The Southampton Herald, a Tory newspaper supporting George Canning, was published between 28 July 1823 and 22 September 1827. It was re-titled the Southampton Town and County Herald on 27 January 1825. The paper was published on Sunday, but was dated Monday. The Herald succeeded the Southampton Luminary, the editor of the latter transferring to the new paper. The original printers, publishers and part proprietors were E Skelton and Co. of 22 High Street. The firm failed spectacularly in January 1826 and the accounts transferred to John Coupland, another of the proprietors, whose imprint appeared for the first time on 16 January 1826.

The paper was printed at 22 High Street up to 9 January 1826, when Coupland had the whole of the printing materials and plant removed to 105 High Street. From the start, the Herald adopted an aggressive political tone. John Coupland had previously worked on the London Sunday paper the British Monitor, scourge of radical politicians. In July 1826 he appointed as editor Charles Molloy Westmacott, supporter of Canning at the Westminster election in June 1826, described in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography as journalist and blackmailer, and commonly acknowledged to be "the greatest liar in England".
He was previously editor of the Gazette of Fashion. Coupland explained how Westmacott came to be connected with the Herald in evidence given the following year at a trial for libel brought by Alfred Bunn, manager of the Drury Lane Theatre in London, in which his former editor was defendant: a libel committed just five weeks after Westmacott had become editor (Morning Post, 25 April 1827) - "the Defendant introduced himself to me; he represented to me that he could supply me with information from the upper circles of society, and particularly from the Yacht Club at Cowes, where he was then living…. I engaged him for six months, and was to give him £50". Westmacott had previously supplied Coupland with news from Cowes under his literary pseudonym of Bernard Blackmantle.

The Herald effectively became an instrument in the long-running, vicious war between Westmacott and Richard Downing Richards, editor and proprietor of the London Sunday newspaper The Age. The town was flooded by placards in September 1826, in which Richards described his nemesis as having "served in the capacity of a cad, scene-shifter, colour grinder, moulder, reporter, spy, common informer, eaves-dropper, sweep, and deliverer of messages on the Liverpool stage". The knife was turned in an article in The Age, 29 October 1826, in which Westmacott was described as "now getting a few shillings a week, for scraping the falsehoods of the town for this expiring periodical [the Herald], and will continue to do so until he is kicked from its service, as he had been from that of every other Journal he ever stole into the secrets of". The six months of Westmacott's editorship (ending in December 1826) was a roller coaster ride of libel and controversy which clearly stretched relations between editor and proprietor to breaking point. Westmacott took over The Age in June 1829, following Richards' bankruptcy.
In a campaign six months later to replace the recently-deceased William Chamberlayne with an uncompromisingly Protestant MP for the borough, Westmacott wrote of "that wretched thing of a newspaper, called the Southampton Herald, conducted by some ignorant printer's devil [Coupland had started his career as a printer's apprentice], to whom the structure of a sentence is as difficult as the erection of a pyramid". A bon mot that was to haunt Coupland for the rest of his professional career.
The Herald was renamed the Hampshire Advertiser in September 1827.

see also

Hampshire Advertiser


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