Janet Chute: Chute's Western Herald: A Case Study of a Provincial Newspaper in Late 18th and Early 19th Century Ireland
Chute's Western Herald: A Case Study of a Provincial Newspaper in Late 18th and Early 19th Century Ireland

  by Janet Chute






This dissertation is a case study of the Irish provincial newspaper Chute’s Western Herald. The newspaper was set-up by Pierce Chute in Tralee, Co. Kerry, Ireland in 1793. He sold it to Thomas Day in 1828. The new owner renamed the newspaper The Western Herald and he edited it until it ceased printing in 1835. This study concentrates mainly on Chute’s editorship but it also looks at the newspaper under the ownership of Day.

The dissertation starts by investigating the Irish newspaper industry of the 18th and early 19th century. Then it looks specifically at the Irish provincial newspaper industry of the time to build up a profile of the market in which Chute established his journal.

Next it examines Pierce Chute, the town in which he set-up the newspaper, the newspaper itself, the rival publications that were printed in Kerry at the time and the newspaper after Day took over.

Finally, the dissertation studies the structure and content of Chute’s Western Herald. The structure analysis shows the changes that took place to the layout and design of the newspaper over the years. The content analysis reveals the genre, sources and geographical focus of articles that were printed in the newspaper.

Table of Contents

Chapters Images Tables

Review of Literature

         Local Press Local News

         Importance of the provincial press

         Structure, ownership and control

Irish Newspapers in the Late 18th and Early 19th Century

The Irish Provincial Press in the 18th and Early 19th Century

Pierce Chute and Chute's Western Herald

Chute's Western Herald: Structure

Chute's Western Herald: Content Analysis

Summary and Conclusions


Citation Information
Image 1:
Explanatory note for printing on unstamped paper.
Image 2:
Chute's Western Herald; Front page 27 September, 1828.
Image 3:
1791 masthead that is not from a copy of Chute's Western Herald.
Image 4:
The Kerry Evening Post.
Image 5:
Pierce Chute's final message to his readers.
Image 6:
Kerry newspaper circulation figures, April 1835.
Image 7:
Chute's Western Herald masthead in 1797.
Image 8:
Chute's Western Herald masthead in 1805.
Image 9:
Chute's Western Herald masthead in 1808.
Image 10:
Chute's Western Herald masthead in 1812.
Image 11:
The Western Herald masthead in 1829.
Image 12:
The Western Herald masthead in 1835.
  • Table 1: Tralee Newspapers

  • Table 2: Chute's Newspaper Article Figures and Averages

  • Table 3: Chute's Front Page Story Figures and Averages

  • Table 4: Day's Newspaper Article Figures and Averages

  • Table 5: Chute's Geographical Focus of Articles

  • Table 6: Day's Geographical Focus of Articles

  • Table 7: Chute's Sources of Articles

  • Table 8: Day's Sources of Articles

  • Table 9: Chute's Genre of Articles

  • Table 10: Day's Genre of Articles

  • Introduction

    Historical research is “the neglected grandparent of media studies”. (Curren, 1991: 27). It came to the attention of the author that presently there is very little documented study on late 18th and early 19th century Irish provincial newspapers, a period when the local press was beginning to gain momentum in Ireland. The aim of this dissertation is to discover the article content, layout and design, owner profile and business details of an Irish provincial newspaper. The research looks in particular at Chute’s Western Herald or the Kerry Advertiser from when it was initially set up by its first editor Pierce Chute in 1793 until it was sold in 1828. The dissertation also studies the newspaper until it ceased printing in 1835 under the editorship of its second owner Thomas Day.

    Chute’s Western Herald was chosen as the case study due to the genealogical connection between the first proprietor of the newspaper and the writer of this thesis. The newspaper is also a very good example of a provincial paper of the day. It enables research into the full cycle of a newspaper, from when it was set up to when it ceased publication. This study of a typical local newspaper of the period will give a better insight into the editorial policy, news and views of an Irish provincial paper of the time.

    This dissertation had to deal with many different historical issues that shaped Ireland in the period 1793 to 1835 as well as the everyday problems and restrictions faced by a local newspaper of the time. Ireland was under British rule so it could be said that this is a study of the British as well as the Irish provincial press of the late 18th and early 19th century.

    Around 18 years before the first issue of Chute’s Western Herald the Irish parliament won more independence from Britain while still remaining loyal to the monarch and religion of the state. The American War of Independence in 1775 saw the British responding directly to Irish demands for rights and freedom. This was an attempt to prevent a similar situation happening in Ireland. Initially, the biggest allowance the British made was in allowing the Irish to set up their own Protestant militia. It was raised so that the Protestant population could protect themselves if the Catholic countries of Europe decided to attack Ireland and use it as an entry point to Britain. Pierce Chute’s family were members of the Church of Ireland and so they were a part of the Protestant establishment but they were also known sympathisers of the Catholic cause.

    In 1779, Henry Grattan, the leader of the Patriot party who were in power in the Irish parliament, granted taxes to Britain for only six months not the usual two years. Grattan followed up this daring move by demanding free trade for Ireland. The country was under very strict trading restrictions and had huge duties imposed on its exports. Grattan was supported by the whole of the Irish parliament as well as sections of the parliament in London. The British government could not risk having another war on their hands and granted free trade to Ireland. Now they could sell goods to any country in the world and were liable only for the same duties as goods exported from the rest of Britain.

    In February 1782 Grattan put a Declaration of Independence before the Tory lead parliament in London which was turned down as expected. Soon afterwards the Tory government fell. Grattan saw this as another opportunity to present his Declaration to the British parliament. In May 1782 the parliament in London accepted his arguments and all acts that prevented Irish home rule were repealed. This is the last time a single parliament ruled the thirty two counties of the island of Ireland. (Cronin, 2001: 100-102)

    This period of Irish history is seen as a time of prosperity. When the markets were opened up in 1779 huge changes were seen across the countryside. Industries that were previously unable to export produce were suddenly free from high customs duties. These businesses boomed under the new free market and jobs were created in areas where production had barely existed before. Pasture lands were turned into high yield crop farms and British absentee landlords returned from England to get their share of this rapidly developing country.

    This is the economic boom that kick started the Irish provincial press. Up until this period newspapers printed in Ireland were mainly Dublin papers. A few other newspapers were being printed in the larger towns of Belfast, Cork and Limerick. The smaller towns in Ireland did not have the population or economy to support local newspapers until this economic boom swept through the countryside. (Brown, 1937: 149-159) It was an exciting time for Ireland when Pierce Chute decided to set up his own newspaper in 1793, one of the first newspapers to be published in Tralee, Co. Kerry (Casey, 1963: 227).

    The Irish provincial press of the 18th and early 19th century is an area of the newspaper history of Ireland which has been greatly overlooked (Brown, 1937: 149). Much has been written regarding the Dublin press and about the newspapers of the smaller cities of Ireland (Asquith, 1978: 98-116) but there is a great gap in the documentation of the local press of the large towns of Ireland. This dissertation hopes to fill in a tiny bit of this void in Irish newspaper history.

    Review of Literature

    A wide range of primary and secondary sources have been consulted in order to gain a proper insight into the Irish media of the late 18th and early 19th century and the historical issues this study needed to deal with in order to proceed. In particular the writer looked at books and other academic research on the Irish newspaper industry of the time.

    It has also been necessary to look at the history of the British press of this period as the amount of literature and research on the Irish newspaper industry is very limited. As Ireland was under British rule at the time most of the theories and regulations on the British press are also relevant to the history of Irish newspapers.

    A number of key themes came to light:

    •  The importance of the emerging provincial press in a country still governed by Britain.
    •  Ireland, unlike the rest of Britain did not have stamp duty imposed on its newspapers until 1774.
    •  Ireland’s provincial press really took off during this period.
    •  In the beginning the local press carried mainly national and international stories copied from the London and Dublin newspapers but the local news content grew steadily over the years.
    •  The Irish press at the time was almost totally in the control of the Protestant population.

    Local Press Local News
    S.J. Brown in his book The Press in Ireland only dedicates a chapter of the book to the provincial press. He admits his short comings and explains that to do justice to the provincial newspapers he would have to put aside “nearly as much space as I have devoted to the metropolitan Press”. His reason for not covering the provincial newspapers is not that “the local Press is unimportant but that its importance is, precisely, local”. He goes on to cover the newspaper history of Belfast and Cork in some detail with a very quick mention of one publication from each of the following towns or counties: Loughrea, Fermoy, Kerry and Newry. The Kerry publication mentioned is The Kerry MagazineThe History of British Journalism have taken when dealing with the Irish provincial press.

    Importance of the provincial press
    Hugh Oram gives much more space to provincial newspapers in The Newspaper Book. He highlights the importance of the Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Belfast and Derry newspapers. Clonmel, Kilkenny, Carlow, Nenagh and some of the towns and counties of the province of Connaught are covered but in no great detail. The only mention of Kerry is in the appendix where he lists the newspapers printed in each county. As is highlighted in Rev. H.L.L. Denny’s A Handbook of County Kerry Family History, Biography Etc., Tralee has always been a very influential town both politically and economically so its newspaper history is of importance not only to the history of the Irish press but also to the history of Ireland.

    Structure, ownership and control
    In Newspaper History from the seventeenth century to the present day, chapter five, "The Structure: ownership and control of the press 1780-1855", Ivon Asquith points out that very little is known or written about the internal structure of newspapers of the time.

