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Launceston’s Early Newspapers


By Spencer Toy (1963)

The earliest newspapers in Launceston were published in 1832. In order to appreciate the circumstances of their origin and their short existence, it is necessary to refer briefly to the political situation in the country as a whole.

William IV succeeded his brother George IV, on the throne on June 26, 1830. For many years the Tories had been in power, but in November following the new monarch’s accession they fell, and Lord Grey formed a Ministry of Whigs. After a great struggle they passed the Reform Bill, which became law on June 7, 1832. One of its principal effects was to take away 143 seats from the pocket boroughs and give them to towns, such as Leeds and Birmingham, which had previously been unrepresented. In the boroughs the old and various systems of franchise such as that of pot-walloppers at Newport, were replaced by a uniform £10 household qualification, and the boundaries of the restricted parliamentary districts were considerably extended.

The most drastic local effect of the Act was the abolition of both seats for Newport and one for Launceston. The Members for the former at that time were Viscount Grimston, and Major-General Sir Henry Hardinge; there for the latter were James Brogden and Major-General Sir John Malcolm. Another effect of that Act was to give the vote to qualified householders in the parishes of St. Mary Magdalene, St. Thomas, St. Stephens, South Petherwin and Lawhitton; a list published on September 1, 1832, contains 262 names.

The question of which, if any, of the four sitting Mmebers was to be nominated as the sole representative of the borough under the new arrangements was settled by the third Duke of Northumberland whose grandfather, the first Duke, had purchased 1,104 acres of the Werrington estate for £41,000 from Humphrey Morice in April, 1775, in order to be able to exercise the patronage which went with it. He selected Sir Humphrey Hardinge, who, in spite of having lost his left hand in battle at Ligny in Belgium, had had a distinguished military career. In his favour, John King Lethbridge, the Launceston solicitor and the Duke’s local Agent, stood down, although he appears to have begun some preliminary canvassing.

To fight the General at the election on the 11th and 12th December, the Whigs secured as their candidate David Howell, of Trebursye, who though that the enlarged electorate might give him a majority. If e may anticipate the sequel, he led at the end of the first day’s polling, but was beaten on the second, and Hardinge retained the seat through the next three General Elections – those on January 7, 1835; July 24, 1837; and June 29, 1841 – and a bye election on September 15, 1841, rendered necessary by his appointment as Secretary-at-War. He continued as Member until 1844, when he was appointed Governor-General of India and raised to the Peerage as Viscount Hardinge.


For some years before the Reform Bill was presented to Parliament, the various political parties made their views known by means of handbills, which were popularly called ‘squibs.’ Often they were written by private individuals, but very frequently anonymously. In the summer of 1832, Sir Henry Hardinge’s Committee proposed to the other side that the ‘battle of squibs’ should cease, but the reply they received was as follows:

Mr. Howell’s Committee beg to acknowledge as communication from Messrs. Dingley and Eyre, requesting a cessation of publications in reference to the approaching election. In reply, Mr. Howell’s Committee have to inform Messrs. Frost and Gurney that they are in no way identified with such publications, nor have they any control over those individuals who have publicesed them, no such papers having at any time been submitted to the Committee. Committee Room, July 17, 1832.”

Meanwhile the Whigs had decided to issue a weekly newspaper, and the first number appeared four days later. It was known as ‘The Reformer’ and was published every Saturday morning by T. Eyre. This aggravated the situation and on the following Monday, Dingley and T. S. Eyre sent a further communication to Gurney and Frost, as follows:

