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Treasure 46: The Aberdeen Herald
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Treasure 46: The Aberdeen Herald

Historic Documents
Léa Moreau
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Treasure 46: The Aberdeen Herald
Historic Documents
Treasure 46: The Aberdeen Herald
When the first weekly issue of The Aberdeen's Journal was published by James Chalmers in January 1748 who would have guessed it would still be in production today (admittedly with several changes of title and ownership) as The Press and Journal.

The monopoly of The Aberdeen Journal, as it soon became, remained almost unchallenged throughout the eighteenth century but the nineteenth century saw the publication of several competing newspapers. Most of these were short-lived but included The Aberdeen Herald, and General Advertiser for The Counties of Aberdeenshire, Banffshire, and Kincardineshire, which was published between 1832 and 1876.

We hold the first copy of this weekly newspaper in our collections. It was printed and published by George Cornwall, and was issued on Saturday 1 September 1832. It succeeded an earlier paper called The Aberdeen Chronicle which had been in production since 1806. The Aberdeen Journal was seen then as politically neutral but the Herald is described as Whig-Radical and its opening advertisement states "In fact, the chief object of The Aberdeen Herald will be to obtain a cheap, efficient, and patriotic system of Government".

Since the Herald was published on a Saturday while the Journal appeared on Wednesday, it was able to include articles which would have been old news by the following Wednesday and could also provide updates to news from earlier in the week.

The newspaper cost 7d which was far beyond what an ordinary person could pay and restricted readership to the wealthy. This high cost was a result of taxes imposed by the Stamp Act of 1712 which was not abolished until 1855. Papers could then be bought for 1d and there was freedom to produce mass-circulation newspapers with improved text layout.

The front pages of newspapers, even as recently as the early 1900s, did not contain news stories but were filled with adverts - business, theatrical events, shipping, property and public notices. The issue of The Aberdeen Herald for 21 April 1866 contained an advert explaining the change of name for the town of Inverurie. Local historian, Dr Douglas Lockhart, provides the following account of the town's name change.

The market town of Inverurie was one of the fastest growing places in Aberdeenshire during the mid-nineteenth century when its population increased from 735 in 1821 to 2524 in 1871. Many factors contributed to rapid growth at this time including good communications, initially by turnpike roads and the Aberdeenshire Canal to nearby Port Elphinstone, and from the mid-century it lay astride the railway line between Aberdeen, Elgin and Inverness.

Further advantages were the extensive agricultural surroundings, markets and successful local businesses. Surprisingly Alexander Smith in A New History of Aberdeenshire, which was published in 1875, has little to say about the transformation of the town. However, he wrote a lengthy paragraph to describe how 'INVERURIE was, in former times, written Inneraury, Ennerawrie, and Hennerawie, and latterly Inverury' and he notes that the name meant "the confluence of the river of the margin".

On 5 February 1866 the Council met to discuss what appears to have become a growing problem - mail was being sent to Inveraray in Argyllshire because Inverury was not listed by the Post Office as a Post Town. The solution was simple: "return to the ancient spelling of the Burgh as Inverurie and to memorialise the Postmaster General to have it set down on the Lists as a Post Town". The Postmaster agreed to the name change and the scene was set on 19 April for the Council to discuss advertising the new arrangements. The wording of an advertisement was approved and it was decided to place it in the Edinburgh Gazette, Aberdeen Journal, Aberdeen Free Press, Aberdeen Herald and Banffshire Journal and "to endeavour to get the Railway Company to alter the spelling of the Station in their Tables".

Inverury officially became Inverurie the following day and on 21 April The Aberdeen Herald announced the change of name in the advertising columns of its front page. The Banffshire Journal in addition to printing the advertisement also published a glowing report on building activity in the burgh and noted that "within the memory of living inhabitants [the town] has been thoroughly regenerated".

Aberdeen Local Studies holds files of many local newspapers on microfilm, including the Aberdeen Herald and the Free Press. A digitised partial file is also available on the British Newspaper Archive which can be freely consulted online in the Central Library using your library card.
Aberdeen Herald, Inverurie
Aberdeen Local Studies
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