Posts Tagged ‘John Joseph Stockdale’

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Thomas Curson Hansard
6 November 1776 – 5 May 1833


Thomas Curson Hansard

Thomas Curson Hansard was the son of the printer Luke Hansard.

In 1803, he established a press of his own in Paternoster Row. In the same year, William Cobbett, a newspaperman, began to print the Parliamentary Debates. At first, these were not independent reports, but were taken from newspapers’ accounts of parliamentary debate.

In 1809, Hansard started to print Cobbett’s reports. Together, they also published a pamphlet describing an incident in which German mercenaries had flogged British soldiers for mutiny, and were imprisoned in King’s Bench Prison for libel.

In 1812, facing bankruptcy, Cobbett sold the publication to Hansard, who continued to publish it for the rest of his life. In 1829, he added his own name to the parliamentary proceedings, giving it the title Hansard that it bears to this day.

TC Hansard was the author of Typographia, an Historical Sketch of the Origin and Progress of the Art of Printing (1825).

The original business remained in the hands of his younger brothers, James and Luke Graves Hansard (1777-1851). The firm was prosecuted in 1837 by John Joseph Stockdale for printing by order of the House of Commons, in an official report of the inspector of prisons, statements regarded by the plaintiff as libellous. Hansard’s sheltered itself on the ground of parliamentary privilege, but it was not until after much litigation that the security of the printers of government reports was guaranteed by statute in 1840.

After 1889 the debates were published by the Hansard Publishing Union Limited.

Hansard is buried in Kingston Cemetery.

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series

In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

Mary Ridgeway Stockdale


Mary Ridgeway Stockdale was an English writer on the themes of Christian spirituality. She was the daughter of John Stockdale and sister of John Joseph Stockdale.

Mary was born in London and was a sickly child, educated at the home of her father, a publisher. As she grew older, her health recovered and she pursued her own education, reading widely and enthusiastically. She soon devoted herself to nursing her mother and family and a young maid servant Elizabeth Haws. When Elizabeth died, Mary wrote her first poem, The Effusions of the Heart which her father offered to publish. However, Mary modestly refused and only allowed publication when she herself again fell ill and believed herself near to death. In The Mirror of the Mind, she wrote of “the emptiness of sublunary things” and that she held “the most perfect indifference for everything around me.”

She wrote:

  • The Effusions of the Heart: Poems (1798);
  • The Mirror of the Mind: Poems (with an autobiography) (1810), 2 vols;
  • The Life of a Boy (1821), 2 vols.;

— besides translations from Arnaud Berquin and others, and some minor pieces.

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Stockdale
25 March 1750 – 21 June 1814


John Stockdale

John Stockdale was born in Caldbeck, Cumberland, the son of Priscilla Stockdale (1726–1789) and, Joseph Stockdale. He is believed to have been raised as a blacksmith, like his father, and then to have become valet to John Astley of Dukinfield, Cheshire. He married Mary Ridgway, a native of Roe Cross, Mottram-in-Longdendale, Cheshire, and sister to James Ridgway, a well-known publisher of Piccadilly, London. He had met Mary in the Dukinfield Moravian chapel.

Stockdale moved to London about 1780 and worked as a porter to publisher John Almon, near to the premises of his brother in law. When Almon retired from business in favour of John Debrett, Stockdale opened a book shop in competition and, “being a man of natural parts, he soon became conspicuous in business in spite of much eccentricity of conduct and great coarseness of manners”. Both Stockdale’s and Debrett’s premises became meeting places for the political classes, Debrett’s being frequented by the Whigs and Stockdale’s by the supporters of William Pitt. John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers of the United States (the 2nd President of the United States) lodged with Stockdale for two months during 1783.

He was an industrious publisher and among the many works that he published were:

  • Adam Ferguson’s History of the Progress and Termination of the Roman Republic (1783);
  • An edition of William Shakespeare’s Dramatic Works (1784);
  • Bryan Edwards’s History of the West Indies;
  • George Chalmers’ edition of Daniel Defoe’s History of the Union;
  • Arthur Phillip’s Voyage to Botany Bay;
  • Samuel Johnson’s Works (1787) (volumes 12 and 13 of which Stockdale edited);
  • John Whitaker various works.
  • Hester Thrale’s Retrospection: or, a review of the most striking and important events, characters, situations and their consequences, which the last eighteen hundred years have presented to the view of mankind (1801).

He also issued the London Courant newspaper, Debates in Parliament (1784–90), an edition of Robinson Crusoe and John Aikin’s A Description of the Country from Thirty to Forty Miles round Manchester (1795), originally intended to be merely an account of the neighbourhood of Mottram-in-Longdendale, with which Stockdale had personal acquaintance.

