Linda Smith nee Press (press.gang1 @t sky.com) now of Milton Keynes wrote: For a number of years I have been researching the Press family. Originally from Gt. Yarmouth Norfolk. We have been unable to find out what happened to Truman Press the publisher of the Hertfordshire Illustrated Review. He is listed in the Almanack at St. Albans until 1897. His wife is listed in a street directory from 1898 at Twickenham. We also know Truman was Editor of the Hertfordshire Standard and was author of a number of books. In 1930 a book of Middlesex was published author Truman Press however the family is wondering if this could have been his son who was born in St. Albans in 1886. We have also searched all the death indexes and have not found him. Would you have any ideas?
In responding to your question it is appropriate to start by briefly looking at the history of the Hertfordshire Standard newspaper as revealed by the entries in Kelly's Hertfordshire Directory, the British Library Newspaper Catalogue, and relevant publications by Truman Press which I either own or which are listed in various library catalogues. It should be noted that the St Albans Almanack was published by the publishers of the Hertfordshire Advertiser and while copies are available covering the period from 1881 to 1900 it seems to have gone out of its way to avoid mentioning its rival paper, the Hertfordshire Standard.
When newspaper stamp duty was removed in 1855 the Hertfordshire Advertiser quickly appeared, and was without local opposition until 1877, when the Hertfordshire Standard appeared to represent the Conservative views, as opposed to the Advertiser's Liberal stance.
In 1882 the Hertfordshire Standard was owned and published by the Hertfordshire Standard Newspaper Company Ltd, Chequer Street, St Albans. It was published on Wednesday and Saturday by the printer William Cartmel, at the Hertfordshire Standard Steam Printing Works in Victoria Street. The company secretary was Albert Clerk and manager Arthur Williams. In the 1881 census Arthur was described as a 22 year old newspaper agent living at the Standard Office, Chequer Street. [There is no relevant entry in the St Albans Almanack for 1883 in Chequer Street, and W. Cartmel is simply described as a printer in Victoria Street.]
By 1886 the Hertfordshire Standard was owned, published and printed by William Cartmel from the Hertfordshire Standard Steam Printing Works in Victoria Street.
In 1886 Truman Press was editing the Hertfordshire Standard and wrote a Pen Political Portrait column. This led to the book Hertfordshire Men of Mark which was published in 1887. It was written by Truman Press, editor of the Hertfordshire Standard, and printed by William Cartmel, Victoria Street. It was described as "Volume 1" but there is no evidence that any later volumes ever appeared. [It should be noted that Truman Press was born at Yarmouth, Norfolk, in 1866 and in the 1881 census was an apprentice journalist in Yarmouth. He married in Islington, Middlesex, in 1885. His son, Truman Victor Press was born in St Albans in 1886.]
In 1889 He was chairman of the St Albans School Board (Herts Advertiser, 5th Jamuary 1889)
In 1890 The Herts Standard & St Albans Citizen was owned and published by Truman Press (who was living at Gordon Villa, Worley Road, St Albans), from Victoria Street, and was still being printed by William Cartmel. The 1891 census lists Truman Press as a 26 year old newspaper proprietor.
In December 1890 a paper called the Barnet Times was launched which was later known as the Finchley Telegraph & Barnet Times and finally Barnet Times & Finchley Telegraph. The paper apparently ceased to be published in 1906. In October 1891 the Watford Times was launched. After a year it became the Watford Times and Advertiser, and in 1893 became the Watford Times and County Advertiser - which closed in 1896.
In 1892 Hertfordshire County Homes was published at Victoria Street St Albans, described as the Offices of the "Hertfordshire Standard," the "Watford Times,", The "Barnet and Southgate Times," and the "Finchley Telegraph". The illustrations were by a local artist, F. G. Kitton, and while the author of the text is not stated it was probably Truman Press. The work was printed by William Cartmel. (Neither the Watford Times or the Barnet & Southgate Times were listed in 1890.)
