The (Belfast, Northern Ireland) News Letter Monday republished what it claims is the oldest surviving edition of an English-language newspaper.
It’s dated Oct. 3, 1738, which is Oct. 14 on the Gregorian calendar. The News Letter will feature highlights from early editions through the week. No papers from the paper’s first 13 months still exist.
The News Letter claims to be the world’s oldest English-language newspaper, but that title probably goes to the Daily Courant, which started up regular editions in 1702. The United Kingdom’s Newspaper Society reports that the News Letter is the world’s longest-surviving English-language newspaper.
Two hundred and seventy five years ago, the paper carried news of a stolen horse involving the father of a known highwayman. The horse, reportedly, was “about Fourteen hands high, with a small Star having a good carriage but a short Rine, somewhat Sloap-rail’d Small straight boned, round Bodied, Value about Four-Pounds.”
Other news involved the story of a young woman who defended herself from an attack and killed the man who attacked her. The judge in the case, who sentenced the girl to five years in jail, drew the ire of the newspaper: “The Governor was certainly some loose fornicating Rascal, or he would never have pronounced such a Sentence: The Pope no doubt will do well if her pardons the Girl? but in our humble Opinion he will do much better if he hangs her Judge.”
For the rest of the week, the News Letter will publish stories from another old version, Oct. 17, 1738.
“Today is not so much a celebration of the entire history of the News Letter, which we did last year with our 275th special supplement edition and the unveiling of a blue plaque to Francis Joy,” the paper explains. “But more a specific celebration of the earliest surviving copy, and its status as the first physical example of a title that continues today in print, online and tablet form.”