    “Most studies of the press of this period have been made from the political and literary angle, and relatively little has been written about the ownership and organisation of newspapers.” “Much information survives, in the files of the newspapers and the correspondence of politicians, about the political character of the press; but our knowledge of its internal organisation depends upon the chance survival of a few proprietors’ minute-books, and the ledgers of sales and advertising receipts”.

    Original and microfilm copies of Chute’s Western Herald in the British Library, National Library of Ireland and Kerry County Library enabled a content and layout analysis of the newspaper. It was also possible for the writer of this dissertation, using various genealogical and published works, to profile the owner of the newspaper who is listed in Holden's Annual London and Country Directory 1811 as one of the important business men of Tralee. This information should help, if only in a very small way, in bridging the newspaper ownership knowledge gap.

    Irish Newspapers in the Late 18th and Early 19th Century

    Before looking directly at Chute’s Western Herald, it is first necessary to look at the Irish newspaper industry as a whole at that time to see the market in which Pierce Chute set-up his press venture. Ireland was still under British governance but had its own parliament in Dublin which had the power to implement laws unique to Ireland since May 1782. Some of these powers extended to the legislation surrounding newspapers though many laws were inherent from when Ireland was ruled directly from London. This meant that Irish newspaper proprietors such as Pierce Chute sometimes had different regulations imposed on them to their contemporaries on mainland Britain.

    The area where these legislative differences were most apparent was in the law surrounding stamp duty. This tax on newspapers had been imposed in England since the Newspaper Stamp act of 1712. It did not become law in Ireland until 62 years later with the introduction of the Act of Irish Parliament on 25 March, 1774 (Oram, 1983: 27). Ireland kept the well known red colour associated with the English stamp but changed the design to make it unique to Ireland. The central character of the Irish stamp was the harp, the national emblem of Ireland. The Irish parliament, as well as adopting the colour of the English stamp, also used the same format of plates and plate groups and the same system of die numbering. The Irish newspaper stamp can be clearly seen on copies of Chute’s Western Herald in the British Library and the National Library of Ireland.

    Another difference between the English and Irish newspaper stamp was the rate of tax. The first Irish stamp duty was 1/2d per paper. Pierce Chute would have paid 1d in stamp duty by the time he set-up his paper in 1793 as it was increased in 1787 by the home rule Irish government. The tax was increased again in 1798 to 2d. It remained at this rate until 1836; a year after the last copy of The Western Herald was printed. The stamp duty in England was much higher at the time. When the tax was first introduced in 1729 it was 2d and it had doubled in price to 4d by 1815.

    The first Irish Stamp Office was located in Eustace Street in Dublin. It moved to Powerscourt House on South William Street in 1811 and finally to the Custom House in 1835. The records of stamp duties paid by newspapers are the only, though not most accurate way in many cases of calculating a newspaper’s circulation. Unfortunately all stamp duty records held in the Custom House were destroyed in the Irish Civil War in 1923. This means that a good circulation estimate is impossible to calculate for most Irish newspapers.

    The process of how the newspapers were stamped was very simple. The proprietor sent the blank paper to the Stamp Office in Dublin to be pre-stamped before publication. Once the newspaper was printed the owner had to send 14 copies of every issue to be lodged with the Stamp Office. There were fines imposed on proprietors who printed a newspaper on unstamped paper. Newspapers were sometimes printed without stamps but were accompanied by an explanatory note stating that the issues would be declared and the tax paid to the Stamp Office. (O’Neill, 1978: 1-12) A good example of one of these notes was printed in The Western Herald on 2 July, 1829:

    Explanatory Note for printing on unstamped paper
    Image 1

    Pierce Chute set-up his newspaper during the period that the Irish regional press was beginning to gain momentum. Before this time most newspapers printed in Ireland were produced in Dublin. The first proper Irish newspaper was The News-Letter printed in Dublin in 1685 and it ran for seven months. The first Irish newspaper with a continuous print run of any significance was the Flying Post. It was set-up in 1699 by Cornelius Carter and ran for 25 years. (National Library of Ireland: http://www.nli.ie/co_newsp.htm#2) Before these journals were produced ‘Irish’ newspapers were published in London and imported into the country (Andrews, 1858: 293). Falkener’s Journal was the first newspaper of note to be published in Ireland (Inglis: 1950: 21) and is also said to be the first Irish paper to print an illustration, a woodcut of a dentist pulling a patient’s tooth.

    By 1760 Dublin had seen the birth of 160 newspapers though most had long since ceased publication. Most of the existing titles were printed on Tuesdays and Saturday to catch the post to the country. The city had its first daily newspaper in 1736 with Hamilton’s Advertiser though it was not until 1755 with the establishment of Saunder’s Newsletter that Ireland got its first successful daily newspaper. (Oram, 1983: 27-40) In 1784, a year after Chute established his newspaper 10 journals were being published in Dublin. By then most of the city’s newspapers were being published thrice weekly and distributed throughout the country. (Inglis, 1950: 21)

    The average circulation of a Dublin newspaper at the time was around 400 to 800 copies. The wooden printing press and hand setting meant it was impossible to produce anymore copies. In fact if you compare newspapers from the beginning and end of the eighteenth century there are many similarities as the printing process had not changed in any significant way.

    The introduction of the Stanhope press in 1800, with its iron frame enabled the production of a clearer impression on the page but it did not increase the number of copies printed. (Oram, 1983: 27-40) It was not until 1814 that the newspaper industry got the machine they had been hoping for, the Koenig’s steam press. The number of copies they could print an hour went from 250 to 1000. This was invaluable to the daily and evening papers but it took a long while for the provincial papers like Chute’s Western Herald to adopt this new printing technology. (Brown, 1992: 24)

    The actual readership of the Dublin newspapers was considerably larger then their sale. Newspapers were very expensive so many people of all classes tended to swap copies to share the expense. Papers were available to read in coffee-houses, taverns and clubs, in fact a whole social culture grew around the reading of newspapers. The hiring of papers was made illegal in 1789 but it still continued to be widely practiced. It is estimated that the average newspaper was read by between ten and thirty people. (Asquith, 1978: 100-101)

    Most Dublin newspapers took much of their content from the London papers and in turn the provincial newspapers took much of their news from both the Dublin and London journals. Copyright law did not exist at the time. The Dublin newspaper owners justified copying their stories from other papers by saying that they had the services of the best journalist in London for free. (Inglis, 1950: 21) This method of filling the pages of the Irish newspapers continued until 1824. A new Dublin journal, The Morning Register employed Ireland’s first corps of reporters. The pages of the newspaper were filled with local stories written by the paper’s own journalists. The founding editor of this newspaper, Michael Staunton is known as the ‘Creator of the Irish Press’ in recognition of the great improvements he brought to the press industry. (Inglis, 1950: 166-169)

    It was in the late 18th century that both the British and Irish governments realised that they were loosing control of the press. Fox’s Libel Act of 1792 introduced juries as the arbiters of what was reasonable to publish about people in the press. The new libel law was not re-enacted for Ireland until 1794. (Inglis, 1950: 15) Trial by jury made it even more difficult for the crown prosecution to be confident of a conviction. Between 1808 and 1810 42 ex officio informations were filed but only 16 of them were ever brought to court. (Asquith, 1978: 111-112) Under this new law it became the responsibility of the printer to check the newspaper for libellous comments. Printers escaped being charged themselves if they revealed the name of the journalist who wrote the article but printers saw it as their duty to protect the anonymity of the writer. (Oram, 1983: 27)

    In the 1830s Charles Mackay, an experienced and respected journalist felt that some of the great advertisers were “the controller or masters of the newspapers” when they wanted to be. The proprietor of a newspaper, no matter what its size, was dependent on advertising revenues to make a profit. This dependence could make it difficult for him to oppose the political or religious views of his advertisers. It was even more difficult for local newspaper owners like Pierce Chute who were dependent on a small group of advertising customers to fill their columns. One provincial editor at the time said that the advertisers were “the lords of the press”. Even if a newspaper printer took a risk he had to take into account the knock on effects. The financial stability of a newspaper depended on its advertisements and the bigger the circulation of the newspaper the more advertising space the owner could fill. This interdependence between sales and advertising made it very difficult for an editor to go against the advertisers and public opinion. (Asquith, 1978: 13-14) The power the government was losing over the press was being taken over by the advertisers; the capitalist media had been born.

    Despite all the difficulties newspaper owners faced more and more Irish entrepreneurs decided to set-up their own titles in the late 18th and early 19th century. The Dublin market was saturated so the place where these fledgling newspaper proprietors established their new businesses was in the regions. A few brave businessmen had already set-up provincial papers in the bigger towns and these helped pave the way for the newcomers, like Pierce Chute, who were embarking on their publishing ventures during a time of great economic growth.

    The Irish Provincial Press in the 18th and Early 19th Century

    Ireland was a prosperous country enjoying the freedom of home rule at the end of the 18th century. This economic boom kick-started the Irish provincial press. Many new titles, like Chute’s Western Herald, were set-up all over the country in towns, like Tralee, that were benefiting from the new buoyant Irish economy. When compared to other industries at the time, like transport and textiles, the newspaper industry did not have the spectacular growth that might have been expected. Newspapers were very expensive due to stamp duty and the high cost of paper so they were still out of the purchasing reach of many ordinary people even during this time of prosperity (Brown, 1992: 30).