In 1893 the Hertfordshire Illustrated Review was published in monthly parts at 1 shilling a part. It was, "conducted and edited by Fred. G. Kitton, Truman Press, and Arthur Smith." from Victoria Street, St Albans, and at least initially printed by Paternoster Steam Press, 11 Ivy Lane, London E.C. [Information from cover of the April 1893 issue.] At the end of the year a bound "Volume The First" was published which left out the covers and adverts of the monthly issues and credited the printing to the Paternoster Steam Press and to Gibbs & Bamforth, St Albans. This raises the question as to whether the printer was changed (to William Cartmel's main rival in St Albans) during the year. It continued quarterly in 1894 and then ceased publication. [A leaflet inviting advance subscriptions to the Hertfordshire Fortnightly may have have been a precursor to this publication.]
In December 1893 Mr & Mrs Press were among the many who attended "Manor House School at Home at the Town Hall", St Albans. He was also a member of the Public Library Committee. (Herts Advertiser, 23rd December, 1893)
In 1894 Truman Press authored Gloucestershire lives social and political which was published in London.
In 1894 Kelly's lists "Press Truman, publisher & sole proprietor of 'The Herts Standard & St Albans Citizen' and publisher & part proprietor of 'The Herts Illustrated Review,' Victoria Street. See Advertisement". The description of St Albans in the directory, (which was republished in 1895) says the Review was published on the 14th of March, June, September and December) It also lists "Cartmel William, general printer & stationer; over 50 years experience, "Herts Standard" steam printing works, Victoria street" and, under Barnet, "Barnet Times (Truman Press, proprietor, pub sat) 104 High Street, High Barnet". There is no Watford Times listed. However in 1895 a rival paper, The St Albans Clock Tower , started publishing - although it only had a short run, ceasing publication in 1897.
Also in 1895 Truman Press authored Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire & Rutland: some of their leaders, social and political, published in London and "Printed Exclusively for subscribers." The following year he authored two more books: The County of Surrey: with illustrated biographies (published St Albans, 140 copies for private subscription) and The County of Kent and many of its family records (published St Albans, published only for subscribers). The portrait comes from the St Albans Museum collection and is labelled "Truman Press: Candidate for Municipal Honours, 1895."
In 1896 a letter appeared in The St Albans Clock Tower which comments on the way material for Truman & Manning Press's books was obtained. See Observations on Truman Press's Publications. In addition a book Hertfordshire: Some Ancestral Estates and Interesting Careers was published, by subscription, by the Watford Times with illustrations by F. G. Kitton. It was apparently based on articles previously published in the Watford Times, probably by Truman Press.
In October 1897 the Herts Standard & St Albans Citizen held a meeting in the Public Hall, Hatfield, relating to it "Existence to be Continued". The press cutting, which unfortunately I have not yet seen, apparently lists members of its Executive Committee, and was reported in the paper - possibly 16th October. This would suggest there had been some problem which had threatened the continued publication of the paper.
In 1897 Truman Press is listed for the last time as living at Gordon Villa, Worley Road, St Albans, in the St Albans Almanack and from 1898 his wife is listed as living in Twickenham (as a married woman rather than a widow in the 1901 census). The St Albans Almanack lists Cartmel W. at 6 Victoria Street and the Herts Standard, Press T. at 8 Victoria Street in both 1897 and 1898 but only Cartmel in the next available issue for 1900. [8 Victoria Street was the building before the Victorian public library (now a public house) in Victoria Street.]
In 1899 Kelly's lists both the The Herts Standard & St Albans Citizen and Barnet Times as being published by Truman Press & Co while William Cartmel has dropped the "Herts Standard" from the description of his printing works in Victoria Street.
In 1899 another rival, the St Albans Gazette & County Advertiser started publishing. This only survived until 1907.
While the Almanack fails to mention the Standard in 1900, the 1900 Kelly's Street Directory for St Albans clearly records the Herts Standard & St Albans Citizen, owned and published by the Herts Standard Printing Co Lim. on Friday, in Victoria Street.
