London Gazette First Published
In fact the London Gazette would not appear as such until months later – on February 5 1666 - as when the first official gazette did appear the King and Court were in Oxford, having fled the ravages of the plague then terrorising London , thus the publication was entitled Oxford Gazette.
Then as now it was intended that the paper would be a newspaper of record, listing official appointments, military commissions, deaths, bankruptcies, and other matters of fact thought to be of value to the populace and worthy of being set down in black and white. Never a racy read from its first appearance to the current day (when it is available online as well as in paper format) the very first article concerned the appointment of a new Bishop of Oxford on November 7 1665: “This day the Reverend Doctor Walter Blandford, Warden of Wadham Colledge [sic] in this University, was Elected Lord Bishop of this See; vacant by the death of Dr. Paul, late Bishop here.”
The first edition was written by politician Joseph Williamson, and printed in Oxford by Leonard Lichfield (later reprinted in London) with the support or even at the behest of Charles II , who saw the advantage of controlling information, though the copy itself stated its contents were “For the Use of some Merchants and Gentlemen who desire them”. Pepys in London got hold of a copy on November 22, and wrote: “This day the first of the ’Oxford Gazettes’ came out, which is very pretty, full of news, and no folly in it-wrote by Williamson.”
Still published three and a half centuries later the Gazette is one of Britain’s great institutions.
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