Keynote Speaker

Professor Joad Raymond

(Queen Mary, University of London)

Full List of Speakers

Professor Joad Raymond

(Queen Mary University of London)

'Bundling the News'



Davide Boerio received a BA in History and an MA in Historical Sciences from the University of Naples ‘Federco II’. He is a Phd candidate in European history at Università degli studi di Teramo and University College of Cork. . His area of research centres on the political and social history of Early Modern Europe, with a particular emphasis on the History of Political Information. He is Junior Research Fellow at Medici Archive Project, where he is working at the project ‘The Birth of News. A program in Early Modern Media Studies’.

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Mr Davide Boerio

(University of Teramo and UCC Medici Archive Project)

‘The Storm of News: Political Information between the British Isles and Italy during the mid-1640s’

During the Mid-Seventeenth Century, Europe experienced a revolutionary wave whose impact transcended the borders of single countries. The years 1647-48 represent the apex of a long period of challenges to political powers. The outcomes (i.e. the British Revolution, the Neapolitan Rebellion and the French Fronde, just to mention the most relevant ones) would changed profoundly the political, social and cultural framework of the Old Continent. My paper tries to suggest that the dissemination of political information created the conditions through which new political ideas and practices were publicly developed, exchanged and debated throughout Early Modern Europe.

It analyses information which passed through diplomatic channels, for instance, manuscript and printed gazettes between Florence and the British Isles sent by the Tuscany envoy in London, Amerigo Salvetti; or the news flow between the Roman Curia and the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland, Giovanni Battista Rinuccini. These examples will prove not only how the diplomatic entourage reported on similar events, but also how it reacted to exceptional conjunctures.

Moreover, my paper will try to figure out the movement of news not only through the geographical space but also within a variegated media landscape. Through the analysis of the contents and materiality of information, on the one hand, we will see how news went from a manuscript from to a printed one; on the other, their renegotiation in other cultural contexts following their translation in different languages and the appearance in different early modern political arena.

This approach could help us link again not only important events which were artificially separated by the narrative of national historiographies, but also to balance the dichotomy of some historical categories, such as printing/writing and public/private.

Dr Siv Gøril Brandtzæg

(Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

‘Novel advertisements in British and Irish newspapers of the eighteenth century'

Advertisements afford perhaps the closest view into the everyday life of the eighteenth-century public. These numerous small texts are, as Addison would have it ‘Account[s] of News from the little World’, and through a study of advertisements we can gain a glimpse of readers’ commercial opportunities on any day of the eighteenth century. Moreover, for the book historian and bibliographer, the importance of advertisements is obvious: they provide information on prices, formats, numbers of editions, subscription proposals, and they can shed light on the role of booksellers as newspaper proprietors. Despite this, advertisements in general, and advertisements of books in particular, remain one of the significant blind spots within eighteenth-century newspaper studies.

Using digital newspaper archives such as Burney and the British Newspaper Archive, this paper will present novel advertising data from the years 1680-1800, aiming to show how extensively novels were announced in the newspapers of the period. Whilst focusing on London newspapers, the paper will also present some examples of novel advertisements in Irish newspapers, showing how a novel advertisement travelled, and exposing some fascinating differences between the English metropolitan advertisements and the Irish ones.


Siv Gøril Brandtzæg is post-doctoral researcher at the university of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway (NTNU). She has published on eighteenth-century literature and periodical criticism and is currently working on the book Advertising the Novel in Eighteenth-Century British Newspapers, which is part of the interdisciplinary research project Enlightenment News.

Professor Laurent Curelly

(Université de Haute Alsace)

‘How much of a Leveller newsbook was The Moderate? ‘

The association between the English Civil War newsbook The Moderate and the Levellers has gone unchallenged ever since seventeenth-century periodicals became objects of analysis. In his Whiggish narrative of the British press, J.B. Williams (aka J. G. Muddiman) referred to it as a ‘Leveller organ’, and so did the left-wing journalist and essayist H. N. Brailsford in his monograph on the Levellers. More recent studies have avoided using the institutional ‘organ’ label but have repeatedly characterised The Moderate as a pro-Leveller news sheet, without taking into consideration the fact that the Levellers were not a monolithic group, that a number of their concerns were shared by other political actors, especially in the autumn of 1648 and, importantly, that newspapers’ allegiances may also have been shaped by commercial imperatives in such a highly competitive market as the Civil War news market.

