The weekly Sherborne Mercury was established in 1737 by printer William Bettison and carried on by his widow Hannah. In 1749, printer and bookseller Robert Goadby who already published the Western Flying Post (founded 1744) came to an agreement with Hannah Bettison to amalgamate the Post and the Mercury. The combined paper was renamed the Western Flying Post, or Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury and General Advertiser.
The paper was usually known as the Sherborne Mercury and became an influential publication throughout Dorset and the South West. Goadby firmly believed in freedom of religion and politics and, not afraid to speak his mind through his newspaper, was particularly vociferous in defending the freedom of the press. Goadby died in 1778 bequeathing money in support of Sherborne’s poor. His brother Samuel Goadby and nephew Samuel Lerpiniere continued to run the business.
The Mercury had a number of proprietors during the first half of the 19th century. One of the last was Joseph Brittan, a former surgeon from Bristol, who owned the Mercury in 1851. He married his late wife’s sister and the resultant scandal reputedly persuaded him to emigrate to New Zealand.
The paper increased from 4 pages to 8 pages in January 1857 and in 1867, the Western Flying Post and Sherborne Mercury was absorbed into Charles Clinker’s Western Gazette. In its last issue advertisers were promised that the average circulation of the new combined paper would be 14,000 copies per week.
For this newspaper, we have the following titles in, or planned for, our digital archive:
- 1748–48 The Sherborne Mercury, or Weekly Advertiser
- 1770–1800 The Western Flying Post; or, Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury
- 1801–67 The Western Flying Post; or, Sherborne and Yeovil Mercury
This newspaper is published by Reach PLC in Sherborne, Dorset, England. It was digitised and first made available on the British Newspaper Archive in May 3, 2013 . The latest issues were added in Sep 8, 2015.