The first daily newspapers were published in the opening years of the 18th century, and by its end every region had at least one local title. Daniel Defoe forged the style of journalism with which we’re familiar in his Review (1703-1713), while Samuel Johnson found his niche at the Gentleman’s Magazine, now online at bodley. ox.ac.uk/ilej/journals and Ancestry.co.uk. National broadsheets including The Times and the Observer were born during this period. The latter is searchable back to 1791 at pqasb. pqarchiver.com/guardian/advancedsearch. html and The Times Digital Archive from 1785 is available through many libraries.
The British Library News Room provides access to the largest collection of original, microfilmed and digitised newspapers (see bl.uk/subjects/news-media). It is home to the Burney Collection of pamphlets and papers collected by Revd Charles Burney in the 18th century. Hundreds of provincial titles have also been scanned into britishnewspaperarchive. co.uk (available on findmypast.co.uk) where they are word searchable.
In contrast to late 19th- century newspapers, earlier papers were subjected to stamp duty, making them expensive. Notices of births, marriages and deaths are not terribly lengthy, tending to focus on well-to-do members of society. They became more diverse towards the end of the century, the Bristol Mercury of 1 March 1790 lamenting the death of William Arkel, a “poor old pensioner with two wooden legs, who for many years sat under a shed in the Grove, Bath, knitting purses toward his support”. The provincials also dedicated columns to shipping news, classified adverts, notices of bankrupts and crimes of passion.
The first issue of from 1785,