Worcester News: Static HTML image
Worcester News: Static HTML image

This H Berrow or Harvey Berrow, who gave our paper its name, moved the business from Sidbury to Goose Lane. The day of publication changed to Thursday and on June 23, 1748, the paper carried this brief notice: ''Last Sunday night died, of a mortification, Mr Stephen Bryan who near 40 years was printer of this paper. About three months ago he assigned over the printing business, with all the materials to H Berrow, the printer hereof.'' Stephen Bryan was buried on June 20, 1748 in Old St Michael's.

Enter Mr Berrow

He left £4 a year to the Worcester Infirmary, then a new institution. A farm at Suckley, which had belonged to him, was sold by order of his executor. Harvey Berrow was the third son of the Rev Capel Berrow of Christ's College, Cambridge, for 40 years Perpetual Curate of Northill, Bedfordshire and chaplain to William Earl Cowper. His eldest brother, also called Capel Berrow, was an MA and became renowned for his theological writings. Richard Berrow, the second son, was an apothecary at Peterborough and his profession may well have had some connection with the fact that Harvey, like his predecessor, combined the dispensing of medicines with his printing and publishing. His medicines bore not only the Berrow name but also the family's coat of arms. Thus the label for Berrow's tincture of Bark was printed with the name encircling an elaborate excutcheon bearing the three bears heads, erased, which were the Berrow Shield. Except that he had been named Harvey by his father after the squire of the parish, a Mr Harvey of Tewkesbury, and that he married Margaret Cooker of Cirencester and died in August 1776 being buried at St Oswald's Worcester, very little is known of Harvey Berrow.

Unscrupulous Opposition

One thing we do know about him is that he had to contend with unscrupulous opposition. He put up a spirited fight against what he called ''spurious journals which infest the county'' and when in 1753 a competitor appeared in Worcester, also calling his paper the Worcester Journal, Berrow was incensed and indignantly put his own name into the title so that readers could be sure they were buying the genuine article. Oddly enough this momentous change of title which occurred in the issue of October 11, 1753 and which has been retained ever since was not referred to in the paper itself. One week it was the Worcester Journal and the next it appeared as Berrow's Worcester Journal.

Worcester News: Static HTML image

In 1712 a stamp duty was imposed on Newspapers and this
was recorded on the pages with this stamp

Berrow's Worcester Journal

He soon put his opponents to flight, the opposition closed down, but although the Berrow family have long ceased to have any connection with the paper, their name has perpetuated. Berrow was forthright about the methods of the opposition to obstruct the sale of his paper. He wrote of ''the mean, scandalous wretches'' who went around spreading false rumours that his agents had given up selling the paper or had absconded with the money they owed him. He knew a thing or two about the law too, for when called upon to substantiate his charges he said he was not obliged to ''for as no particular person was charged with being guilty of the said practices therefore no particular person has a right to insist in my making proof thereof.''

Any idea that the journalism of those days was a leisurely affair with a vague deadline is dispelled by this notice in the issue of November 9, 1769: ''This Journal is published very early in the morning (by means of an express) and circulated with so much expedition as to precede in many places the arrival of the London Mail by several hours, and yet will contain, as usual, the most material occurrences from the papers published in London on the Tuesday night.''

And in another issue about that time it was stated: ''We have established such a regular and respectable correspondence in London as will constantly afford us the pleasurable opportunity of communicating many interesting occurrences which cannot possible appear in any other country newspaper till some days after, nor even in any London papers before those which arrive in these parts in Friday's mail.''

We do not know how Berrow collected his local news. We can only assume that he relied on outside sources as his time must have been fully occupied in setting the type, printing and publishing his Journal.

Here are two examples taken at random:

''June 5, 1750: Yesterday a woman who lives without Sidbury Gate and goes by the name of Thirsty Martha being at the Wheatsheaf Publick House in that Neighbourhood a man offered to pay for as much Ale as she could drink while he smoked a pipe of tobacco; she accordingly drank eight pints in the Time (which was in less than a quarter of an hour) and went off not at all disordered, excepting that she complained she was still very dry.''

Some of the reports that Berrow received from his correspondents must have been more suspect than those he actually published. And to prove that he was not easily fooled he published the following on July 20th 1758: ''The Piece of Intelligence we received this morning relating to the Marriage of Person of Evesham we must beg to be excused inserting not only from it being anonymous but that it has likewise too much of a Pun in it."

Full Chapter List
Chapter 1: A Place in History
Chapter 2: Enter Mr Berrow
Chapter 3: Fatalities in the City
Chapter 4: First Woman Editor
Chapter 5: Mayoral Conflict
Chapter 6: To The Present Day
Chapter 7: Newspaper History


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