The News Letter has its 280th birthday

The News Letter, which is the oldest English language daily newspaper in the world, turned 280 today.

By The Newsroom
Sunday, 17th September 2017, 11:42 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th September 2017, 11:48 am
Front pages of the Belfast News Letter over the last 280 years. From top left: October 1738, the earliest surviving edition of the paper; December 1854 at the height of the Crimean War; September 1912 at the time of the Ulster covenant; September 1939 at the start of World War Two;  November 1963 at the assasination of John F Kennedy; April 1998 at the time of the Belfast Agreement; autumn 2012 after the paper turned 275. Monatage by Ben Lowry
Front pages of the Belfast News Letter over the last 280 years. From top left: October 1738, the earliest surviving edition of the paper; December 1854 at the height of the Crimean War; September 1912 at the time of the Ulster covenant; September 1939 at the start of World War Two; November 1963 at the assasination of John F Kennedy; April 1998 at the time of the Belfast Agreement; autumn 2012 after the paper turned 275. Monatage by Ben Lowry

The paper was probably first published in Belfast on September 6 1737 (the precise date is uncertain).

If so, as our research suggests, that first date of publication under the calendar that was used in the early 1700s is equivalent to September 17 in the modern calendar – today.

Alistair Bushe, the editor of the News Letter, said: “We are delighted to reach this landmark, which no other English language daily paper in the world has ever before reached.

Alistair Bushe, the current editor of the News Letter, and the latest in a long line of people to have held the post stretching back to the late 1700s when the post first existed. In the earliest years there was no editor, just the publisher. Picture By: Arthur Allison Pacemaker

“We intend to go on and on, as a daily print edition accompanied by our ever growing digital version.”

Listed below are landmark events the News Letter has reported on over the centuries:

• 1742 Premiere of Handel’s Messiah in Dublin

• 1746 Battle of Culloden, Jacobite rebellion

Alistair Bushe, the current editor of the News Letter, and the latest in a long line of people to have held the post stretching back to the late 1700s when the post first existed. In the earliest years there was no editor, just the publisher. Picture By: Arthur Allison Pacemaker

• 1776 American Declaration of Independence

• 1783 1st manned balloon flight

• 1783 American victory

• 1789 French Revolution

• 1793 Execution of Louis XVI

• 1795 Orange Order founded

• 1798 United Irishmen rebellion, including the execution near News Letter office of its founder Francis Joy’s grandson Henry Joy McCracken

• 1805 Battle of Trafalgar

• 1807 Abolition of slave trade

• 1815 Napoleon loses Waterloo

• 1819 1st transatlantic steamship

• 1825 1st railway, Stockton Darlington

• 1830s 1st photographs

• 1838 Queen Victoria coronation

• 1839 1st Ulster railway: Belfast to Lisburn

• 1840s Irish famine

• 1853-6 Crimean War

• 1858 1st transatlantic telegram

• 1862-5 American civil war

• 1869 Suez canal opens

• 1876 First telephone call

• 1885 First car

• 1903 First flight

• 1912 Titanic sinks

• 1912 Ulster covenant

• 1914 First world war begins

• 1916 Easter Rising; Battle of the Somme

• 1918 Armistice

• 1919 Spanish flu epidemic

• 1921 Northern Ireland created

• 1922 BBC founded

• 1926 General strike

• 1929 Wall Street crash

• 1930 1st cure by penicillin

• 1939 Hitler invades Poland

• 1945 End of World War II

• 1952 Elizabeth II is queen

• 1953 Everest conquered

• 1963 JF Kennedy shot dead

• 1964 Vietnam war begins

• 1968 George Best scores to help ManUtd win European Cup

• 1969 Troubles begin

• 1969 First man on the moon

• 1972 Worst year of Troubles

• 1978 IRA bombs La Mon

• 1981 Hunger strikes

• 1985 Anglo Irish agreement

• 1989 World wide web invented

• 1989 Fall of Berlin Wall

• 1994 IRA ceasefire

• 1994 Loughinisland killings

• 1997 Death of Princess Diana

• 1998 Belfast Agreement

• 2001 Sep 11 terror attacks on Twin Towers in New York

• 2014 Rory McIlroy wins the Open, his third golf major

• 2016 UK votes to quit EU

• See Morning View, page 44