On this day

March 4, 1820

cover page of Cobbett's Evening Post published on March 4, 1820

Cobbett's Evening Post

Issues

55

Pages

220

Available years

1820

Cobbett’s Evening Post was a daily newspaper launched by William Cobbett in January 1820. Cobbett was already a well-known radical publisher, famous for producing his weekly Political Register, which ran from 1802 until after his death in 1835. The Evening Post was his second attempt at producing a daily, following The Porcupine, which he launched in 1800, but which ceased publication in 1801, shortly after he sold it. However, the Evening Post ran for only three months, closing at the beginning of April 1820.

The format for the Evening Post was similar to many other daily London newspapers at this time, as was much of the content, which included details of the mails, stock prices, court reports and general, foreign and political news. Cobbett, and therefore the Evening Post, had a reformist agenda, and therefore frequent coverage was given to reform meetings, the working conditions of the poor, and to press freedom. Advertisements were accepted, usually printed on page one, but they reduced in number as publication progressed. Frequently, these were of a medicinal nature, such as ‘Dr. Sibley’s Solar Tincture’, or ‘Pindin’s Patent Trusses’. It appears that more than one edition could be printed, with the Editorial from 16 February stating: ‘We gave circulation in the Second and Third Edition yesterday, to a rumour of great consequence from Carlton Palace.’

The death of George III on 29 January 1820, and his subsequent funeral were reported in great detail. Cobbett’s support of the rights of the new Queen, Caroline of Brunswick, and his distrust of the behaviour of the new King, George IV were also clearly reflected by coverage in the newspaper. The death of King George III also resulted in the dissolution of parliament and a general election, and Cobbett stood for election in Coventry. He used the Evening Post as a voice piece for his campaign, and also to raise funds for it, opening a subscription: ‘Cobbett’s Fund for Reform’. In 12 February issue, he printed a list of all those who subscribed to the Fund, with the majority of donations of between 2 pence and five shillings; however, the ‘Friends from Yarmouth’ raised £7.9s.11d, and the total monies raised by this date was £2461.6s.2d. Details of the polling for the Coventry election were published from 9 March onwards, but after initial optimism, it became clear that the tactics of Cobbett’s two main rivals, Ellice and Moore, would prevail against Cobbett and his supporters. Cobbett had no choice but to accept the result, which was confirmed in the list of the ‘New Parliament’, published on 1 April 1820– the last issue that Cobbett published. Cobbett’s Evening Post was primarily a vehicle for promoting his Parliamentary campaign, and in a notice in 29 March issue, he states that the Evening Post will be shortly ceasing publication so that he can focus on his Weekly Register.

Cobbett was optimistic about publishing a successor to the Evening Post. An article appearing in the Political Register at the end of December 1821, and copied in various other journals including Saunder’s News-letter, made it clear that the new newspaper was to be titled: ‘The Gridiron’, and suggested it would appear in the following February. Despite this hopeful notice, The Gridiron does not appear to have been published.

Cobbett’s Evening Post remains an example of how a reformer such as Cobbett sought, through the agency of a daily newspaper with up-to-date news and opinion, to mobilize support for political reform, and to draw attention to the wider injustices being carried out by the government of the day. Despite the setback of 1820, he continued his campaigns for reform and he won a seat in parliament in Oldham in 1832.

Ed King, The British Library

For this newspaper, we have the following titles in, or planned for, our digital archive:

  • 1820–20 Cobbett's Evening Post.

This newspaper is published by an unknown publisher in London, London, England. It was digitised and first made available on the British Newspaper Archive in Jul 10, 2021 . The latest issues were added in Jul 10, 2021.