Historical Background

Before mentioning the Malton newspapers specifically, some context about the general newspaper situation of the period should be noted.

From the early 18th century there were taxes on publishing - newspapers, bills, pamphlets and at some point a tax on paper. In 1814 the tax on newspapers was set at 4d per copy. Legislation followed that spelt out the scope of the tax - those that contained any "public news, intelligence or occurrences, or any remarks or observations thereon, or upon any matter in Church or State," and/or those which appeared more frequently than every twenty-six days.

In 1836 the tax was reduced to 1d and eliminated altogether in 1855.

It was therefore not until this 'tax on knowledge' was eliminated that the general population could afford to buy a newspaper and proprietors could viably satisfy this need.

The Malton Messenger

The Malton Messenger began as a monthly periodical in 1853; it successfully progressed and was printed as a broadsheet in June 1854. The company had hoped to produce a weekly edition of the paper by this time but owing to the scope of the tax retained their monthly frequency.

Once these restrictions were lifted the Malton Messenger was free to publish weekly, the first edition on 14 July 1855 [1]

See an early example of the Malton Messenger, Saturday, 19th April 1862 by clicking on the image below (warning large file)

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[1] The Malton Messenger: 1 July 1854

The Malton & Norton Gazette

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Malton's first weekly newspaper commenced publication on Saturday, 30th June, 1855. It cost 1d and a short item announced the opportunity created by the repeal of the newspaper tax.

The front page of these early issues contained advertisements from local traders. The back page contained 'Local Intelligence' - items of likely local interest to Maltonians.

In between the front and back pages was coverage of progress with various wars (Crimea, Sebastapol), Parliamentary matters, and coverage of notable law, police and commercial matters.

It was printed and published every Saturday morning by the Proprietor, George Barnby, bookseller, stationer, &c., at his printing office, Wheelgate, 'where all Advertisements, Communications, and Books for Review, are to be addressed.'

From the very first issue a list of sellers in the surrounding villages was published. It was not until issue 6 that availability from additional sellers in Malton was publicised: Mr. Collier and Mr. Harrison, Booksellers; Mr. Masterman and Mr. Hide, Hairdressers.


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Please view the electronic copies of the newspapers below. Each file is approximately 1.5gb. To keep the file sizes to a minimum I have only included the pages covering Malton news and advertisements.





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