SKETCH OF THE HISTORY OF THE REGISTER.
— Printed First in England.—
The career of The Register was begun in' London, where tlie first num ber was printed on June 18, 1836. A remarkable feature was tliat it was fipvoted to the interests of a settlement
which existed then only on paper. The position of the capital, even, was at that lime uncertain, and Nepean Bay (Kangaroo Island), Cape Jervls, ami Port Lincoln' had each been suggested as possible sites. The first number of tlie paper contained several articles on the proposed system of colonization and the constitution of South Australia, with a brief description of the land and its capabilities, and the regulations and first report of the South Australian Company. The full title on the initial number was The South Australian Gazette and Colonial Register, .and it was 'printed for the proprietors by William Clowes & Sons, Duke street, Stamford street, Lambeth, London.' —The Earliest Journal in South Australia. — The pioneer Governor (Capt. Hind marsh) and his staff reached Glenolg when The Register was six months old. The second issue was not produced un til the little province had been placed on something like a s&ttlwl basis. It was 'printed and. published by the pro prietors lRol»rt Thomas & Co.), at the printing office, Hindley street,' the said office being a rather pretentious edifies, with mud walls. It was one of the earliest buildings erected on a city al lotment, as the settlers had been up to that time mostly housed near to the river banks. The exact location of the printing house was at the rear of acre 46, Hindley street, just west of Mor phett street, behind the ground now occupied by' the Clarendon HoteL The price for ' the paper was fixed at 2»V a year (52 num bers) if called for, and 30/ if delivered or posted. , This earliest Ade laide news sheet is full of Interest It contains a lust of the city acres sold at the first land auction held hi South Australia, with the names of the pur chasers and tlie amounts paid— sums that seem remarkably insignificant now that the city has grown so greatly. Among the purely official notices there is one over the signature of Governor Hindmarsb, urging uprtu the settlers moral precepts in reference to then1 own conduct and their treatment of tlie aboriginals, which would look odd now in a Government advertisement, but which -were not inappropriate thenf as they applied ? to 'the only colony ever successfully founded upon a book.' The smiles and tears of domestic life are illustrated by tlie earliest birth and death notices. These lire associat ed witii the honoured name of Robert (.louser, after whom one of. the princi pal city streets is named. In tire edi torial paragraph entitled 'Ourselves' a keynote is struck, more patriotic than personal, of entire independence of in dividuals or of parties, and of confident faith in South Australia— a note that has constantly vibrated ever since, and after wove than US years of history, in which tiie political attitude of The Register has been agnin and again justilied by successive events still sounds strong and dominant As al ready mentioned, it was the intention that The 'Register should be published weekly, but the proprietors had not counted on all the vicissitudes of a young settlement. The third numbei did not come out until July 8. In th» interim King William IV. had died, and Queen Victoria (after whom, as heir to the Throne. Victoria square had been named), succeeded to the monarchy. (The news of King William's death and tlie proclamation of the late Queen was not received and communicated to the settlers until Octol-er 14.) A few fol lowing Issues appeared at irregular in tervals. The vagaries of the omnipo tent one compositor seem during these rirst months to have vexed tlie soul ol the editor, whom he deserted Iwfore thn' ninth number was set up. The jour nalist wrote an indignant little edi torial alxnit the treachery of the type-, setter.' charging some person- or persons unknown with having 'tampered in a most scandalous manner' with hi') Staff of one. The delinquent apparent ly did not repent for a long time, be cause no other issue of The Registe:1 appeared for eight weeks. Partly through the aid of the late Mr. Wil liam Kyffin Thomas— then a lad of 16 years— who tmd acquired some know ledge of typography in England, in an ticipation of the part he was to tike in the conduct of the paper, and partly owing to the arrival of other 'knights of the stick and rule' to compete with the single compositor, the publication of the paper was afterwards fairly regular. Until the middle of 1839 The Register remained tlie medium for offi cial announcements. Then, while re taining tire contract for Government printing, the proprietors gave up. tlie Gazette as part of The Register, which has survived the uprising an.l downfall of numerous rivals; has for many years provided the largest anil most compact epitome of dally news published in South Australia, and is still, one of the largest, and, with two exceptions, is the- oldest of the journals in the Southern Hemisphere. —Absorption of The Chronicle.— In April, 1840, The Register absorb ed one of its competitors. The Adelaide Chronicle, which was published by the late Mr, W. C. Cox (afterwards Go vernment*Printer), and edited by Mr. ,T. P. Bennett (who was for years one of the leading shipping agents at Port Adelaide, and, going to England), be came subsequently . a major in the British Army). . From six pages ot single demy the paper was enlarged to eight pages, and then to a broad sheet At this time its Dolicy did not olease