I wish to qualify the idea that The Moderate was inherently committed to the Levellers’ cause by re-examining the evidence that we have of its political positioning. I will draw upon contemporary sources, especially the royalist press, which can be helpful provided one takes account of the newspapers’ hidden agenda and their polemical intentions. I will mostly concentrate on the content of Moderate issues, in particular editorials, petitions as well as the treatment of news related to the Levellers, such as the publication of their pamphlets and the reports on the death of Thomas Rainsborough in October 1648 and on the suppression of Leveller mutinies in April and May 1649. I will study how much this content evolved over time in comparison with the news included in other parliamentary newsbooks in order to decide whether The Moderate was an unwavering supporter of the Leveller movement, as has long been assumed, or whether its activism may have resulted from its author’s business acumen and/or adroit adjustment to changing political circumstances. I hope that this paper will contribute to a better understanding of the identity, however elusive, of this intriguing newsbook.


Laurent Curelly is a Senior Lecturer in British Studies at the Université de Haute Alsace in Mulhouse, France. He specialises in seventeenth-century English literature and history and is particularly interested in the British Civil War press and the dissemination of radicalism in mid- seventeenth-century Britain. He has written a number of articles on both topics, and has co-edited with Nigel Smith a volume of essays on the diffusion of radicalism in early modern Britain, to be published by Manchester UP this year. He has also published a translation into French of the Moderate editorials and is currently writing a monograph on this very newsbook.

Dr Suzanne Forbes

(Open University)

‘Tory printing in Ireland after the Succession Crisis (1713-14)’

The years preceding Queen Anne's death in August 1714 had seen the emergence of a partisan press in Dublin as whig and tory party sentiment soared in both England and Ireland. The dramatic purge of tory partisans from the Irish administration following the accession of George I, had crushed the tory interest in Ireland, ushering in the period of whig dominance that followed. While this eclipse of the tories from Irish political life is well documented in the historiography of the period, far less clear is the effect that this dramatic political shift had on the Irish print trade and those printers and newspaper proprietors who had thrown themselves so enthusiastically into the partisan struggle as the succession crisis had loomed. This paper will investigate the fate of Irish tory printers after 1714 and consider changes in the output of the Dublin press as a whole in the immediate aftermath of the accession of George I.


Suzanne Forbes is a lecturer in history at The Open University, Milton Keynes. Her PhD research looked at print and popular politics in late seventeenth- and early eighteenth- century Ireland. Since finishing her PhD in 2012, she has taught at the School of History and Archives, University College Dublin and the National Print Museum Culture and Heritage Local Training Initiative.

Professor Paul Goring

(Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

‘'I saw the Man, that saw the Man, that said he saw this wondrous Sight': George III's coronation and the newspapers’

This paper explores the role of the newspaper as witness or vicarious witness in the context of ‘spectacular politics’: the type of political pageantry or display which, to be effective, requires mass witnessing. What alternative to actual witnessing can be provided by the mediated ‘seeing’ offered by newspapers? The paper will examine the newspaper accounts of the preparations for George III’s coronation in September 1761, and of the day itself, and will bring to light a tension at the time between a traditional view of spectatorship and a modernizing attitude which lauds the power of the newspapers to perform the witness function. The paper will suggest that increasing professionalization of papers such as the St. James’s Chronicle (launched earlier in 1761) produced in some readers a new allegiance to mediated experience – a faith in the printed word which would never, though, erode the power of (or desire for) first-hand spectatorship.


Paul Goring is a Professor of British Literature at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway. He is currently leading a newly established research project on eighteenth-century newspapers and their digital mediation entitled ‘Enlightenment News’.


Following a career in IT, Kevin Grieves returned to education, obtaining a BA in History from Bath Spa in 2006. He is about to finish his PhD on the social role of the Bath newspapers during the French Revolution, with a particular focus on their promotion of an associational culture and the ways in which they reassured their readers. He is a member of the Centre for History and Culture at Bath Spa, where he also lectures.

Mr Kevin Grieves

(Bath Spa University)

‘“Loyalty and Unanimity”: The Bath Newspapers' Promotion of an Associational Culture During the French Revolution’

The people of the City of Bath and its surrounding area were well served by newspapers in the last decade of the eighteenth century. These newspapers provided their readers with a digest of international and national news stories gleaned from the London press and, to a lesser extent, from other provincial newspapers. They dedicated column space to local news and announcements, and also provided a space for readers' opinions in the form of letters to the editor. They also printed notices on behalf of various organisations. This local content in the Bath newspapers reflected the concerns of their readership, which became particularly visible during the French Revolution.

Limited attention has yet been paid to the local content in the provincial press, particularly with regard to its role in the promotion of an associational culture. This paper provides thematic case study on this role of the provincial press during a time of ideological and military conflict, drawing upon the local content of the Bath newspapers printed during this period. The themes that are explored include the celebrations of royal anniversaries, the clash of radical and loyalist associations, the armed volunteer movement, the voluntary contributions for the further prosecution of the war, and various philanthropic endeavours. These charitable causes include the provision of warm winter clothing for soldiers serving in Flanders, as well as relief for exiled French clergymen and the widows and orphans of fallen servicemen. In this paper I argue that the main social role of the Bath newspapers during the period of the French Revolution was in promoting an associational culture in the city, which became increasingly inclusive over the period, particularly with regard to women and those of a lower social status.

Professor Earle Havens

(Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore)

'“The News Be Black & Clear, Printed with a Broad Margin”: Narcissus Luttrell and Early Newsprint Collecting, 1678-1730'

Narcissus Luttrell has played an important role in the history of news, and in the bibliography of news and allied literary print matter, ever since he began his daily collecting of ephemera from the streets and bookstalls of London in 1678. Not content merely to collect, Luttrell also meticulously recorded in manuscript on each item the precise day, month, and year upon which the piece was available for purchase, as well as prices paid, and, in hundreds of instances, additional manuscript augmentations of the printed texts, from the identification of semi-anonymous politicians to essential attributions of authorship.

Over much of the second half of the 20th century the Yale bibliographer James Marshall Osborn carefully collected sightings in libraries and in the antiquarian book trade of the posthumously scattered fragments of Luttrell’s collection, and hundreds of similar notices were posted to him over decades from across the world: from the houses of Maggs and Quaritch, to the great bibliographers of his generation, David Foxon, Donald Wing, and others. These were further augmented, compiled, and finally published in Stephen Parks & Earle Havens, The Luttrell File: Narcissus Luttrell’s Dates on Contemporary Pamphlets 1678-1730 (Beinecke Library, 1999), with other 3400 separate entries.

In the nearly two decades since, a similar activity of collegial collecting of “Luttrell sightings” has continued, with major contributions made through the electronic environment of library catalogue records, EEBO and ECCO searches, as well as old-fashioned Eureka! discoveries in rare book stacks by scholars and curators. Over 100 new additions are now able to be made to the Luttrell File from far-flung collections between Aberdeen and Australia. So, too, may a new documentary revelation (recently acquired by the Johns Hopkins University’s Sheridan Libraries): an autograph manuscript memorandum written out by Luttrell to his servants with instructions before his forthcoming journey to Cornwall in September 1724. By that point, Luttrell’s house (bought in 1710) held an enormous quantity of broadsides, penny newsbooks, bills of mortality, printed confessions of condemned capital criminals, and related pamphlets—but Luttrell nonetheless persisted in his comprehensive collecting nearly up to the year of his death in 1732. This manuscript notes, in addition to admonitions regarding “Care of the house, fire & candle” and the shutting “up all the doors & windows every night,” that the servants were to purchase “the news [that] comes in every day,” including “all the catalogues of books, pictures, &c. which you see in the printed papers,” with further detailed and revealing instructions on how to achieve this.

This paper will: (1) explore these freshly unearthed documentary sources and the implications they present to our critical understanding of late 17th- and early 18th-century news culture; and (2) assess Luttrell’s more general legacy and impact within the context of recent scholarly interpretations of what precisely constituted “news” in early modern Britain.


Earle Havens is the Nancy H. Hall Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts, & Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of German and Romance Languages, at Johns Hopkins University. He began his work on Narcissus Luttrell in the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library while completing a PhD in History and Renaissance Studies at Yale, and continues to teach and publish on a range of topics related to print culture and scribal practice in early modern Europe. In addition to recent studies of Elizabethan Catholic book smuggling, and literary forgery, he also serves as Principal Investigator on an international, Mellon Foundation-funded Digital Humanities initiative addressing the marginal annotation of early modern books, “The Archaeology of Reading in Early Modern Europe,”

Dr Geoff Kemp

(University of Auckland)

'News and the End of Censorship, 1690-1720'


Máire Kennedy is Divisional Librarian with Dublin City Libraries in charge of Special Collections, Early Printed Books and Manuscripts. Her PhD (NUI, 1995) examined Irish print culture of the 18th century. She is author of French books in eighteenth-century Ireland (Oxford, 2001) and two chapters in The Oxford history of the Irish book, vol. 3 (Oxford, 2005). She is editor, with Bernadette Cunningham, of The Experience of reading (Dublin, 1999) and, with Alastair Smeaton, of Reading Gulliver (Dublin, 2008). She is series editor, with Mary Clark, of commemorative publications to mark the Dublin City Council Decade of Commemorations 2012-22.

Dr Máire Kennedy

(Dublin City Libraries)

‘Newspaper networks in eighteenth-century Munster’

In this paper I propose to outline the communication structures established by a provincial newspaper printer in the Munster region centred on Cork city in the last quarter of the eighteenth century.

 Cork city had a vigorous newspaper industry from the mid-eighteenth century, whose networks expanded along the post roads to the main towns in Munster. Because of their serial nature and the immediacy of their content newspapers helped to keep country areas in regular contact with nearby towns and the wider world. Subscriptions to newspapers were within the range of many in the smaller towns by the second half of the eighteenth century. Advertising came into its own with the newspaper press, suddenly advertisements reached a large audience, widely dispersed around the country, creating a demand for luxury goods. A study of advertising carried in a newspaper highlights distribution networks and suggests a target audience.

 The newspaper proprietor's network of subscription and advertising agents in the surrounding towns played a major part in the success of the venture and an identification of their contacts and business partnerships greatly adds to our knowledge of trade in a region. A study of William Flyn’s communication network for The Hibernian Chronicle exemplifies this trade. Established in 1769 The Hibernian Chronicle was published by Flyn until 1802, when his successors renamed it The Cork Mercantile Chronicle. His contacts for the supply of the newspaper covered six counties, reaching the post towns in Cork, Kerry, Limerick, Clare, Waterford and Tipperary. A diverse range of subscription agents operated for Flyn: an innholder, a merchant, an apothecary, a cooper, two post masters, and a teacher. Flyn published literary fare as well as news and advertising, and his readers supplied poetry and prose for publication.

Mr Stuart Keogh


‘A ghost of propaganda past: The Jacobite Dublin Gazette, 1690’

If seventeenth century news publications are justifiably seen as rare survivors of an already ephemeral medium, then Irish Jacobite newssheets are rarer still. This is certainly the case for a little known newspaper – The Dublin Gazette – which circulated in Dublin in 1689 & 1690.

Although clearly referred to by contemporary sources, The Dublin Gazette’s very existence was, until recently, discussed by historians in terms of conjecture. Indeed for a long time no copies were thought to have survived Williamite suppression as a dangerous reminder of a defeated regime. If its title is often cited in chronicles of newspaper and periodical history, the detail of its thought-to-be-unique surviving edition has so far largely escaped scholarly attention.

This paper examines the newssheet’s content, sets out the context of it production during the Williamite wars and looks at possible authorship. Finally the Gazette’s importance is underlined as a surviving source in terms of the history of propaganda and wartime news distribution in Early Modern Ireland.


After completing a BA in French and History at University College Dublin, Stuart Keogh obtained a Maîtrise d’Histoire from the Université de Caen-Basse-Normandie in 1993. Following a career in financial services, he returned to scholarly research with an M.Phil from Dundee, awarded in June 2014, which concentrated on French support for Jacobite Ireland. He is currently based in Luxembourg where he is discussing projects for doctoral studies at the Université du Luxembourg.


Johanne Kristiansen is a PhD candidate at the University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway (NTNU). She is currently working on a PhD thesis which explores the contributions of London newspapers to public debate during the politically heated years following the outbreak of the French Revolution. Her thesis is part of the interdisciplinary research project Enlightenment News, which examines how access to digital newspaper archives may lead to original knowledge, practices and narratives within the history of news and of the areas of culture and society touched by news.

Ms Johanne Kristiansen

(Norwegian University of Science and Technology)

‘Letters to the Editor: London Newspapers and the French Revolution’

The outbreak of the French Revolution gave rise to an exceptionally polemic period in Britain, and inspired heated public discussions concerning political, religious and social laws and institutions. This revolution controversy is often referred to as a ‘pamphlet war’, indicating not only the importance of print in these debates but also the tendency of scholars to focus on pamphlets and books when exploring them. The important contributions of newspapers have been largely ignored, due to the difficulty of gaining access to these sources. This is now changing as a result of the emergence of online newspaper archives such as the Burney and Times digital archives, which open up unprecedented opportunities for research on eighteenth-century newspapers. The following paper explores the political contributions of newspapers to the debates of the 1790s, by focusing on a specific genre of the late eighteenth-century press, namely the letter to the editor. Building on important historical events and newspaper production context, the paper will examine the possibilities and limitations of the eighteenth-century newspaper as a medium for public exchange of opinion during politically fraught times. Importantly, it will highlight the role of newspaper editing – as well as the editorial policies of specific editors – in setting the agenda for public debate.

Dr Ben Lacey

(Adam Matthew Publishing Ltd)

‘The Creation and Use of Digital Copies of Eighteenth-Century Newspapers and Periodicals’

Digital tools are increasingly prevalent in the study of the humanities, whether as a result of efforts to digitise document collections, or from researchers looking for innovative ways to approach their subject matter. This paper looks at some of the ways in which digital copies of eighteenth-century periodicals can be presented and used. The digitisation process starts in the archive, with the selection of material and conservation work preceding scanning. The focus of this paper, however, will be what happens to the digital images once they have been created. It will consider ways in which the images can be displayed, and interacted with and analysed by students and researchers.

A particular focus will be transcripts and OCR (Optical Character Recognition)-enabled searching. Printed documents from the eighteenth century can be challenging to read, particularly for students new to the area, due to the typescript used and the quality of extant editions. The possibilities offered by OCR software, which allows a computer to ‘read’ a document and a user to perform a full-text search on the result, will be considered. Old font styles and poor print quality can challenge such software, but technology is constantly opening up new possibilities. Even so, double-keyed transcripts, which use two independent transcribers to increase accuracy, offer many advantages to users of eighteenth-century material, and the production of these will also be considered. For people interested in searching for overarching themes or subjects, the creation of metadata to accompany digital versions can be just as important as transcripts, so this too will be examined. Finally, ways of analysing and displaying such data through data analysis and visualisation tools will be touched upon. The overall aim is to give a sense of the possibilities offered by digital resources for the study and research of eighteenth-century documents.


Ben Lacey is an Assistant Editor at the digital publishing company Adam Matthew. He started work there two and a half years ago, at the same time as finishing a PhD in Medieval History, which he took at the University of Sheffield. The company digitises historical documents and creates educational resources based on these images and associated features, such as academic essays, interactive maps and timelines, and data visualisations. He is currently working on one such project, updating a digital resource on journals and periodicals from c. 1680 to 1834.


Ph.D. in History from Clare College, Cambridge (2009).

Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh (2011–12).

 Research Interests: the history of ideas and religious culture in Britain and British Colonial America, c.1500–c.1800.

 Recent Publications:

‘Anglican Religious Societies, Organisations, and Missions’, in Jeremy Gregory (ed.), The Oxford History of Anglicanism: Volume 2. Establishment and Empire: The Development of Anglicanism 1662-1829 (Oxford, forthcoming, 2016).

‘Reformation and the Wickedness of Port Royal, Jamaica, 1655-c.1692’, in Crawford Gribben and Scott Spurlock (eds.), Puritans and Catholics in the Trans-Atlantic World, 1600-1800 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 131–62.

Dr David Manning

(University of Leicester)

‘The Limits of Moral Panic Theory: “Reporting” on Wickedness in Early Modern England, c.1646–c.1721’

In many ways the hoo-ha surrounding the supposed ‘Hell-Fire Clubs’ of 1720–21 might be viewed as a clear case of ‘moral panic’. In attacking the moral scruples of Court Whigs, the mischievous print journalism of Nathaniel Mist (d. 1737) and John Applebee (c.1690–1750) gave voice to a set of allegations about certain, but unnamed, dissolute young persons who deliberately came together to insult the very principles of religion and blaspheme God. These claims appear to have been baseless in fact, but they nevertheless sparked tangible fear amongst third parties and resulted in concerted attempt by local Justices of the Peace to root out these scandalous people. Such an interpretation neatly fits with both Roger Lund’s article ‘Guilt by Association’ (2002) and David Lemmings and Claire Walker’s edited collection Moral Panics, the Media, and the Law in Early Modern England (2009).

 Working under the ‘thematic overview’ and ‘contextualization’ rubrics in the CFP, this paper calls into question the validity of using moral panic theory in historicizing the kinds of early modern theologico-moral assumptions that lay behind reports of and responses to collective forms of vice, especially by public writers and their readers. For a better understanding, historians arguably have to get to grips with a phenomenon of pressing spiritual testimony through print media – readily exemplified by John Foxe’s Acts and Monuments (1563) and then re-spun for the first age of print journalism by the heresiographers of the 1640s. Here, reports of wickedness could be constructed in the spiritual eye of the beholder and complicated by assumptions about the circular relationship between practical and speculative atheism. Externalizing one’s spiritual discernment in print media could, then, simultaneously be an act of bearing witness to divine ‘truth’ (crucially very different from modern notions of both ‘subjective’ perception and ‘objective’ reality) and engendering propaganda. In turn, the response of readers could engage with similar processes, either affirming or questioning the original claim. Understanding the analytical limitations of the ‘fact’–‘fiction’ dichotomy provides scope for a reassessment of the ‘Hell-Fire Club’ controversy and the role of print media in ‘reporting’ wickedness in early modern England.


Michael Palmer is emeritus professor at the Sorbonne university, Paris. He is author of twelve books – ten in French, two co-authored in English – and 150 articles, on the history of newspapers and news-agencies. The most recent, Homo informans: les news au fil des millénaires, was published in 2011 (Paris, éditions de l’Amandier, 2011).

Professor Michael Palmer

(University of Paris III)

‘Dramatists, newspapers, advertisers: plays about news from Jonson’s The Staple of News (1626) to Sheridan’s The Critic (1781)’

In the 1620s and 1780s, leading dramatists – Ben Jonson, R. B. Sheridan – depicted aspects of the press. Newspaper historians sometimes cite their work. Humourists’ satires both distort and reflect perceptions about the press. Are not contemporary perceptions akin to other types of ‘evidence’ about newspapers and advertising ? When sources are fragmentary, may not plays be more timely and significant, however distorted, than might sometimes appear the case?

 ‘The factor’ (1626) and ‘Puff’ (1781) are – among other dramatis personae of Jonson and Sheridan – enduring symbols. This paper looks at some not too-recent cases of newspaper historians’ use of such symbols.

Professor Joad Raymond

(Queen Mary University of London)

'Bundling the News'


Paul Sivitz teaches in the Department of History at Idaho State University. He received his Ph.D. from Montana State University in 2012. Paul’s teaching fields include Early America, the Atlantic World, and Public History. His main research area is the accumulation and dissemination of scientific knowledge in the eighteenth century. Paul is co-director of Mapping Historic Philadelphia, a digital history project which recovers the lives of ordinary Philadelphians during the 1790s. One of the project’s maps will be included in the permanent exhibit at the new Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture opening in 2016.

Professor Paul Sivitz

(Idaho State University)

Circulating 18th-century Science: Letter-writing, Networks, and the Gentleman’s Magazine

In early 1750, Benjamin Franklin’s accounts of his electrical experiments appeared in the Gentleman’s Magazine. The Philadelphian’s investigations were first reported in a series of letters to Peter Collinson, London merchant and botanist. By the time Franklin’s observations were published, he and Collinson had corresponded for the better part of two decades. Their epistolary exchange began in 1732, when Collinson signed on as London book agent for Franklin’s Library Company of Philadelphia. The January 1750 edition of ‘the Magazine’ (as it was commonly referred to) was the first of several issues containing the experiments, albeit in ‘teaser’ form. Collinson and Edward Cave, publisher of the Gentleman’s Magazine since its inception in 1731, were well acquainted. The printing of what were, at the time, ground-breaking experiments provided benefits for both Cave and Franklin. For Cave, offering snippets of Franklin’s work meant a boost in sales. For Franklin, it provided an outlet to a wide readership in Britain and America (it was sent to the Library Company and other outlets in the American colonies). Collinson published the first of the experiments as a book, Experiments and Observations on Electricity, in 1751, and the edited versions in the Magazine was an effective method of advertising.

 This paper examines connections between the Gentleman’s Magazine, letter-writing, and the network of scientific practitioners in Britain and America. The exchange of letters began the process of disseminating scientific knowledge. The Magazine further encouraged an egalitarian approach to science by engaging with a literate audience, but not necessarily one that possessed advanced education. In fact, several prominent members of the mid-eighteenth-century scientific community–Franklin and Collinson included–held no university degrees. This was in sharp contrast to earlier periods when science had been the exclusive purview of the so-called ‘men of leisure.’


Dr Craig Spence

(Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln)

Trading in trauma: Reporting accident events in early modern newspapers’

As popular print developed during the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries there were a number of approaches taken to the reporting of casualties, accidents and disasters. Perhaps the best known form was that of the quickly and cheaply produced pamphlets, broadsheets and ballads. In the case of London a parallel serial publication was the more formal weekly Bills of Mortality. During the first few decades of the eighteenth century early English newspapers relied on range of material to fill their columns and news of those who suffered accidents, often fatal, repeatedly appears. The Bills of Mortality was not simply quarried by publishers for useful information but was also subject to, and directed, changes in the style and appearance of early newspapers. Often re-presented in newsprint in a way that mirrored its original format London’s Bills provided both factual data on mortality and, albeit brief, human interest accounts of tragedy. By taking a critical view of the production process and printed form of the Bills this paper seeks to provide an insight into the ways metropolitan society received and assimilated information. The relationship between the printed Bills, pamphlets and early newspapers will be traced through a particular example that bridges the design and typographic formatting of seventeenth century pamphlets and eighteenth century newspapers. Gathering reliable content was a significant issue for the earliest provincial newspapers who turned frequently to the London press when sourcing news. Ensuring that news of ‘casualties’ effectively promoted individual titles relied on demonstrating a direct connection with its metropolitan origins thus establishing a title’s status through a form of referential authority. In achieving this significant regard was once again given to the careful reproduction of a printed style or format that was immediately identifiable as derived from the Bills of Mortality.


Craig Spence is a Senior Lecturer in History at Bishop Grosseteste University, Lincoln. He has undertaken historical research at the University of London’s ‘Institute of Historical Research’ where he investigated the social structure of late seventeenth century London. Utilizing innovative computer mapping and data visualizations this culminated in a significant research monograph titled ‘London in the 1690s: a social atlas’. Craig joined Bishop Grosseteste University in 2004, following seven years at Goldsmiths’ College University of London in addition to periods of teaching at Royal Holloway College University of London. Craig’s current research in early modern urban and cultural history is concerned with the patterns and interpretation of accidents. The subject of which is the focus of his forthcoming book Accidents and violent death in early modern London: 1650-1750.


