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|Born||5 March 1852
Lowdham, Nottinghamshire, England
|Died||4 November 1907
In 1874, 22-year-old Cornelius Brown was appointed editor of the Newark Advertiser in nearby Newark-on-Trent. Over the next 33 years, Cornelius Brown became the author of seven major books, including the massive two-volume History of Newark, which took 15 years to write, a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Within months of taking the editor's chair, a young Mr Brown was ready to buy a half share in the newspaper, for which he paid Mr. Whiles £600. The two partners agreed that until a working fund of £300 had been created out of the profits neither would draw more than £8 a month from the profits for his own use. Mr. Whiles was to manage the business side while Mr. Brown was in charge of editorial matters. The Advertiser was being printed in Nottingham because there were no adequate facilities in Newark. But young Mr Brown found this a tedious disadvantage and in 1880 the firm took premises at the corner of Appletongate and Magnus Street to house a Wharfedale printing press.
Cornelius Brown married and set up home at Almar House, Westgate, Southwell. It was there that his first child was born in 1881. She was named Ethel and later became Mrs R. P. Blatherwick.
Cornelius Brown already had one book to his credit The Annals of Newark and in 1882 came The Worthies of Notts. Then Mr Brown laid his author's pen aside for three or four years to concentrate on the second important step in the Advertiser story.
The Newark Advertiser Co Ltd was incorporated on 19 September 1882. Six weeks later half a dozen men met at the Middlegate offices of solicitors Newton and Wallis (now Tallents Godfrey). They were the subscribers to the Memorandum of Association of the Newark Advertiser Co. Ltd. namely Mr Brown, Major George Mark, Leycester Egerton Captain William Henry Coape, Oates MP Mr William Newzam Nicholson, Mr John Burton Barrow, and Mr William Newton. They were all allocated shares as were four more men who had made application: Mr Joseph Gilstrap Branston, Mr William Evelyn, Denison Viscount Newark, (later MP for Newark) and Colonel James Thorpe. Mr Barrow's interest in the firm was short-lived. Either he found a better use for his money or he had little faith in the new venture for he sold his four shares two and a half years later. Mr Branston followed suit the next year. But at that meeting in 1882 the company got off the ground. Major Egerton was made chairman and Mr. Brown was appointed secretary, manager and editor at a salary of £200 a year. That salary remained unchanged for 21 years, at the end of which time Mr Brown himself proposed that it should be cut to £156 because he was handing over the responsibility of night-work to a younger man.
Under young Mr Brown's editorship the Advertiser continued to flourish.
The board spent 50 shillings (£2.50) on a treat for the workmen to celebrate Queen Victoria's golden jubilee. And though it was also decided to buy a new printing press Mr Brown later reported that he could alter the present one to make it do. The economy-minded Mr Brown was still traveling daily from Southwell but in 1889 a house was built for him next to the works. It was built by Brown and Son at a cost of £490.
Moving into the Modern Era
The Advertiser began to move into a technological age, buying a 2hp gas engine to supplement the steam power, and in 1895 installing the telephone. Two years later came the first Linotype machine on hire. Within months came electric light installed at a cost of £100.
Mr Whiles, original owner of the Advertiser, had maintained his connection with it as cashier and publisher, for the paper was still being published from Stodman Street. When he died in 1900 he was succeeded by his son Mr Herbert Whiles.
It is a fact of life that newspapers thrive on bad news and in February 1901 Mr Brown was able to report to the board that "owing to the death of Her Gracious Majesty they had been exceptionally busy and the paper for the last three weeks had sold extremely well."
It was in 1903 that Mr J. C. Kew came on to the Advertiser scene in a significant way. He had already been writing for the paper for some years and also ran a coal business at Beaumond Cross. He was later to be chairman of Newark Rural District Council for 21 years and during that time served two years as Mayor of Newark.
Handing Over The Reins
Mr Brown at the age of 51 decided to hand over some of his editorial responsibilities to Mr Kew who was then 35. It was a prophetic decision for just four years later Cornelius Brown died and Mr Kew became editor. Mr Brown had attended the October board meeting in 1907 but was taken ill ten days later after correcting the final proofs of his History of Newark. He died on 4 November without seeing the published version of Volume II.
The death of Cornelius Brown was a tragic blow to the Advertiser. But it is the way of newspapers to keep publishing on the appointed day whatever the circumstances.