    The average local newspaper in the early nineteenth century was established for less than £2,000. It has been estimated that an 1830’s provincial paper could be started and run for five years for £4,000 to £5,000 and that if the paper had a circulation of 1,000 copies it would make a profit of £800 to £1,200 a year. These profits were mainly made from the newspaper’s advertising revenue. Provincial proprietors were very dependent on the income from advertisements to turn a profit as the money from sales, in some cases, did not cover costs. (Asquith, 1978: 110)

    “The profits of a newspaper”, the Reading Mercury stated in its 10 July, 1797 issue, “arise only from advertisements”. Many of these provincial newspapers were primarily set-up as advertisers with the proprietors using stories from the London and Dublin journals to fill up the extra space on the pages. Many of the newspapers also used gardening tips, serialised fiction and included a column of jokes to fill their pages (Brown, 1985: 108-109). The regional late 18th and early 19th century newspaper was only local in a geographic sense, not necessarily in content. The local news articles were mainly the minutes of town, church and political meetings. The communities in which these newspapers circulated were so small that most news of any local interest had reached the people by word of month, long before the paper could print it. (Cranfield, 1978:179-180)

    Many local newspaper proprietors were already printers and the newspaper was one of the many business ventures they ran. These publishing businesses were usually owned by families, passed down from generation to generation. Most provincial newspapers were edited by their owners so there were very few issues surrounding ownership and control like there were with the bigger city papers. Their newspapers were usually not the most profitable of their business activities; they were general printers first and foremost. (Asquith, 1978: 105)

    Unfortunately very few records and ledger books survive from the many regional newspapers that were set-up at this time. One newspaper that there is advertising revenue figures for is the Reading Mercury. In fifty-eight issues printed between 1762 and 1763 there were 1,481 advertisements which equalled £125.6s5. A newspaper that printed 3,000 advertisements a year would only have made around £4 a week. The income earned from actually selling copies of the newspaper was not much greater. It is estimated that a 1750s provincial newspaper would only clear £5 a week in profits. The figure would not have increased much by the end of the century.

    It is unclear how many local newspapers were being published in Ireland when Chute set-up his newspaper as copies of many titles do not exist today. What is known is that the newspapers usually started out as weekly publications but many of them ended up being printed twice or thrice weekly. As the frequency of publishing these journals increased one major problem faced by the owners was distribution. When the newspapers were printed weekly the people in the surrounding countryside usually just picked up their newspaper on market day. A new profession was born out of this need to get copies of the local papers to the subscribers outside the immediate town area, the newsman. His job was to deliver copies of the newspaper, as well as act as a travelling salesman for the other goods the printer sold such as books and tea. (Cranfield, 1978: 183-186)

    When the provincial newspaper boom took off in Ireland is it believed that extra Stamp Offices were set-up in Cork and Belfast to keep up with demand. It is very possible that Pierce Chute sent his blank paper to Cork to be stamped before publication rather that the Stamp Office in Dublin. Unfortunately there is no conclusive evidence of two extra stamping sub-offices as the Stamp Office records were destroyed in the Irish Civil War. (O’Neill, 1978: 9)

    The first Irish provincial newspapers sprung up during the Williamite wars. These news sheets printed proclamations and bulletins on a mobile press during the 1691 siege of Limerick, unfortunately no copies of these papers survive today.

    Cork was the first town to establish a provincial newspaper in the contemporary sense of the word. The Cork Idler was set-up in 1715 and was followed a year later by the Freeholder, a single sheet journal. Many newspapers were established and closed in the city over the 18th century including the Cork Evening Post, the Hibernian Chronicle, the Cork Newsletter and the Cork Journal. Cork had its first big scoop over the Dublin papers in 1755 when it reported the earthquake that destroyed Lisbon as the tremors were felt in Munster.

    A year after Cork, Limerick was the next small Irish city to get its own newspaper. The Limerick Newsletter was set-up by a Dubliner called Brangan and was printed on both sides of a half-sheet. Its yearly subscription was one shilling and the first issue included only one local story. The newspaper is believed to have had a short print run as only one copy of the Newsletter survives today.

    One of the best local newspapers published in the 18th century was the Limerick Journal. It was first published in 1739 by Andrew Welsh and was ahead of its time in publishing stories mainly about its own city. It was so successful that five years after its first publication Welsh relaunched the newspaper as the Munster Journal that carried news from all around the province.

    The Limerick Chronicle is the oldest surviving newspaper in the Republic of Ireland. It was established in 1766 by John Ferrar who ran the newspaper from his shop. Here he collected the advertisements, wrote and copied the articles from the Dublin and London journals, set the type and hand printed the copies of the newspaper.

    Belfast, considering it was the second biggest city in Ireland, was quite late in getting its own local paper. Francis Joy first published his newspaper, the Belfast Newsletter on 1 September, 1737. The newspaper cost 1d an issue and was printed twice a week. Joy gave the newspaper to his two sons in the 1740s. The newspaper is still published today making it the oldest continuously printed newspaper in Ireland.

    In 1792 the Northern Star was established in Belfast as the newspaper of the United Irishmen. The publication was Ireland’s first paper to be run by the equivalent of the board of directors and it was a very efficiently run journal. The stories it carried were almost all regional news from within Ulster but it had subscriptions from all over Ireland as well as London and Edinburgh. The government suppressed the newspaper in 1797 as it carried radical political articles.

    One of the most influential Irish regional newspapers was the Carlow Morning Post set-up by Richard Price. He had originally planned to set-up the paper in Dublin and was moving it there when he suddenly dropped dead. The new editor of the newspaper, Thomas H. Carroll, was not able to continue Price’s success and the newspaper went bust. Two decades later Thomas Price, the younger brother of Richard decided to set-up the Carlow Post in the original premises of the Carlow Morning Post. This newspaper was also a success and when he died so did the legacy of one of Ireland’s most important provincial newspapers.

    Finn’s Leinster Journal was printed in Kilkenny and edited by the most influential woman in the Irish newspaper industry at that time. Catherine Finn became the first female editor when she took over the newspaper following her husband’s sudden death in 1777. The newspaper’s content was very similar to that of today’s tabloids and this is exactly what made the newspaper a huge success. (British Library and National Library of Ireland: Newspaper Archive; National Library of Ireland: http://www.nli.ie/co_newsp.htm#2; Oram, 1983: 30-59; Brown, 1992: 149-159)
    Image 2, left: Chute's Western Herald: Front page, 27 September, 1828

    It was into this dynamic Irish provincial press market that Pierce Chute plunged when he decided to set-up Chute’s Western Herald in 1793. He did have the benefit of being able to study the other local newspapers around Ireland before establishing his new business but he was entering an Irish regional press industry still in its infancy.

    Pierce Chute and Chute’s Western Herald

    Pierce Chute was the founding editor of Chute’s Western Herald. Chute set-up the newspaper in 1793 in Tralee, the county town of Kerry. The National Library of Ireland has a copy of a newspaper on file that is recorded as being an issue of Chute’s Western Herald from 1791 but in researching this dissertation it has been proven that this date is not correct. The masthead of this copy of the newspaper is partly cut off but looking at the bottom of the characters it is obvious that there are not enough letters to make up the full title, Chute’s Western Herald. In a statement that Chute published in his last issue of Chute’s Western Herald he thanks his readers for their loyalty over the last 35 years making the first year of publication 1793. In Casey’s O’Kief Coshe Mang (1963) it is stated that the second issue of the newspaper was printed on 26 March, 1793.

       (above) Image 3: 1791 masthead that is not from a copy of Chute’s Western Herald

    Chute’s Western Herald was one of the first newspapers to be printed in Kerry. Other newspapers like the Kerry Chronicle and the Kerry Journal may have been published before Chute’s newspaper (The County Kerry Society, 1923: 13, Casey, 1963: 227) but copies of these papers predating 1793 do not survive. Tralee was the only town in Kerry where newspapers were printed in the 18th and 19th century (The County Kerry Society, 1923: 13).

    Tralee Newspapers
    Title Start Year End Year
    Chute’s Western Herald (The Western Herald from 1828) 1793 1835
    Kerry Evening Post 1813 1917
    Tralee Mercury 1829 1839
    Kerry Examiner and Munster General Observer 1840 1856
    Tralee Chronicle and Killarney Echo 1843 1881
    Table 1

    Source: National Library of Ireland: http://www.nli.ie/new_cat.htm & British Library: http://www.bl.uk/catalogues/newspapers/welcome.asp

    The first rival to Chute’s Western Herald was the Kerry Evening Post, set-up 1813. It has been recorded as starting in 1774 according to one source (The County Kerry Society, 1923: 13) and in 1793 according to another source (Casey, 1963: 227) but no copies exist until 1813 so there is no way of knowing if either of these dates are correct. The Kerry Evening Post was run by two brothers, John and Charles Eagar and it was the conservative answer to Chute’s more liberal journal. In the pages of the Kerry Evening Post there are mainly announcements and minutes of the protestant meetings in the county while Chute’s Western Herald carries the details of both the protestant and catholic meetings. Chute, a protestant himself, carried many of Daniel O’Connell’s speeches and stories about the catholic emancipation in the pages of his newspaper while the Eagar brothers only put in big stories about the cause.