To Messrs. Gurney and Frost, Gentlemen. In reference to the circular signed by Mr. Gurney, and more especially to the call made on us in that circular, we beg to state that you called on us for the purpose of making a reciprocal agreement between both parties to discontinue the publications. Your intention might perhaps be more properly designated a proposition or suggestion than a request. Our reply to that proposition certainly warranted your supposing that a desire for a pacific respite was also entertained by us and the Reform Party, but, on mentioning the subject to our friends, we found they were prepared with substantial and cogent reasons for not interfering, this being the case, we thought proper to submit the matter to our Committee and the result has been laid before you. In their reply, the Committee disclaim all right to interfere, and state that the publications in question was beyond their control, but this reply by no means warrants the conclusion that Mr. Gurney has educed from it, namely that their refusing to interfere is a silent wish for the continuance of these publications. If the Committee had thought proper intermeddle, it would have been quite out of their power to have suppressed them, and, as it is likely they will continue to be put forth, we earnestly hope that reason and argument will be the only weapons used, and that there will be no unnecessary allusions to persons. We are, Gentlemen, with great respect, your obedient Servants, R. Dingley, T. S. Eyre. July 23, 1832.”

The inability of the Committee to stop the publications was the line taken by it all through the controversy; again and again the Editor emphasised that the Committee had no control over him. For instance, on August 4 he says:

We unequivocally declare that Mr. Howell’s Committee have no control whatever over us, and that we alone are answerable for our actions.”

Possibly at first he simply quibbled be referring to squibs, but these ceased to a large extent when the newspapers appeared.


On receiving this letter the Tories decided that they had no alternative but to issue a newspaper of their own as a counter-blast to ‘The Reformer.’ They called it ‘The Guardian,’ and it was to be published every Saturday morning by T. and W. R. Bray. It was printed in a room over a stable opening off Castle Dyke. Richard Robbins, then aged fourteen, tell’s us in one of his manuscripts written in the winter of 1898-99, but not published until 1957, when it appeared under the title ‘Voice from the Past,’ that the stable contained barrels and that the floor of the room over it “was far from close and by standing on a barrel in the stable we could hear the proofs read, with the consequence that, on the following morning its contemporary would appear with an answer. ‘The Guardian’ generally appearing first these prompt replies made a deal of merriment.” Robbins was employed by ‘The Reformer’ to carry copy from leader-writer to printer as well as to listen to the reading of its rival’s proofs.

The first number of ‘The Guardian’ appeared on July 28, so that on that day the people of the town had two journals, No. 1 ‘The Guardian,’ and No. 2 ‘The Reformer,’ and so they went on until October. Each paper was priced at one penny. They were the same size, each consisting of four pages, measuring about 12 inches long by 10 inches wide, except that on August 11 ‘The Reformer’ had so much to say that its increased its pages for that week only, to nearly 18 inches in length. On September 1, a ‘supplementary number’ was published consisting of four pages; theses should have been numbered from 29 to 32, for both journals numbered their pages consecutively throughout their existence, but actually they were numbered from 30 to 33, so that there is no page 29 in the series, but two pages 33, for the issue of September 8 is called No. 9 and runs from pages 33 to 36. The ordinary issue of the earlier week is called No. 7, so that the supplementary number is intended to be No. 8, although this does not appear on it. This accounts, therefore, for ‘The Reformer’ being nominally two numbers ahead of ‘The Guardian’ from this time onwards, though, until the end of August, it was only one ahead due to its having begun publication one week earlier.

On the first page of the first number of ‘The Reformer,’ the Editor spoke of his ‘malignant opponents,’ but went on to say that “whilst we freely acknowledge that our pages will advocate Liberal principles and the great cause of Reform, and hold up men in theirs true light as Public Characters, we shall at all times decline inserting any thing that may be personally offensive to anyone.” In the following week the first number of ‘The guardian’ replied to this also on its first page by saying that “We shall endeavour scrupulously to abstain from personal attack upon private character; but if our adversaries, while they disavow all intention of inserting any thing that may be personally offensive to anyone, do not hesitate to assign the most flagitious motives to us they must not be surprised nor our readers offended, if we sometimes strictly examine how far their conduct corresponds with their profession.”

