Leinster Journal was raised to a British half-crown (2s.8½d. Irish) for the first insertion of an advertisement of eight lines or less, and 8d. for later insertions; advertisements exceeding eight lines were charged 3d. per line for a first insertion and 1d. per line for later ones.[77] Under the act the printer was obliged to account to the Stamp Commissioners every 40 days ‘under penalty of paying treble Duty’.[78] The financial strain imposed by this proviso, in addition to the loss of revenue as advertisers fell away, proved the ruin of many newspapers. In Dublin newspapers came to rely on government advertising as the duty on advertisements rose with successive acts, and discouraged advertising by businesses and individuals. This reliance on government advertising brought a newspaper’s political views into line with official expectations. Pollard has noted that of ten Dublin newspapers in operation in the 1780s, by the late 1790s three were supporters of government, two were neutral, and there were none in opposition.[79]

In spite of this rising cost provincial newspaper publishing continued to flourish. Of the fourteen enterprises begun in Cork between 1753 and 1799, eight lasted five years or more and four of these lasted over 20 years; the Cork Chronicle had the longest run, 89 years, from 1765 to 1854. In each of the major towns in Munster and South Leinster at least one newspaper had a substantial run; the Limerick Chronicle, founded in 1766, is still issued; Finn’s Leinster Journal, the Kerry Evening Post and the Clare Journal lasted into the twentieth century; the Waterford Chronicle, Wexford Herald, Ennis Chronicle and Chute’s Western Herald continued to the middle of the nineteenth century.[80]

The number of potential subscribers depended on the literate population of a region. The cost of a regular subscription at 6s.6d. to 8s.8d. per annum in town, and ½ guinea per annum in the country further reduced the pool of subscribers. Estimates of literacy figures for the eighteenth century are unreliable due to the lack of statistical data in contemporary sources. In Ireland the spread of literacy was connected to the struggle for cultural dominance between the Gaelic and English intellectual systems. In the eighteenth century literacy in the official language, English, was necessary for those who aspired to careers in the professions, the army, trade or commerce. The report of the census of 1841 gives a figure of 52% of the population who could read English.[81] This figure shows the effects of increased access to education among the lower middle classes in the last quarter of the eighteenth century, and may already reflect the increase brought about by the provision of national education in 1831. Literacy figures for the whole population in the second half of the eighteenth century were well under this percentage, but those in a position to subscribe to a newspaper would have been among the highly literate. Newspapers were read aloud informally, and sometimes formally, to groups of listeners, thus the content of the newspaper became available to the less literate. The sharing of newspapers must also have occurred on a substantial scale.

It is difficult to quantify the readership for any particular newspaper title. When the copyright for the Belfast Newsletter was for sale in December 1794, two print runs for that year were published: for 3 January 1794, 2,975 copies and 4 July 1794, 3,225 copies. The readership was calculated as follows:

Calculating as others have done, that each Paper is read by six Persons, the Number Printed in one Day, 4th July last, being Three Thousand Two Hundred and Twenty Five, may have been purchased by Nineteen Thousand Three Hundred individuals, in the most populous and opulent portion of the kingdom.[82]

These figures cannot be taken as representative for other regions and other time periods. When extending the circulation of Finn’s Leinster Journal to Waterford in 1767 Edmund Finn was prepared to employ a courier to deliver the newspaper on the day of publication as soon as 60 subscribers were received; for a lesser number of subscribers it would be delivered the following day.[83] By January 1768 this condition must have been fulfilled and a regular messenger was employed to deliver the Journal to the city and county of Waterford on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the days of publication.[84]

Subscribers had to be attracted before a new title was launched. A commitment to support the newspaper did not involve paying in advance for the publication, a policy which caused problems for all newspaper suppliers as time went on. Subscribers were expected to pay their debts quarterly, half-yearly, or yearly; in practice subscriptions were often several years in arrears. Subscription rates for the provincial newspapers remained fairly constant in the second half of the century. The lowest rate was six British shillings (6s.6d. Irish) to town subscribers and ½ guinea to country subscribers charged for two issues per week of the Hibernian Chronicle; for this sum William Flyn gave gratis a title and index at the end of the year.[85] The more regular rate was eight British shillings (8s.8d. Irish) in town and ½ guinea in the country, rising to twelve British shillings in town and three British crowns in the country after the Stamp Act, for twice-weekly newspapers.

