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The First English Daily Newspaper is Born *

On Wednesday, March 11, 1702 (under the Julian calendar), the first issue of The Daily Courant is published by Elizabeth Mallet, a bookseller and printer. (FYI, the word "courant" in this context means "up to date" or "up to speed".) It is a single page containing international news on the front and advertisements on the back. The publisher promises not to lead the reader, trusting that the average Englishman is intelligent enough to come to his own conclusions given the facts at hand. The newspaper will soon be sold to another publisher and he will run it until 1735 when he will upset King George the 2nd and the newspaper will suddenly find itself absorbed into The Daily Gazetteer. Benjamin Franklin is not yet born, but The New-England Courant will be established in 1721 by his older brother, James. Benjamin Franklin will apprentice to his brother and write letters to the editor under the pen name of "Mrs. Silence Dogood" which will lead to his brother's month-long imprisonment and Benjamin Franklin's sudden abandonment of his apprenticeship. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Freedom of the press in those days was a dream as yet unrealized and the truth was no defense against libel. Even now in Great Britain the truth is not a defense, but it helps. The truth barely saved The Wall Street Journal Europe when it was sued by a Saudi billionaire after it reported that Saudi bank accounts were being monitored after the 9-11 attacks on the United States. (Explicative deleted) In the United States, the plaintiff must prove that the media reported untruths with malice and with full knowledge of the facts. In Great Britain, the media must prove that the news story was actually newsworthy and within the bounds of responsible journalism. That is a much tougher standard to meet. Given some of the worthless, so-called news reporting I've seen, I am tempted, but as bad as a free press can be, censorship is worse. George Washington called the news media "infamous scribblers" but he still read the newspapers. [5] [6] [7] [8]

Yo, Ho, Ho! Anne Bonny the Pirate is Born... in Jail!

Anne Bonny is born to an Irish attorney, William McCormac, and his house maid, Mary, while Mary is in jail for stealing the spoons. Mary found herself in jail because William's wife became suspicious of the maid and switched beds with her. In the dark of night her husband showed up in Mary's room and by all accounts he was vigorous in his affections... much to the chagrin of his wife. Thereafter, Mary reported that the spoons were missing and after a search, they were discovered in Mary's "hope" chest. Her boyfriend had put them there. (William is furious that Mary would cheat on him!) So that is how Mary the Maid finds herself in jail giving birth to her daughter, Anne. In years to come, William will take Mary and Anne to Carolina. As Anne grows she will become the object of affection for young men and those young men will be beaten to a pulp by Anne. That is... until she falls in love with the pirate James Bonny and marries him. She will soon dump him for the pirate "Calico Jack" Rackham and together with the pirate Mary Read, they will steal the sloop William. Anne will be in and out of prison until she is seen no more... perhaps lost somewhere in Jamaica, or ransomed by her father and married off to an unsuspecting Virginian. No one really knows. [9] [10]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
FYI, it was Rackham who came up with the skull and crossbones flag for pirates. Anne Bonny was Rackham's lover but Mary Read loved Rackham too. (What a man!) Nevertheless, Mary Read was pregnant by another fellow. Rackham was hanged for piracy but Anne and Mary pleaded for a reprieve from execution because they were with child. This was called "pleading the belly". English law allowed for this sort of reprieve and such women often received a pardon. The assumption was that their crimes were due to the direction of their husband to whom they were sworn to obey. Thus the man would often bear the punishment for whatever crimes his wife was committing. (In some ways, modern courts still assume that a woman is misled into a life of crime, but that attitude is changing as women take responsibility for their own actions... except regarding sex. Then women are helpless dupes of craven men bent to their own perverted goals.) Anne gained her reprieve and nothing more is heard of her. Mary Read caught a fever while in prison and died before she was released. [11] [12] [13] [14]