       (above) Image 4: The Kerry Evening Post

    Pierce Chute may appear to have been a brave entrepreneur taking the plunge into the unknown Kerry press publishing market but in fact he was a very smart man who spotted a great opportunity. Tralee had a population of around 15,000 people at the time with many more living in the surrounding towns and villages. The most significant town in Kerry after Tralee is Killarney, situated only 14 miles away and extending Chute’s readership. Tralee was surrounded by very fertile, well cultivated land that was mainly producing corn, potatoes and butter. The area had “very considerable annual exports of those articles of general consumption”. The produce that the land owners and farmers made most of their money from was the butter sold to the people of Cork city 73 miles away.

    The county also became a significant copper mining area not long after Pierce Chute set-up his newspaper. “A very expensive vein of rich copper ore” was found at Ross Island, a mile from Killarney. The mining operation became very important to the region creating several hundred jobs. The extracted ore was brought by horse to Tralee to be exported to Swansea meaning that both towns’ economies greatly benefited from the find. (The Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society, 2000: 52&53)

    The town was run by “the Provost, Free Burgesses, and Commonality of the Borough of Tralee”. The provost was elected annually and was justice of the peace for the county of Kerry, clerk of the market and judge of the borough court of record. There were 12 burgesses who were elected for life. The borough was allowed to return two members of parliament. The facilities in Tralee included an army barracks, hospital, port, coastguard station, courthouse, county jail, Presentation convent, four schools run by grants and donations, five private schools, a county infirmary, a county fever hospital, a temporary “lunatic” asylum, “two asylums for the aged and impotent poor” and six almshouses for 36 widows. The big businesses in the town included three breweries, a whiskey distillery and branches of the Bank of Ireland, Provincial and National Banks. (Lewis, 1837: Vol. II 640-642).

    The Tralee and Killarney area was in an economic boom that kept growing after Chute established his newspaper, no wonder many other men followed his lead and set-up their own newspapers. (The Kerry Archaeological and Historical Society, 2000: 52&53) Newspapers became a very important part of Tralee life and in 1831 there were three reading and newsrooms in the town: the County Club, the Chamber of Commerce and the Constitutional Club (Lewis, 1837: Vol. II 641).

    Pierce Chute’s printing works and office was located on Nelson Street, now Ashe Street in Tralee. This street has remained an important publishing location in the town as the Kerry's Eye, the second most popular newspaper in Kerry, has their main offices on the same street today. Pierce Chute lived on Nelson Street too, a popular choice with many local business men at the time as the town’s Anglican Church was at the top of the street and it was located just off the town’s main business area, Castle Street. The offices of the Kerry Evening Post were only a few minutes walk away on Upper Castle Street.

    Pierce Chute was a family man; he married and had children though unfortunately there is no mention of his marriage or his children’s births in Tralee’s Church of Ireland records. As Chute lived on the same street as the church this is where his children would have been baptised. An extensive search was conducted through the records of the parishes surrounding Tralee, unfortunately no evidence of his marriage was found here either. It is quite common in Ireland to be unable to find birth, death and marriage records from the 18th and 19th centuries as carbon copies of churches’ registers were rarely kept and the safety of the original copy depended solely on the parish priest. Even where records do exist not all clergymen were very conscientious in keeping them fully up-to-date. Unfortunately many registers were destroyed in the Four Courts, where many Irish historical records were kept, in the Irish Civil War of 1922-23.

    One of the most accurate ways of finding genealogical information from this period is to check births, deaths and marriages printed in the local papers at the time. As Chute was one of the first to set-up a newspaper in County Kerry it is impossible to find any mention of his marriage in a local journal but the marriage of his children has been printed in the Kerry Evening Post. According to the newspaper his youngest daughter Catherine married Basil McKenzie of Youghal, County Cork in Tralee on 31st August or 1st September, 1832. This marriage is also recorded in the Church of Ireland register for the parish at the time. A Francis Fitzgerald has signed and is noted as a witness to this marriage. A second marriage of Anne Chute to Francis Fitzgerald is printed in the Kerry Evening Post on 8th May, 1830. Anne was born on 21st of August, 1806, according to the Kerry Library records, to a Pierce and Mary Chute so it almost certain that Anne was an older daughter of Pierce and that his wife was called Mary.

    If Pierce Chute only had two daughters it might explain why he sold Chute’s Western Herald in 1828 to Thomas Day. Most regional newspapers at the time were family run affairs past from generation to generation (Asquith, 1978: 105). There is no record of Pierce Chute having a son in birth and marriage announcements or the church records but there is a very definite mention of his oldest son in a book published by the famous 19th century Kerry historian, Mary Hickson, as well as a lovely description of the newspaper editor himself:

    “The last provost of Tralee was Pierce Chute, father of the present worthy and respected magistrate and country gentleman Pierce Chute of Ballyroe Lodge, near Tralee. Provost Chute was the last gentleman I believe in Kerry who wore top-boots out on the hunting-field as part of his ordinary dress. I remember as a child being firmly persuaded that they were the proper insignia of his office and in that way accounting to myself for their non appearance on any one else.” (Hickson, 1874: 115)

    This same book reveals that Pierce Chute Junior married a distant cousin Arabella who was dead by the time Hickson wrote her book. It appears that Pierce Chute had two other sons called Thomas and Alexander. Thomas Chute was a solider in the 22nd Regiment and his visit home to his father, Pierce Chute was announced in the Kerry Evening Post on 4 December, 1839. Alexander Chute died on 2nd June 1841 at the young age of 31 after a long illness. This information was printed in the Kerry Evening Post and it also stated that he was “the second son of the late Pierce Chute, Esq”. This means that Chute himself was dead by 1841. There is no record of his death but he was definitely alive on 5th of July, 1837 as a death notice for his sister Catherine appeared in the local paper stating she died at his home. This means that Pierce Chute died somewhere between 1837 and 1841 and lived to a good old age.

    Hickson’s quote about Chute and his eldest son not only gives us a lovely description of the man’s quirky dress sense but it also gives us a clue as to why Pierce Chute sold Chute’s Western Herald in 1828. The answer to this question lies in the pages of the newspaper itself.

    “TO BE SOLD“

    The Western Herald, or Kerry Advertiser

    The Proprietor of this Old and well established Newspaper, will dispose of, on moderate Terms, his interest therein, together will all Materials.

    To any Person or Persons desirous to have such an Establishment, the advantages are many – It is Published Twice a Week in the large, populous, and rapidly advancing Commercial Town of Tralee. For the Purchase Money every indulgence, if required, will be given.

    Further Particulars can be ascertained by application to Pierce Chute, Esq.”

    The exact same advertisement for the sale of Chute’s Western Herald appeared in the newspaper on Saturday, 30 August 1828.

    Pierce Chute was selling the newspaper because of his increasing involvement in local politics. In 1828 he was one of the magistrates of the town and so he decided to put the newspaper up for sale. Why Pierce Chute Junior did not go into the family business is impossible to tell but the answer may lie in his age. Anne was the eldest in the family and was only 22 years old when the newspaper was sold. Pierce Junior’s birth is not recorded in the parish records or the local newspapers but taking into account Anne’s age and the fact that Catherine was also older means that Pierce Junior and his younger brothers would have been too young to take over the newspaper. The fact that he was still alive and very active in the community in 1874 supports this conclusion.

    The hand over of Chute’s Western Herald to Thomas Day coincided with Chute taking over as Provost of the town from his cousin Caleb Chute who had passed away. He was re-elected to the position in the 1833 Irish local elections, the results are held in the Kerry County Library.

    Chute wrote this final message to his readers in the last issue of the newspaper he edited on 27 September, 1828:

    (left) Image 5: Pierce Chute's Final Message to his readers

    The Western Herald
    Tralee, Saturday, September 27

    "THE PROPRIETOR of this Paper, having agreed, forthwith, to transfer his property in the Establishment to a Gentleman of talent and respectability, takes this opportunity of expressing his unfeigned thanks, for the unprecedented public favour and patronage which he has been honoured with, for the last THIRTY-FIVE YEARS. Supported by so flattering a test of public opinion, he trusts he may not be deemed presumptuous in attributing this steady and long- continued kindness, in some small meThe Poasure, to the principles on which he invariably endeavoured to regulate and conduct his Publication. In this County, where party prejudices have hitherto been scarcely known, these principles were easily maintained, for they were founded on the love of social order, and obedience to the laws. These, he believes, were, mainly, the principles which induced the long-continued approbation of a liberal and discerning Public.

    He also hopes it will be admitted, that he has unremittingly laboured to promote and encourage every patriotic measure suggested for the advancement of the Trde, Commerce, and Industry of this Town and County, in which so vast an improvement has been effected since the first Publication of the WESTERN HERALD - Measures which have unceasingly engaged his earnest and warm advocacy.

    THE PROPRIETOR wishing his kind and numerous friends health, prosperity, and every happiness, now (for the last time as a Public Journalist), bids them a grateful and affectionate farewell."

    Nelson Street, September 27, 1828

    When Thomas Day took over the newspaper on 2 October, 1828 he changed the newspaper from a Wednesday and Saturday publication to a Monday and Thursday newspaper. He didn’t change the price, it remained at 5 pence. The first issue published under Thomas Day was printed at Pierce Chute’s printing works, perhaps Chute was introducing Day to the world of local newspaper editing. Day based his offices on Church Street and here the newspaper was printed by him for three years.