Dublin newspapers for country readers were circulated through the Post Office and Dublin newspaper proprietors requested intending subscribers to apply to the clerks of the four roads: the North (Ulster), South (Munster), East (Leinster), and West (Connaught) roads.[86] On the death of Edward Martin, secretary to the postmaster general at the General Post Office Dublin, in 1767, his daughter and executrix Mrs Sarah Martin was forced to appeal for payment from ‘all such Noblemen, Gentlemen and Ladies, as were indebted to said Edward Martin for newspapers supplied by him, that they will order the amount of their several accounts to be paid to her’.[87]

Similarly in 1793 Henry Harrison, the clerk of the Connaught road, issued complaints in the Connaught Journal ‘finding it Exceedingly Inconvenient to collect his News Paper Money in the Country, has determined him (from the very great Losses he has sustained) not to send a News Paper to any one, unless Paid for in Advance, which will be a saving of 6s.6d. per Ann. to the subscriber: – the price being only £1.16s.0d. in place of £2.2s.6d.’.[88] An advertisement inserted in the press by Alexander Boswell, who had recently taken over responsibility for the Ulster Road in 1791, advised gentlemen that he would supply them with the Dublin newspapers, reviews and magazines. Charges for the Dublin newspapers three times a week were on a sliding scale: £2.2s.6d. per annum on credit and paid for in the country, £2 on credit and paid in Dublin, £1.18s. paid in advance in the country and £1.16s. paid in advance in Dublin. He also supplied the Monthly Review (£1.8s.), Walker’s Hibernian Magazine (16s.3d.), Exshaw’s London Magazine (10s.10d.) and Byrne’s Universal Repository (16s.3d.).[89]

Provincial printers issued constant reminders to their subscribers to discharge their debts. They were requested to pay the printer’s agents who would furnish them with receipts.[90] Regular events that brought country gentlemen to town were particularly targeted as payment opportunities: the assizes, race meetings, and public meetings for elections. The assizes were chosen by most provincial newspaper printers as the best time to collect debts. Held regularly in spring and summer in the county towns and assured of a good attendance by neighbouring gentlemen, payment at these times kept accounts from falling into arrears. In addition to their legal function as courts administering civil and criminal justice, the assizes fulfilled a social function in provincial Ireland. Assemblies and balls were held at these times, curiosities were shown, business was transacted and political causes were furthered.[91] When William Bingley came to Ireland in 1773 to seek subscriptions for the London-printed Independent Chronicle and Weekly Journal he chose to attend the assizes at Cork, Kilkenny and Clonmel for this purpose. On his return to London subscriptions and advertisements for his two publications were taken by his Irish agents, Edmund Finn in Kilkenny and Mr Shaw, postmaster at Clonmel.[92]

William Flyn encouraged customers to settle their accounts at the assizes in Cork.[93] Edmund Finn or his clerk attended the assizes in Kilkenny and neighbouring counties to collect debts. In 1772 Finn’s representative could be contacted at Nixon’s coffee house during the Waterford assizes, while he attended the Clonmel assizes in person.[94] In 1773 they attended the assizes of Kilkenny, Carlow, Athy, Maryborough and Wexford for this purpose.[95] In 1774 Finn could be contacted at the Post Office in Clonmel, the Printing Office, or at Mr James White’s during the Clonmel assizes; he or his clerk would then attend the assizes of Maryborough and Carlow.[96]

Foster Parsons entreated those who were indebted to him for over two years for the Ennis Chronicle to settle their accounts at the assizes.[97] The proprietor of the Cork Gazette also hoped that gentlemen would pay their subscriptions at the assizes.[98] After the first year of publication subscribers to the Waterford Herald were requested to pay a half year in advance; agents in Waterford, Cork, Kerry, Tipperary and Limerick were authorised to accept payments.[99] However, subscriptions were also collected privately; in the winter of 1792-3 Mr Heron made a tour of Munster meeting readers and collecting subscriptions.[100]