the Government, whosa representative deprived Mr. Robert Thomas and his partner of the position and emoluments of Government Printers. This action was strongly protested against, and Mr. Thomas visited England to lay the case before the authorities at Downing street. He failed to obtain redress for his grievance, and the firm sank under an accumulation of embarrassments. —Removal to 'The Beehive.'— In August, 1842, the paper and plant were purchased by Mr. James Alien— formerly editor of The Southern Aus tralian, and subsequently author of 'A. History of Australia'— who removed the plant to tlie north-eastern corner of. King William and Rundle streets, hav ing erected on vacant ground there, es pecially for The Register, tlie building which became known as 'the Beehive,' now superseded by a fine block of shops bearing the old name. Until this timo the paper had been edited by Mr. G. Stevenson, formerly of the staff of Th» London Globe. Mr. Allen did not long; escape the difficulties of the greatest financial stress that over befell the State, when the bills drawn by Go vernor Gawler were dishonoured by the British Government (the stress which had compelled th-- change of proprietor ship), and the bailiff was almost an in stitution in tho oilhw. Mr. Allen,. how- ever, was very enterprising. In 1843 life brought out The Register twice a week, and towards the end of 1844 he tried to Issue 'it daily— a rash experiment, which soon had to bo abandoned. —Beginning of The Observer.— In July, 1S43, Mr* John Stephens, who had been a famous literary free lance in England, started The Observer as a rival weekly paper, and made it quite a success with his vigorous writ ing. Two years later— In June, 1845— he succeeded to the proprietorary and editorship of The Register, with which he associated The Ob server, and removed the busi ness to the site in Hindley street now occupied by Beach's restaurant. The Register by this time had becomo a thoroughly sound property, but Mr. Stephens ifell into monetary difficulties owing to heavy law costs incurred In defending libel actions resulting from his plain and fearless writing. On one occasion the whole of the mechani cal apparatus was seized under dis traint for debt and removed from the premises. The stoppage of the paper appeared inevitable; but Mr. G. Dehane, of King William street, courteously proffered the use of his plant,- and thus no interregnum occurred in the issue of the paper. —The Register as a Daily.— In January, 1850, the experiment of publishing The Register as a daily was again tiled, and this time with success. Since then it has maintained a proud and prominent position as a morning journal through all the vicissitudes oC tlie State, and it is not too much to claim that it has always commanded the respect of the thinking community for its consistent advocacy of measures that appeared to be in the interest ot the people and its denunciation of fads —whether at the time popular or un popular—that threatened to disturb the progress or interfere with the welfare of. the country. In November, 1850, Mr. Stephens died, crushed by the worry of the libel suits just referred to, that gave to the late Sir R. D. (after wards Judge) . Hanson almost a per petual retainer for the.paper, to which he was also a contributor. Mr. John Taylor continued the business on b» lialf of the family of the deceased pro prietor. On May 24. 1853. another change of ownership was made, and in November, 1854, the offices wer*1 shifted to their present site in Grenfell street. The properties were purcunsed by a syndicate of sc-ven— shortly after wards reduacd to four, Messrs. A. Forster, E. W. Andrews, W. Kyffln Thomas, and Joseph Fisher.- Mr. Forster, who had previously written for Tlie Register under the regime of Mr. Stephens, now became editor, ana among his coadjutors were Dr. GaiTOn (afterwards for many years editor of The Sydney Morning Harald and sub sequently n member of the Legisla tive Council in New South Wales), Mr. .7. H. Barrow (who was at a later period a prominent legislator), and Mr. W. R. WhiQidge, who di«l at an early age. The success of The Register and The Observer was now thoroughly assured. In November, 3854, steaiu power was substituted for manual in printing the papers. In 1864 Mr. Forster retired from the proprietary, and in England published a valuable 'History of South Australia.' In the next year Mr. J. Fisher sold his inte rest to Mr. John Howard Clark, who subsequently became editor. —The Evening Journal.