Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Archive Anecdotes

Snippets from the city's archives

Jul 11, 2016

Today many printed newspapers find that technological advances in communications threaten their very existence. One hundred and fifty years ago, on 11 July 1866, the Caledonian Mercury, which was published three times a week from Edinburgh, announced that due to the advent of ‘telegraphic news’:

‘We have determined after Saturday next to alter the time of publication from the Morning to the Evening and to devote the entire resources of our establishment to the production of a FIRST CLASS EVENING NEWSPAPER.’

The 'Caledonian Mercury’ was first published in 1720.  Sixty years before the short lived ‘Mercurius Caledonius' had appeared in 1660 and 1661 as arguably the first Scottish newspaper. It was not merely a reprint of London papers, but contained domestic news as well as reports from abroad. The 1720 Caledonian Mercury was established by William Holland, an Edinburgh lawyer. In 1729 it came into the hands of Thomas Ruddiman, the Latin grammarian and publisher.

It claimed to be the successor of the ‘Mercurius Caledonius,’ possibly due to the coincidence of title and a partiality to the house of Stuart, which is supposed to have influenced its promoters. However during the Jacobite rebellions of 1745-6 it avoided government censure by taking a pro Hanover stance, and referring to the Jacobites as ‘rebels’. Indeed their coverage of the Battle of Falkirk Muir in 1746 reports a Government victory when, in fact, the Jacobites won the encounter.

The paper’s efforts to survive failed. The National Library of Scotland (NLS) holds a copy of the last edition from April 1867. In 1868 the copyright of the title Caledonian Mercury passed to the Scotsman. The title was revived briefly from 2010 to 2014 as an online newspaper.

The NLS enables access to digitised copies of the Caledonian Mercury which help provide many of the 'Archive Anecdotes' that we publish.



















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