Subscribers who were in arrears with their payments for over 12 months were threatened with cancellation of their newspapers. In 1768 Edmund Finn issued a warning to those in arrears for newspapers, advertisements and magazines: their supply of newspapers would be discontinued if their accounts were not discharged at the assizes. Readers who were over 12 months in debt to Finn at this period must have been receiving the newspaper from the beginning of its publication without ever having paid for it. At this point also Finn resolved to demand payment in ready money only for advertisements.[101] By 1773, however, Finn appealed to those who were in arrears for four or five years for newspapers and advertisements, indicating that their subscriptions had not been discontinued, as previously warned.[102] In 1790 and 1791 Foster Parsons requested payment from subscribers whose accounts were over 12 months in arrears; those who were in arrears for years faced being sued if their accounts were not settled.[103]

Ideally, subscriptions were paid quarterly or annually to the proprietor or his agents. Subscribers to Finn’s Leinster Journal were warned that no money was to be paid to the post boys.[104] Printed receipts were issued for payments. In March 1773, while collecting debts in Co. Tipperary, Finn’s clerk lost a small book of printed receipts for the Leinster Journal between Clonmel and Loughloher. This book, covered in marble paper, had several receipts made out for different subscribers in Co. Tipperary and signed by Finn, and also some blank receipts. It was feared that the finder of the book might use it to fraudulently receive subscription money and Finn urged his customers not to pay any part of their subscriptions to ‘any person not qualified to receive them’.[105]

The financial strain placed on newspaper proprietors by the Stamp Acts forced them to more rigorous methods of subscription collection. Not only did the cost of newspapers rise, but new subscribers were requested to pay for their papers in advance. The cost of Finn’s Leinster Journal rose from eight to twelve British shillings for town subscribers, and from a half guinea to three British crowns for country subscribers. New subscribers were to pay a half year in advance and renew their subscriptions at every assizes.[106] These conditions were to take effect from 25 March 1774.


Newspapers were delivered to agents in the surrounding towns through the Post Office or by special couriers. These agents occasionally had bookshops, but more often they kept inns, apothecary and grocer’s shops; by the 1790s a substantial number of delivery centres were Post Offices. At these centres newspapers were dropped and advertisements and subscriptions were taken in. Books, periodicals and stationery were delivered in the same way to the same delivery points.

Finn announced the distribution of monthly periodicals such as Exshaw’s Gentleman’s and London Magazine, Walker’s Hibernian Magazine, Town and Country Magazine and Lady’s Magazine to ‘any part of the Country where this newspaper is usually sent’, at the rate of 8s.8d. per annum in the country and 6s.6d. in town to subscribers of the newspaper.[107] The annual publications, Watson’s Almanack and The English Registry, could be supplied to his country customers by the ‘different Post-boys who deliver the News-paper in the remote parts of the Country’.[108] Books also followed the newspaper routes; in March 1768 An abridgement of Dr Newton’s dissertation on the prophecies was distributed by Finn to Bernard Donovan, one of the agents for the Leinster Journal, at the Slip, and at the Angel Inn in Waterford.[109] William Flyn’s publication The modern monitor; or Flyn’s speculations, a compendium of articles from the Hibernian Chronicle, was sent to bookshops in Dublin, Waterford and Limerick and to all country places where the Chronicle was circulated in 1770.[110] John Ferrar, printer of the Limerick Chronicle, distributed his annual catalogue of books to ‘all the Places in the Country where his News-paper is delivered’ and orders were taken by his subscription agents.[111] He also distributed Walker’s Hibernian Magazine, Exshaw’s Gentleman’s and London Magazine and the Monthly Review using the newspaper routes.