Although each paper set up for itself some standard of decency. both descended, almost at once, into depths of scurrility. The second number of ‘The Reformer’ said that the writers on the other side “have become infuriated, and, foaming at the mouth with madness, they drop their foeted spume in reply to unanswerable argument.” This was in the second editorial; in the first, the Tories were called “Infamous blasphemers, apt pupils of the Father of Lies.” In reply ‘The Guardian’ advised “our fellow townsmen to treat his slander as the puny effort of ill-directed, undeserved, and indiscreet malignity.”  Later it dubbed its rival Editor as “this forger of lies.” These and similar phrases became all too common as they were thrown from one to the other. Epithets were continually being produced and the slanging match went on. Some of the shorter barbs were “the besotted quill-drivers of ‘The Guardian,” “I shall live in hope… that he may not one day be found among those who, whilst they had the brightest emanation of the Deity upon their lips, had still the blackest principle of the devil deep-rooted in their hearts,” “The Editor of ‘The Guardian’… by persisting in following the example of his father, the devil, sins against light and knowledge,” “The Editor of ‘The Reformer’… steeped up to the chin in Gall,” “He personifies the shuffling fellow who lies by halves, who falsifies facts and timidly embroiders a groundwork of truth with false details of his own invention,” “This slanderous, slimy reptile,” and much more of greater length on both sides. These brief quotations typify the tone of the whole of both papers, whatever may have been the effect of such masses of vituperation on the people of that time, this writing is extremely tiresome to read today.


This despicable wrangle had not gone on long before the more reasonably minded people of the town were disgusted at these weekly outpourings of scurrility and thought it was time to try to put a stop to it. Advantage was taken of a meeting of the Bible Society on Thursday, October 11, when some of the clergy and ministers met a few prominent laymen. A letter was drawn up and sent to the rival Committees. This ran as follows:

Gentlemen, Viewing with deep regret the unhappy tendency of the two weekly publications entitled ‘The Reformer’ and ‘The Guardian’ – feeling assured that such publications can promote the interests of neither of the gentlemen aiming at the Representation of this Borough, we, the undersigned, do most earnestly and respectfully request that you will exert your influence to prevail upon the conductors of these publications entirely to suspend any further issuing from the Press. We urge this request upon your attention from the very best motives, and under the conviction that by the mutual interference of the Committees it will prove successful. Launceston, October 11, 1833. To the respective Committees of David Howells, Esq., and Sir Henry Hardinge.”

This was signed by the Incumbent of St. Mary’s the Rev. John Rowe, the Superintendent Wesleyan Minister, the Rev. Thomas Staton, and his collegue, the Rev. Thomas W. Smith, the Castle Street Congregational Minister, the Rev. John Barfett, and influential laymen on both sides, Thomas Ching, J. K. Lethbridge, Nathaniel Spry, W. E. Nicolls, W. R. Derry, William Pearse, Thomas Pearse, and T. R. Palmer. Barfett was the Minister of the Castle Street Church from 1824 to 1836, and exercised considerable influence in the town. To him the Chairman of Hardinge’s Committee addressed his reply, dated also 11th October. “Sir, I am instructed by the Committee of Sir Henry Hardinge to apprise you that they will most cheerfully comply with the request contained in the letter which I have this day received, signed by yourself and some other inhabitants of the Borough, but I need not, I am sure, remind you that it is impossible that the ‘Guardian’ can be stopped as the publication of the ‘Reformer’ is continued. Sir Henry Hardinge’s Committee will, however, forward a recommendation to the Editor of the ‘Guardian’ to this effect; and if they can be assured that the Gentlemen forming Mr. Howell’s Committee will adopt the same course, and that ‘The Reformer’ was be published again, the Committee believe that their recommendation to the Editor of  ‘The Guardian’ will be attended to; and I shall be glad to learn from you, or someone connected with Mr. Howell’s Committee, whether they will also comply with the request contained in the letter forwarded to them, and whether the application to the Editor of the ‘Reformer is likely to be successful, I am, dear Sir, Your Faithfull Servant, Charles Gurney, Chairman. To the Rev. Mr. Barfett.”

