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Industrial Revolution: 1770s to 1830s

Culture and Leisure

Books and Newspapers

By W Hamish Fraser

On Taste By 1770 Glasgow had two newspapers, the Courant and the Journal. In 1775, John Robb launched the Glasgow Chronicle which survived until 1779 when it was bought over and absorbed into the older Journal, owned by Peter Tait. A new paper, the Mercury, appeared that same year and survived until 1796. The origin of today's Herald newspaper lies with the Glasgow Advertiser, first published by John Mennons in 1783. It was in 1801 that the name Herald was added to the title and three years later Advertiser was dropped and it became the Glasgow Herald. Its new owners were Samuel Hunter & Co. and the paper came out twice a week on Mondays and Fridays. It was conservative in its politics and the same was true of the Courier, launched in 1791. As a result there were various attempts to give an alternative voice reflecting more radical attitudes. The first of a number of Glasgow Sentinels appeared in 1809 and survived for a couple of years. It came out three times a week, exposed political scandals and supported parliamentary reform. It was bought over by David Prentice and became the second Glasgow Chronicle in 1811. Others such as the Caledonia, the Scotchman, the Western Star and the Glasgow Packet had brief existences.

Tait's Directory p46 After 1815 the demands for political change grew louder and were taken up by new papers. Gilbert MacLeod's Spirit of the Union at the end of 1819 denounced Parliament as a "house of corruption" and landed the editor and publisher as convicts in the penal colony at Botany Bay, Australia. A second Glasgow Sentinel tried again in 1821 and a Glasgow Free Press in 1823, but only Robert Malcolm's Scots Times survived into the 1830s.

The mid-18th century had seen a dramatic increase in the number of books and pamphlets published in the city and of booksellers to distribute them. John Smith opened his still-surviving bookshop in 1751. The two brothers who had founded the best known Glasgow publishers, the Foulis Press, both died in the 1770s and the firm survived only for twenty years after their deaths. In 1809 John Blackie took over the firm of W D & A Brownlie and began publishing mainly religious texts. A number of publishers tried their hand at magazines and periodicals. John Mennons launched the Glasgow Magazine and Review or Universal Miscellany in 1783. There were other short-lived ones with titles like the Phoenix, the Selector and the Torch.

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