In 1901 searches of the census for Truman Press (including likely misspellings and possibly relevant "T.P." entries in prisons, etc.) prove negative.
In 1902 the The Herts Standard & St Albans Citizen and the Barnet Times were both being published by The Herts Standard Printing Co. Limited. Neither are listed in the county directory for 1908 and the Standard is known to have ceased publishing in 1907. The 1907 Kelly's street Directory for St Albans lists five papers, the Barnet Times, the Finchley Telegraph, the Harpenden Mail, the Herts Standard and the Southgate Times being published by The Herts Standard Printing Co. Limited in Victoria Street. none are mentioned in its 1909 edition.
The above events suggests that the Hertfordshire Standard had problems when competing with the successful Hertfordshire Advertiser (established 1855), run by the Gibbs family which had newspaper publishing experience dating back to the Aylesbury News, first published in 1836. Within five years of first publication the company was being managed by a 22 year old Arthur Williams. Not long afterwards the printer appears to have taken it over and less than ten years after its creation its editor was the 20 year old Truman Press.
At some stage Truman also became the publisher and proprietor and started to publish a number of sycophantic books which were probably sold on the basis "I am publishing this book on ... and it would be a great shame if you were not included. There will only be a limited number published and these will be for subscribers only, so if you want a copy you can have five copies for only ... in advance." The preface to Hertfordshire Men of Mark apologises for the absence of a chapter on the Marquis of Salisbury - saying he deserved a whole book on his own - and one wonders if the young Truman Press was shown the door when he tried to sell the idea of the book to the Marquis.
In addition Truman started to launch other local newspapers, perhaps to use spare capacity at William Cartmel's stream printing works. The Watford Times appears to have never properly got off the ground (there were four competing Watford papers in the 1895 Kelly's) but the Barnet Times ran for some years. In 1893 the monthly Hertfordshire Illustrated Review was published but abandoned after one year, and it may be that Gibbs and Bamforth were called in to finish the first years publication at a lower cost than the London publishers to ensure that the people who had taken out a year's subscription in advance for a bound copy were not left short. If things were tight the appearance of the St Albans Clock Tower in 1895 could have been significant. What appears to have happened is that in 1896 or 1897 Truman Press was no longer in St Albans and by 1898 his wife had set up home without him in Twickenham.
In St Albans a company, Truman Press & Co was set up to run the Hertfordshire Standard and the Barnet Times - which it seems that William Cartmel may have stopped printing the papers - or was at least no longer proud enough of the fact to continue to name the works after the Standard. The company was either taken over or renamed the Herts Standard Printing Co. Ltd. but the papers had closed by 1907.
So what happened to Truman Press? Given the circumstances described above his income from the Hertfordshire Standard could well have been under significant pressure in 1895/6. The situation could have been made much worse if he was planning to publish further books such as the books on Surrey and Kent, and had collected advanced subscriptions which had been used as income - leaving no money for the actual publication of the books.
It is dangerous to come up with any firm theory about what happened without consulting the Hertfordshire Standard at the time, if only to get a date for the time he stopped being editor, and the time the ownership of the paper passed to the Truman Press Co. (Information on this company may be held in the National Archives - under BT 31.) However it is useful to look at the options, so that one can consider where it would be appropriate to look for evidence.
To progress this further you will need to look at copies of the Hertfordshire Standard, and there are copies of a fair number of issues at HALS. The first issue will undoubtedly say why it has been published and should identify its initial editor, owners and backers - and this may provide useful background to the politics of what happened. (If you can name the backers I may be able to tell you more about them). Issues around 1886 could identify who was editing the paper before Truman Press, and when he first acted as editor. Who owned the paper is very relevant as perhaps Truman became editor because her brought the paper - and maybe Truman Press Ltd was created at this stage. Between 1892 and 1896 there may be adverts for publications relating to both books he wrote and others he may have planned to write but which never appeared in print. Issues around 1896 should help to date when he last edited the paper and may give a clue as to what happened. If he suddenly left a look at the Herts Advertiser for the period (microfilm in the St Albans library) may be very revealing if he left under a cloud! The transfer from Truman Press Ltd to the Herts Standard Printing Co Ltd could perhaps also be tracked down by looking at selected issues. The final closure might also be of interest in case Truman Press was still involved (perhaps as a director) from a distance.
