The Aberdeen Journal was founded in 1747 as Aberdeen's Journal, changing its name in 1748. Throughout the nineteenth century, control lay with successive generations of the original owners, the Chalmers family. Until 1849, the paper was also edited by the Chalmers family: James until 1810, then David. William Forsyth, the first Journal editor who was not a Chalmers, held the position until 1878, followed by Archibald Gillies (1879-1884 and 1890-1894) and Charles MacCaskie (1887-1889). David Pressley became editor in 1894 and served beyond 1900.
The Journal appeared only once a week until 1876, one reason being that: 'the proverbial frugality, amounting almost to parsimony, of the inhabitants of this part of the kingdom, prevents any paper published more frequently than once a week, from obtaining a circulation of any considerable extent.' In the first half of the nineteenth century, the paper comfortably saw off several challengers, and its 1832 circulation of 2,231 copies a week was well above both the Scotsman (1,914) and the Glasgow Herald (1,615). Its major long-term rival was the Liberal Aberdeen Free Press, launched in 1853. The Journal's circulation then stalled: from 3,500 weekly sales in 1855, it only reached about 4,000 in 1870.
The paper was consistently pro-Conservative throughout the nineteenth century, although it did not give prominence to political issues until the 1830s, when its Toryism became more explicit: for example, it defended the Corn Laws. In religious matters, it was a consistent supporter of the Church of Scotland.
Technical and journalistic innovations contributed to the paper's success. In 1830, it became the first Scottish paper to use steam for printing, and in 1896 linotyping replaced hand typesetting. From the 1840s, specialist leader writers were employed, most notably William Forsyth, who during his editorship much improved the literary contents of the paper.
For this newspaper, we have the following titles in, or planned for, our digital archive:
1747–99 Aberdeen Journal.
1798–1899 The Aberdeen Journal and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland
1876–1903 Aberdeen Weekly Journal and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland
1877–1901 Aberdeen Journal, and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland