Berrow's Worcester Journal
claims to be "the oldest surviving newspaper in the World", (although, The World Association of Newspapers
The World Association of Newspapers is a non-profit, non-governmental organization made up of 76 national newspaper associations, 12 news agencies, 10 regional press organisations and individual newspaper executives in 100 countries...
places it at number six on its list of "Oldest Newspapers Still In Circulation.") It is owned by Newsquest
Newsquest is the third largest publisher of regional and local newspapers in the United Kingdom with 300 titles in its portfolio. Newsquest is based in Weybridge, Surrey and employs a total of more than 5,500 people across the UK...
, the second largest publisher of regional and local newspapers in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...
The common belief that Berrow's Worcester Journal
, or its forerunner, was established in 1690 seems to be based entirely on an assertion, made more than a century after the fact, by Valentine Green
Valentine Green was a British engraver.-Biography:Born in Salford Priors, he was placed by his father in a solicitor's office at Evesham, where he remained for two years; but ultimately he decided, on his own responsibility, to abandon the legal profession and became a pupil of a line engraver at...
in his 1796 work, History and Antiquities of the City and Suburbs of Worcester
. Green's "vague statement, not verified elsewhere" was this: "From the best information, it is conjectured that a public paper was established in Worcester as early as the commencement of the Revolution... This was, doubtless, the period that gave birth to the Worcester Weekly Paper... It is uncertain however, in what order of succession these publications were first issued, whether monthly or weekly, on what day of the month or week or in what form, folio, quarto, or otherwise..." Green did not explain what "the best information" meant and no copies of a seventeenth century Worcester newspaper are known to exist. More recent scholarship asserts that there had not been an active press in Worcester for more than 150 years before 1709.
Berrow's Worcester Journal
is the descendant of Worcester's earliest known newspaper, The Worcester Post-Man
, first printed by Stephen Bryan in June, 1709. Bryan (who was proprietor, editor and printer) published the thriving paper for nearly forty years first as The Worcester Post-Man
(from 1709), then The Worcester Post
(from 1722) and finally The Weekly Worcester-Journal
(from 1725). Local news was relatively rare in the first decade of publication, but after about 1720, Bryan began to include more local items. In the time that Stephen Bryan owned the paper, it was published on Fridays.
In April 1748, Bryan sold the paper to Hervey Berrow who changed paper's name to The Worcester Journal
and its publication day to Thursday. From 11 October 1753 the paper was published as Berrow's Worcester Journal
This last name change was prompted when a competitor, Richard Lewis, tried to profit from the success of the Worcester Journal
by launching the similar sounding New Worcester Journal
. Lewis's other efforts to usurp market share from the older paper included publishing on Wednesdays (the day before Berrow) and circulating a report in Bewdley, Kidderminster, and Stourbridge that Berrow's newsmen had left his service. In return, Berrow's 8 November 1753 issue made a declaration of opposition to "the Publication of a News-Paper (on a Wednesday) by a Person who has not the least Right to exercise the Art of Printing, he having serv'd no Apprenticeship at all thereto, nor hath otherwise had an Opportunity of acquainting himself with the Nature thereof." Lewis was eventually hooted out of business by the ebullient Hervy Berrow sometime the following year.
Berrow was the third son of a curate and chaplain and was a Peterborough
Peterborough is a cathedral city and unitary authority area in the East of England, with an estimated population of in June 2007. For ceremonial purposes it is in the county of Cambridgeshire. Situated north of London, the city stands on the River Nene which flows into the North Sea...
Apothecary is a historical name for a medical professional who formulates and dispenses materia medica to physicians, surgeons and patients — a role now served by a pharmacist and some caregivers....
, or chemist. This was not unusual during this time of the early newspaper proprietors, who would sell medicines alongside their newspapers. Berrow would promote his elixir for dropsy
Edema or oedema ; both words from the Greek , oídēma "swelling"), formerly known as dropsy or hydropsy, is an abnormal accumulation of fluid beneath the skin or in one or more cavities of the body that produces swelling...
and his powder for gout
Gout is a medical condition usually characterized by recurrent attacks of acute inflammatory arthritis—a red, tender, hot, swollen joint. The metatarsal-phalangeal joint at the base of the big toe is the most commonly affected . However, it may also present as tophi, kidney stones, or urate...
in his paper, much as newspapers owned by Rupert Murdoch
Keith Rupert Murdoch, AC, KSG is an Australian-American business magnate. He is the founder and Chairman and CEO of , the world's second-largest media conglomerate....
today often promote Sky Digital (UK). The paper itself was sold for 2.5 pence every week and was five pages long.
The paper continues to be known as Berrow's Worcester Journal
, despite the Berrow family having long since ceased any connection with it. Today, Berrow's Worcester Journal is published by Newsquest. Around 47,000 copies are distributed every week, with all but 1,500 dispensed freely. A website is dedicated to the history of the Journal, with the contents of the newspaper uploaded every week onto its main page for anybody to access.