University of Tasmania
whole_BellJane1994_thesis.pdf (6.91 MB)

\An extremely scurrilous paper\" : the Cornwall Chronicle 1835-47"

Download (6.91 MB)
posted on 2023-05-27, 07:15 authored by Bell, Jane
On the 9th of February 1847, Earl Grey, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, sent a circular despatch to all colonies under the British Crown requesting that they provide him with details of each of the major newspapers that were currently operating. This was nothing new. Grey commented in the despatch that it had been a common practice for a number of years and that \there are no means by which Her Majesty's Government may become acquainted with the general tone and temper of Colonial Society so readily as through the Colonial Press.\" He wanted information on the circulation of each paper to which classes in society each might appeal and the general character of the particular paper. He stressed that all despatches on this subject would be confidential. Governor William Denison of Van Diemen's Land referred the matter to Colonial Secretary J.B. Bicheno on the 21 July 1847. Bicheno's confidential reply noted that the north of the colony supported two journals published twice weekly the Cornwall Chronicle and the Launceston Examiner. He also commented that Mr. William Lushington Goodwin editor of the former was once again its sole proprietor. When Goodwin had become insolvent he had managed the business paying rent to Mr. John Cameron who bought it at public auction. Bicheno continued: \"It has usually been an extremely scurrilous paper and does not possess much influence amongst the more respectable classes of Society but it is extensively circulated amongst the Licensed Victuallers and read by many who love personalities. It advocates the continuance of transportation to this Colony. The Launceston Examiner on the other hand was considered to be \"a very respectable paper especially amongst the better sort of persons on the Northern side.\" It was also acknowledged as being the advocate of the cessation of transportation. Governor Denison forwarded this reply to Earl Grey on the 10th of November 1847 and added some remarks of his own including the fact that this information might to a certain extent be outdated by the time it was received because newspapers appeared to change hands and because \"the character of a paper is in this Colony so entirely dependent upon that of its Editor.\" This thesis examines and analyses the pages of the Cornwall Chronicle from 1835 until 1847 with reference to the observations of Earl Grey Colonial Secretary Bicheno and Governor Denison and within the context of the prevailing social economic and political conditions. The analysis of any newspaper includes the development of the newspaper itself but also takes into account the \"perceptions and experiences of its readers as reflected in the content.\" All components of a newspaper's content ought to be analysed if conclusions are to be drawn about that particular newspaper reflecting the society in which it operates. For example an analysis of the content of the notices and advertisements gives an indication of the goods and services available as well as what percentage of space in the newspaper is devoted to advertising. The editorial comment on the other hand can act as a guide to understanding the views of the readers and the correspondent's page can indicate that audience's reaction to an issue. However not all readers would view the contents of a newspaper in the same way and the fact that an item may appear frequently does not necessarily reflect its importance. With these constraints therefore what is to be gained from an analysis of the content? By analysing the content of a newspaper we are able to examine the way of life as it is expressed for those readers at that particular time and to use Earl Grey's words \"become acquainted with the general tone and temper of Colonial Society.\" 6 The Introduction to the thesis provides the frame of reference as well as some background information on the settlement of Launceston. Part A examines the Cornwall Chronicle in terms of its general appearance and layout the circulation and distribution its editor and its competitors. Part A aims to establish the identity of this particular colonial newspaper. Part B of the thesis aims to add to that identity by analysing the content of the newspaper. It examines some of the components of Van Diemen's Land society as they are interpreted in the pages of the newspaper. Part C addresses the issues of colonial administration transportation freedom of the press and scurrility as presented in the Cornwall Chronicle and within the broader colonial context. These issues have been selected because of their relevance to Van Diemen's Land society in general and to an understanding of the character of the newspaper in particular. The conclusion to the thesis relates the comments of Grey Denison and Bicheno to this analysis. Because the relationship between any society and the newspaper(s) which serve it is a complex one it is difficult to draw conclusions about that particular society. Nevertheless the difficulty will be confronted."


Publication status

  • Unpublished

Rights statement

Copyright 1994 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Includes bibliographical references (leaves 138-141). Thesis (M. Hum.)--University of Tasmania, 1994

Repository Status

  • Open

Usage metrics

    Thesis collection


    No categories selected


    Ref. manager