Staffordshire’s first newspaper, the Staffordshire Advertiser, was founded by Stafford printer Joshua Drury.
The first edition was published on January 3rd, 1795. It cost four pence (2p) and had four pages. Each page was divided into five columns containing news, features, poems and advertisements printed in small type without illustrations. Mail coaches brought the paper to inns and taverns in Newcastle and the Potteries where workmen gathered to have the news read to them.
England and her allies had been at war with France for two years, and the paper carried news of the campaigns in Europe. It informed readers that Royal Navy warships were setting sail from Portsmouth to intercept the French fleet which was cruising in the English Channel. A dispatch from Poland told them the Russians had captured Warsaw and massacred 20,000 men, women and children. Reports from Holland showed that the Dutch disliked the British troops sent to defend them and were hoping to make peace with the French.
Home news included George III’s announcement that the Prince of Wales was going to marry Princess Caroline of Brunswick. There was a detailed account of the state opening of Parliament and the debates following the King’s speech.
Surprisingly, very little local news was reported. Readers were told that Wolverhampton magistrate Edward Hickman had sent a rogue and vagabond, Benjamin Smith, to the House of Correction but neither Newcastle nor the Potteries were mentioned.
(Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust, September 2010)