Special couriers were employed by provincial newspaper printers to supplement distribution by the Post Office and to offer a more effective service to readers by delivering newspapers on the day of publication. The Post Office made collections and deliveries two, three or six times a week depending on the routes, but this did not always coincide with times or days of publication.[112] In England distribution of newspapers and periodicals was through the Post Office and also by local carriers. Feather points out, however, that the Post Office was never involved in the distribution of books, as the cost would have been too high.[113] Similarly there is no evidence for large-scale book distribution through the Post Office network in Ireland. Lord Orrery, writing to Dr Richard Pococke in 1748 advises: ‘Any books in parcells too heavy for the post will come safe if you will be so kind to send them to Mr William Marlow, Merchant in Mary’s Abbey’.[114]

A courier or post-boy was assigned a particular route covering a number of towns to which he delivered newspapers, magazines and books. They could take letters from country customers for the printer, but customers were advised to give no subscription money to the post-boys and they were not entrusted with printed receipt books.[115] The courier needed to be a sober, honest man, well recommended, who could give security for his honesty, and punctual performance; he was also obliged to provide ‘a good hack Horse’.[116] The couriers acted independently, contracting themselves and their horses to the printer and they were paid quarterly.[117] The distribution of books in this manner was clearly limited to what could be carried on horseback by a single rider. It is likely that small parcels of books were carried frequently, as the rider covered the route two or three times a week with the newspapers, and magazines were circulated monthly. Darby Connor, who delivered the Cork Gazette to Youghal twice a week in 1792, was willing to execute commands left for him at James Johnson’s stationery shop in Youghal, and at the Post Offices of Castlemartyr and Midleton.[118] A newspaper with a geographically extensive circulation needed numerous couriers, Finn’s Leinster Journal employed at least six or seven couriers to distribute the newspaper in the late 1760s and 1770s. In 1772 the Hibernian Chronicle was circulated by couriers to 26 towns in Cork, Limerick, Waterford and Kerry, ‘besides a great number to the different post-offices in the kingdom’.[119]

Not all couriers were as reliable as the printer wished. In 1768 Edmund Finn received complaints about his messengers who delivered the newspapers ‘in and about Waterford’. The precise nature of the complaints is not clear, but they seem to have concerned late delivery. Finn informed his subscribers that in future the newspapers would be delivered on the evening of publication, every Wednesday and Saturday, to the house of William Minchin, opposite the Ferry-slip.[120] In 1770 William Flyn’s courier was accused of stealing clothing in Youghal; he was proved innocent when the real thief was charged and committed to gaol.[121]

In 1772 Flyn was forced to apologise to subscribers of the Hibernian Chronicle for the delay in publishing the newspaper: ‘it was occasioned by the King’s Post not arriving til after 6 o’clock Friday morning, which should come in on Thursday night’.[122] Late delivery of the papers was also the issue in 1774 when Finn sought two or three new post-boys for the routes to Ballinakill, Durrow, Rathdowney, Mountrath, Maryborough, Mountmellick, Borris-in-Ossory and Roscrea. His existing messengers broke their contracts by not setting out from Kilkenny for six to eight hours after the papers were printed. The Journal was usually ready by 6 or 7 o’clock on the morning of publication and the riders did not set out until 12 or 1 o’clock, thus delaying delivery by half a day.[123] W.G. Moffat, printer of the Waterford Herald, received complaints from his subscribers on the Cork Road of being ‘irregularly served’ with the paper, a situation he determined to remedy immediately.[124]

The prompt delivery of newspapers to subscribers was of particular importance to all provincial printers; it was here that the competition lay, as well as in the amount of news printed. If a rival paper could reach its readers with fresher news, then subscribers would turn to that paper. In 1791 the Waterford Herald sought to maintain its readership in Cork by appointing James Daltera of the Mail Coach Office as its agent. In this way the delay of three hours at the Post Office before the paper was delivered could be avoided, and the paper circulated ‘immediately on the arrival of the mail coach’.[125]

In addition to individual subscriptions newspapers were made available in the coffee houses, a practice which dated in Ireland to the late seventeenth century. Dublin coffee houses were renowned for the range of newspapers which they carried. Coffee houses in the provincial towns followed suit in the second half of the eighteenth century, making a range of London, Dublin and local papers available to their customers. When D. Manly reopened the Merchant’s coffee house at the corner of Castle Street and North Main Street in Cork in 1795, he offered 20 newspapers and information sheets from London, Dublin, Cork, Waterford, Limerick, Kilkenny, Belfast and Derry.[126] From the 1770s Finn’s Leinster Journal was circulated to the London, Chapter, Peele’s and Chancery coffee houses in London, the Grove and Parade coffee houses in Bath, the Merchant’s coffee house in Cork and Nixon’s coffee house in Waterford.[127] In 1793 the Waterford Herald was available ‘at the principal coffee houses in Ireland, England and Scotland’.[128]