Once some more precise information has been obtained from the paper it may be appropriate to look at other records - company registration records, bankruptcy and/or court records - but it is too early to plan this out.
He appears not to be listed in the 1911 census.
There is an additional problem in that in the 1930s Truman Press wrote at least three additional books - which sound as if they were produced in a similar way to the earlier books. These were The Book of Middlesex (published Twickenham, 1930, in a limited edition of 200 copies), Somerset County Houses and Villages (published Twickenham 1831 and printed by Walker for the author in an edition of 100 copies) and Truman's Book of Devon (published in Exeter in 1933 apparently as the Spring number of Truman's Country Quarterly - a publication I have been unable to trace.) It should be noted that the first two of these were published at Twickenham (where Truman's wife lived) - and while the author's name is given as Truman Press it is possible the author was his son Truman Victor Press.
One possible clue to who wrote the later books could be signatures. The one shown here comes from the cover of Hertfordshire Men of Mark may be art work rather than a real signature - but genuine signatures will be on the original master copy of the marriage certificates - which will be the copy in the church register. If one can then find an author signed copy of one of the 1930's books the identity of the author should be clear, and we will know if Truman Press senior has returned.
As it happens a signed copy of The Book of Middlesex is currently on sale online [link] and if you are not interested in buying it the bookseller might supply you with a copy of the signature if you explain why you want it (i.e. whether it is by father or son) and promise to let him have information on which was the author
In responding to the above Linda provided further background information on the Press family, including the following points relevant to the situation in Hertfordshire
This helps put things into place. The family had money - or at least enough to launch Truman - and possibly the other sons, into business when they became 21 - and I would not be at all surprised if the family purchased the Hertfordshire Standard to launch Truman into a business career. The houses owned by his mother when she died are typical of such a family - with the rent from the property providing a secure "old age pension".
I have checked the signature given in the Hertfordshire Men of Mark with the signature of Truman Press in the Book of Middlesex and they do look very similar.
In June 2009 Linda was finally able to report that she had
tracked down Truman Press in his old age. She writes: I
found a book 'The English Village from the Portsmouth Road' published
in 1938 author T. Press.
[It was a limited edition of 100 copies, privately
published and containing a series of short essays on the villages of
Hindhead, Bramshott, Standford, Selborne, Liss and Greatham.]
Could this be our Truman?
I decided to search the death indexes from 1938 and match the age of death
roughly with his birth. Eventually I came to 1951
John T. Press
died age 86 in Worthing. Who is this? I searched my
Press data base
and could find no birth in England or Wales for a
John T. in 1865
0r 1866. I knew Truman's
daughter Gertrude Blanche
Press was found dead in her flat in Worthing in 1975. I sent for
the death certificate and hey presto I had struck gold.
John Truman Press
had died 21st Nov 1951 in Southlands Hospital Shoreham by Sea aged 86. The
informant was his daughter and they both had the same address at
Littlehampton, his occupation was given as teacher and Journalist. I checked
the electoral register and they where both residing there from 1945, so
after WW2. In 1939 they were not at this address.
In 1891 Truman Press was living at 24 Worley Road St. Albans with his brother Charles Albert Manning Press who was an author of various books:
I decided to check the publications on COPAC to see if any were published in St Albans (none were) but I have added notes as appropriate. In fact very few library copies were located - suggesting that all these were very limited circulation publications - as were those by Truman Press. In about 1907 the editor (and possibly ownership) of the "social and political series passed to Ernest Gaskell - see Hertfordshire Leaders.
