There were numerous newspapers published in the Port Phillip District prior to Separation. Here is a listing of some of the more notable of them.
"The Melbourne Advertiser" commenced on 1 January 1838. Regarded as being our first newspaper it was a handwritten sheet published weekly John Pascoe Fawkner (1792-1869). The first printed edition appeared on 5 March 1838. It was closed down on 23 April 1838 for want of a newspaper license from Sydney.
The "Port Phillip Patriot and Melbourne Advertiser" was commenced on 6 February 1839 by newly licensed John Pascoe Fawkner. John Pridham Smith (c1810- 1851) became editor in 1840 followed by William Kerr (1812-1859) in 1841. It was first published daily on the 15 May 1845 by John Pascoe Fawkner who resumed as editor after his father purchased the paper. James McEachern was the next editor. George Darley Boursiquot was proprietor and editor from 1 October 1845. It became "The Melbourne Daily News and Port Phillip Patriot" from 9 October 1848 and simply "The Melbourne Daily News" from November 1848 to beyond 30 June 1851.
"The Standard" was commenced by George Darley Boursiquot in 1844 and "The Port Phillip Gazetteer" was published in 1844 by Thomas Strode. They had apparently become "The Standard and Port Phillip Gazetteer" by 26 February 1845 and were amalgamated with the "Port Phillip Patriot" on 1 October 1845.
The "Port Phillip Gazette" was commenced on 27 October 1838 by Thomas Strode (1812-1880) and George Arden (c1820-1854). Arden became the sole proprietor in 1841 but lost it to his creditors in 1842. It was later edited and published by Thomas McCombie who became sole proprietor in October 1844. It became a daily as the "Times" about March 1851 with William Kerr as editor but closed on 30 June 1851.
The "Port Phillip Herald" was commenced on 3 January 1840 by George Cavenagh (1808-1869). Edited by William Kerr and then by Thomas Hamilton Osborne. Edmund "Garryowen" Finn was a reporter. It became a daily paper on 1 January 1849 as "The Melbourne Morning Herald".
"The Port Phillip Magazine" was published monthly from January 1843 to April 1843. It was edited by William Byam Wilmot ( -1874) and George Alexander Gilbert and published by William Kerr.
The "Port Phillip Government Notices" commenced on 4 January 1843. It was printed at the "Times" Office by a Mr. Brown & Ryland John Howard, Government Printers and "Published by Authority". It had become the "Port Phillip Government Gazette" by January 1844 and was being printed at the "Port Phillip Herald" Office by William Clarke. In January 1845 it was being printed by Samuel Goode at the "Port Phillip Patriot" Office. William Clarke resumed as Government Printer in January 1846; Samuel Goode in January 1847 and 1848; Edward Wilson in January 1849; George Darley Boursiquot in January 1850 and Edward Wilson & James Stewart Johnston from 25 January 1850 to 30 June 1851.
"The Melbourne Argus" was commenced on 2 June 1846 by William Kerr (1812- 1859) and ceased 12 September 1848. It was replaced by "The Argus" which commenced on 15 September 1848 with Edward Wilson (1813-1878) as proprietor. He was soon joined by James Stewart Johnston (1811-1896).
"Ham's Illustrated Australian Magazine" commenced in late July/early August 1850. Published by the Ham Brothers, it was printed by Samuel Goode until Jabez Ham took over in March 1851.
The "Port Phillip Christian Herald" was commenced in January 1846 by the Rev. James Forbes (c1813-1851). It was printed and/or published by Thomas McCombie. Apparently became "The Victorian Christian Herald" by 1851.
"The Church of England Messenger" commenced on 1 January 1850. It was founded by Bishop Charles Perry (1807-1891) and the Rev. Daniel Newham (c1816- 1851) and was printed by Benjamin Lucas.
The "Melbourne Presbyterian Magazine" which commenced in October 1850 was edited by the Rev. Andrew Mitchell Ramsay (1809-1869).
"The Geelong Advertiser" was commenced on 21 November 1840 by John Pascoe Fawkner. It was edited by James Harrison (c1816-1893) and printed and published for Fawkner by William Watkins. Watkins was soon replaced by John H. Scamble. Scamble returned to Scotland and James Harrison became sole proprietor about 1842. A country edition was published from 1 January 1850 by Daniel Harrison (brother of James Harrison) as "The Intelligencer". The two papers merged in 1851 as "The Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer".
"The Corio Chronicle and Western District Advertiser" was commenced about September 1847 by William Beaver and William Clarke. In June 1848 it was being run by Richard Forrest and Dr. J. Dickson. It became the "Victoria Colonist and Western District Advertiser" from 3 September 1849 when it was edited by Gilbert Robertson (1794-1851) and published for Dr. Alexander Thomson (1800-1866).
"The Portland Guardian and Normanby General Advertiser" commenced on 20 August 1842. It was printed and published jointly by James Swords and Thomas Wilkinson. Thomas Wilkinson (1799-1881) later became the sole proprietor. It continued beyond 30 June 1851.
"The Portland Mercury and Normanby Advertiser" was commenced on 31 August 1842. It was edited by Joseph Thompson and printed and published by Robert Fisher for the joint benefit of William Kerr, Joseph Thompson and Robert Fisher. Became "The Portland Mercury and Port Fairy Register" from 28 July 1843. Robert Fisher was the sole proprietor when Thomas Hamilton Osborne (c1805-1853) took over from 10 January 1844. Apparently became "The Portland Gazette and Belfast Advertiser" by 1845 and was run by Thomas Hamilton Osborne.
The "Portland Bay Examiner and Chronicle of Australia Felix" commenced on 14 January 1845. It was printed by David Hargrave at the house of Thomas Wilkinson and published by David Hargrave. It appears to have finished on 13 May 1845.
The "Belfast Gazette and Portland and Warrnambool Advertiser" which commenced on 6 April 1849 was edited and published by Thomas Hamilton Osborne.
The "Warrnambool Examiner" was commenced by Richard Osburne (1825-1895) in March 1851.
Many of the above newspapers have been microfilmed and are available for viewing in the Newspaper Reading Room, State Library of Victoria. An updated listing of their holdings for Australian and overseas newspapers was recently compiled by Kim Wilson of Serial Acquisitions, copies of which are available free from their Information Desk.
After the above article was published I was contacted by Rod Kirkpatrick who has a special interest in Australian newspapers. He publishes a regular newsletter on the subject and is writing a history of the Australian provincial press, with a special focus on the dailies (about eighty towns had dailies at one time or another). To contact him click on his name.
I was also contacted by Neil Urbino who pointed out that there had been two Dr. J. Dicksons in the Port Phillip District. He believes that the editor of "The Corio Chronicle and Western District Advertiser" was Dr. John Dickson rather than his distant relative, Dr. James Dickson.
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