Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports compiled by Rictor Norton

Sedition and Libel

21-23 May 1702   On Wednesday last Tristrum Savage, was at the Sessions House in the Old Baily, indicted for a misdemeanor, for publishing, a most scandalous false and malicious libel, reflecting on divers Members of the late Parliament, intituled, A List of several Members of the late Parliament met together at the Vine Tavern in Long Acre, and commonly called, the BLACK LIST, and being found Guilty of the same, was fin’d 20 marks; To remain in prison till he pay the same; To stand three times in the pillory, viz. At Temple Bar, Cheapside, and the Royal Exchange, and the libel to be burn’d before him, by the Common Hangman, at each place. [Post Boy]

2-4 June 1702   Yesterday Tristrum Savage stood in the pillory at Chancery Lane end in Fleetstreet, for publishing a scandalous paper, call’d, The Black list, and some people had the confidence to give him wine and money as he stood in the pillory. [Post Boy]

26 February–1 March 1703   ’Tis said, the Seditious Libel, called, The shortest Way with the Dissenters, was Burnt by the common Hangman last Friday in New Pallace-Yard. [The English Post]

22-25 May 1703   On Thursday Daniel de Foe, author of the pamphlet, entitul’d, The Shortest way with the Dissenters, was taken, and after having been examined, he was committed on Saturday to Newgate. [Post-Man]

29-31 July 1703   On Thursday Mr Daniel de Foe, condemned the last Sesions at the Old Baily, for writing a pamphlet entituled, The Shortest way with the Dissenters, stood in the pillory at the Royal Exchange, yesterday at Cheapside Conduit, and is to undergo the same punishment this day at Temple-bar. [Post-Man]

9-11 August 1709
Lately publish’d, the Second Edition of
Secret Memoirs and Manners of several Persons of Quality, of both Sexes, from the new Atalantis, an Island in the Mediteranean. Written originally in Italian. Printed for J. Morphew, near Stationers-Hall; and J. Woodward, in St. Christopher’s Church-yard in Threadneedle-street. [The Post Boy]

29 October–1 November 1709   London, Nov. 1. We are inform’d, that the Author of a Book, lately publish’d, call’d the Atalantis, has surrender’d herself, and is now in the Custody of one of the Queen’s Messengers. [The Post Boy]

5-8 November 1709   Mrs Manley, Author of the Two Volumes of the Secret Memoirs, &c. from the new Atalantis, whom we mention’d in our Paper of this day 7-Night, to have surrender’d herself into the Messenger’s Hands, having mov’d, by her Council, onThursday last, for a Habeas Corpus (which was granted) she was the next day examin’d, and, on Saturday, admitted to Bail. [The Post Boy]

26-29 November 1709   Mrs. Manley, Author of the New Atalantis, appear’d, and was continu’d upon her Recognizance till the First Day of the next Term. [The Post Boy]

25 August 1716   On Thursday last a Scotch Gentleman, who goes under the notion of a Colonel, was seiz’d by a Messenger, at the house of one Mr. Mist [of Mist’s Weekly Journal], printer in Great Carter-Lane, for having abundance of treasonable papers in his custody, especially one scandalous paper, asserting the Pope’s supremacy. And here we cannot but take notice of the insolence of the Papist and Jacobite mobs, who having intelligence that a maid-servant discover’d the abovesaid Colonel, to shew their small bravery and courage, they went in a full body to massacre her, but being protected by a Constable very affectionate to the present Government, he was much insulted and assaulted in a most violent manner, by the cowardly villains; however, he carried the honest servant clear off, and knowing several of the rioters, he intends to prosecute them, in order to bring ’em to condign punishment. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

18 May 1717   Last week one Widow Clark, a printer, was, with her journeyman siez’d by a Messenger, for printing a pamphlet, entitled, To Day is Theirs, to Morrow is Ours; what’s Sauce for the Goose is Sauce for the Gander; no reasonable Man can think it hard to receive a Rowland for an Oliver &c. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

2 August 1718   On Tuesday Robert Harrison, tried and convicted the last Sessions at the Old Baily, for crying out King James for ever, stood in the pillory (pursuant to his sentence) at White Chappel, and one man throwing dirt at him, the mob obliged him to go down on his knees, to ask him forgiveness, and several gave him money. (Weekly Journal, or, Saturday’s-Post)