Frederick Edmund Press
Also living in St. Albans was another of Truman's brothers Frederick Edmund Press. He married Lillie Ada Evans and their son Reginald Gurney Press was born in 1897 in St. Albans. Fred & Lillie's daughter, Rose was born in 1900 in Carshalton Surrey where they were running a tobacconist shop. It would seem all 3 brothers could have left St. Albans at the same time.
Their mother died in 1898. Could extra funds from her estate encouraged the move?
William Henry Press
I had another look at the 1894 Kelly's directory for Hertfordshire. Under the Newspaper section for Watford it lists the following papers:
- Watford Leader, 146 Queen's Road & 254 High Street; Henry Trevor Gardiner, proprietor & publisher; published tuesday. See Advertisement
- Watford Observer, 15 Queen's road, Thomas John Peacock, proprietor & publisher; published sat.
- Watford Post, 42 High Street. West Herts Post Newspaper Co. proprietors & publishers; Thomas Charles Warren, manager; published tuesday morning.
- West Herts Post, 42 High Street. West Herts Post Newspaper Co. proprietors & publishers; Thomas Charles Warren, manager; published fridays.
However, in the general traders heading for Watford I found the following entry, which had been omitted from the above list:
- Watford Times & County Advertiser (Truman Press, proprietor & publisher; published thursday), 101 High Street.
In the Private Residents section for Watford I also found:
- Press William Henry, Twyford Villa, Cassio Road.
It therefore seems very likely that William Press was acting as editor of the Watford Times. Watford Central Library has a large collection of directories, including Watford street directories for the period, which may well give more information.
It will be interesting to find out when and why Truman Press, and other members of the Press family, left Hertfordshire, and to fill in details of the histories of the other short-lived newspapers in the "Press" empire.
Linda Smith nee Press (press.gang1 @t sky.com) has an important update. She writes: I have further researched Truman Press and Ernest Gaskell. I found Truman living in Devon in 1910 with a lady he met 12 years earlier. They lived as Mr. & Mrs. Allan North and had a 7 year old son. Mrs. North was found drowned at Sidmouth in 1910 aged 35 she was pregnant at the time. At the inquest it was stated she wrote 3 to 4 books a year. However the British Library has not found a single copy of any book in the name of North or her real name Carrie Amy Campion. Letters have been found to the Hon. Lady Leighton-Warren in Cheshire signed by Truman Press trying to sell her copies of his Cheshire Book. In 1909 Cheshire Leaders Social & Political was published author Ernest Gaskell, therefore this must be Mrs. North. I have since found 1910 Herefordshire Illustrated Who's Who by Allan North. Northamptonshire leaders S & P 1898 by C.A.M. Press & Ernest Gaskell.
Found Truman in 1911 in Ewhurst Surrey his name is transcribed wrong as Freeman Press.
I also found the publication of a book 'Harbours of memory' by William McFee in 1921 and he tells us of events 23 years earlier so about 1898 when Truman disappeared from St. Albans. He writes:
The 'Barnet Press' a large old-fashioned paper with a dreary serial that nobody read was owned and edited by Truman Press. He would go into your family affairs and draw upon authentic précis of your past glories, print it and bind it in blue leather with you crest in gold. Truman held an office above a parade of shops, it was over a bakery restaurant, in fact he may have lived there. He goes on to explain there was an extremely handsome lady here and this beautiful lady turned out to be the actual editor of the paper. William McFee contributed half a column a week for 4 weeks and Truman gave him the princely sum of £1.
I have added the following books:
It would seem this page need a major retidying.
If you can add to the information given above tell me.
June 2008 - Additional information relating to 1896
February 2009 - Note of press reports of activities in 1889 and 1893 and portrait from the St Albans Museum collection in 1895.
June 2009 - Information on Truman Press's death
January 2010 - Information about the Herts Illustrated Review's continued publishing in 1894.
July 2010 - Initial information about Ernest Gaskell - C. A. M. Press
June 2011 - useful update plus new contact email and address