These letters were published in ‘The Guardian’ on the following Saturday, 13th October, where an Editorial expressed “our readiness to suspend further publication on finding that Mr. Howell’s paper, ‘The Reformer,’ would not be published again.” The attitude of ‘The Reformer’ was just the opposite. On the same day it stated that it “acknowledges no power or control, but that of its Editor; with Mr. Howell’s Committee, or any other, we have nothing to do… We intend to keep a vigilant watch over the conduct of our opponents, and, as long as we think it necessary, continue our publication.” A week later the paper added that “We understand that Mr. Howell’s Committee returned to requisitionists the only answer which they could possibly give, namely, that they had no control whatsoever over the ‘Reformer.’


In the same leading article this journal launched one of the bitterest personal attacks on the Corporation that it had yet made: “Perhaps Mr. Lethbridge will have the effrontery to tell us there is no Bribery in this borough. But let us ask him in the Salary to Mr. Grard as Gamekeeper, with the privilege of all the game he kills, together with the occupation of Hill Parks and the Fields lately given to Mr. Nottle and others, were not intended to bribe him. Was the Salary to Dr. Rowe, as Household Surgeon at Werrington House, where he never goes, besides a few other pickings, not intended as Bribes? Were not the Fields given to Mr. P. Roe. upon the death of Mrs. Curtice, intended as a Bribe? Was not the Lease of the Little White Hart besides one or two Houses at Newport, the Tithes of this parish, Cash etc., to Mr.Penwarden, intended as a Bribe? Is not the Annuity of £70 a year to Mrs. Frost and her family the reward of the venality of her husband, and will not this account for the great exertion made by Mr. Rd. Frost, on behalf of Sir Henry Hardinge, as Co-Editor of the ‘Guardian,’ and Canvasser? Look at our present Mayor, with the rent of Castle Green, Gardens, etc., and let me ask, is it not intended as a Bribe? If these things are so, then never let us hear more about the purity and innocence of the Lanson Corporation.”

One of the two extant volumes of these journals bears the bookplate of William Monson, which is made up of the crest and motto of the arms of the Monson family, whose baronetcy dates from 1611 and barony from 1728; another baronetcy in a younger branch was created in 1905. The volume in question almost certainly came to William from the ‘E, Monson, Esq., Trebursye,’ to whom a letter was addressed by Thomas Eyre, publisher of ‘The Reformer,’ in October, 1832, Monson is not a name with local connections, except for a short period of parliamentary representation three centuries earlier. The man whose initial was ‘E’ was probably a friend of David Howell and was staying with him at his mansion before the election; considerable research has failed to find any other explanation. Eyer’s letter is bound in the volume with the newspapers, and runs as follows:

Sir, I have hastily sketched off the enclosed account of the Corporation. I will, as I have time, send you different anecdotes of them as they occur to my memory. I am sorry it has been delayed so long, but could not possibly get it done before.”

The ‘enclosed account,’ also bound in the volume, is a manuscript of two thousand words, containing the allegations on which the questions quoted in the previous paragraph are based. It attacks each of the eight Aldermen of the unreformed Corporation with unbridled scurrility, some of it so disgusting that even ‘The Reformer’ would hesitate to print it.


It is impossible to say who were the real editors of these two newspapers, but they were educated men. Latin phrases abound and there are frequent classical and other allusions; sometimes there are wrangles about grammatical constructions. A close perusal suggests that Charles Gurney was responsible for ‘The Guardian’ and wrote a good deal of it, and that David Howell himself, probably assisted by the E. Monson mentioned above, edited ‘The Reformer’; certainly Howell spent a great deal of time in Eyre’s printing establishment. If we go back a bit and examine the evidence, we may find that the closing sequence of events supports this supposition.

