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Messrs John and W.C. Leng, Dundee Advertiser

Hull's John Leng became editor of the Dundee Advertiser in 1851, established a major publishing concern, briefly assisted by his elder brother, William Christopher Leng. John became a Dundee MP. Both men were eventually knighted for differing political and journalistic services.

Subscription value in 1863:

£30

Relative to inflation up to 2019:

£3000

Relative to income compared to 2019:

£24000

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Details and history

Name of company:

Messrs John and W.C. Leng, Dundee Advertiser

Company address:

Argyll Close[1] / 3 Overgate[2]
Dundee, c.1852-1859

7 Bank Street
Dundee, c.1861-1881[3]

7-25 Bank Street
Dundee, c.1884 onwards.[4]

Fleet Street
London, c.1870 onwards.[1]

Number of employees:

Unknown

Nature of business:

Newspaper publishing and printing, engraving, lithography and distribution

Turnover:

Unknown

Date ceased trading:

Amalgamated with DC Thomson and continues.

Related Subscribers

Subscriber no.4 – George Armitstead – John Leng opposed his early parliamentary candidacy, but ended up as an Armitstead trustee.

Subscriber no.7 – Patrick Andersonmember of the same exhibition committee for visit of British Association.

Subscriber no.21 – J.C. Bell – member of the same exhibition committee for visit of British Association.

Subscriber no.28 – The Bishop of Brechinmember of the same exhibition committee for visit of British Association.

Subscriber no.186 – Pattullo & Thornton – James Pattullo part of syndicate that appointed John Leng editor of Dundee Advertiser and Thomas Thornton a close ally in improvements to the town.

Subscriber no.190 – William Ritchiemember of the same exhibition committee for visit of British Association.

Subscriber no.205 – George B. Simpsonmember of the same exhibition committee for visit of British Association.

Subscriber no.231 – William Smallmember of the same exhibition committee for visit of British Association.

Subscriber no.260 – Lord Kinnaird – collaborated on Corn Exchange and was also a member of the same exhibition committee for visit of British Association.

 

 

Comments

John Leng was born in Hull on 10 April 1828,[1] younger brother of William Christopher Leng, who was born there on 25 January 1825.[5] Their father, Adam, had served in the Royal Navy[6] and later was a baker.[7] Their mother was Mary, daughter of Christopher Luccock, architect, surveyor and estate agent of  Malton in the East Riding of Yorkshire.[6] The boys were brought up as Wesleyan Methodists but William allied himself with the evangelical wing of the Church of England in later life.[5] John was educated at Hull Grammar School, where he first developed an interest in journalism, as joint editor of a handwritten newspaper circulating around the school.[6] After taking a post in a private school, he began writing letters to the editor of the Hull Advertiser. These obviously did him no harm as the editor took him on as a reporter and sub-editor’s assistant in 1847.[1] William was apprenticed to a chemist in 1839 and worked as a commercial traveller before setting up his own business in 1847.[5] He was a druggist employing one man in 1851.[7] William also had an interest in journalism and contributed articles to the Hull Free Press.[5] He campaigned on issues such as cargo vessel safety (inspiring Samuel Plimsoll’s interest in the subject) and slum clearance.[5]

In 1851, John was appointed editor of the Dundee Advertiser after James Pattullo and William Neish, the main members of the syndicate that had recently acquired the paper, advertised for a new editor. The following year he became the managing partner in the firm of John Leng & Co., becoming, along with fellow partners, Pattullo and Neish, the new proprietors of the paper.[1][6] The Dundee, Perth & Cupar Advertiser, to give it its full title, had been founded in 1801 and was published on Tuesday and Friday mornings.[8][9] The newspaper’s cramped premises were in the Overgate.[1][9] It was John’s ambition to bring out a daily newspaper and in 1859 he launched the Daily Advertiser for a halfpenny a copy. It was a short-lived experiment. It was clear that the old building and equipment could not cope with the demand a daily would create, so the firm moved to larger premises at 7 Bank Street in 1859, close to the legal chambers of his partners, Pattullo & Neish.[1][3] By 1861, the Dundee Advertiser was a penny daily.[6] John Leng & Co. was one of the first provincial firms to establish an office in Fleet Street with direct telegraphic connection to its Dundee offices.[1]

John’s brother, William, who had been a regular contributor to the Dundee Advertiser made the move to Dundee and full-time journalism in the same year as the paper moved its office. This close collaboration was despite the fact that John was a staunch Liberal and William had declared himself a Conservative.[5]