    On 28 March, 1831 an advertisement appeared in The Western Herald stating that the newspaper and the three presses, only “a very short time in use” were up for sale. Day must have sold the presses but not the newspaper. The Western Herald continued to be edited by him but printed for him at a printers in Princes Quay, Tralee. Thomas Day ceased to publish the newspaper in 1835 and the last issue on file at both the British Library and the National Library of Ireland leaves no clue as to why this happened. In fact the 16 April, 1835 issue states the healthy circulation figures of The Western Herald as well as those of its two rivals.

    The answer to the sudden disappearance of The Western Herald is found in the pages of the Kerry Evening Post. Thomas Day’s wife Agnes died on 28 February, 1835 and he stopped printing the newspaper on 4 May 1835. On 29 July, 1837 & 19 Aug, 1837 announcements were printed in the Kerry Evening Post stating that the newspaper was going to be published again. Unfortunately this never happened and Thomas Day was thrown into jail because of creditors on 13 February, 1839.

    (Image 6, right) Kerry newspaper circulation figures, April 1835

    The young man who took over the newspaper from Pierce Chute had lost everything, his wife, business and freedom. There was an appetite for local news in the area as the Kerry Evening Post was printed right up until 1917, even surviving the Irish Famine of 1845 to 1849. Day just didn’t have what it took to stay afloat in the harsh world of local newspaper publishing.

    Chute’s Western Herald: Structure

    Chute’s Western Herald was not very consistent in its layout and design while under the ownership of Pierce Chute. Looking at a copy of the newspaper from each of the 18 years that an issue survives, you see that the newspaper was moulded to fit the stories that Chute wanted to include rather then fitting the stories in around a set layout. One issue from each year that there is a surviving copy of Chute’s Western Herald was analysed. In many cases, especially in the earlier years of the newspaper, there is only one issue in existence today. In total 25 copies of the newspaper were studied, 18 under the editorship of Pierce Chute and seven under the ownership of Thomas Day.

    Chute’s Western Herald was always printed on four pages of broadsheet size paper with each page containing four columns. On average there were 28 stories in each issue of Chute’s Western Herald; only 14 articles appeared in the 1816 issue analysed and 48 stories were published in the 1817 issue so this figure tended to vary greatly.

    Chute's Newspaper Article Figures and Averages
    Year Total Front 2nd Page 3rd Page 4th Page
    1797 22 1 8 5 8
    1801 23 11 6 2 4
    1803 21 11 7 2 11
    1806 33 3 16 10 4
    1808 26 4 6 5 11
    1812 31 9 5 11 6
    1813 22 2 2 10 8
    1814 20 4 1 10 5
    1816 14 1 1 8 4
    1817 48 9 9 16 14
    1821 20 1 6 9 4
    1822 31 1 13 9 8
    1823 42 6 15 14 7
    1824 33 7 8 9 9
    1825 25 4 8 6 7
    1826 31 1 14 11 5
    1827 42 7 11 13 11
    1828 18 1 7 5 5
    Average 28 4 8 9 7
    Table 2

    It is unclear as to the early frequency of publication of Chute’s Western Herald as the earliest surviving copy of the newspaper is not until 22 December, 1797. The issue number on this copy is 103 which suggest that the newspaper started off as a fortnightly publication. We know from the evidence presented in the previous chapter that it was established in 1793. If it had started as a weekly the issue number would have to be 200 or more by 1797 as 52 issues a year would have been printed over four years. By 1797 it does appear to be a weekly publication. The next available issue of the newspaper is 7 July, 1801 and its issue number is 557 meaning that sometime between 1797 and 1801 Chute changed the paper to a twice weekly publication, printing it on Tuesdays and Fridays. By 1812 he had changed the printing days to Monday and Thursday and in 1822 he changed the printing days again to Wednesday and Saturday. These remained the two publication days until he sold the newspaper in 1828.

    The front page of Chute’s Western Herald was the least consistent page of the newspaper and changed radically from one issue to the next. In the first surviving issue of the newspaper, Friday, December 22, 1797 only one story was carried on the page. The article was about a big military court case held in London and it was continued on page two. On Tuesday, 7 July, 1801, the next year that there is surviving issue of the newspaper, there were 11 articles on the front page. This is the most articles that were carried on the front page of the paper while Pierce Chute was editor. Another six issues were published with only one article on the front page. On average the newspaper had four articles on its front page and in half of all the issues the last article on the page continued on page two. In most newspapers of the time the leading articles would not have appeared on the front page. The main articles were usually on the second page as advertisements took up most of the front page. (Brown, 1985: 100) No advertisements appeared on the front page of The Western Herald under the ownership of Chute or Day.

    Chute's Front Page Story Figures and Averages
    Year Stories Crossover
    to 2nd Page
    1797 1 1
    1801 11 0
    1803 1 1
    1806 3 0
    1808 4 1
    1812 9 0
    1813 2 0
    1814 4 1
    1816 1 1
    1817 9 1
    1821 1 1
    1822 1 0
    1823 6 0
    1824 7 0
    1825 4 0
    1826 1 1
    1827 7 0
    1828 1 1
    Average 4 0.5
    Table 3

    The masthead of the newspaper is another aspect of the front page that changed over the years. In 1797, 1801 and 1803 the heading was very plain, Times New Roman style of text, with Chute’s Western Herald in bold capitals. Underneath the main heading the volume of the newspaper appears on the left hand side in Roman numerals, the day and date are in the middle and the issue number is on the right hand side.

    Chute’s Western Herald masthead in 1797

    In 1805 the newspaper volume, day and date and the issue number appear exactly the same as before but the masthead has changed. The heading is no longer in capitals, the writing is plainer, more like Ariel in style and underneath the masthead in very small script style writing it states “published Tuesday Evening and Friday Morning”. The 3 December, 1805 issue below was not used to analyse any other aspect of the newspaper as only three of the four pages survive.

    Chute’s Western Herald masthead in 1805

    In 1808 Pierce Chute changes the masthead again and this is the style he stays with until he sells the newspaper in 1828. The text is very elaborate and underneath Chute’s Western Herald he has added in smaller plain capital letters "Or Kerry Advertiser". In the 1808 issue he printed under the masthead to the left ‘Published Tuesdays and Fridays’, in the middle he has the place, "Tralee", day and date, and the volume and issue number is on the right hand side.

    Chute’s Western Herald masthead in 1808

    He changes this in 1812 to the exact format he used for the rest of his ownership of the newspaper. The volume and issue numbers now appear on the left hand side, Tralee followed by the day and date is still in the middle and the price of the newspaper now appears on the right hand side.

    Chute’s Western Herald masthead in 1812

    The price of the newspaper did not appear anywhere within the paper until 1812 and the price by then was five pence. The cost of Chute’s Western Herald remained at five pence until Chute sold the newspaper to Thomas Day in 1828. The Kerry Evening Post was sold for exactly the same price so that was the standard cost of a newspaper in Kerry at the time.

    Many major newspapers of the time were increasing the complexity of the design of their mastheads (Jones, 1996: 34-38). Pierce Chute did not go down this path and instead went for simplicity though he did adorn the text used for Chute’s Western Herald. The use of the words ‘Herald’ and ‘Advertiser’ in the title of the newspaper were in fitting with convention of the time. ‘Advertiser’ was the most popular title and ‘Herald’ was the fifth most popular title for newspapers in the 19th century (Jones, 1996: 33-34). Chute managed to fit in two of the conventional names into the full title of his journal Chute’s Western Herald or Kerry Advertiser.

    Page two, not unlike the front page, also varied in its layout and style depending on the issue of the newspaper. Over the course of the 18 issues analysed that were edited by Chute there is on average 8 stories on page two. In 1806 16 stories appeared on the page and in 1814 and 1816 only one story appeared on page two. In both of these cases some of the column inches were taken up by the continuation of a story from the front page.

    Page three was used to print most of the Irish, regional, local news and court cases as well as some of the listings and all the advertisements in the newspaper. As a result of it having a more definite editorial purpose it means that this page was much more consistent in its design and layout. On average the page carried nine articles though in the 1817 issue analysed Chute managed to fit 16 stories on the page, while in 1801 and 1803 he had only two articles on the page. Page three also carried on average five advertisements and three of the six listings that were published in each issue of the paper. It was not normal practice to print advertisement on the third page of the newspaper. Most journals of that time published the bulk of their advertisements on the front page. (Brown, 1985: 100) The listings on page three were usually general notices and births, deaths and marriages.

    Page four was used to expand on stories from the previous pages and to publish articles that were not very current but still might be of interest to the readers. Page four contained seven stories on average. The 1817 issue analysed had 14 stories while only four stories were published on this page in 1806, 1816 and 1821. On average this page carried three of the six listings included in each issue. They were nearly always prices from the Dublin, regional and Tralee markets.

    Not long after he took over as owner in October 1828, Thomas Day changed the layout style of the now renamed The Western Herald. The first design changed he made was to the masthead. In 1829 he changed the type style of the heading to something that looks like the lettering you would see in an old Wild West wanted poster. He also decided to get rid of the Or Kerry Advertiser and to replace it with Or Tralee and Killarney Advertiser. Underneath the masthead he included the days the newspaper was published, he put Tralee, the day and date in the middle and the price on the right hand side.