— In 1868 The Evening Journal wa& first issued, and, successful from the first, It now enjoys a phenomenal circu lation. In 1870 The Register was en larged to eight pages, and in 1870 tlie pages wt-re expanded. In 1877 Mr. E. W. Andrews died, and Messrs. C. Day, J. H. Fmlayson, and It. Kyflin Thomas were admitted to partnership in the business. The death of Mr. Clark oc curred in May, 1878, and Mr. Finlay son. who for some time had filled the position of assistant editor, theu took over the full editorial charge. A few weeks later Mr. W. Kyffin Thomas, who had been connect ed with The Register and its associated newspapers for more than 41 years, died also, and the other three partners undertook tlie sole control of the busi ness. On December 2 of the same year the 10,000th issue of The Register was signalized by a facsimile reproduction of the first number printed in the pro vince. The Observer was greatly en larged in January, 1SS0; and in March, 1SS4, Tlie Register, which had in Janu ary. 1SS2, been reduced in price to 2(1., assumed larger dimensions. On June 3. 1837, The Register celebrated the jubi lee of ite publication in the province, and with that days issue (No. 12,(i53) a short history of the daily and its asso ciated papers was presented to th-- readers as a souvenir. On June 30, 1890, Mr. C. Day retired from the pro prietary, after many ywirs' connection with the oflice. In IS!)!) Messms. W. J. Sowden juid Evan Kyffin Thomas be came members of thp proprietary. —A Penny Daily — The reduction of the price of The Register to one penny toofc place on July 1, 1892. It marked a distinct epoch in the history of the iraper, and resulted from the first day in a much wider circulation in this and the ncigh lwuring States. The various prices ;it which The Register has been sold dur ing its history are as follow:— 1830 to 1S59, (Jd. a copy if called for, and Id. extra if delivered or posted; in thy years 1839 to 1843 the price was raised to V, but af terwards fell again to tid., then to 4td.; May, 1864; saw a reduction to 3d.; January,' 1882, to 2d.; and July 1, 1892, to Id. The appreciation whic'i The Register has received in the last quarter of a century has enabled the proprietors to adhere to their firmly denned policy of keeping the paper up to the highest standard of Australian journalism. From the quality of the paiiev upon which it is printed, and the 'body' of the ink used, to every higher- particular, excellence bus been sought in the minutest detail. The news has always been presented in the handiest form, the various items be ing displayed according to their rela tive general importance; the size has been broadened frbnr a seven column width to nine columns, and the aggre gate number of pages in a year's is sues shows a large increase on former times. The aim has always been to make tlie paper a vehicle of general in formation, and at no time .has the in terest of the country had to suffer for the sake of hews more immediatelv
concerning -the residents of populous centres, or vice versa; while the' pro prietors constantly strive to convey in concise and readable form the latest and fullest data on all current topics. — Changing Conditions.— When The itegister iirst began its South Australian aireei- 08 years ngo the range of interesting items was limi ted to tlie doiugB of a community that was but a handful of people, with very rarely a glimpse of what was going on in the outer world, gleaned through the medium of the poor uews-sheets of the time, and those from tluw to six months old. The times have changed. The morning or evening m-wsiiaiier is to-day, one of the most marvellous pro ductions of an era of marvols. The stu pendous miracle that places the news of tlie whole iflolxv urought up to (late within a few hours, on the breakfast table of the man who rises with -the lark, is perhaps a greater wonder to the journalist who knows how tlie thing is done than to many of the mul titude who pause but seldom to think of It. To produce- oik; copy of The Re gister, the contribution of thousands of pens, working busily in both hemis pheres; hundreds of hurrying feet tramping here and there in search of Information; busy brains receiving and co-ordinating the results of the search; click' of incessant telegraphs and whirr and buzz of constant machinery ave necessary. The 'copy,' too, must be In type, read, and corrected almost be fore the ink with which it is written has had time to dry. The range of subjects treated in a single issue Is vast and encyclopaedic.