To understand the operation of the provincial newspaper business is to gain an insight into local trading and communication patterns, and thereby to an understanding of the national picture. The importance of the newspaper in shaping local opinions, and in mirroring local and national preoccupations is only beginning to be appreciated by historians. From the point of view of history of the book trade the newspaper is the key to understanding the wider trade. In the absence of printers’ ledgers and other contemporary data for the provincial book trade the newspaper, which represented the printer’s interests, is of inestimable value. The lines of communication established by the Post Office, and intensified by the newspaper carriers, helped to open up rural Ireland to broader ideas and an awareness of the world outside the community. As the newspaper press was exclusively in the English language it undoubtedly also played its part in the erosion of the Irish language.

This article was first published in Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society, 103, (1998), pp 67-88.

Images courtesy of Dublin City Library & Archive (www.dublincitypubliclibraries.ie )

[1] Robert Munter, The history of the Irish newspaper 1685-1760 (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1967).

[2] R. R. Madden, The history of Irish periodical literature, 2 volumes (London, T.C. Newby, 1867), 2, pp164-252.

[3] Surviving issues of Irish newspapers have been located and listed in James O’Toole, Newsplan: report of the Newsplan project in Ireland (Dublin, The British Library / National Library of Ireland, 1992). Newspapers are also listed in the Eighteenth-Century Short Title Catalogue (ESTC).

[4] Published by Robert Thornton and printed by Joseph Ray in 1685, the News-Letter is considered the first Irish newspaper. It was followed, after a break, by the Dublin Intelligence in 1690, also owned and published by Robert Thornton.

[5] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 30 January-2 February 1771. Agents took subscriptions in         Mitchelstown, Clogheen, Carrick, Callen, Kilkenny, Waterford, Dungarvan, Mullinahone, Thurles, Slevardagh, Killenaule, Cashel, Fethard and Clonmel.

[6] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 9-13 March 1771.

[7] A newspaper entitled the Clonmel Journal survives for 2 dates in 1800, 24 September and 1 October, but this was a different enterprise.

[8] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 8-12 May 1779. Busteed is likely to be John Busteed, printer in Cork, Ennis and Tralee, who was associated with the Cork Chronicle, Hibernian Morning Post (Cork), Clare Journal and Kerry Evening Post. Knox is likely to be Thomas Saunders Knox, printer in Cork and later in Ennis, proprietor of the Cork General Advertiser, 1776-78, and the Clare Journal until his death in 1802. Clare Journal 1 April 1802.

[9] Vincent Kinane, ‘A galley of pie: women in the Irish book trades’, Linen Hall Review (December 1991), pp 10-13.

[10] The Hibernian Magazine: or, compendium of entertaining knowledge (April, 1777), p. 296.

[11] Waterford Herald, 25 February 1792.

[12] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 31 January – 4 February 1767.

[13] Hibernian Chronicle, 27 August 1770.

[14] Wexford Herald, 4 August 1788.

[15] Ennis Chronicle, 14 February 1791.

[16] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 12-15 July 1769.

[17] Hibernian Chronicle, 18 June 1772.

[18] Robert Herbert, ‘An Eighteenth Century Limerick Printing Venture’, Irish Book Lover, 28 (1942), pp 104-12, letter to Sir Vere Hunt in Limerick from Stephen Parker, 30 December 1786, p.107.

[19] M. Pollard, Dublin’s trade in books 1550-1800 (Oxford, Clarendon Press, 1989), p. 120.

[20] Historical remarks of the city of Waterford from 853 to 1270 (Waterford, printed and sold by G. Wilson, [1736]).

[21] Waterford Herald, 6 September 1791; 27 September 1791.

[22] W.G. Strickland, ‘Type-founding in Dublin’, The Bibliographical Society of Ireland, II, no. 2 (1922), pp 23-32. Pollard, op. cit., pp 120-3.

[23] Herbert, loc. cit.

[24] Waterford Herald, 22 October 1791.

[25] Hibernian Chronicle, 31 May 1770.

[26] Ennis Chronicle, 30 June 1791.

