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Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America








John Cleave (c.1790-c.1847) was the editor and publisher of, among other works, Cleaves Weekly Police Gazette (1834-6; hereafter WPG), which was by most accounts the best-selling unstamped newspaper of the so-called "War of the Unstamped Press" in the 1830s, one of the first unstamped papers to adopt a broadsheet format like stamped papers, and one of the first to mix political news with coverage of non-political events like sensational crimes and strange occurrences. As Joel Wiener and Patricia Hollis note, less is known about Cleave than about most of the other major figures in the unstamped movement, like William Carpenter, Henry Hetherington, and James Watson, but it seems he was probably Irish and had been a sailor before becoming active from the 1820s in the radical and unstamped movements in London. WPG, like most unstamped papers, was severely prosecuted, and until recently, only seventeen full issues were known to be extant, all but two of which date from 1836, the last of the three years it was published. However, recently I discovered that eleven additional numbers of the paper are held by Glasgow University Library. These are unique copies of these numbers, and they are not included among the other extant numbers listed in Wiener's Finding List of Unstamped Newspapers or in John North's Waterloo Directory. Because these eleven numbers at Glasgow date between 12 April 1834 (the paper's fifteenth weekly number) and 5 September 1835, the Glasgow holdings significantly broaden our knowledge about the paper over its three-year run between January 1834 and its final unstamped number of 3 September 1836. For instance, as I have argued elsewhere, the Glasgow holdings indicate that with the 14 March 1835 number, WPG greatly increased the amount and focus of its political news and moreover introduced layout practices that incited readers to interpret putatively nonpolitical items as illustrations of the radical principles and issues promoted by its newly enhanced political departments.

Original Publication Citation

Jacobs, E. (2010). John Cleave's 'Weekly Police Gazette' (1834-6), Francis Place, and the pragmatics of the unstamped press. Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America, 104(1), 53-75. doi: 10.1086/680914