Early Newsletters

  • 16 Jan 2012
  • Newspaper Surveys
  • Back
Provincial newspapers did not exist until the 18th century. Before then however, there were newsletters written by 'reporters' employed by persons of rank to keep them informed of happenings during their absence from Court. During the Civil War, Charles 1 and the Parliament each had news sheets, called 'Mercuries' (a title imported from France), generally priced at a penny, and published 'in the field' at wherever the contending forces happened to be. At the end of the war there was strict supervision of the press. In 1662 an Act of Parliament was passed restricting it to London and the two Universities. In 1663 a 'licenser' was appointed, endowed with the sole privilege of writing, printing, and publishing all narratives, Mercuries, Diurnals, and Intelligences, with power to search for and seize all unlicensed and treasonable books and papers. Yet in spite of these restrictions, between the years 1661 and 1668 seventy new journals were started, though persecution drove most of them out of the field. Even so, between 1668-92 there were 26 new papers.