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Panpa Bulletin : May 2007
The Vincents -- printers with a By Rod Kirkpatrick In the rst part of a two part article, Rod Kirkpatrick discovers that although The Vincent family began their newspaper career as printers, they understood the power of words. 38 PANPA Bulletin May 2007 history ... four of the titles they established live on today: at Grafton, Glen Innes, Manilla and Dorrigo, and a fth, the Kyogle Examiner, persists as part of an amalgamated title, the Richmond River Express Examiner ... The Vincent family, sometimes referred to as the 'Vincent Printers', had the skills and talent to produce and disseminate words -- they could write and edit articles or set up the type and man the presses. When the first Vincent printer, Henry Vincent (1813-1879) was jailed for "attend- ing a riotous assemblage" and for conspir- ing "to subvert the constituted authori- ties, and alter by force the Constitution" in London, his younger brother William Edward (1823-1861), migrated to New Zealand and later Australia where he be- came the patriarch of the Vincent printing dynasty. He would have five sons, four of whom would become printers. The dynasty established 18 newspapers -- one in England, one in New Zealand and 16 in NSW towns and were involved in the establishment of two other papers, between 1839 and 1923. The family ceased owning newspapers in 1946 but four of the titles they estab- lished live on today: at Grafton, Glen Innes, Manilla and Dorrigo, and a fifth, the Kyogle Examiner, persists as part of an amalga- mated title, the Richmond River Express Examiner, serving Casino and Kyogle. The rst Vincent printer The first Vincent printer was Henry, born in England in 1813. He began a printing apprenticeship at Hull in 1828, and then worked at Spottiswoode's the King's London printing office before establishing an un- stamped newspaper, the Western Vindicator, in 1839. At Bath on February 23, 1839, he es- tablished an unstamped newspaper, the Western Vindicator. With the assistance of Henry, William was apprenticed in 1836 to an adventurous London Printer, John Cleave, proprietor of the Police Gazette and Henry's future father-in-law. Cleave and Henry Vincent, who both belonged to the London Working Men's Association, campaigned in print and oratory for universal suffrage, equal repre- sentation, free election without reference to property, the ballot, and short parliaments not exceeding three years. By 1837 members of this association were known as the Chartists, and they were marked men. The "astonishingly eloquent" Henry Vincent was arrested in May 1839 on a warrant for 'attending a riotous assemblage, held at Newport', tried and jailed for twelve months. On November 4 about 5000 miners and others, some armed with pitchforks and muskets, marched on Newport, seeking the release of the Chartist prisoners. There was an affray, some died and many were wounded. As a consequence, in March 1840 Henry Vincent faced a second trial for having alleg- edly "conspired, together with John Frost, to subvert the constituted authorities, and alter by force the Constitution of the country". Vincent conducted his own defence, but was found guilty and sentenced to another twelve months in prison. Henry's voyage to success With Henry in jail for a second term, the 17-year-old William "spun none too circumspectly in the turbulence surround- ing the Chartists' whirlpool" was persuaded by his family sail for Port Nicholson in New Zealand. He travelled steerage with 159 other immigrants, including his future wife, Anne Sophia Squibb. They arrived in Wellington on 25 January 1841 -- five days before Henry Vincent was released from his second jail term in London. William worked for four years on Samuel Revan's New Zealand Gazette, the first NZ newspaper which suddenly closed. Vincent, who had developed his reporting talents on the Gazette, worked briefly for the replace- ment journal, the New Zealand Spectator, but in the highly volatile factionalism of the time he and four other printers were sacked in March 1845. In retaliation, the five founded the Wellington Independent a month later on April 5, 1845. In August the Spectator secretly bought the premises and plant of the Independent, which was forced to shut down, but resumed publication on November 26 after Vincent travelled to Sydney to buy a press and plant from The Sydney Morning Herald. In April 1850, Vincent was granted the licence for a new hotel and two months later, his finances in disarray, he sold his inter- est in the Independent. He was bankrupt by the end of the year. His former partners at the Independent re-employed Vincent, but around August 1853 William moved to Sydney. His wife and five children joined him in November and he worked as a reader at The Sydney Morning Herald until mid-1859. In Sydney William, with the help of several "political" backers, established the Clarence & Richmond Examiner in Grafton, five-and-a-half months before Queensland separated from NSW. One of the backers was John Dunmore Lang, who had been trying for more than two years to initiate a pro- Separation paper in Grafton. The Grafton correspondent of the Armidale Express wrote on April 20, 1857: "Dr Lang, it appears, is going to do great things for us by getting a paper established for the purpose of opening our eyes to the great benefits to be derived from Separation. No doubt the establishment of a newspaper here would tend greatly to the advancement of the district, but I am afraid the proposed one,