The Freeman's Journal was established in Dublin in 1763 by Charles Lucas, and remained in circulation throughout the following century. It was a four-page daily paper until it doubled in size in 1872. In 1854 at least three Irish newspapers enjoyed far larger readerships than the Journal, but by 1900 it could claimed to be 'the leading Irish newspaper' in its weekly advertisements.
The Freeman's Journal played a central part in British nineteenth-century politics and the Irish movement for Home Rule. Until the late 1830s the Journal was a mouthpiece of rule from London, receiving subsidies for the publication of proclamations and containing very little Irish news. However, under the ownership of John Gray (a Protestant MP in William Gladstone's government), the Freeman's Journal became an increasingly influential Liberal paper that was often critical of the British government. The paper advocated reform of Dublin municipal government and of land-holding systems, and called for the disestablishment of the Anglican Church in Ireland and for Catholic educational rights. Following his father's death in 1875, Edmund Dwyer Gray, as a convert to Catholicism and an MP, strengthened the role of the Journal in the growing nationalist agitation for Home Rule, as well as in campaigns for public health reforms in Dublin.
This long-term editorial stance made the Freeman's Journal feared and renowned in England. In Henry Bourne Fox's study of journalism of 1887 ( English Newspapers: Chapters in the History of Journalism ), he described the Journal as 'dangerous and reprehensible' and claimed that it was read 'even by Liberals, with horror and resentment' (p.366). Nevertheless, in Ireland the newspaper thrived, becoming a limited liability company in 1886, publishing extensively on Irish news, sport and trade, and by 1900 including occasional articles in Gaelic.
For this newspaper, we have the following titles in, or planned for, our digital archive:
- 1763–84 The Public Register or Freeman's Journal.
- 1807–1911 Freeman's Journal and Daily Commercial Advertiser
This newspaper is published by Independent News and Media PLC in Dublin, Dublin, Republic of Ireland. It was digitised and first made available on the British Newspaper Archive in May 5, 2013 . The latest issues were added in Jan 31, 2018.