The King is Dead. Long Live Queen Anne's War

King William the 3rd of England (and the Prince of Orange in the Netherlands) has fallen from his horse as it stumbles and he breaks his collar bone. It is set and all seems well, but after beating off several fevers he struggles with pneumonia and passes on in peace... leaving a really big hole in the succession. Luckily, his wife, Queen Mary (now deceased), has a younger sister, Lady Anne. Lady Anne is the daughter of King James the 2nd, the Catholic King who had been chased out of England. Anne is Anglican so she qualifies to take the throne. King William had a policy of containing the King of France so Queen Anne continues that policy. In addition, she extends that war to Spain in defense of Holland and to weaken France. (At this point, England and Holland are one and Holland has been dominated by Spain.) This war will extend into the American colonies and be called Queen Anne's War. Compared to previous wars, very few people will die, but this war will drag on until 1713 and include several Indian tribes, some siding with the French, some with the Spanish and some with England. [15] [16]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Most historians praise Queen Anne, but she wasn't a great monarch. She was a great Englishwoman. She dominated her husband, Prince George of Denmark, which was probably a good thing from a political perspective, but others seemed to dominate her... particularly her friends. Queen Anne's War was expensive, and even though England managed to take Madrid, the war became unpopular. Queen Anne had gout which forced her to be carried or pushed in a wheelchair wherever she went. She was fat and crabby, but I find it difficult to ping her for that. Her disabilities must have been difficult to manage. She had given birth to numerous children, none of which lived to maturity. Historians suggest that her medical problems caused problems with her pregnancies but exactly what her medical issue was remains an educated guess. Oddly enough, she believed that the touch of a monarch could cure disease. She could not cure herself though and she became the last English monarch to practice the ancient rite of curing her subjects by touch. [17]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1702, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. The Daily Courant - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 4 January 2016. “The Daily Courant, initially published on 11 March 1702, was the first British daily newspaper. It was produced by Elizabeth Mallet at her premises next to the Kings Arms tavern at Fleet Bridge in London.”
  2. Attitude (heraldry) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 4 January 2016. “A beast courant (also at speed or in full chase) is running, depicted at full stride with all four legs in the air.”
  3. The Daily Courant. Everything2.com (2016). Retrieved on 4 January 2016. “'Courant' here means the same as it does in the phrase 'au courant', to be up to-date and well informed”
  4. Benjamin Franklin - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 4 January 2016. “When denied the chance to write a letter to the paper for publication, Franklin adopted the pseudonym of 'Mrs. Silence Dogood', a middle-aged widow. Mrs. Dogood's letters were published, and became a subject of conversation around town. Neither James nor the Courant's readers were aware of the ruse, and James was unhappy with Ben when he discovered the popular correspondent was his younger brother.”
  5. Britain’s high court makes libel laws friendlier to media. Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (October 12, 2006). Retrieved on 4 January 2016. “The judges, called Law Lords, ruled that The Wall Street Journal Europe satisfactorily established that the article in question -- a story about the monitoring of Saudi bank accounts for potential terrorist activity after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks -- was both of public interest and written responsibly. As a result, the plaintiff, a Saudi billionaire who was named in the article, was unable to recover damages for libel.”
  6. British libel laws help rich villains escape the scrutiny of the press. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (January 16, 2012). Retrieved on 4 January 2016. “Cohen explores British libel laws and their archaic origins. Libel law differs from natural justice and common law in that the burden of proof is on the defendant, rather than the accuser. He says: '[I]t works on the assumption that a gentleman's word is his bond and that anyone who impugns his honour must prove his case.'”
  7. Eric Burns. Infamous Scribblers: The Founding Fathers and the Rowdy Beginnings of American Journalism. Public Affairs. ISBN 9781586483340. 
  8. Alex Shrugged notes: The Michael Crichton novel "Airframe" focuses on the problem that freedom of the press can pose to any business. In this case, a journalism-like TV show focuses on an airframe manufacturer after an airplane supposedly suffers a mechanical mishap. Great reading and an excellent ending. Lots of detail on how airframes are built.
  9. Defoe, Daniel (1724). General History of the Pyrates, A. Printed for, and sold by T. Warner, at the Black-Boy in Pater-Noster-Row. 
  10. Anne Bonny - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 4 January 2016. “She was the daughter of servant woman Mary Brennan and Brennan's employer, lawyer William McCormac. Official records and contemporary letters dealing with her life are scarce and most modern knowledge stems from Charles Johnson's A General History of the Pyrates (a collection of pirate biographies, the first edition accurate, the second much embellished).”
  11. Pleading the belly - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 4 January 2016. “The plea did not constitute a defense, and could only be made after a verdict of guilty was delivered. Upon making the plea, the convict was entitled to be examined by a jury of matrons, generally selected from the observers present at the trial. If she was found to be pregnant with a quick child (that is, a fetus sufficiently developed to render its movement detectable) the convict was granted a reprieve of sentence until the next hanging time after her delivery.”
  12. Calico Jack - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 4 January 2016. “He is most remembered for two things: the design of his Jolly Roger flag, a skull with crossed swords, which contributed to the popularization of the design, and for having two female crew members: Mary Read and his lover Anne Bonny.”
  13. Mary Read - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 4 January 2016. “The only other crew member who knew Read's true gender was the father of her child, an unnamed passenger from a captured ship.”
  14. Alex Shrugged notes: Anne Bonny's exact birth date is in dispute so I picked this date.
  15. Life of William III: Prince of Orange and King of Great Britain and Ireland, The. Belford Brothers,c1876, 130-134. 
  16. Allen Clapp Thomas. A History of England. D. C. Heath & Co.. “Anne, sister of Mary, succeeded to the crown without opposition. She was the second daughter of James II, and was thirty-seven at the time of her accession. [...] In character she was kindly, honest, religious, and true to her friends; but she was also obstinate and narrow-minded, and of small intellectual power. She had a true sense of her responsibilities and was a thorough Englishwoman, having, as she said in her first speech, an entirely English heart.” 
  17. Anne, Queen of Great Britain - Wikipedia (2016). Retrieved on 5 January 2016. “The Duchess wrote of Anne: She certainly meant well and was not a fool, but nobody can maintain that she was wise, nor entertaining in conversation. She was ignorant in everything but what the parsons had taught her when a child ... Being very ignorant, very fearful, with very little judgement, it is easy to be seen she might mean well, being surrounded with so many artful people, who at last compassed their designs to her dishonour.”

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