Having secured the job of editor of the Dundee Advertiser earlier in the year, John married Emily Cook, elder daughter of Alderman Cook of Beverley, in Beverley Minster on 1 October 1851.[1][6] Their early Dundee homes were at 30 Springfield Place, c.1853-1854;[10] 8 Craigie Terrace, c.1856-1859[11] and Airlie Place, c.1861-1865.[12] Most of their children were born in Dundee (Emily Evangelina, 1852;[13] Adeline Amy or Amy Adeline, 1855;[14][15] John Adam St. Quentin, 1857;[16] William Christopher, 1859;[17] Elizabeth Blanche, 1862[18] and Harriot Fox, 1864-1864[19]), but a further daughter was born after they moved across the River Tay to Wellgate House, Newport (Claire Beatrice, 1865[20]). This house was rented from the St. Fort Estate and was the family home until Kinbrae was built in 1871/72 for John Leng to the designs of Perth architect, Andrew Heiton junior.[6][21]

John was an enthusiastic supporter of liberal and radical causes and made his mark locally as a campaigning journalist. The idea of endowing some of the teaching posts at the public seminaries and the need for a new infirmary were among some of his early campaigns. He was also heavily involved in the successful campaign for a Dundee Improvement Act in the 1870s. He donated six bells for the restoration of Dundee’s old steeple and fought hard to save Dudhope Castle from demolition.[6] As well as being a talented journalist he was also at the forefront of technological developments. New presses were introduced, water engines replaced manual power and when the old building could not cope with the demand for his now daily paper and the new weekly, People’s Journal, he moved to construct new premises. The People’s Journal was aimed specifically at the working classes. By October 1858 its circulation had risen to over 10,000. By 1866 there were five different editions for different parts of the country.[6] By this time John Leng was the managing proprietor, editor and publisher of his various titles.[22]

William was also a talented journalist and was tempted north to work with his brother. His time in Dundee saw him gain the experience to take on a newspaper of his own and also gain a wife and family. A widowed in-law of John’s wife was returning to her native Scotland from Australia. John sent William to meet her at the harbour and apparently he fell in love with the young widow.[6] He married Ann Stark or Cook on 20 March 1860 and the following year they were living at Craigie Terrace,[23]103 Ferry Road, Dundee with her Australian-born children, Henry and Emily, as well as William’s nephew, Charles A. Whitely.[24] Two further children were born to the couple in Dundee: Christopher David, 1861[25] and Anne Luccock, 1863.[26] In 1864, he bought the Sheffield Daily Telegraph along with Frederick Clifford and became its managing editor.[5] After they settled in Collegiate Crescent in the Ecclesall Bierlow area of Sheffield, they had further children: William St. Quentin, c.1865;[27] Nellie M.M., c.1867; [27] Florence M., c.1868[27] and Mary E.[27] or Elizabeth M.,[28] c.1870.

John Leng added further titles to his publishing portfolio with the People’s Friend in 1869 and the Evening Telegraph in 1877. The former encouraged readers to send in articles and stories and proved a great success. The latter was selling over 20,000 copies by the end of the century.[6] The Bank Street offices were extended many times to take account of this expansion of business. The original 60 foot frontage of 1859 was doubled in 1861 and another storey added in 1870. A five-storey extension was added in 1872 with a further 62 feet of frontage extending westward and in 1899 the roof was removed, a storey added and the roof replaced. A tunnel was also constructed to link to a paper store on the south side. In forty years the Bank Street premises had grown from 5,472 square feet to 40,350 square feet. The firm was able to take on printing commissions for outside bodies, including the valuation rolls and electoral registers for the local authorities and large illustrated volumes like Lamb’s Dundee.[6]

In 1889 John Leng was adopted as Liberal parliamentary candidate for a vacancy in Dundee and was returned unopposed.[6] At the general elections of 1892, 1895 and 1900 he successfully and comfortably held his seat as one of the two Liberal Party representatives of this two member constituency against Conservative and Liberal Unionist opponents.[29] He was a strong advocate of “Home Rule all round” and was an active MP.[30] This had an impact on his journalistic career and from 1892 he is described merely as the managing proprietor and publisher of his various publications, the editing had to be left to others.[31] John was knighted in 1893, six years after his brother William had received the same honour.[1] William’s Sheffield Daily Telegraph was a strong supporter of the Conservative Party and William had been asked to stand for Parliament, but he resisted the call.[32] John was also made a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of City of Dundee in 1893,[1] having been a Justice of the Peace connected with the Dundee District of Forfarshire from the mid-1880s, despite being resident in Fife by this time.[33] He was made an honorary burgess of St. Andrews in 1902 and given an honorary doctorate by that town’s university in 1904.[1] He had been a long-time supporter of Dundee’s Technical Institute and University College Dundee.[30]

