Oxfordshire Telegraph, 1878

The Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire Telegraph (also known as the Bicester Telegraph) was the most radical newspaper available in the area, and actively supported the National Agricultural Labourers Union. In 1878 it began to publish letters by W.H. French and his allies against Winslow's United Schools Committee, and ran a section called the Winslow Standard, with the slogan "The Truth! The Right!". This apparently led to an attempt by the "clique", as French called them, to prevent the newspaper from being sold in Winslow.

Oxfordshire Telegraph, 27 Feb 1878

Has, it appears from correspondence in this week’s Telegraph, a considerable amount of attention at Winslow.  We think it our duty to put the facts connected with it before our readers, who will then see the position we were placed in last week, and the reason why they were not able to obtain the Telegraph at Winslow of Mr. E. J .French, who had acted as our agent for the sale of it some years, having taken to the agency as a part of the news business at his commencement.  On January 19 we received an order from Mr. French for twelve extra Telegraphs, which were duly sent.  This increase, we might fairly assume, would be as satisfactory to Mr. French as to me, as a matter of business.  We continued to send Mr. French the Telegraphs weekly, having no complaint of any kind relative thereto.  On February 12 the weekly bundle of Telegraphs was sent to Mr. French as usual.  On February 13 we received from Mr. French the following communication:-

                                                                                  February 14, 1878
To Mr. Hewlett, Bicester.
   Dear Sir,- Please withdraw my name as agent for the sale of Winslow Telegraph, and let me have your account up to the present time, deducting credits returned this day (13).
                                                         Yours faithfully,
                                                                     EDWIN J. FRENCH.

  The returned papers included Telegraphs of February 13.  Thus Mr. French abruptly terminated an engagement that has existed since 1870.
  We then wrote to Mr. George, our agent for the sale of the Bicester Herald at Winslow, offering him the agency for the sale of the Telegraph, informing him that we would prefer him having the Telegraph agency, as he was agent for the Bicester Herald, and intimating that if he declined it, another agent would be appointed, and then there would be an additional one in Winslow.
  To that communication we received the following reply:-

                                                                        Winslow, Feb 18, 1878.
  We decline the agency for the Bicester Telegraph, with thanks.
                                                          Yours respectfully,
                                                                     W. GEORGE.

  Why the agency was declined, neither of the news agents inform us.  It will be thus seen why the usual facilities for obtaining the Winslow Standard were suddenly suspended last week.  Thanks to friends to a Free Press, some dozens of Telegraphs were, however, sold in Winslow last week; and we have now the pleasure of announcing that Mr. J. G. HALL, PRINTER, &C., HIGH-STREET, WINSLOW, has accepted the agency for the sale of the Winslow Standard and Bicester Telegraph that he has the paper on sale at ONE PENNY, cash on delivery, on Wednesday morning, and that he also receives advertisements for insertion therein.  The Telegraph offers, from its circulation in Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire, good facilities to advertisers for bringing their announcements before the public at a moderate cost, and the market and other intelligence is calculated to be of great service to agriculturalists attending Winslow market. Impartiality and independence and truth and right are aimed at, and the desire is to discuss public questions on their merits.
  February 26, 1878.

To the Editor of the Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Northamptonshire Telegraph and Winslow Standard.
  DEAR SIR.  I was very much surprised this week, when I heard that steps had been taken to stop the circulation of your papers in Winslow, and that there was no agent for you to send them to.  I felt very much disappointed, as I like the paper very much myself.  I hope an agent will be found for them.  It appears to me that some great men of Winslow are not contented in having the management of the schools, but they seem to want to do the same over the public also, in choosing the papers we may read; but the good old Book says all great men are not wise, and, now some of us are at age, we can choose for ourselves, and save those kind men the trouble.
                                                        Yours obediently,
                           A READER OF THE WINSLOW STANDARD.
Winslow, February 20, 1878.

  The rowdyism of last year’s disgraceful meetings, and the spiteful subsequent conspiracies, I can put down for what they are worth, but for the attempt to burke free discussion and to gag the Press, involved in the suppression of your valuable paper, I have nothing but contempt, and have little doubt that it will result in failure, and that you will soon meet with an agent here who will increase your circulation tenfold.  Last week, readers of your paper might well question whether they lived if free England, or despotic Turkey, for your paper was found to be excluded from the news agencies, because a correspondence had appeared therein, the “logic” of which was too hard for the Committee to controvert.  It would have been better to answer the allegations therein set forth, than to set spies and informers to work, trying to ferret out who were the writers, with no other result than to injure and annoy individuals who scarcely knew of the correspondence; but to take a leaf out of McMahon’s book and suppress arguments that cannot be answered, was worthy of a body, which, through its Chairman very demonstratively proclaims its aversion to “School Board logic” (vide report of School meeting at Winslow, held January 30, 1877).  It is so absurd, but at Winslow the bare suspicion of being favourable to School Board principles is quite sufficient to place anyone under the ban and proscription of certain high authorities.
                                                  I am, yours obediently,
                                                                     W. H. FRENCH.
  Winslow, February 23, 1878.

Oxfordshire Telegraph, 6 March 1878

  WE THANK OUR WINSLOW FRIENDS for their spirited conduct.  Correspondents will please write on one side of the paper only, and be scrupulously correct in what they send us, with their name, as a guarantee of truthfulness, for our private satisfaction. The number of Telegraphs sent to Winslow last week was more than doubled, and, even then, the supply was not, we are informed, equal to the demand.  An increased number shall be sent this week.  The efforts of those who endeavoured to prevent the circulation of the Bicester Telegraph, in Winslow, and thus limit the discussion of public questions, has thus signally failed.  With the continued effort of those anxious for the success of a Free and Impartial Newspaper, our circulation may be increased ten-fold.  We solicit the patronage and aid of all friends of Freedom of Opinion and civil and Religious Liberty.

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Copyright 16 December, 2020