    The Western Herald masthead in 1829

    In 1830 he changed the masthead again, back to something very similar to what Pierce Chute had when he sold the newspaper to Day. He also changed it back to Or Kerry Advertiser in the smaller writing underneath the main heading. He decided to include the volume number under the masthead to the left, Tralee, day and date to the centre and the price to the right hand side.

    The Western Herald masthead in 1835

    Another big design change he made was to put five columns to a page instead of four. By including more columns Thomas Day was, on average, able to include 4 more stories per issue then Chute. Day also increased the price of the newspaper from five pence to six pence and it remained at this level until the newspaper ceased printing in 1835. The Kerry Evening Post and the new Tralee Mercury also cost six pence per issue at this time. Another change that Day made was making the publication days Monday and Thursday.

    Day's Newspaper Article Figures and Averages
    Year Total Front
    2nd Page 3rd Page 4th Page
    1829 27 5 9 12 1
    1830 40 3 7 15 15
    1831 23 1 10 12 0
    1832 38 9 12 11 6
    1833 32 4 2 13 13
    1834 29 10 8 6 5
    1835 38 11 8 10 9
    Average 32 6 8 11 7

    Table 4

    Inside the newspaper the big change he made was getting rid of the little 2 to 4 inch stories Chute had scattered around pages two, three and four and to include news-in-brief articles instead. In these new articles Day grouped together many stories according to their place or genre. He included one to a few sentences on each story.

    Chute’s Western Herald: Content Analysis

    The content of the articles published in Chute’s Western Herald is what you would expect from a local Irish newspaper published in the late 18th and early 19th century. Sometimes Pierce Chute broke the mould and published something quite different. In general, with the exception of the 1797 issue analysed, Chute’s Western Herald was not very exciting in the earlier years and included very little local and regional content. This gradually improved over the years and in the end he was writing a few of his own local stories in every issue of the newspaper. As stated in the previous chapter one issue from each of the years that there is a surviving copy was analysed.

    Chute's Geographical Focus of Articles
    Year Total Local
    Regional Irish National Euro Inter None
    1797 22 6 1 6 6 2 1 0
    1801 23 0 2 0 16 4 1 0
    1803 21 0 3 9 4 5 0 0
    1806 33 0 1 3 11 14 4 0
    1808 26 0 1 4 9 12 0 0
    1812 31 1 2 3 16 3 6 0
    1813 22 0 2 1 9 7 3 0
    1814 20 0 0 4 6 10 0 0
    1816 14 1 0 3 10 0 0 0
    1817 48 1 2 3 14 14 14 0
    1821 20 1 1 3 5 6 2 2
    1822 31 1 7 4 6 11 2 0
    1823 42 1 5 11 9 15 1 0
    1824 33 5 7 2 9 4 3 3
    1825 25 3 4 3 6 4 5 0
    1826 31 1 3 4 18 4 1 0
    1827 42 3 6 7 16 9 1 0
    1828 18 3 0 3 3 7 0 2
    Average 28 2 3 4 10 7 2 0

    Table 5

    In the first surviving copy of Chute’s Western Herald, 22 December, 1797 Pierce Chute put together a very balanced local newspaper including local, regional, Irish, national (British) and international news. In the years following this issue very little local or regional content appears in the newspaper until 1822. From 1822 onwards Chute makes an attempt at including local and regional stories. This increase in local and regional articles coincides directly with him writing more of his own stories for the newspaper. On average two local stories and three regional articles appeared in each issue of the newspaper. The most local content was published in the 1797 issue with six local articles. He came very close to reaching this number again in 1824 when he printed five local stories. Out of the 18 issues of the newspaper analysed six of them, between 1801 and 1814 contained no local stories at all. The regional content of the paper was better with seven regional articles appearing in the 1822 and 1824 issues. There were only three years where no regional content appeared in the newspaper, 1814, 1816 and 1828. This meant that in the 1814 issue no local or regional story appeared in the newspaper.

    Chute was much more consistent in his inclusion of Irish stories in the newspaper and out of the 28 articles that, on average, appeared in the newspaper four of them focused on Irish stories. The 1823 paper had 11 articles with an Irish focus, while the 1801 issue did not include any Irish stories.

    By far the most popular geographical choice for Chute when it came to filling the pages of his newspaper were stories from mainland Britain. On average 10 of the articles included in the newspaper were British and this is very understandable as Ireland was under British rule at the time. In the 1826 issue analysed 18 articles focused on British stories, while in the 1828 newspaper only three of the stories were British.

    One of the most interesting discoveries while doing this content analysis was the inclusion of so many international stories in the newspaper. The people of Kerry must have been very interested in European politics and war developments as on average seven articles focused on what was happening on mainland Europe. This great interest in European politics and war would have been due to the activities of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington before, during and after the battle of Waterloo in June 1815. Napoleon was ruler of France from 1799 to 1814 and briefly again in 1815. He fought nearly every European power during this time to take control of most of Western and central Europe by battle or alliance. In 1812 he led a disastrous invasion of Russia followed by defeat in the Battle of Leipzig in 1813. In 1815 he staged the ‘Hundred Day’ comeback only to be defeated in the Battle of Waterloo by Wellington. He surrendered shortly afterwards and was exiled to the island of Saint Helena, where he died six years later. The Duke of Wellington went on to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on two separate occasions, 1828 to 1830 and 1834 until Robert Peel’s return from Italy. The greatest achievement of his political career was the Catholic Emancipation Act during his first term as Prime Minister. (Wootten, 1992: 7-88)

    In 1823 the newspaper carried 15 European articles and the only year that it didn’t carry a European story interestingly was in 1816; Chute may have been suffering from Waterloo fatigue. On average two stories in the newspaper had an international focus, the same number as local stories printed in the paper. These international articles focused principally on America and South America though a few African stories also featured from time to time. In the 1817 issue Chute printed 14 international articles though over the years he did not include any international stories in five of the 18 issues analysed that he edited.

    Day's Geographical Focus of Articles
    Year Total Local Regional Irish National Euro Inter None
    1829 27 1 6 8 10 1 0 1
    1830 40 0 2 9 24 2 1 2
    1831 23 0 4 7 8 4 0 0
    1832 38 1 0 14 18 4 0 1
    1833 32 1 0 18 7 3 1 2
    1834 29 0 4 10 13 1 0 1
    1835 38 0 2 9 25 1 1 0
    Average 32 0 3 11 15 2 0 1

    Table 6

    When Thomas Day took over the newspaper he did not adopt Pierce Chute’s new editorial policy to make the newspaper more local and regional in focus. On average there were no local stories in the newspaper and only three regional articles. He did however greatly increase the Irish geographical focus of the newspaper from four articles to 11 stories per issue. He also increased the national (British) articles in the newspaper from 10 to 15 and this may explain how he was able to include four extra stories per issue. He also reduced the number of European stories from seven to two per issue and the international stories from two to none. Another interesting development was that on average one story per issue was of no geographical focus, it was a fictional story, a poem or an interesting fact taken from another source. Pierce Chute only included facts and fictional stories in three of his 18 newspapers analysed.

    Chute's Source of Articles
    Year Total Papers Letters Staff Reader Other Unclear
    1797 22 2 6 2 0 9 3
    1801 23 7 1 0 0 15 0
    1803 21 12 0 0 0 7 2
    1806 33 2 5 1 0 17 8
    1808 26 7 5 0 0 3 11
    1812 31 15 7 0 1 2 6
    1813 22 10 0 0 0 3 9
    1814 20 12 2 0 0 4 2
    1816 14 7 0 1 0 5 1
    1817 48 18 6 2 0 7 15
    1821 20 8 3 3 0 0 6
    1822 31 12 3 2 0 2 12
    1823 42 14 6 1 0 3 18
    1824 33 14 0 6 0 0 13
    1825 25 14 0 3 0 6 2
    1826 31 16 1 1 0 2 11
    1827 42 11 1 3 0 3 24
    1828 18 6 1 3 0 1 7
    Average 28 10 3 2 0 5 8

    Table 7

    It is interesting to see where Pierce Chute sourced the articles that filled up the pages of his newspaper. Copyright laws did not exist at that time (Inglis, 1950: 21) so it was perfectly acceptable to lift articles from the bigger journals and insert them verbatim into your regional newspaper. Pierce Chute certainly used this cut-and-paste technique to fill the column inches of Chute’s Western Herald and did not always credit the original source as can been seen by the large number of articles that are classified as unclear. Printing stories without stating the source was common practice at the time because it was felt that “anonymous articles carried more weight if they were published with the authority of the newspaper behind them” (Brown, 1985:108).

    Most of the stories were taken from the big British and Dublin journals. In later years he copied articles from the Cork and Limerick newspapers, the two biggest cities in the region. Sometimes Pierce Chute credited the newspaper directly and at other times he just stated the city of the newspaper. There were plenty of other articles that could have been taken from newspapers but then equally they could have been taken from government reports or other similar sources so they had to be classified as unclear. On average 10 of the 28 articles in Chute’s Western Herald were taken and properly credited to other newspapers. It is very possible and highly likely that at least six of the eight unclear articles were taken from other journals as well.

    The stories whose sources are marked as other include articles taken from parliament, government, military and court reports. They make up five of the 28 articles that on average appeared in the newspaper. Again, in some cases, these may have been taken from newspapers with Pierce Chute leaving out the secondary source and crediting the stories as having come directly from these reliable government, court or military sources.