In February 2015 Ralph Stevens received his PhD in History from the University of Cambridge for a thesis concerned with religious toleration in later Stuart Britain. Since moving to Dublin in 2014 he has taught History at University College Dublin and Maynooth University, whilst also holding a six-month visiting fellowship in Jacobite Studies at the UK Institute of Historical Research, for which he studied the printed works of the Irish Jacobite Charles Leslie. His wider research interests include the relationships between religious communities across Europe in the early modern period and the role of print publications in defining those relationships.

Dr Ralph Stevens

(University College Dublin)

‘“I write to the common People”: content, style and audience in Charles Leslie’s Rehearsal

Although not particularly well known today, the Church of Ireland clergyman Charles Leslie (1650-1722) was infamous to his contemporaries. One of the few Irish Protestants unwilling to at least acquiesce to the regime change of the ‘Glorious Revolution’, Leslie settled in London and emerged during the 1690s as perhaps the leading Jacobite print polemicist. Having authored nothing before 1691, Leslie threw himself into what some historians have classified as an emerging ‘public sphere’ in Britain in this period, a conceptual space in which actors appealed to the increasingly influential power of public opinion. His 81 pamphlets and the 397 issues of his periodical The Rehearsal (1704-9) were interventions in public political debate through the medium of popular print. The Rehearsal in particular presented traditional Tory ideology with a sometimes unsubtle Jacobite edge, pricking conservative consciences by reminding them of political certainties bent or broken by the events of 1688-91. Leslie stated that his intention was to address ‘the common People’ and declared that he made ‘no Excuse for Stile’, desiring ‘only to be Plain, and that my meaning be Express’d Easily’. However, clear shifts in style and content can be discerned. Within a few months Leslie shifted away from his initial burlesque style, with its references to ‘October Ale’ and occasional sexual innuendo. The Rehearsal instead offered a sometimes abstruse diet of Old Testament biblical exegesis, technical sacramental theology, and detailed ecclesiastical history, including reference to patristic texts. Though we know little about the Rehearsal’s reception, this shift in style and content raises intriguing questions about the audience Leslie imagined himself reaching. It also highlights the tension, which Leslie himself was well aware of, between his desire to communicate to the widest possible audience and his concern to delve deep into the intellectual foundations of his political positions.

Dr Matthew Symonds

(University College London)

Translation and cultural communication within news networks: the case of Peter Anthony Motteux’s Gentleman’s Journal

Peter Anthony Motteux was a Huguenot refugee, hack writer, and entrepreneurial businessman of the early eighteenth century. He was a translator, completing Sir Thomas Urquhart’s version of Gargantua and Pantagruel and his own idiosyncratic Don Quixote; but before Motteux translated Rabelais and Cervantes, he had first Englished himself: Pierre Antoine became Peter Anthony.

Motteux’s monthly periodical, the Gentleman’s Journal (1692—1694) is usually considered in terms of its influence upon the likes of The Spectator, but the magazine itself should also be considered as an act of translation, but a translation of a genre, Englishing a French periodical, the Mercure Gallant. Issues of translation, theoretical and practical, were a constant subject of the journal, placed alongside political and literary news.

Building on recent work, heavily influenced by network theory exchange, on the transnational nature of early modern printed news, this paper places the Gentleman’s Journal in a wider context of cultural communication during the Nine Years War. It argues that the relationships between the printed networks of news and the cultural-political networks of the Huguenot refuge can be more accurately mapped by understanding the politics of translation.


Matthew Symonds is Senior Research Fellow at UCL’s Centre for Editing Lives and Letters, where he is responsible for creating and maintaining the digital infrastructure for the various CELL projects. He specializes in conceptualizing traditional historical sources and archives as repositories of data suitable for computational approaches. His research interests include historical methodologies and the digital humanities, the history of information, the miscommunication of ideas, and late seventeenth-century cultural history. He is currently writing about translation and cultural identity in exile communities.


Edward Taylor is a first year PhD student at the University of Warwick, studying topical commentary in the British periodical press in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. He is being supervised by Professor Mark Knights. He completed his BA and MPhil at the University of Cambridge, the latter focusing on John Tutchin’s Observator between 1702 and 1707.

