On this day

April 20, 1823

cover page of British Luminary published on April 20, 1823

British Luminary





Available years


The British Luminary was weekly newspaper, which was Reformist in orientation. While running for five and a half years, the paper operated in an unstable publishing environment, with frequent changes of title and subtitle, as well as numerous changes in printer and publisher.

Some of the title changes marked successes, with the move from the British Luminary and National Intelligencer to the British Luminary and Weekly Intelligence in October 1818 occurring when the proprietor purchases a rival title, the Weekly Intelligence (1816-1818). A note remarking on the merger suggested that ‘No political principles are compromised by this coalition, as the same Editor has for many weeks conducted both concerns.’ This was the only alteration of title which resulted in the restarting of numeration of the publication. A later change, which reversed the title from the British Luminary, or Weekly Intelligencer to the Weekly Intelligencer and British Luminary in July 1820, was, according to the Editor, instigated at the suggestion of correspondents. This change was a disaster, with readers struggling to get hold of the new title, and the Stamp Office recording no sales for 1820. This problem continued into 1821, with the proprietor repeatedly stating that the stamp returns did not reflect the true circulation of the publication, which he claimed more frequently exceeded sales of two thousand seven hundred copies per day. He went so far as to swear an affidavit stating the numbers printed, which appeared in the issue for 19 May 1822.

The newspaper was notable for a long front page editorial, title, signed “The Lynx”, which took the format of a Question and a (lengthy) answer. “The Lynx” editorials were published from 25 January 1818 to 10 January 1819, with examples including: ‘…The state and condition of the people of England…’ (22 February 1818); ‘…Education and schools…’ (21 March 1818); ‘…Degeneracy of the Established Church…’ (16 May 1818); and ‘… Rotten Boroughs’ (13 June 1818). From 17 January 1819 the front page editorial was entitled: “Strictures on Parliamentary Proceedings”. “The Lynx” returned on 24 July 1819 with the signature of “Sidney”, and the title of the Editorial changed again to the “Spirit Of Alfred”, also with the signature of “Sidney”, on 21 November 1819.

Alongside the editorial essays, the British Luminary covered a wide range of other subjects, including general and foreign news, updates from the provinces (which were often taken from local newspapers), and news and articles relating to finance and the markets. Its reformist agenda saw it cover political and social issues in many of its Leaders, with examples from 1821 including ‘The Catholic Question’ (8 April 1821, no. 132); ‘Parliamentary Reform’ (15 April 1821, no. 133); ‘Catholic Emancipation Reform’ (22 April 1821, no. 134); ‘State Of Ireland’ (6 May 1821, no. 136); ‘Poor Law Reform’ (13 May 1821, no. 137); ‘On the Slave Trade’ (1 July 1821, no. 144).

In June 1823 the British Luminary was incorporated into the Sunday Times. For several weeks thereafter the Sunday Times appeared with the subtitle: ‘The British Luminary and Weekly Intelligencer is incorporated with this newspaper’.

Ed King, The British Library

For this newspaper, we have the following titles in, or planned for, our digital archive:

  • 1818–18 The British Luminary and National Intelligencer.
  • 1818–18 The British Luminary; or, Weekly News and General Advertiser.
  • 1818–20 The British Luminary and Weekly Intelligence.
  • 1820–20 The British Luminary, or Weekly Intelligencer.
  • 1820–21 The Weekly Intelligencer, and British Luminary.
  • 1821–23 The British Luminary and Weekly Intelligencer.

This newspaper is published by an unknown publisher in London, London, England. It was digitised and first made available on the British Newspaper Archive in Apr 28, 2021 . The latest issues were added in Apr 28, 2021.