[27] Cork Gazette, 8 September 1792. New Cork Evening Post, 7 October 1793.

[28] New Cork Evening Post, 16 December 1793.

[29] The Journals of the House of Commons of the Kingdom of Ireland, XIV (Dublin, printed by Abraham Bradley and Abraham Bradley King, 1782), p. 73, Table of imports of writing and printing paper into Ireland for 16 years from 1750 to 1765.

[30] Pollard has examined imports of paper from the Custom House ledgers. Pollard, op. cit., pp 145-6; for paper costs see pp 111-15.

[31] Limerick Chronicle, 13 October 1768; Finn’s Leinster Journal, 29 October-2 November 1768; Waterford Chronicle, 28 December 1770-1 January 1771.

[32] Charles Smith, The antient and present state of the county and city of Waterford (Dublin, printed by A. Reilly for the author, 1746), p. 284. Charles Smith, The antient and present state of the county and city of Cork, 2 volumes (Dublin, printed by A. Reilly for the author, 1750), II, p. 239.

[33] The Journals of the House of Commons of the Kingdom of Ireland, VIII (Dublin, printed by Abraham Bradley and Abraham Bradley King, 1782), pp 205; 215-6; IX (Dublin, printed by Abraham Bradley and Abraham Bradley King, 1782), pp 364, 370, 389, 514, 615.

[34] H. Ewen, ‘Paper making in Ireland’ in F.R. Higgins, ed., Progress in Irish printing (Dublin, Alex. Thom & Co., 1936), pp 51-64, p.56.

[35] Maurice Lenihan, Limerick; its history and antiquities (Dublin, Hodges, Smith & Co., 1866), p. 358.

[36] Cork Evening Post, 28 February 1763.

[37] The Journals of the House of Commons of the Kingdom of Ireland, XIII (Dublin, printed by Abraham Bradley and Abraham Bradley King, 1782), p. 411. Alf MacLochlainn, ‘Bagnells and Knights: publishers and papermakers in Cork’, The Irish Book, I, no. 3 (Autumn 1960), pp 70-4.

[38] The Journals of the House of Commons, op. cit., XIII, pp 517-8.

[39] Cork Evening Post, 24 February 1763; 26 May 1763; 11 July 1763.

[40] Cork Evening Post, 11 July 1763.

[41] Cork Evening Post, 30 July 1781.

[42] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 17-20 August 1768.

[43] The Journals of the House of Commons of the Kingdom of Ireland, XIV (Dublin, printed by Abraham Bradley and Abraham Bradley King, 1782), pp 684, 702. James W. Phillips, ‘A trial list of Irish papermakers 1690-1800’, The Library, fifth ser., XIII, no. 1 (March 1958), pp 59-62.

[44] John Phair (d.1774) of Brooklodge, near Riverstown, Cork, was succeeded in the papermaking business by Francis Phair (d.1781), Robert Phair (fl.1775) and Francis Phair (d.1823). William Phair (d.1812) of Millview, near Glanmire, was succeeded by William Phair (fl.1815-1826), who was in partnership with Francis Phair at North Main Street. Thomas Phair (d.1777) and Edward Phair (d.1786) were papermakers in Waterford. Francis Phair continued that business until at least 1824. The commercial directory of Ireland … for 1820-21, 1822 (Manchester, J. Pigot & Co., 1820), pp 176, 239. Pigot & Co.’s city of Dublin and Hibernia provincial directory (Manchester, J. Pigot & Co. 1824), pp 253, 322.

[45] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 23-26 March 1774.

[46] Hibernian Chronicle, 11 February 1773.

[47] Wexford Herald, 4 August 1788.

[48] Dublin Intelligence, 18 July 1702; 26 February 1708-09.

[49] Francis Dickson extracted news from the Paris, Harlem and Antwerp Gazettes in 1702, and from the Paris and London Gazettes, Leyden Gazette and Slip, the Paris and Hague Lettres à la main, Daily Courants, Post-Man, Flying Post and Post-Script and Manuscripts in 1706. Dublin Intelligence, 25 August-1 September 1702; 4 May 1706.

[50] Jeremy Black, The English press in the eighteenth century (Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1987), pp 88-9.

