Newcastle Journal (1739–1788)

The Newcastle Journal was a folio-sized weekly newspaper published in Newcastle-upon-Tyne from 1739 to 1788.


William Cuthbert and the Quaker printer Isaac Thompson (1703–1776) printed a prospectus for a new Newcastle newspaper in January 1739. The enterprise, they announced, would be sustained by strict political impartiality:

We declare we have no Design to enter into the Service of a Party, not to set our selves up in Opposition to any present Paper, or Publisher of News; but only to carry on an Affair, in a Manner as useful and entertaining to the Publick in general as any thing of its Kind extant. We shall therefore cautiously avoid the Rancour and Ill-nature of all Factions, Sects, political Distinctions, and particular Interests; tho' we shall make an impartial Use of every Side and Party to come at the Truth, and omit nothing in our Power, either of Information, or agreeable Amusement.

— Cuthbert and Thompson, Proposals for publishing a news-paper, to be entitled, The Newcastle Journal.[1]

Facing down mockery from the existing Newcastle Courant, the first issue of the Newcastle Journal appeared on 7 April 1739. By the summer the editors claimed they were selling "nearly 2000 of these Papers weekly".[2] They also claimed a wide regional circulation, with agents in towns as far afield as Berwick and Newhaven, Derbyshire.[3]


In the competition between the Journal and the Courant, each newspaper "consciously struck a balance between sales and politics".[4] The Newcastle Journal robustly defended its right to print opposition speeches, such as the April 1740 speech against the government by John Campbell, 2nd Duke of Argyll in the House of Lords.[5] In 1742 the newspaper included an anonymous criticism of David Hume's essay on the character of Robert Walpole, to which Hume replied in the Scots Magazine.[6]

Later historyEdit

Thompson continued printing the Journal until the end of his life, though he also published the Newcastle General Magazine from 1746 to 1760. The printer Thomas Slack worked with Thompson at the Newcastle Journal throughout the 1750s. However, the two men fell out, and in 1764 Slack attempted his own weekly newspaper, the Newcastle Chronicle, in competition with the Newcastle Journal.[7]

In 1773 the Newcastle Journal claimed circulation over an area with a 600-mile circumference.[3] After Thompson's death in 1776, the paper was bought by T. Robson and Co, who printed it from 1778 to 1788.[8] The paper ceased publication in April 1788.[9]


  1. ^ Roy McKeen Wiles (1965). Freshest advices: early provincial newspapers in England (PDF). Ohio State University Press. p. 33. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  2. ^ Newcastle Journal, 15 July 1739. Cited in Roy McKeen Wiles (1965). Freshest advices: early provincial newspapers in England (PDF). Ohio State University Press. p. 97. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b Bob Harris (2012). Politics and the Rise of the Press: Britain and France 1620-1800. Taylor & Francis. p. 13. ISBN 978-0-415-12273-3. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  4. ^ William Speck (1986). "Politics and the Press". In Michael Harris; Alan John Lee (eds.). The Press in English Society from the Seventeenth to Nineteenth Centuries. Associated University Presse. pp. 61–3. ISBN 978-0-8386-3272-7. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  5. ^ Jeremy Black (2004). Parliament and Foreign Policy in the Eighteenth Century. Cambridge University Press. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-521-83331-8. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  6. ^ David Hume Bibliography. Accessed 9 January 2013.
  7. ^ "Slack, Thomas [pseud. S. Thomas]". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/64284. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  8. ^ Trade and manufactures, Historical Account of Newcastle-upon-Tyne: Including the Borough of Gateshead (1827), pp. 715-730. Online version accessed 9 January 2013.
  9. ^ Local Studies Library User Guide No. 3: Local Newspapers. Accessed 9 January 2013.