Birthday Times

Masthead of first edition of the Times, via the Times archive

The above image is the front page of the first ever Times newspaper, first published as the Universal Daily Register on 1 January 1785. From today’s Times Online:

The Times celebrates its 225th birthday

How a former bankrupt with a big idea started a feeble rumbling that became The Thunderer

On this day 225 years ago the very first issue of a newspaper that would soon be renamed The Times appeared on the streets of London. … its beginnings were, to put it mildly, inauspicious … Yet the paper did survive, and prosper, thanks in part to the energy and vision of its creator, John Walter, a former coal merchant, entrepreneur and Lloyd’s underwriter who had declared himself bankrupt after he was ruined by a combination of the American War of Independence and a Jamaican hurricane. …

In 1789 he was put on trial for libelling the Duke of Clarence and the Duke of Cumberland. He refused to reveal his sources, and was sentenced to a year in Newgate Prison, fined £50 and ordered to stand in the pillory at Charing Cross for an hour. This last part of the sentence was lifted, although editors of The Times have occasionally been pilloried since. Once his sentence was completed, he started another, following a successful libel action by the Prince of Wales.