    It is also difficult to tell where articles classified as letters originate. Some of them are likely to have been copied from newspapers too. In some cases it is very clear that they are original letters as they were written by local people living abroad. In other cases they are from people like soldiers with no Kerry connections and so are likely to have been copied from London or Dublin papers.

    Pierce Chute did write his own articles, on average two per issue. These stories were nearly always local in focus though on a very few occasions he wrote his opinions on big news issues of the day. What he did write was as good as any of the articles he copied from the big journals. Provincial newspapers of the time credited their readers with being able to understand complex words and arguments (Brown, 1985: 100-101). None of the articles that Chute wrote could be classified as editorials. Only once did he give his reader a voice and that was in a letter to the editor that appeared in the 1812 issue analysed.

    Day's Source of Articles
    Year Total Papers Letters Staff Reader Other Unclear
    1829 27 5 2 1 1 5 13
    1830 40 15 1 0 0 8 16
    1831 23 10 1 0 0 1 11
    1832 38 11 4 1 0 3 19
    1833 32 13 1 1 0 1 16
    1834 29 13 1 0 0 2 13
    1835 38 16 1 0 0 0 21
    Average 32 12 2 0 3 0 15

    Table 8

    When Thomas Day took over the newspaper he kept up the practice of taking most of his articles from the bigger newspapers and not crediting the source of the story in many cases. Where there was a great difference between the two men was that Day wrote very few of his own articles; this coincides with the fact that he did not publish many local stories. Of the seven issues of the newspaper analysed under his editorship he wrote only one local article in three of the issues he edited.

    Chute's Genre of Articles
    Year Total For Brit Irl Reg Mil Crt Exe Mur Dth Shp Bus Ryl Cath Chr Lght Ext Fict Oth
    1797 22 1 0 1 0 5 5 1 5 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 1
    1801 23 2 5 0 0 9 2 0 0 0 3 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
    1803 21 6 1 3 0 1 2 1 1 3 0 1 0 0 2 0 0 0 0
    1806 33 10 7 0 0 9 4 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    1808 26 4 0 0 0 8 2 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 6 0 0 4
    1812 31 3 0 0 0 19 0 1 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 2
    1813 22 3 0 0 0 6 2 0 0 4 2 1 1 0 0 3 0 0 0
    1814 20 7 0 1 0 4 1 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 1 1 0 1
    1816 14 0 1 2 0 0 3 0 0 0 2 2 2 0 0 0 1 0 1
    1817 48 13 1 1 0 3 3 0 1 4 6 4 0 0 0 1 2 1 8
    1821 20 0 1 2 0 6 0 0 1 3 1 0 4 0 0 0 0 2 0
    1822 31 6 1 0 2 4 3 0 0 3 0 6 0 0 2 1 1 0 2
    1823 42 8 0 1 1 8 8 0 0 2 4 5 3 0 0 0 1 0 1
    1824 33 1 1 0 1 8 5 0 1 2 0 4 0 0 0 2 3 3 2
    1825 25 4 0 0 0 4 6 0 2 0 1 1 0 1 1 3 1 0 1
    1826 31 0 3 1 0 3 5 0 2 0 0 10 2 1 0 2 1 1 0
    1827 42 4 3 1 1 6 8 1 2 0 4 2 1 1 1 2 2 0 3
    1828 18 5 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 1 0 2 0 2 0 2 0 2 1
    Avg 28 4 1 1 0 6 3 0 1 1 2 2 1 0 0 1 1 1 2
    Max 48 13 7 3 2 19 8 1 5 4 6 10 4 2 2 6 3 3 8
    Min 14 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
    Total 502 77 24 13 5 104 61 4 17 24 30 40 16 5 6 26 13 9 28

    Table 9

    Abbrev Genre Abbrev Genre
    For Foreign Politics Brit British Politics
    Irl Irish politics Reg local & regional politics
    Mil military news Crt Court cases & crime
    Exe executions Mur murder
    Dth death Shp shipping news
    Bus business Ryl royal news
    Cath Catholic emancipation Chr church
    Lght good/light news Ext extraordinary
    Fict Facts & fictional stories Oth other*
    *riots, expeditions, fire, letter to the editor, poor, storms & floods, appointments, child abuse, accident, health, suicide, drought

    The range of the different genre of articles published in Chute’s Western Herald in the 25 issues analysed is fascinating. Exactly 729 articles were studied and classified and the results are very interesting. Just over a fifth of the 502 Chute articles analysed were stories about the military. These stories were mainly about the British military, both home and abroad, but they also included news about other European armies and their activities on mainland Europe and in the colonies. Some of these stories were very detailed accounts of the armies exacted movements and covered up to 6 columns of the newspaper. Others were merely lists of the unfortunate soldiers who were killed and injured in battle and could take up as little as two column inches. On average military stories made up 6 of the 28 articles carried in an average issue of the newspaper. One issue had an incredible 19 stories about the military within its four broadsheet size pages, while only one issue carried no military news.

    The next most popular topic was also a surprise, foreign politics accounted for 77 of the 502 articles. Most of these stories were on European political developments though America and South America also featured. Most of the earlier issues were taken up with developments in France. After Napoleon’s fall interest shifted to Spanish and Portuguese relations and in the final issues to Eastern European politics. This is very interesting when compared to British and Irish politics, each of which only accounted for one article an issue, and regional political stories only appeared in four of the 18 issues of the newspapers analysed.

    Court cases and crime were the third most popular genre in Chute’s Western Herald. Crime and court cases are grouped together because crimes were usually only reported in the paper when the case was brought to court. Approximately two thirds of the court cases and crimes were British and around a third were Irish. A few European cases made the newspaper but these were the exception. Murders were classified separately as on average one appeared in each copy of the newspaper. Again, approximately two thirds were British and a third Irish; the interesting fact is that two of the murder cases were local stories. The first murder was the beating to death of a man as he walked home with a group of friends at night. The story appeared on the front page of the newspaper on September 15, 1824 in columns three and four and took up 48 column inches. The friends were all men from Abbeyfeale, a town on the Kerry/Limerick boarder, three of whom were very seriously injured in the incident. They were set upon by soldiers who jumped out of the ditches at them and one of these soldiers was charged with the murder. The second case was also the murder of a man who was on his way home after dark, this time from Tralee’s market. This story appeared on page three of the newspaper on 1 February, 1826 and took up a total of 18 column inches spread over columns three and four. Both local murder stories were written by Pierce Chute. Executions were also kept separate as they were reported after the court case and half of the cases were Irish.

    Business and shipping were two other genres of stories that appeared regularly in Chute’s Western Herald, with both of them taking up two articles per issue in the newspaper. Sometimes the two topics were interlinked and often the stories had a regional aspect, covering Cork, Limerick and sometimes Tralee, though over all the articles were mainly focusing on British and foreign ports and markets.

    The other regular story topics that appeared in the newspaper were royal news, facts and fiction, good and light news, and extraordinary stories. On average there was one article on each of these topics in an issue of the newspaper and their main purpose was to add colour, give the readers a break from the serious news stories and fill in any gaps. Occasionally articles that were classified as extraordinary might not have been pleasant news but they were definitely a distraction from the regular stories that appeared in the paper.

    In last four years of the newspaper under the ownership of Pierce Chute five articles supporting the Catholic emancipation appeared in the newspaper and three of these made the front page. This is definitive proof of Chute’s liberal editorial policy for Chute’s Western Herald. He also included six articles on both the Anglican and Catholic churches in four separate issues of the 18 analysed further supporting his liberal stance.

    Some of the articles analysed did not fit into any of the main genres and so they were classified as other. The range of stories includes riots, expeditions, fires, a letter to the editor, stories about the poor, storms and floods, political appointments, accidents, health stories, suicide, drought and a terrible child abuse case that deserved to be classified separate from the other court cases. This story of “extreme cruelty to a child” appeared in Chute’s Western Herald on 20 January, 1817 in columns one and two of page four and took up 20 column inches. Charlotte Hill was the guardian of her niece; the next door neighbour noticed her cruelly treating the little five-year-old girl on many occasions and reported this to the child’s father. The things that the neighbour witnessed included the aunt leaving the little girl standing naked in the middle of the yard and throwing cold buckets of water over her, rubbing the naked child down with a dripping wet cold cloth and making her stand on the stairs naked afterwards, and the neighbour heard beating and the “repeated piercing cries from the child” coming from upstairs. When the father came with the neighbour to check on the little girl they found her sitting naked in a cold room and all feeling had left her legs. The doctor was sent for but the poor child died from the neglect she had suffered. The neighbour noticed when they rescued the girl that her “skin was filthy to shocking degree” and “there were marks of fingers near the backbone, as if great violence had been used”. The Grand Jury in London found the woman guilty of child abuse but not of murder.

