On this day January 17, 1857
Isle of Wight Observer
The Isle of Wight Observer was first founded by Ebenezer Hartnall in December 1845. He had come to the Isle of Wight by the early 1840s and set up as a printer. The newspaper ceased publication on 27 June 1846, after thirty issues had been published. The causes of its demise were likely to have been a combination of low sales, stamp duty and the tax on advertisements. It was an apprentice of Hartnall's, George Butler, who then re-established the title in September 1852. Issue no. 2 contains the prospectus for the newspaper. In it, four main points were promised to its readers:
I. "To supply the Isle of Wight with a full and impartial account of all kinds of intelligence.
II. To embrace all kinds of information relating to London and Local Markets.
III. To offer a channel of the expression of public opinion upon all matters bearing upon the general interests of the Isle of Wight.
IV. To offer a useful Advertising Medium [to the] 50,000 inhabitants and 10,000 visitors of the Isle of Wight..."
After the death of the Duke of Wellington on 14 September 1852, Martin Tupper wrote his Dirge for Wellington; this was published on 9 October 1852 in the Isle of Wight Observer , the first of twenty-three verses being:
"A voice of lamentation
From the Islands of the Sea!
Alas, thou sorrowing Nation
Bereav'd—Alas for Thee!
The wail of a mother
Weeping for her son, —
When shall she bear another
Like that Illustrious One!"
George Butler continued to publish the paper until 1865. After this, until 1893, Hannah Butler is listed in Mitchell's Press Directory as the Proprietress. From 1894 to 1900, J.C. Hartnall is given as the Proprietor. [It is likely that this was John Chamberlain Hartnall, the son of Ebenezer Hartnall.]
Island events feature prominently in the newspaper. Photography was reported regularly, from the early 1850s, as commercial photographers established themselves on the island. Amongst the many court cases written about, that of William Yelf is notable. He was a printer, bookbinder and Secretary to the Isle of Wight Savings Bank. The Isle of Wight Observer carried an item on 23 April 1853 detailing the charges made against him at the Borough Sessions--that of fraud and embezzlement from the Bank, to the sum of 4,182 pounds. In its report of the Hants Summer Assizes printed 16 July 1853, Yelf was found guilty and sentenced to transportation for life.
The paper continued publication until 1922, when it was incorporated into the Isle of Wight Times.
For this newspaper, we have the following titles in, or planned for, our digital archive:
- 1852–1900 Isle of Wight Observer
This newspaper is published by an unknown publisher in Ryde, Isle of Wight, England. It was digitised and first made available on the British Newspaper Archive in May 2, 2013. The latest issues were added in Mar 3, 2015.