On this day

December 4, 1836

cover page of Weekly Chronicle (London) published on December 4, 1836

Weekly Chronicle (London)

Issues

2,042

Pages

34,278

Available years

1836-1867

The first issue of The Weekly Chronicle appeared on Sunday 18 September 1836, with a masthead of Father Time and Britannia, standing to the left and right of a plinth, supporting tablets denoting Past, Present, and Future. The publishers of The Weekly Chronicle, Robert Gadsden and Raymond Percival had previously collaborated on The London Amusement Guide, which was published for just four issues between 18 September and 2 October 1836.

The front page of the first issue featured a balloon ascent, and later in the issue was the first installment of ‘Sketches by Figaro’, a series of satirical political illustrations (‘Comicalities’). This shows the Duke of Wellington, wearing his distinctive cocked hat, battling a number of other politicians. This comical illustration continued in the next issue, but drew protests from the more serious minded of the newspaper’s readers, who wrote to complain that they were being deprived of information, which forced future issues of ‘Comicalities’ to be printed on a separate sheet, issued each fortnight.

Originally owned by Charles Buller and Henry Cole, the paper was purchased by 1838 by Henry George Ward, M.P., who became expert on colonial matters. A change of management in 1849 elicited an Editorial: ‘The Weekly Chronicle appears from this day forward under new management … It has been true, from its first hour, to the cause of progressive and practical reform; that whilst it is specially a Political paper, the Literary, the Scientific, the Commercial man, the Sporting hero, the Financier, and the Speculator, will find in it the most interesting information … we hope to place the Weekly Chronicle before the public as a not unworthy exponent of the views of the great Liberal Party of the British Empire.’

For much of its early run, the Weekly Chronicle published two editions. The ‘country edition’ was produced on a Saturday evening, to ensure distribution outside London, while the ‘latest edition’ was produced on Sunday morning. By 1845 there were three editions per week: ‘Town Edition - Saturday’, ‘Town and County Edition - Sunday’, and ‘Town Edition - Latest edition – Sunday Morning’. By January 1851, the paper stated its publication cycle, underneath its masthead: ‘The first edition of the Weekly Chronicle is published at four o’clock on Saturday Morning and may be had the same day 300 miles from London: - the SECOND EDITION (with twelve hours later intelligence) at noon; and the SUNDAY EDITION (containing the new that reaches the Metropolis up to the hour of going to press) at four o’clock on Sunday Morning, in time for transmission by the early trains. Advertisements are inserted in the Three Editions without extra charge. All offensive quack advertisements are rigidly excluded.’

By the mid-1840s the layout of the paper was uniform, with the page one leader entitled ‘History and Politics’, and a page four editorial. Up to date reporting was attempted with departments such as ‘Yesterday’s Police’, as well as ‘Latest Intelligence’. The ‘Provincial’ department listed printed events, in alphabetical order by town/ city. In 1845 paper proclaimed its allegiance by devoting the whole of its front page (together with a large engraving of the event) to an account of a visit to the opening of the Anti-Corn Law League Bazaar, held in Covent Garden Theatre. Book reviews were a regular feature, such as that of Mrs. Trollope’s ‘The Old World & the New’, published by Henry Colburn. Small advertisements were printed on page one.

The paper announced its enlargement to sixteen pages per issue, from February 1851, and in June of that year it changed its title to The Weekly News and Chronicle. This change likely coincided with William Tweedie taking over as publisher. Tweedie was a leader of the temperance movement, and published temperance pamphlets on his own account, which he advertised in the pages of the newspaper. During the war, reports from the Crimea were made in detail each week, with eye-witness accounts, and the treatment of the sick at Scutari hospital; the death columns grew in number as lives were lost in the war, after the battle of Alma and the Siege of Sebastopol. With a title change (reverting back) to The Weekly Chronicle from January 1855, Richard Kinder became the publisher of the paper. The title changed again to The Weekly Chronicle and Register, from September that year, with a reduction in price to 4d (stamped), but an increased size of 24 pages per issue. More advertisements were carried for Insurance Companies, and there was a weekly Editorial on page 20, headed: ‘The Register of Insurance’.

In 1864, the title changed again to The Weekly Chronicle and Register of Banking, Insurance, Railway and Mining Companies, Trade and Commerce. By 1867, the newspaper had reduced back down to sixteen pages. The commercial and trade content increased, and predominated by 1867. However, political reporting continued, with a leader each week on a political or social question. Howard Glover wrote reviews of recently performed music, such as Berlioz’s Romeo and Juliet and for a performance of Verdi’s Don Carlos at Covent Garden. Frederick Farah, a radical publisher, had taken over operations of the paper by 1867, and occasionally took out whole page advertisements for his other publications.

Ed King, The British Library

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

  • 1836–51 The Weekly Chronicle.
  • 1851–54 The Weekly News and Chronicle.
  • 1855–55 The Weekly Chronicle.
  • 1855–64 The weekly chronicle and register.
  • 1864–67 The Weekly Chronicle and Register of Banking, Insurance, Railway and Mining Companies,Trade and Commerce.

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 Nov 21, 2018 . The latest issues were added in Jul 15, 2021.

Restriction

Part of this title is available only on British Library premises