Mr Edward Taylor

(University of Warwick)

‘The publication and significance of “observators”, c. 1681-1712’

This paper will explore the publication and significance of ‘observators’ in the British periodical market in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Observators were periodicals of topical commentary, designed to ‘make observations’ on a rolling basis about current affairs and new topical publications, and reflect an increasingly well-developed market for regularised comment as well as news in this period. Major observators were written by Roger L'Estrange (The observator, 1681-1687), James Welwood (The new observator/The weekly observator, among other titles, 1689-1694?) and John Tutchin and George Ridpath (The observator, 1702-1712), although there were also a number of rivals and shorter-lived imitators, especially in the first half of Queen Anne's reign. They all had strong political agendas, whether from whig or tory perspectives, in defence of the government or in defence of a party. Most took the form of a dialogue; all adopted a persona that represented their political positions before the public. This paper will first discuss the background to observators – the origins of the idea, and why so many observators were established in this period. Then it will explore the nature of observators, in particular the ways in which they incorporated topical commentary and how far this differed from earlier periodicals, contemporary news periodicals, and other locations of published comment. Finally it will offer some remarks on the reception and significance of observators, especially in relation to the consumption of comment as a mode of growing public political engagement in the early modern ‘public sphere’. Case studies of particular periodicals and moments will be selected to illustrate the observator phenomenon.

Mr Brendan Twomey

(Trinity College Dublin)

‘“The Revd Dean Swift is recovered of his late Indisposition”: Swift and celebrity reporting in the Dublin press in early eighteenth century Ireland

Swift’s had a life-long involvement with newspapers and the world of print. His publishing career was book-ended by entries (both under his own name) in a periodical. The first; a risible ode in the Athenian Gazette; his last (almost) a financial advertisement in The Dublin Journal. In between Swift was a consummate practitioner of the new journalism; effective, as a Tory propagandist in The Examiner and less so in the guise of the patriot dean as the editor/owner of The Intelligencer.

In the thirty years after 1715 Swift was the subject of regular, sometimes intrusive, and always ‘different’ reportage in the Dublin press. This paper reviews the content, purpose, and reception of that coverage.

While early Dublin newspapers with their banal and stilted prose, were not investigative journalism, they nevertheless reported widely on contemporary events and Swift was the subject of more reporting than any other contemporary figure? Was he the target/victim of unwanted, and unwarranted, media attention? Or was Swift the instigator of this coverage? Was he actively ‘leaking’ these stories in order to manipulate, or create his own posthumous myth? Who were leaders of the burgeoning print culture; the men (and women) who published these bulletins on the Dean’s health, his birthday, his movements, his meetings, and his finances? Were these printers, and especially George Faulkner, using the high profile of their local celebrity author as publicity for their own publishing ventures? Lastly what did their readers make of this coverage?

As with much else in early eighteenth century Ireland Swift makes an instructive case study. The Dean has indeed fully ‘recovered’ and he has suffered no permanent ‘indisposition’ due to historical amnesia.


Brendan Twomey is a retired banker. He is currently a PhD student in TCD working on the topic of Personal Financial Management in early eighteenth- century Ireland. The financial management practices of Jonathan Swift are a central case study within this project. His research interests, and his publications include; the development of early eighteenth century Dublin, Jonathan Swift and the Southern Church of Ireland from disestablishment to World War II.


Sarah Ward is a DPhil student at St. Catherine’s College, University of Oxford.

Ms Sarah Ward

(St Catherine's College, Oxford)

‘“Both the printed, and my private intelligence”: Newsgathering, allegiance and political action in North-East Wales on the eve of the English Civil War, c.1640-1642’

The absence of a printing press and the distance from London has led many historians to conclude that Wales lacked a significant print culture and interest in the news, especially in the early-mid seventeenth century. This paper seeks to argue that this is far from the truth, and that in fact the North-East Welsh gentry were obsessively interested in the freshest political and religious news – both national and international. Evidence in existing correspondence collections makes it clear that, as well as gathering news to demonstrate status and connections, these gentlemen used it to determine their actions and responses to the events they read about. They purchased handwritten ‘pure newsletters’ and were sent newsbooks, but mostly relied on correspondents who were connected to them via kinship networks. Gentlemen such as Sir Thomas Salusbury of Llewenni received up to four letters a day at some points, including minutely detailed accounts of those events his correspondents believed him to be interested in. By using these mechanisms North-East Welsh gentlemen could determine the focus of the news they were sent. Reactions to this news material was varied. They took notes, wrote petitions and pamphlets, chose sides, raised money and regiments in the light of the information that was sent to them from London. Although their allegiance in the Civil War was most probably determined by their long-term political and social ideals the nature of their response to the crisis was influenced by the news. They critiqued the news and assembled a range of material to check veracity and compare accounts. By doing this they create a news discourse that conformed to their ideals and interests, a regional discourse that would help to shape both the social and political circumstances of North-East Wales for the next twenty years.


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