[51] Michael Harris, ‘Newspaper distribution during Queen Anne’s reign’ in Studies in the Book Trade in honour of Graham Pollard (Oxford, Oxford Bibliographical Society, 1975), pp 139-51.

[52] The Dublin Gazette was established in 1706 and continued until 1921. Its title then changed to Iris Oifigiúil which continues to be published

[53] Public Record Office Northern Ireland: LA79/2A/3A, ‘Corporation of Londonderry, minute book, 1704 to 1720’, May 1704, p. 9.

[54] Richard Caulfield, The council book of the corporation of Kinsale (Guildford, Surrey, J. Billing and Sons, 1879), p.182, 4 October 1688.

[55] Richard Caulfield, The council book of the corporation of Youghal (Guildford, Surrey, J. Billing and Sons, 1878), p.391, 23 February 1693/4; p.393, 16 January 1694/5.

[56] Ibid. p. 513, 11 December 1786.

[57] National Library of Ireland: Ms 42,103, ‘Ledger of accounts furnished by an agent supplying members of the British army, civilian and ecclesiastical establishment in Ireland, as well as private individuals … 1781 -1813.’ Newspaper titles supplied included London Chronicle, St James’s Chronicle, Courier, Statesman, Times, Globe, Observer, General Evening Post, Morning Chronicle, Public Advertiser, and Edinburgh Review. The Kildare Street Club in Dublin received the Paris and Amsterdam Gazettes in 1781.

[58] Richard Caulfield, The council book of the corporation of the city of Cork (Guildford, Surrey, J. Billing and Sons, 1876), p. 306, 24 June 1704; p. 363, 4 January 1713/4.

[59] Ibid., p. 379, 27 October 1715; p. 388, 21 January 1716/7.

[60] Ibid., Walter Pallisser 1746-1760: pp 640, 648, 650, 666, 680, 684, 690, 697, 704, 719, 724, 740. Edmond Browning 1761-1774: pp 747, 764, 772, 791, 810, 819, 831, 839, 849, 860, 870, 885, 896.

[61] Ibid., William Maturin 1776-1799: pp 911, 922, 933, 944, 949, 952, 956, 1000-1, 1091, 1132

[62] Waterford Herald, 5 July 1791.

[63] Waterford Herald, 10 August 1793.

[64] Waterford Herald, 7 February 1793.

[65] Waterford Herald, 3 October 1793.

[66] New Cork Evening Post, 28 November 1793.

[67] Munter, op. cit., pp 157-68.

[68] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 23-26 December 1767.

[69] Hibernian Chronicle, 2 January 1772.

[70] Memoirs of James Saint-John M.D., author of Letters from France … also of Coronet and plumage – a poem and other productions, 2 volumes (Dublin, P. Byrne, 1792). Waterford Herald, 1 March 1792; 25 October 1792; 27 October 1792; 6 December 1792.

[71] Waterford Herald, 30 October 1792.

[72] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 15-18 July 1767.

[73] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 23-26 December 1767; 2-6 January 1773.

[74] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 19-21 March 1768.

[75] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 3-6 August 1768.

[76] Pollard, op. cit., pp 21-4.

[77] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 19-23 February 1774; 18-22 June 1774.

[78] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 19-23 February 1774.

[79] Pollard, op. cit., p. 29.

[80] Finn’s Leinster Journal (Kilkenny) 1766-1965; Kerry Evening Post (Tralee) 1774-1917; Clare Journal (Ennis) 1778-1917; Waterford Chronicle 1765-1849; Wexford Herald 1787-1865; Ennis Chronicle 1784-1831; Chute’s Western Herald (Tralee) 1791-1835.

[81] Caoimhín Ó Danachair, ‘Oral tradition and the printed word’, Irish University Review, 9, no. 1 (1979), pp 31-41; p.36. Report of the Commissioners appointed to take the Census of Ireland for the year 1841 (Dublin, Thom, 1843), pp xxxii-xl; pp 438-9.

[82] Freeman’s Journal, 20 December 1794.

[83] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 15-18 July 1767.

[84] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 27-30 January 1768.

[85] Hibernian Chronicle, 31 December 1770; 2 January 1772.

