‘The Glasgow Free Press’ and James Sheridan Knowles

‘Historical and Personal History of the Scottish Press, No. II, The Provincial Papers’, Fraser’s Magazine for Town and Country, volume 18, July to September, 1838, July, pages 75 to 85.


Page 80: “Mr. Sheridan Knowles, when teacher of elocution in Glasgow, was connected with the Free Press for a short time: this was before he had become known by his truly magnificent plays. His father too, Mr. James Knowles, the author of an elaborate and most useful pronouncing dictionary of the English language, lately published, had at one time some concern in the Glasgow Free Press.”


In his father’s biography, pages 76 to 77, Richard Brinsley Knowles comments on James’s links to the paper:


“Shortly after the success of his tragedy of “Virginius” he was invited by the late Mr. Northhouse to join him in establishing a newspaper in Glasgow, to be called the “Free Press.” Nothing could be more hazardous for a man in his position than to be mixed up in an undertaking of this kind, in days when party spirit ran high. But his independence was of too sturdy a character to calculate consequences, and when the proposition was made to him, he replied, that if the principles of the new journal were to his mind he would gladly take part in starting it. He and Mr. Northhouse accordingly met to arrange their programme, and the first question for which he stipulated – and with regard to which, it must be said, Mr. Northhouse was as redhot as himself – was “Catholic Emancipation.” Next came the “Abolition of Negro Slavery in the West Indies;” and then followed “Parliamentary Reform,”  “Municipal Reform,” “Abolition of Capital Punishment,” except in cases of murder, “Repeal of the Test and Corporation Acts,” and “Free Trade.” Such were the principles they proposed to advocate in a town where, out of four existing newspapers, three were tory, while the only approach to a liberal journal was the “Glasgow Chronicle,” which was feebly whig.


“The paper was started, my father conducting the literary department, Mr. Northhouse the political. And the “Free Press” prospered. It became a power in Glasgow and the surrounding country. Liberty found in it a champion worthy of her cause, and in three months the new journal had the largest circulation of any paper in the west of Scotland. Besides doing battle in matters of imperial interest, it fought against local evils.”


See William Spencer Northhouse