9-16 August 1718
LONDON, Aug. 16.
On Friday 7-Night last the Assizes ended at Kingston, where three Persons receiv’d Sentence of Death; James Vaughan for the Highway, John Dunton for breaking open a Ware-house, and John Sackey for a Rape; five were burnt in the Hand, four order’d for Transportation, and four to be whipt: Sarah Vallance convicted for cursing King George and all his Famly, was whipt on Saturday last round Kingston Market, and order’d to be whipt that Day Month again, from St. George’s Church to the Bridgefoot. William Beddow was convicted for Drinking the Pretender’s Health by the Name of King James, and his dear Duke of Ormond’s, and for other traiterous and vile Words against his Majesty; and was Sentenced to be whipt round Kingston-Market, which was done last Saturday; to be whipt again that Day Month from St. Goerge’s Church to the Bridge-foot, and to lie a Year in Prison; he was also fined 4s. for assaulting the Persons who detected him. Mr. Moor was likewise try’d upon an Information, and Cast for a Conspiracy to slander and extort Money from the Right Honourable the Earl of Sunderland. (Original Weekly Journal)










18 October 1718   Whereas the World may not be impos’d upon by Mist, printer of the scandalous paper call’d the Saturdays Post, who would have people believe he’s a fighting man since he came from sea, this is to acquaint them all that he stuft up the first page of his last week’s paper with a most horrid lie of a Gentleman sending for him to a certain tavern, which he does not name, and fired a pistol at him, without any body in the house hearing the report, when indeed all the ground of his tedious lie only arose upon a Gentleman meeting him in the street, and knowing his disaffection to the Government, very decently caned him, as he would have done also his author Daniel Foe [Daniel Defoe], had he been with him. But now to prevent the like correction of his impudence for the future, he goes with sword and pistol about him, having made a resolution that upon the first attack he’ll make as much use of the former weapon as he did when he was to meet Curl the bookseller [Edmund Curll] (according to his own challenge) upon the publick place of Fleet-Bridge, but instead of meeting his antagonist at the time appointed, he was found snoring at the Chapter Coffee-House by St Paul’s, as being highly sensible it was best sleeping in a whole skin. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

3 January 1719
Mr. Read,           St. James Market, December 30th, 1718.
In reading one of your Journals wherein I read a letter sent to you from the abovesaid place, concerning several apprentices living there, and thereabout, who were disaffected to the present Government, this is to acquaint you that, your printing the aforesaid had such a good influence on some of those treasonable sparks, that they do not practice those seditious doings as they did before. However some of them are still as wicked as ever, and going with them the Friday in Christmas Week to a certain tavern in Drury-Lane, they there had the impudence to drink the Pretender’s Health, but the title of James the Third, and the Healths of other traytors. On the Sunday following I went with ’em to a bawdy-house in one of the courts going out of Drury-Lane into Wild-Street, where when they were in bed, I packt up all their cloaths, and sent them to their masters, in the pockets where they found several of their goods stoln, as pieces of lace, silk stockings, and other things, so coming all in a body to the bawdy house, with good oaken plants in their hands, they came and surprized their prentices in beds with their whores, whom they thresht after a severe manner, some running one way naked, some another, and some up the chimnies, making them as black as so many devils; so as not ’tis that this discovery of these young fellows’ unlawful doings will bring them also to an early conversion, in the mean time,
          I rest your humble servant unknown,
                    B. C.
(Weekly Journal, or, British Gazetteer)

13 June 1719   A person who sung ballads about the town, is committed to Tuthill-Fields Bridewell, for a year, for wearing a white rose on the 29th of May, and abusing the Justice who committed him. (Original Weekly Journal)

18 February 1720   One Clifton, who had been committed to Newgate, for printing a treasonable ballad on the Pretender's son, was on Monday brought by a Habeas Corpus to the King's Bench-Bar, and admitted to bail. ... The same day Mr. Mist appeared on his recognizance at the King's-Bench Bar, Westminster, and received judgment for a misdemeanor, as follows: viz. That he stand twice in the pillory, at Charing Cross, and the Royal-Exchange: pay a fine of 50l. suffer three months imprisonment in the King's-Bench, and give security for his good behaviour, and for the reforming of his paper for seven years. (London Journal)

