The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser was the first newspaper printed in Australia, running from 5 March 1803 until 20 October 1842. It was an official publication of the government of New South Wales, authorised by Governor King and printed by George Howe. On 14 October 1824, under the editorship of Robert Howe, it ceased to be censored by the colonial government.
The introductory address, by Howe, was published on the first page in the third column. It read:
Innumerable as the Obstacles were which threatened to oppose our Undertaking, yet we are happy to affirm that they were not insurmountable, however difficult the task before us.The utility of a PAPER in the COLONY, as it must open a source of solid information, will we hope, be universally felt and acknowledged, We have courted the assistance of the INGENIOUS and INTELLIGENT :--- We open no channel to Political Discussion, or Personal Animadversion :--- Information is our only purpose; that accomplished, we shall consider that we have done our duty, in an exertion to merit the Approbation of the PUBLIC, and to secure a liberal Patronage to the Sydney Gazette.
— The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, 5 March 1803
The newspaper's original editor, typesetter and printer was George Howe, who had been transported to New South Wales for shoplifting in 1800. After Howe's death in 1821, the Gazette was printed by his son, Robert, until he drowned in a boating accident in Port Jackson in 1829.
The business then passed to Robert's co-editor and friend Ralph Mansfield. Mansfield soon left the Gazette, and was replaced by a series of short-term editors including Edward O'Shaughnessy, George Thomas Graham and Horatio Wills, Robert Howe's apprentice and step-brother.
From 1833, the paper was nominally edited by Anne Howe, Robert's widow, but managed by O'Shaughnessy and later William Watt, a ticket of leave convict whom Anne later married. After Watt's banishment to Port Macquarie in 1835, ownership of the Gazette passed to Richard Jones, co-executor to Robert Howe's estate. Jones helped establish Robert Charles Howe, Howe's eldest illegitimate son, as the legal owner.
It was initially printed as a single sheet, folded into four pages of foolscap size, with each page typeset in three columns. Its masthead was a locally produce woodcut of Sydney and carried the imprimatur 'Published by Authority'.
In May 1803, Howe successfully requested new type and additional engravings to replace the worn type that had been used previously. The printing materials were further upgraded by Howe's son, when he enlarged the newspaper to Demy size in 1824.
From 5 March 1803 until 29 September 1825, the Gazette was issued weekly, after which it was published bi-weekly until 30 December 1826. For six weeks, from 1 January to 10 February 1827, it appeared daily, but the postal service could not accommodate this schedule.
It continued publication three times a week until it discontinued production on 20 October 1842.
Discontinuation of long s
When the newspaper first began publishing in 1803 the use of the long s was still in usage by published books and newspapers across English speaking countries.
THE SYDNEY GAZETTE And New South Wales Advertiſer
The next weeks edition on the Sunday 24 June 1804 introduced a new masthead with the modern s, reading as:
THE Sydney Gazette AND NEW SOUTH WALES ADVERTISER
The articles within the newspaper, however, continued to use the long s for just over eight more years with declining usage. The apparent last edition that used the long s was on the 27th of June 1812, reading as:
ON SALE, at reduced Prices, for Ready Money,
the valuable Inveſtment, imported per Brig
Eagle, Captain McLardie; conſiſting of sugar by the bag; Souchong Tea by the cheſt, weight 82lbs;
coarſe Calico by the bale; coarſe Gurrahs by the
ditto; fine India Prints by the ditto; Bengal Boots
and Shoes; beſt Dara Soap in hogſheads; Bourbon
Coffee by the bag; and a Quantity of empty Gunny
Bags. Application to be made to Mr. Robert
Campbell, jun. at his Office, No. 15, Hunter-
The next edition on the 4th of July 1812 have no articles that use it and later editions appear to be the same.
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