Political Register

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Title page of Political Register, January 19, 1828 (British Library, London)

The Cobbett's Weekly Political Register (a.k.a. Political Register) was a weekly London-based[1] newspaper founded by William Cobbett in 1802. It ceased publication in 1836, the year after Cobbett's death.[2]


Originally propounding Tory views, and costing a shilling, Cobbett changed his editorial line to embrace radicalism, such as advocating widening the suffrage. It had a large circulation for that time of 6,000 copies.[3]

The government was alarmed by its radicalism and tried to prevent mass circulation by adding stamp duty on all newspapers putting them out of reach of all but the wealthiest. From November 1816 Cobbett also published the Register in a cheap 2d. pamphlet, which kept political comment but evaded stamp duty by excising news.[4] The price of the paper gave it the nickname "Tuppenny Trash",[5] nevertheless it soon gained a circulation of 40,000.[6]

Cobbett began publishing Parliamentary Debates as a supplement to his Political Register in 1802. At the time it was illegal to report the proceeding of Parliament, only its ultimate decisions. He eventually extended his reportage back in time with the Parliamentary History. Cobbett's reports were printed by Thomas Curson Hansard from 1809. In 1812, with his business suffering, Cobbett sold the Debates section to Hansard.[3]

Historical copies of Cobbett's Weekly Political Register, dating back to 1802, are available to search and view in digitised form at The British Newspaper Archive.[1]


  1. ^ a b Digitised copies of the Cobbett's Weekly Political Register
  2. ^ John Cannon. "Political Register." The Oxford Companion to British History. Oxford University Press. 2002.
  3. ^ a b "The Story of Hansard". Palace of Westminster. 2006. Archived from the original on 2009-08-17. Retrieved 2009-05-27. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ Altick, Richard D., The English Common Reader, 2nd ed., 1998, p. 325
  5. ^ Stewart, R. Party & Politics 1830-1852.
  6. ^ "The Political Register". The Georgian Index. March 2003. Retrieved 2009-05-27. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)

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