After ‘The Reformer’ had appeared on October 13 with its refusal to entertain the request of Barfett and others, “we were waited on by a friend of ours, from Mr. J. K. Lethbridge, to suggest the propriety of discontinuing the ‘Reformer.'” to which a further verbal refusal was given. A record of this conversation would be instructive, particularly if the messenger uttered a threat or adopted an attitude of “then take the consequences.” Whether this was so or not, ‘The Guardian’ came out on the following Saturday with a scurrilous attack on Howell, addressed to him by name in am open letter extending over two columns, calling in question the circumstances of his birth and the accumulation of his fortune. Over the signature ‘Retaliator,’ the writer refers to the previous issue of ‘The Reformer’ and then goes on; “The article to which I allude is the specimen of blasphemy and obscenity so blended with low depravity….that I admit the difficulty of dealing with such filthy trash and at the same time to observe terms of decency; but it is not my fault if, following the vulgar depravity of your nature, you choose to describe scenes of prostitution to which you owe your birth, inventing, with native fertility, all subjects of profligacy save one – the gambling table. I admit the indulgence of wine in social intercourse never was any weakness of yours or of your father’s, who allowed you to take his name. No, Sir, the cold calculating head, which could sit up all night, laying (sic) in wait for some unwary victim at Brooke’s Faro Table, encouraged others to drink deeply, but profitably observed abstinence and a cool head himself. I f I am provoked I may recall to public memory some old debts contracted by young Whigs, to which the possession by purchase of Trebursye may be owing. I will, however, refrain for the present and proceed in my animadversion upon the Libels of the twelfth number of the ‘Reformer’

To this there was no reply, for ‘The Reformer’ did not appear again; nor did ‘The Guardian,’ the issues of October 20 being the last. Howell fought Hardinge again at the next General Election, a little more that two years later, but was beaten so decisively that the Whigs did not put up another candidate for 39 years, and thus Launceston remained, in effect, a pocket borough for that period and the Duke continued many of his benefactions to the town.

Trebursye House
Trebursye House


It is of interest to note that after his two defeats, Howell sole Trebursye to W. A. H. Arundel, and left the district. He bought Ethy, in St. Winnoe, from the Mount Edgcumbe family and resided there until his death in 1845. Thomas Eyre sold his printing and haberdashery business to William Cater in 1833 and emigrated to America. After Arundell’s death, Trebursye passed into the hands of Howell’s arch-enemy, Charles Gurney.

Fifty years after the issue of these newspapers only three copies – two complete and one incomplete – were believed to have survived; today (1963), after 130 years, two copies are known still to be extant; there may be others. One of these sets, carrying the bookplate of William Monson was found in a second hand bookshop in 1952. It has two pages more than the other, issued as supplements to ‘The Guardian’ on September 1 and 15 respectively, and printed on one side only. These old papers are valuable as contemporary sources of local history, for, after all the scurrility and exaggerations and partial truths have been eliminated, there remains certain basic statements of facts which are not obtainable elsewhere. There is, for instance the question of the temporary suspension of the Grammar School a few years before the newspapers appeared Sir Alfred Robbins says that it was closed in 1821 and not re-opened until 1838. We know the latter date is correct because it be verified from the manuscript ‘minutes’ of the reformed Town Council, where there is a record of the appointment of the new Headmaster, Rev. J. H. Kendall. But a routine check on the grant paid annually by the Crown raised doubts in the writer’s mind about the accuracy of the date 1821.

From the time of Queen Elizabeth, the Crown had paid £17 13s. 3 1/2d. subsequently reduced to £16 12s. 3d. a year as part of the endowment. When the school closed, no payment was made, though the accumulated arrears were sent when it was re-opened. When Kendall was appointed, the Corporation received £227 15s. 11d. as arrears. This would be the sum due for less than 14 years, depending on the amount of interest, if any, allowed, which would suggest that the school was not closed until 1824 or 1825. Previous Headmasters of the Grammar School had sometimes assisted the local incumbents by taking service for them. A search through the registers of the neighbouring parishes showed that Rev. J. C. Hicks officiated as a number of burials at St. Mary’s in the years 1819 to 1824. In these entries he is described as ‘Master of the School.’ This evidence confirms that obtained from the financial calculation. Hicks followed Rev. J. H. Hutton.