4 March 1721   Wednesday, Francis Clifton, was again apprehended for reprinting a traiterous and sedious ballad on the birth of the Pretender's son; and for which he was, not many days ago, bail'd out of Newgate; several hawkers and ballad-singers have been taken up, and committed to Bridewell for selling the said ballad. (Weekly Journal: or, British Gazetteer)

12 April 1722   Some days ago one John Baily was committed to Newgate, for insulting Justice Johnson in the execution of his office, as he was examining certain women for singing and vending a seditious ballad, entitled, A Dialogue between two Horses, &c. (Daily Post)

Wednesday 8 July 1724   Mr Miller, a Swede. was convicted for dispersing an abstract of a pamphlet, called Letters, written by Archibald Hutcheson of the Middle-Temple, Esq; to the late Earl of Sunderland, &.c. in written News-Letters to sundry Parts of the Kingdom, tending to create jealousies and uneasiness in the minds of his Majesty's subject. (The Daily Journal)

4 December 1725   Tuesday last Mr. Curl, the Bookseller, was cast at the King’s Bench, upon two Informations against him, for publishing two vile and scandalous Books; the one call’d De usu Flagrorum, and the other A Poem in Praise of Drunkenness, or The Nun in her Smock. [Mist's Weekly Journal]

12 February 1726   Saturday last died Mr. Abel Roper, formerly a bookseller in Fleet-street, and a proprietor of the Post-Boy, in which paper he has left such abundant testimonials of his zeal for indefeasible hereditary right, for monarchy, passive obedience, the Church, the Queen, and the Doctor, that the publick can be no strangers to his principles either in Church or State.
     And the same day died his celebrated Antagonist Mr. George Ridpath, proprietor and first projector of the Flying Post, which he set up in May, 1695, and carry’d on, without interruption, till the Year 1713, when several prosecutions against him for some reflections on the then Administration, forc’d him to fly to Scotland, his native country, and from thence to Holland, where he wrote, Parliamentary Right maintain’d, or the Hanover Succession justify’d; in answer to Dr. Bedford’s Hereditary Right to the Crown of England asserted. He returned to England upon the accession of his present Majesty, and was made one of the patentees for serving the Commissioners of the Customs, &c. in Scotland with stationary wares. He understood the history of his own country as well as most men, as appears from his tracts relating to the Darien Company, the Union, and several other pieces he wrote and publish’d in defence of the antiquity, independency, and all the rights and prerogatives of that antient kingdom both in Kirk and State. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]



9 July 1726   On Monday at the King’s-Bench-Bar at Westminster, Mr. Thomas Meighan, a Roman Catholick bookseller in Drury Lane, was convicted upon an information exhibited by his Majesty’s Attorney-General, for publishing a most scandalous libel against the Reformation, and the doctrines taught by the Church of England; intitled, England’s Conversion and Reformation compar’d; Or, The Young Gentleman directed in the Choice of his Religion: To which is premised, An Inquiry into the Grounds of the Catholick Faith, &c. Which book, as it appear’d by the defendant’s confession, was printed at Antwerp, and sent over hither to be dispersed. Being upon his recognizance, he is to receive judgment the next term. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

18 February 1727   Last Saturday Night, Mr. Edmund Curll and his Son, was taken into the Custody of a Messenger, for the 3d Volume of the Memoirs of Ker of Kersland, &c. but are since admitted to Bail. [The Weekly Journal, or British Gazetteer]

4 March 1727   John Spencer, convicted of cursing his Majesty, and using opprobrious words against the Government, to stand in the pillory at Charing-Cross, and to be imprisoned for a year. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

14-18 March 1726 [i.e. 1727 New Style]
Whereas some villanous and evil-minded Persons, did, on Saturday Night last, very much abuse and deface the Statue of his present Majesty on Horseback, lately set up in Grosvenor-Square, by tearing off the Left Leg at the Thigh, and cutting the Neck of the said Statue, and also the Rein of the Bridle, and by wrenching off the Sword and Truincheon, (both which they carried away.) Now this is to give Notice, that if any Person shall discover the Person or Persons concerned in the same Fact (so as such Person or Persons shall be convicted thereof) to Mr. Robert Andrews, near the Blue-Boar in Great Russell-Street, Bloomsbury, the Party making such Discovery, shall, on such Conviction, receive from Sir Ricahrd Grovenor [sic], Bart. the Sum of One Pounds, to be paid by the said Robert Andrews.
   March 16, 1726      Robert Andrews.
          [The London Gazette]