[86] John Lee was clerk of the Munster road from at least 1764 to 1766. He is not to be        identified with John Lees, secretary of the Irish Post Office from 1774, who came to Ireland with Lord Townshend in 1767. Thomas Jones was clerk of the Munster Road from 1768 to 1776. William Maturin Esq. held the position from 1776 to 1809 and he supplied Cork Corporation with newspapers in this period. He was succeeded in office by P. Thomson Esq. in 1810. Watson’s Almanack 1764-1810. F.E. Dixon, ‘Irish postal history’, Dublin Historical Record, XXIII (July 1970), pp 127-36

[87] Dublin Mercury, 25-28 July 1767.

[88] Connaught Journal, 25 July 1793.

[89] Dublin Chronicle, 2 August 1791.

[90] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 15-19 August 1767.

[91] In 1762 a ‘young and lofty camel, lately brought from Grand Cairo in Egypt’ arrived in Waterford and was to be shown at the ensuing assizes in Cork. Public Gazetteer, 24 August 1762. I am indebted to Kieran Sheedy for the information that prospective political candidates were introduced into local society and their political ambitions were promoted at the assizes.

[92] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 31 July-4 August 1773; 28 August-1 September 1773; 30 July-3 August 1774.

[93] Hibernian Chronicle, 30 March 1772.

[94] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 11-14 March 1772.

[95] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 3-6 March 1773; 1-4 September 1773.

[96] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 5-9 March 1774; 16-19 March 1774.

[97] Ennis Chronicle, 27 July 1789.

[98] Cork Gazette, 10 September 1791.

[99] Waterford Herald, 4 February 1792.

[100] Waterford Herald, 15 January 1793.

[101] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 19-21 March 1768.

[102] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 2-6 January 1773.

[103] Ennis Chronicle, 29 April 1790; 14 February 1791.

[104] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 13-16 July 1768.

[105] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 13-17 March 1773.

[106] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 19-23 February 1774.

[107] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 10-14 September 1768; 28 August-1 September 1773; 23-27 April 1774.

[108] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 21-25 January 1769.

[109] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 21-23 March 1768.

[110] Hibernian Chronicle, 30 July 1770.

[111] Limerick Chronicle, 13 March 1769; 15 February 1779.

[112] Watson’s Almanack lists post towns, rates of postage and frequency of service on an annual basis.

[113] John Feather, The provincial book trade in eighteenth-century England (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1985).

[114] The Orrery papers, ed. by the Countess of Cork and Orrery, 2 volumes (London, Duckworth and Co., 1903), 2, pp 31-2.

[115] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 13-16 July 1768; 19-13 February 1774.

[116] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 21-25 February 1767; 10-13 August 1768; 2-5 June 1773.

[117] Hibernian Chronicle, 16 July 1772.

[118] Cork Gazette, 18 April 1792.

[119] Kinsale, Bandon, Bantry, Skibereen, Clonakilty, Rosscarbery, Berehaven, Skull, Mallow, Buttevant, Charleville, Limerick, Youghal, Midleton, Cloyne, Castlemartyr, Lismore, Tallow, Cobh, Passage, Macroom, Killarney, Shanagh, Castleisland, Tralee and Dingle. Hibernian Chronicle, 2 January 1772.

[120] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 13-17 August 1768.

[121] Hibernian Chronicle, 23 July 1770.

[122] Hibernian Chronicle, 17 December 1772.

[123] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 2-5 March 1774.

[124] Waterford Herald, 19 September 1793.

[125] Waterford Herald, 5 July 1791; 14 July 1791.

[126] The Star, Courier, London Gazette, London Prices Current, Lloyd’s List, Imports and Exports, Dublin Evening Post, Dublin Journal, Hibernian Journal, Knight’s Cork Evening Post, Flin’s Hibernian Chronicle, Cork Gazette, Waterford Herald, Ramsey’s Waterford Chronicle, Limerick Herald, Limerick Chronicle, Northern Star, Leinster Journal, Londonderry Chronicle, and Cove List. Cork Gazette, 31 October 1795.

[127] Finn’s Leinster Journal, 31 December-3 January 1778; 24-28 October 1778.

[128] Waterford Herald, 28 May 1793.


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