Yet another end of an era: 'The London Gazette', the UK’s most venerable publication, goes online

It's one of the oldest newspapers in the world, dating back to 1665

Sooner or later, modernity has to come even to the oldest institutions – and so, the oldest continuous publication in the UK, and one of the oldest in the world, has gone online. The London Gazette is not just the country’s oldest newspaper: it is also the worthiest.

It contains no gossip, no interviews, no photographs, no inaccuracies, nothing but official announcements set out in bald detail, without commentary. It is a newspaper for the Leveson era, telling its readers only what the authorities decide that they need to know.

The Gazette owes its origin to the Great Plague that swept London in 1665. It was so virulent that King Charles II and his court decamped to Oxford for fear of contagion, and did not want to touch London newspapers. So they launched the Oxford Gazette. When the court returned to the capital, the Gazette followed. Never sold on the streets, it was posted to subscribers.

It was the first official newspaper of record, the outlet through which the King communicated with his subjects. It recorded when Bills that had passed through Parliament received Royal Assent, when writs for parliamentary elections or by-elections were issued, bankruptcy notices, military appointments and appointments to some public offices, the granting of awards and medals, and royal proclamations. When a new military appointment or an act of gallantry was recorded in the Gazette it was said to have been “gazetted”.

Sometimes, a birth or marriage is considered important enough for the Gazette. On 22 July this year, for instance, it noted that “this afternoon, at 4.24 o’clock, Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge was safely delivered of a son at St Mary’s Hospital, Paddington.”

Whereas other newspapers find the volume of news to fill the available space, the Gazette adjusts its size to the volume of information the Government wishes to impart. A century ago, on 31 December 1913, there was not much that needed saying, so a one-page supplement was issued, containing a single item: “THE KING Commands that the Court shall wear Mourning for Two Weeks from this day, for Her late Majesty Sophie, Queen Dowager of Sweden. The Court to change to Half Mourning on Tuesday, the 6th January, 1914. And on Tuesday, the 13th January, the Court to go out of Mourning.”

By contrast, issue 17,028, dated 22 June 1815, was four pages of close type. It was a dispatch hand-delivered to the War Department, from Field Marshal the Duke of Wellington, which described how a huge French army led by “Buonaparte” had attacked the Austrians, under Marshal Blucher, on 19 June, and how on the following day the Duke had drawn up his army “in front of Waterloo”, and had beaten the French, at terrible cost.

By going online, it will add nothing to the amount of unchecked gossip sloshing around the web, but it will offer readers an immense archive, a cornucopia of facts and small insights into the world as it used to be.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Insight Analyst Vacancy - Leading Marketing Agency

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A leading marketing agency have won a fe...

Account Manager, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum, Benefits: Excellent Uncapped Commission Structure: ...

Sales Executive, London

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Charter Selection: This exciting entertainment comp...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star