True Colonist

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True Colonist 5 Aug 1834

The True Colonist, Van Diemen’s Land Political Despatch, and Agricultural and Commercial Advertiser. Printed and Published at No. 67, Elizabeth-street, Hobart Town, by the Proprietor, Gilbert Robertson, of Hobart Town.

v. 1, no. 1 (5 Aug. 1834)-

Continued: Colonist, and Van Diemen’s Land Commercial and Agricultural Advertiser.

Printed at Bent’s office 5 Aug.-16 Sep. 1834; at no. 6 Collins Street 23 Sep.-18 Nov. 1834; at Bent’s 25 Nov. 1834-3 Mar. 1835; at Melville’s printing office, no. 23 Elizabeth Street, 5-20 Mar. 1835; at Bent’s again 27 Mar.-25 Dec. 1835.

During this period was published weekly, except for 2 Jan.-20 Mar. 1835, when it was the first daily newspaper in Van Diemen’s Land.

Had advertising supplement, the People’s Horn Boy, 22 Aug.-13 Dec. 1834, printed at Bent’s office whenever the True Colonist was produced there.

In September 1834 Robertson became involved in the management of the Trumpeter General and the last three issues of that paper (12-26 Dec. 1834) were printed at Bent’s office also.

The proprietor, editor, publisher and legally registered printer of the True Colonist was Gilbert Robertson, who had been the first editor of its predecessor, the Colonist, and who was in mid-1834 in dispute with T. A. Lascelles over the ownership. Robertson relaunched the paper with a new title and numbering. By this time the Bryan affair was becoming the focus of Arthur’s opponents, and Arthur believed that Robertson, like Henry Melville, received financial support from William Bryan. The new paper was initially printed by Bent under the same arrangement as its predecessor although Robertson soon defaulted on the payments. He was back with Bent again briefly after negotiations to buy Nathaniel Olding’s printing equipment failed. Robertson then agreed to pay Henry Melville for the use of his printing office. In March 1835 Robertson was sentenced to a lengthy prison term for various libels and Bent for the third time allowed the ‘paper of the people’ to be printed at his office. He now asked for no payment but was allowed free insertion of advertisements for his grocery store. Although the imprint identified the printing office as Bent’s Robertson strenuously maintained that he, even though in gaol, was the printer. Attorney General Alfred Stephen believed that Robertson’s having sworn to be the printer of this ‘abominable paper’ was ‘a gross evasion of the intent & meaning of the [newspaper] act’ if not wilful perjury. The real printer was obviously Mr. Bent and the paper’s libelous course could only be stopped if action were taken against him for printing or selling it. (Stephen to Colonial Secretary 2 Nov. 1835. Alfred Stephen Letter Books v. 3 ML A671 p. 421-23)

Robertson was released around Christmas 1835 and the last issue of the True Colonist to be printed at 67 Elizabeth Street was that of 25 December. By that time it was too risky for Bent to continue printing and his relationship with Robertson had soured. In January 1836 Bent, considerably out of pocket and with his reputation further tarnished, commenced his own newspaper, Bent’s News. Robertson made other arrangements for  printing the True Colonist, initially with Melville.

The paper ceased with issue for 26 Dec 1844.

Digital version is available on Trove.

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