The Public Ledger
The Public Ledger is one of the world's longest continuously running magazines. Today it provides agricultural commodity news, analysis and prices. When established in 1760, however, it not only contained prices of commodities in London, but a wide variety of political, commercial and society news and commentary. It was established by John Newbery, who was better known for his pioneering children's literature. The Public Ledger was London's fourth daily newspaper in a golden age from 1730 to 1772 for 'Advertisers' – two-page advertising-driven newspapers set up after political parties withdrew subsidies to London newspapers. The Public Ledger is published by Informa plc, which also publishes Lloyd's List, the shipping journal that can trace its origins back to 1734. It is also in a stable of agricultural and bioenergy newsletters and conferences at AgraNet. Both in print and web forms, it provides its international subscribers with news, prices and analysis for agricultural commodities such as grains, feed and oilseeds; soft commodities including coffee, cocoa and sugar; and minor commodities such as spices, dried fruit and nuts.
Most sources suggest The Public Ledger was first published on 11 January 1760, though some suggest 1759 and others 12 January 1760. Founder John Newbery, son of a farmer in Berkshire, took an apprenticeship with William Carnan in Reading, inheriting the business after his mentor's death. He moved to London in 1743, setting up a shop called the Bible and Sun at 65 St. Paul's Churchyard, from where he published religious and children's books and The Public Ledger. In 18th Century England it was common for political parties to hold sway (and even subsidise) newspapers. As this trend wanes, The Public Ledger took on the mantra 'Open to All Parties, Influenced by None'. In 2012, a significant redesign saw the traditional 250-year-old Gothic masthead replaced with a modern alternative.
As of January 2014, staff included Emile Mehmet as Managing Editor; Sandra Boga as Deputy Editor; Sabine Crook as Senior Market Reporter, Julian Gale as contributor, Matthew Pendered as Senior Prices Analyst and Mike Moss as Data Analyst. A number of freelance staff and pooled analysts are also employed around the world.
Oliver Goldsmith was known to have written for The Public Ledger, including most famously the Chinese Letters where he poses as a traveller from China to comment on Western behaviour and values. He also mentions "The Ledger" in his novel The Vicar of Wakefield.
Reverend William Jackson, a noted Irish preacher, journalist, playwright, radical and spy, was editor in 1766, while Irish political informant Leonard McNally held the position in the 1780s. Hugh Kelly, an Irish dramatist and poet, also held the post before his death in 1777, while Alexander Chalmers did so some time after 1777.
- Rose, Jonathan. "John Newbery." The British Literary Book Trade, 1700–1820. Eds. J. K. Bracken and J. Silver. Dictionary of Literary Biography. Vol. 154. 1995.
- The London Daily Press, 1772–1792 by Lucyle Werkmeister; University of Nebraska Press, 1963.
- "The Public Ledger".
- The Vicar of Wakefield, ISBN 0-19-283940-3