18 March 1727   Last Saturday night the fine statue of the King on horse back made by Mr. Nost and set up in Grosvenor Square, was very much defaced by some villainous persons yet unknown, the left leg being torn off at the length and laid upon the pedestal, one rein of the bridle almost cut through, the sword and truncheon wrench’d off and carried away, the neck also hack’d as if they design’d to cut off the head, and a most scandalous libel was left at the place. We hear Sir Richard Grosvenor has promis’d a reward of an hundred pounds to any person that shall discover the villains concern’d in defacing the said statue. [Weekly Journal, or The British Gazetteer]

17 May 1729   On Tuesday Robert Knell, who was tried and convicted the 25th of February last at Guildhall, for printing Mist’s Journal of the 24th of August last, appeared at the Court of King’s-Bench, and was committed; as were also John Clarke, the pressman, who was found guilty of printing and publishing, and Joseph Carter, Wolfe’s apprentice, who was found guilty of printing, and Amy Walker, his servant maid, convicted of publishing the said libel; and they are all to be brought into Court the last day of term for judgment. (London Journal)

24 May 1729   The judgment against the persons concern’d in printing and publishing Mist’s Journal of the 24th of August last, was as follows: – John Clarke, the press man, for printing and publishing, to stand three times in the pillory, viz at the Royal-Exchange, at Temple-Bar, and at Charing-Cross, and afterwards to be sent to Bridewell for six months, and to be kept to hard labour. – Robert Knell, the compositor, for printing, to stand twice in the pillory, at the Royal-Exchange and Charing-Cross, and afterwards to be committed to Bridewell for six months, and kept to har dlabour. – Amy Walker, Mist’s maid, for publishing, to be committed for six months to Bridewell, and being stript down to her waist, to receive the correction of the house, and kept to hard labour. – Joseph Carter, the apprentice, and a press-man, for printing the said libel, to go round all the Four Courts in Westminster-Hall, sitting the said Courts, the first day of next term, with a paper fix’d upon his head, denoting the offence of which he stands convicted, to be sent to Bridewell for one month, and kept to hard labour. (London Journal)

14 January 1731   On saturday night Mrs. Nutt, Mrs. Dodd, andMrs. Pearce, 3 Mercuries, were taken into custody of one of his Majesty’s Messengers, for publishing the Craftsman of the same day. [Grub-street Journal]

21 January 1731   Monday Mrs. Dodd the Publisher, &c. was admitted to bail, as were Mr. Franklin and Mrs. Nutt on Tuesday, and Mrs. Smith yesterday. [GRUB-STREET JOURNAL]

29 April 1731   A few days ago dy’d Mr. Daniel Defoe, sen. a person well known for his numerous and various writing. He had a great natural genius; and understood very well the trade and interest of this Kingdom. His knowledge of men, especially those in high life, (with whom he was formerly very conversant) had weaken’d his attachment to any party; but in the main, he was in the interest of civil and religious liberty, in behalf of which he appear’d on several remarkable occasions. – On monday in the evening died, at his lodgings in Rope-Makers-Alley in Moor-fields, the famous Mr. Daniel De Foe, in a very advanced age. – It is no small comfort to me, that my Brother died in a good old age, in a place made famous by the decease of several of our Members; having kept himiself out of the dangerous alleys of those high-flying rope-makers, who would fain have sent him long ago, to his long home, by the shortest way with the Dissenters. [Grub-street Journal]

27-30 January 1744   On Friday John Whitehead and John Harrison were taken up in the City of London by order of Sir William Billers, and by him committed to bridewell for the space of one month to hard labour, for singing of seditious ballads, and being dress’d in a ridiculous manner, with paper stars and garters, and horns tipp’d with gold in their hats, and for being loose, idle, and disorderly persons, not having any visible way of living. (The Penny London Morning Advertiser)

(Texts have been modernized with regard to capitalization, italicization, and punctuation, but original spelling has been retained. This edition copyright Rictor Norton. All rights reserved. Reproduction for sale or profit prohibited. These extracts may not be archived, republished or redistributed without the permission of the compiler.)

CITATION: Rictor Norton, Early Eighteenth-Century Newspaper Reports: A Sourcebook, "Sedition and Libel", 18 March 2002; updated 10 April 2007 <http://grubstreet.rictornorton.co.uk/sedition.htm>

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