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British Industrial History

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John Walter (printer)

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John Walter.[1]

John Walter (1739?–1812), printer and newspaper proprietor

Born in London, the third son of Richard Walter, coal merchant, and his wife, Esther.

c.1755 On the death of his father, John Walter began in the coal business.

1759 married Frances Landen (d. 1798) with whom he had four daughters and two sons, including John Walter (1776-1847), later proprietor of The Times. He also had an illegitimate child, Walter Wilson (1781-1847), with Catherine Wilson.

He traded as a coal merchant for twelve years and became head of the firm of Walter, Bradley, and Sage and chairman of the coal market.

1781 Walter's business became less profitable, so he concentrated on insurance underwriting, joining Lloyds in 1781.

1782 Insurance losses led to bankruptcy

Tried to develop new method of typographical composition, based on Henry Johnson's invention which was used in making lottery blanks; Walter hoped to extend this to the general letterpress.

1782 Walter bought the patent to the system and worked with Johnson on developing it further.

1784 He purchased the former King's Printing House in Blackfriars and reopened it as the Logographic Press. From the start he printed Lloyd's List.

1785 began to print a newspaper, the Daily Universal Register.

Also published books and pamphlets and some official printing work for the Government.

1787 he secured the position of printer to the Customs Office.

1789 Opened a bookshop in the West End.

1789 he changed the title of the newspaper to The Times.

1789 Imprisoned for libel, accepting the punishment rather than give up the names of the authors of the offending articles.

1790 Began an evening paper, the Evening Mail.

By 1792 the book publishing side of the business seems to have come to an end and the newspaper side of the business was the source of most of the profits.

1795 Retired from active involvement in the printing business and moved to Teddington. His elder son, William, took over from his father for a time, although he was not a success and two years later he was joined by his brother, John, who took over completely in 1802.

1812 died on 16 November at Teddington

Early nineteenth century: under his son John, The Times became a best-selling and influential newspaper.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. Transferred from de.wikipedia to Commons by Ireas using CommonsHelper., Public Domain,
  • Biography of John Walter, ODNB