These newspapers were filled with business-related matters. Many were filled with primitive advertisements that merchants and manufacturers wanted to sell to the readers. In the Sept. 15-17, 1701 edition of the London Post, for example, an ad offering the sale of nine “comick and tragick” novels included such spell-binding titles as “Jealousy without a Cause” and “The Cuckold turn’d Confessor.” The books were being sold by the publisher of the paper. The Jan. 1, 1726 issue of The British Gazetteer had an ad for “The Life and Actions of Moll Flanders.” The book was being offered by T. Read, whose printing shop was behind the Sun Tavern on Fleet Street.
Other business matters dominated the early British newspapers. An advertisement in the Jan. 28-31, 1727 London Gazette placed by the law firm of Buckle and Sparrow offered a 200-pounds reward for the apprehension of businessman John Rogers, who had been declared bankrupt but had disappeared. The ad noted, “He hath cheated great Numbers of Persons of very large Sums of Money.” A newspaper called the Grub-street Journal offered this business commentary in its Jan. 28, 1731 edition:
Great numbers of the wives and children of the coal-pit men are beginning in all the neighbouring towns, by reason their husbands have not their usual work, and are forced to draw coals about for small pay, to prevent starving. We are in great dread of them, for their numbers are very large, and no body will trust them, which makes them desperate. It is said some of the coal owners have agreed not to deliver more coals till Feb. 20, which will not only make them dear, but ruin hundreds more of working men.
This notice, although probably intended for the people who were seeing the beggars, was typical of the type of business news that pervaded most of the London newspapers during its time. Other typical coverage were lists of “fugitives of debt,” people who were unable to pay money that they owed others.