Turing to the rival newspapers, we find statements by contemporary writers which settle the matter definitely. One of them is There has been no Master for this School these seven years past, to the great injury of the sons of the various tradesmen in the town.” ‘Seven years past’ before 1832 takes us back to 1825. From the other side in the following week came a reply which did not dispute this date, but gave reasons why Hicks left; “The monies…applicable to the purposes of a Grammar School, would, according to his statement, amount to the annual sum of £41 12s. 7 1/2d., a sum the smallness of which is…the sole cause of there being no Master of the Grammar School at the present time, and indeed since Mr. Hicks left; it is evident to every person who recollects the school which that gentleman had, that even with this annual sum and the monies to be received from his scholars, he could not raise anything like sufficient remuneration to repay him for the labour which he was required to use. Mr. Hicks after using endeavours by every means in his power to increase his school, but without success, and feeling that no proper remuneration could be obtained, was induced to leave; the same feeling, which was the cause of his leaving, has prevented others from applying for his situation and thus caused, as a necessary consequence, the giving up the school for the time.” We learn also from a later issue that “the Rev. Mr. Oxenham applied for the school about two years ago, and came to Lanson on the Subject,” but that he was not appointed. This is an agreed fact not recorded in any ot the writings on the school; the wrangle arose about the reasons why he did not stay.


The proposal to make a new road on the western side of the Castle is another question on which these old newspapers throw some light. Until 1834 the only way into Launceston from the north was the very steep hill with gradient 1 in 5 1/2, from Newport to North Gate, and thence straight up the further hill or by way of Tower Street, then called Back Lane. The North Gate was smaller than the South Gate, and, following complaints from farmers about the difficulty of getting carts through it, it was demolished in 1832. This is the date given by Peter in his ‘Histories of Launceston and Dunheved’ and the one which is generally accepted, though Robbins says it was 1834. The removal of this ancient monument made the entrance to the town somewhat wider, but did not alter the inclination. It was decided therefore, to build an entirely new road with a more gradual slope, nowhere exceeding 1 in 11, on the other side of the castle. This was not opened for traffic until 1834, two years after newspapers had closed down, but preliminary matters were being discussed in 1831 and negotiations were proceeding while journals flourished.

The land through which the road was to run was largely the property of the Duchy of Cornwall, which had the reverted to the King owing to the lack of a Duke. It was suggested that perhaps a gift of the freehold of the land might be made for such a public purpose. The first communication with the Duchy Office took place when Thomas Pearse, a Launceton attorney, called on Abbott one of the officials, at Somerset House and made the request in person in January, 1832. Abbott replied that they would need a “Plan and Specification of the present and intended New Lines, and said the Duchy could not give the ground without and Act of Parliament.” On Pearse’s return to Launceston, the required documents were sent on by Charles Gurney. Nothing happened for a few weeks, and then Sir William Molesworth, who had originally proposed that subscriptions should be collected to defray the cost of the work, thought that a decision might be hastened if he could use some of his influence in the right quarter. So he wrote to Edward William Pendarves, who was one of the two mMembers for the County, and asked him to see Sir George Harrison, the Duchy Auditor. This interview resulted in a survey of the ground by Brent, the Surveyor-General of the Duchy, who sent his report to the Duchy Council early in July. In it he stated that the value of the land was £227 16s. 3d. of which £34 7s. 6d. was due to the Duchy and £143 8s. 9d. to the leesee. On July 5, Harrison wrote to Pendarves to this effect and added that “I have no doubt that the consent of the Crown will very shortly be given to the measure.” On July 13, Sir Henry Hardinge took up the question with Harrison. Nine days later the Duchy Auditor wrote to Pendarves as follows:


With reference to my letter to you communicating the purport of our Surveyor-General’s Report on the subject of the land required for the New Road near Launceston, in which I informed you that, with a view to the legal interest of his successors, His Majesty would be bound to receive the sum of £84 7s. 6d. (being the share of the King in right of His Majesty’s Duchy) and to invest it in the three per cent Consols, I have now the pleasing task of informing you (which I am enabled to do by a letter I have received from Sir Herbert Taylor) that, with that gracious consideration which the King has ever evinced, to extend his royal beneficence towards those objects which may so materially benefit His Majesty’s good subjects in Cornwall, and so essentially contribute to their comfort, as the completion of this New Line of Road near Launceston, it is His Majesty’s intention to grant of His Majesty’s Duchy Revenues a present donation of £200 and, if it should be required, His Majesty will next year be pleased to grant a further donation of £100 towards this object.” Sir Henry Hardinge also received a letter on the same lines.

A public meeting was held in the borough on Monday, July 30, at which it was agreed to ask the Secretary of State to present an address of thanks to the King for his donation. This was forwarded through the Mayor, Parr Cunningham Hockin, who received the following reply from Whitehall, dated August 4: “The Mayor of Launceston. Sir, I am directed by Viscount Melbourne to inform you that he has not failed to lay before the King the address from the inhabitants of Launceston, expressing their grateful sense of his Royal Munificence in having subscribed £200 towards the improvement of the road from Newport to Launceston, and that His Majesty was pleased to receive this address very graciously. I have the honour to be, Sir, Your Obedient Servant, S. M. Phillipps.”

The facts above are undisputed, but the usual vituperative wrangle arose at the meeting when the question was raised whether Pendarves or Hardinge had brought the greater influence to bear to obtain the King’s gift. This quarrel continued for weeks; it assumed county proportions and was the subject of correspondence in ‘The West Briton’ from August 3 onwards. A long letter from Thomas Pearse, which appeared in that paper in the issue dated August 24, was reprinted, together with a list of voters, by ‘The Reformer’ on September 1 as a ‘Supplemetary Number.’ The details of this wrangle are not of interest today, but, when the bitterness had died down and the construction had been completed, the King’s generosity was acknowledged by calling the road from the present Guildhall Square to the present National School ‘King William Street,’ and is so named on old maps.


It is impossible to read much about the history of Launceston at the beginning of the nineteenth century without finding continual references to donations from the Duke of Northumberland. ‘The Guardian’ gives a detailed list of these for the seven years from 1825 to 1831 inclusive. Each year he gave thirty guineas to ‘Dorcas and Sunday School’ and £50 as a Christmas gift to the ‘Poor of Launceston and St. Stephen’s.’ In the first of these years he paid £213 10s. 6d. for ‘bringing water into St. Stephen’s’; in the next year £1,311 12s. 5d. for ‘bringing in the water from Dunheved Green to Launceston.’ In the following year, he gave £200 as a ‘subscription to Greystone Hill’ and £204 4s. 9d. for ‘pavement expenses not brought into the Aftermath Account.’ In 1828 we find ‘further payment for water works, £314 10s. 6d.; first subscription, part of £200, to the Bodmin New Road, £100; purchase of house near Dark-house for its improvement, £170 10s’;  alterations thereon, ordered by Secretary of State, £66 3s. 10d.’ In 1829 there is ‘further to Bodmin Road was paid later. In 1831 there was ‘subscription to New Road, £200,’ the reference here being to the road to Newport. In addition to these benefactions, each year has its miscellaneous list of ‘sundries in the general improvement and repair of the town,’ ranging in amount from £163 to £370 19s. 11d. for the seven years. The sum of all these donations was £5,233 6s. 5d. over this period.  “Our townsmen need not be reminded,” added the journal in the following week, “that even this large sum is not by any means all that we have received from the unparalleled liberality of the noble Duke. They need not be reminded of the sum of £300 which he gave for a house for the clergyman, the rates and taxes of which he has since continued annually to pay; nor of the extent of his private charities too well-known and too numerous to be recounted here.”

The Cornish and Devon Times story.

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