In 1788 he published John Logan’s Review of the Charges against Warren Hastings. The work was conceived by the government to embody a libellous charge of corruption and injustice against the House of Commons. Stockdale was accordingly prosecuted. The case came before Lord Kenyon in December 1789 and Stockdale was eloquently defended by Thomas Erskine. Erskine contended that the defendant was not to be judged by isolated passages, selected and put together in the accusation, but by the entire context of the publication and its general character and objects. Stockdale was acquitted, and such a conspicuous defence of the liberty of the press led to the passing of the Libel Act 1792, which established that nobody was to be punished for a few unguarded expressions, and left the construction of an alleged libeller’s general purpose and animus in writing to a jury.

Stockdale again figured as defendant in an action for libel brought by Joseph Nightingale in 1809, when he had to pay £200 damages. Towards the end of his career he dealt largely in remaindered books from other publishers, and caused some resentment among the regular traders by a series of sales of books by auction which he established in various parts of the country. Early in his enterprise he had acquired considerable property, but afterwards he was less successful and the circumstance of having to make an arrangement with his creditors is said to have caused him some anxiety and accelerated his death.

Stockdale and his wife had several children including:

  • Mary Stockdale, writer and publisher;
  • John Joseph Stockdale, publisher who was also the subject of a libel case involving parliament in Stockdale v. Hansard; and
  • William Stockdale, bookseller.

Read Full Post »

Regency Personalities Series
In my attempts to provide us with the details of the Regency, today I continue with one of the many period notables.

John Joseph Stockdale
1777 – 16 February 1847


John Joseph Stockdale

The son of John Stockdale and Mary neé Ridgway, John Joseph was brother to Mary Stockdale. He was educated privately at a boarding school in Bedfordshire and in 1793 started to work for his father, being admitted to the freedom of the Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers on 3 August 1802, and afterwards taking up the livery. In 1805 he married Sophia, a niece of Philip Box a successful banker, and he established his own business in Pall Mall in 1806, possibly with financial help from Box. He compiled and edited many books, including:

  • Richard Wellesley‘s Events and Transactions in India (1805);
  • Eaton Stannard Barrett’s All the Talents: A Satirical Poem (1806);
  • Don Pedro Cevallos’s Usurpation of the Crown of Spain (1808) and Sketches Civil and Military of the Island of Java (1811); and
  • Percy Bysshe Shelley’s second novel St. Irvyne; or, The Rosicrucian, A Romance (1810; reprinted in 1822).

Stockdale also sold copies of Original Poetry by Victor and Cazire by Percy Bysshe Shelley and his sister Elizabeth in 1810. In 1811, Stockdale, under the pseudonym of Thomas Little published an edition of John Roberton’s treatise on the pathology of the reproductive system On Diseases of the Generative System. Roberton was a radical and something of an outsider to the medical profession, and the book’s explicit anatomical plates, together with Stockdale’s louche reputation, meant that the book attracted some distaste and notoriety. Stockdale had in fact interpolated some additional sensational illustrations. In 1824, again as Thomas Little, Stockdale published The Beauty, Marriage Ceremonies and Intercourse of the Sexes in All Nations; to which is added The New Art of Love (Grounded on Kalogynomia), an augmented edition of Roberton’s 1821 book Kalogynomia, or the Laws of Female Beauty, a work that Roberton had himself published under the pseudonym T. Bell.

Stockdale was the publisher of the notorious Memoirs of Harriette Wilson (1826) which attracted a crowd ten deep outside his shop. Before publication, Stockdale and Wilson wrote to all those lovers and clients named in the book, including Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington and Henry Brougham, 1st Baron Brougham and Vaux, offering them the opportunity to be excluded from the work in exchange for a cash payment. Wellington famously responded with, Publish and be damned.

Stockdale died at Bushey and his wife Sophia seems to have made a further attempt to blackmail Brougham after Stockdale’s death.

In 1839, HM Prisons Inspectors discovered a copy of On Diseases of the Generative System, well thumbed by the inmates of Newgate Prison. Official parliamentary reporter Hansard, by order of the House of Commons, printed and published the Report of the Inspectors of Prisons stating that an indecent book published by a Mr. Stockdale was circulating. Stockdale sued for defamation but Hansard’s defence, that the statement was true, succeeded. However, parliament ordered a reprint and Stockdale sued again but this time Hansard was ordered by the House to plead that he had acted under order of the Commons and was protected by parliamentary privilege.

The court of Queen’s Bench, led by Lord Denman, unanimously found that Hansard was not protected by privilege and awarded damages to Stockdale, HM Treasury defraying Hansard’s costs. However, when the Middlesex sheriffs attempted to enforce the court order, Hansard fell back upon parliament for protection. Accordingly the sheriffs and other persons who sought to carry out the orders issued by the law court against the Hansards were imprisoned by order of the House of Commons. These protracted and vexatious proceedings were brought to a close only by the passing in Parliamentary Papers Act 1840 by which it was enacted that proceedings, criminal or civil, against persons for the publication of papers printed by order of either house of parliament shall be stayed upon the production of a certificate to that effect. Stockdale was thus finally defeated, and the printer was indemnified.

Read Full Post »