    Day's Genre of Articles
    Year Total For Brit Irl Reg Mil Crt Exe Mur Dth Shp Bus Ryl Cath Chr Lght Fict NIBS Oth
    1829 27 0 4 4 1 2 3 0 0 0 0 2 0 1 2 1 1 5 1
    1830 40 0 5 3 1 3 6 0 0 1 3 1 1 0 0 4 2 4 6
    1831 23 2 3 2 1 2 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 6 3
    1832 38 0 10 1 0 2 6 0 1 0 0 2 0 2 0 4 1 4 5
    1833 32 1 5 0 0 4 7 0 1 0 1 2 1 0 0 1 2 3 4
    1834 29 1 8 1 0 2 4 0 0 0 1 1 0 3 0 3 1 3 1
    1835 38 0 6 3 0 7 7 1 1 0 0 1 1 2 0 2 0 5 2
    Avg 32 1 6 2 0 3 5 0 0 0 1 1 1 1 0 2 1 4 3
    Max 40 2 10 4 1 7 7 1 1 1 3 2 1 3 2 4 2 6 6
    Min 23 0 3 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 1
    Total 227 4 41 14 3 22 34 1 3 2 6 9 4 8 2 15 7 30 32

    Table 10

    Abbrev Genre Abbrev Genre Abbrev Genre
    For Foreign Politics Brit British Politics Irl Irish politics
    Reg local & regional politics Mil military news Crt Court cases & crime
    Exe executions Mur murder Dth death
    Shp shipping news Bus business Ryl royal news
    Cath Catholic emancipation Chr church Lght good/light news
    Fict Facts & fictional stories NIVS news in brief other*
    *riots, fire, suicide, poor, flood & storms, accident, health, Protestant, press, pensions

    When Thomas Day bought the newspaper in 1828 he carried on the liberal editorial policy started by Pierce Chute. British politics was the most popular genre covered by Day in the newspaper making up nearly a fifth of the articles he published, not military stories like under Chute’s editorship. The main reason for this substantial drop in the number of military articles in the renamed The Western Herald was due to the fact that Napoleon’s activities in Europe and Waterloo where all huge stories while Chute was running the newspaper. For the seven years that Day was editor Britain was not involved in any major military action and the conflicts that were going on were not of any huge interest to Britain and Ireland. Day also increased the coverage of Irish politics from on average one story per issue to two articles. He greatly decreased the coverage of European politics publishing only four articles on the subject in the seven copies analysed. Day’s coverage of regional politics was poor; there were only three articles on the subject in the seven issues examined.

    Court cases and crime were still a very popular choice with the new editor. In fact he increased the number of articles per issue from three in Chute’s time to five. This coincided with a drop in the reporting of murders from on average one per issue to only three murders in the seven issues. Execution stories were also down with only one reported in the seven issues. This drop in executions would have been related to the ending of the regime of capital punishment in the 1820’s and 1830’s. The Punishment of Death Act 1832 reduced the number of capital crimes by two-thirds. (Gatrell, 1994: 590-600)

    Shipping and business articles were still important in Day’s newspaper but only featured on average once each per issue. Interest in royal news remained at an average of one story. Reports on important people’s deaths were down, only two were reported in the seven issues analysed, on average one featured in each issue of Chute’s paper. One article about Catholic emancipation appeared in each issue which proves that Day practiced a similar editorial policy to Chute. This increase in the reporting of the cause would have been linked directly with an increase in interest on a national level. The number of articles on church news remained low with only two stories appearing in one of the seven issues analysed.

    There was a substantial increase in the number of articles that had to be classified as other from on average two per issue to three per issue under Day. Some of the topics were the same as the ones printed by Chute such as riots, fire, suicide, poor, flood & storms, accidents and health news, though Day also carried stories on Protestant opinion, press news and pensions. The amount of light news articles published in the newspaper also increased from one to two per issue. Fiction and facts were also up per issue though only very slightly. In the 2 July, 1829 issue Day even published the poem of one of his readers.

    Where change was most noticeable under Day’s editorship was the addition of news in brief articles. Day grouped together many stories according to their genre or sometimes their geographical region and put in one to a few sentences on each story. This worked really well for some stories as it meant the reader was getting lots of little bits of information. In other cases it would have been better to stick with Chute’s style and include more details on fewer news articles as some of the stories warranted more detailed explanation.

    When it came to pulling in the advertising both men faired the same, printing an average of five advertisements in every issue of the newspaper. Similar numbers of advertisements appeared in The Kerry Evening Post so this number seems to be standard for newspapers in Tralee at that time. Of these five advertisements four were local and one was regional or national. The highest number of advertisements that Chute attracted was 16 in 1797 and this was followed closely by the 1808 issue which had 14 advertisements. The most Day attracted was 8 advertisements in 1829. There were two issues in which Chute only had one advertisement, 1801 and 1823, while Day had none in his 1832 issue analysed. The goods and services advertised were exactly what you would expect for the time. Property to let, notices and property for sale were the most popular advertisements accounting for over half of all that were printed. Timber, insurance, banking, ship passages, horse races, boats, jobs, entertainment, personal rewards, publications, horses, plants, spa treatments, alcohol, saddlery and coach services made up the other half of the advertisements, there was even one advertisement for a billiard table for sale in the 1816 issue. The advertisement that stood out from all the others appeared on page three of 14 July, 1834 issue and it was a “caution” put in by a husband appealing to shop owners not to let his wife buy anything on his accounts as he would no longer be paying her debts.

    Both owners were also equal in the number of listings they published in the newspaper, on average there were six per issue. Under Chute’s editorship the most listings in any one issue were 12 in 1801 and 1823, while Day included a maximum of seven listings in the 1829 and 1831 issues analysed. In 1806 Chute included no listings at all while the least Day put in his paper was three in 1832. The listings were almost equally divided up between national, regional and local announcements of interest to Tralee. Approximately two thirds of all the listings published were the market prices from Tralee, Dublin and other major Irish markets. Notices and births, deaths and marriages made up the bulk of the other third of the listings along with meetings, official rewards, fairs, ports, the names of people jailed, a suicide, courts and the results of the Irish lottery.

    Summary and Conclusions

    One of the main findings of this study of an Irish provincial newspaper is that local newspapers in Ireland in the late 18th and early 19th century were very similar to their contemporaries on mainland Britain. Irish local newspapers took much of their news from the London journals, they did not carry many local or regional stories and their layout was not very inventive, just like the provincial newspapers of England, Scotland and Wales.

    Chute’s Western Herald was a typical late 18th and early 19th century Irish provincial newspaper. Most of its content came from other newspapers and sources and its focus was mainly British. There was a need for a local newspaper in Tralee. The town was an expanding business and farming district. It had nine schools in total at the time and so boasted a large literate population. Chute’s Western Herald filled this void. It was not groundbreaking in its content or structure but it served its readers well.

    The newspaper did evolve over the years. Chute, in the latter years of his editorship, increased the local news content and started writing more of his own articles. Day did not carry on Chute’s local news editorial policy. The improvement he made to the newspaper’s content was to greatly increase the number of Irish articles.

    The aim of this dissertation was to build a profile and analysis the structure and content of a typical Irish provincial newspaper of the late 18th and early 19th century. The completed study does justify the writing of this dissertation but unfortunately it was not possible to fill in all the gaps in the research. The dissertation does not include much information on how the newspaper was run. An extensive search was conducted in Kerry and the rest of Ireland for surviving paperwork and ledger books from Chute’s Western Herald but unfortunately none survive today. The profile of the founding editor Pierce Chute is incomplete. This is due to the fact that many important historical documents were destroyed in the Irish Civil War including the Stamp Office and church records.

    It would also have been ideal while conducting the content and structure analysis to have studied a few copies of Chute’s Western Herald from each year it was printed. Unfortunately only one issue survives for many of the years it was published and for some years there are no copies in existence. By analysing an issue from each year there is a copy of the paper, it has been possible to document the changes to the newspaper over the years it was printed. The author felt this was much more beneficial in contributing to the understanding of Irish provincial newspapers then just analysing issues from one of the years that there are many surviving copies of the newspaper.

    In the process of researching this dissertation the author has discovered that the history of the newspapers of Kerry has been greatly overlooked. It would be very interesting to carry on where this study has begun and look at all the different titles that were published in Kerry in the 18th and 19th centuries.


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    Chute’s Western Herald or The Kerry Advertiser (1793-1828), ed. Chute, P., Tralee, Ireland: P. Chute Printer
    Used in analysis: 22 December, 1797; 7 July, 1801; 31 May, 1803; 27 May, 1806; 1 January, 1808; 27 August, 1812; 11 February, 1813; 23 April, 1814; 23 May, 1816; 20 January, 1817; 30 July, 1821; 20 November, 1822; 3 December, 1823; 15 September, 1824; 30 July, 1825; 1 February, 1826; 5 December, 1827; 2 January, 1828.

    The Western Herald or The Kerry Advertiser (1828-1835), ed. Day, T., Tralee, Ireland: T. Day Printer
    Used in analysis: 2 July, 1829; 6 December, 1830; 31 March, 1831; 29 May, 1832; 5 August, 1833; 14 July, 1834; 16 April, 1835.

    Kerry Evening Post (1813-1845), ed. Egar, C.&J., Tralee, Ireland: Charles & John Egar Printers


    British Library: www.bl.uk/catalogues/newspapers/welcome.asp

    National Library of Ireland: http://www.nli.ie/new_cat.htm and http://www.nli.ie/co_newsp.htm#2

    Chute's Western Herald: A Case Study of a Provincial Newspaper in Late 18th and Early 19th Century Ireland by Janet Chute, A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of Media, Trinity and All Saint's College, Dublin, in Fulfilment of the Requirements of the M.A. Degree, April 2006. Contents ©2006 courtesy of Janet Chute and Trinity and All Saint's College, Dublin.

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