John’s wife died in 1894, aged 65.[34] He had a striking gothic style memorial chapel built in her honour on a hilltop in Vicarsford Cemetery a couple of miles from their home, 1895-1897.[35] In 1897 he married Mary Low,[36] sister of Sir James Low of Kilmaron, the first Lord Provost of Dundee.[6] Sir John was presented with his full length portrait by William Quiller Orchardson in 1901. This is now in the art collection of the McManus (formerly the Albert Institute).[30]

William died on 20 February 1902 and is buried in Ecclesall Churchyard, Sheffield.[5] John retired from Parliament in 1905. He had already begun to absent himself from the House of Commons in his later years to indulge his love of travel. He published his writing about his travels to the USA and Canada, India and Ceylon, the eastern Mediterranean, Egypt and Sicily.[1] John’s daughter, Clara, married William Thomson, shipowner and member of a family of rival newspaper proprietors. In 1905 The Evening Telegraph and the rival Evening Post were amalgamated, as the Thomson family took a controlling interest in the Leng business.[6]

John promised himself one last big journey, but took ill in the USA and died at Delmonte, Monterey, California. His body was cremated and his ashes returned for interment in Vicarsford Cemetery, near Newport.[30] William left an estate valued at £163,897 5s. 6d. His executors were Christopher David Leng and William St. Quentin Leng his sons and Benjamin George Wood.[37] John left £76,624 3s. 1d. His executors were William Christopher Leng and John Adam Leng, his sons, both newspaper proprietors; William Thomson, shipowner, Dundee; William Low of Blebo, Fife and James Percy Sturrock, solicitor, Dundee.[38]

Sir John Leng’s involvement with local organisations included:

Commodore, Newport Amateur Rowing Club, c.1867-1872.[39] Mars Training Ship general committee, c.1871-1906.[40] President, St. George’s Society of English Residents in Dundee and Neighbourhood, c.1871-1872.[41] Trustee, Dundee Co-operative Rowing Club/Dundee Rowing Club, c.1871-1875.[42] Committee, Dundee Humane Society, c.1871-1872.[41] Dundee Mortgage and Trust Investment Co., c.1876-1885.[43] Oregon & Washington Trust Investment Co., c.1876-1879.[44] President/Patron, Newport Horticultural Society, c.1878-1886.[45] Dundee Land Investment Co., c.1880-1881.[46] Dundee Investment Co. Ltd., c.1884-1885.[47] Honorary Vice-President/Honorary President, Dundee Boys and Girls Religious Association, c.1884-1906.[48] Director appointed by William Harris, Dundee High School, c.1884-1889.[49] Vice-President, Newport Musical Association, c.1884-1885.[50] Committee/Director/Vice-President, Dundee Sailors’ Home, c.1885-1906.[51] Honorary President, Dundee Northern Cycling Club, c.1888-1889.[52] Trustee/Life Governor/Council Member, University College Dundee, c.1890-1906.[53] Official Trustee, Dundee Technical Institute, c.1890-1906.[53] Honorary Member, Graphic Arts Association, c.1890-1892.[54] Trustee, Armitstead Trust, c.1890-1906.[53] Extraordinary Director Ex-Officio, Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum, c.1890-1905.[55] Honorary Vice-President, Dundee Sick Poor Nursing Society, c.1890-1906.[53] Honorary Director, Dundee Mission to the Outdoor Blind, c.1890-1906.[53] Vice-President, Dundee Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, c.1890-1906.[53] Vice-President, Dundee Charity Organization Society, c.1890-1895.[56] Vice-President, Forfarshire Committee, Scottish Home Industries Association, c.1890-1892.[54] Patron, Dundee Horticultural Society, 1890-1892.[54] Honorary Vice-President, Dundee Ornithological Society, c.1890-1891.[57] Honorary Vice-President, Dundee Walton Club (Angling), c.1890-1892.[54] Honorary President, Dundee Burns Club, c.1890-1906.[53] Honorary President, Newport Literary Society, c.1890-1906.[53] Honorary President, Dundee Burns Club Football Charity Cup Fund, c.1891-1893.[58] Honorary President, Dundee Advertiser Cycling Club, c.1891-1892.[59] Honorary President, Dundee Association of Open Air Bathers and Humane Society, c.1891-1895.[60] Honorary Vice-President/Trustee, Dundee Liberal Club, c.1891-1898.[61] Vice-President, Dundee Home Mission Union, c.1894-1906.[62] Vice-President, Prison Aid Society, c.1894-1906.[62] Chairman, Institute of Journalists (Dundee & Scottish Central District), c.1894-1896.[63] Honorary Vice-President, Dundee Liberal Association, c.1894-1906.[62] Vice-President/Honorary President/Trustee, Newport Chidren’s Home, Comerton, Fife, c.1894-1906.[62] Patron, Newport Choral Society, c.1894-1906.[62] Commodore, Newport Boating Club, c.1894-1905.[64] Honorary Vice-President, Provisional Committee, Hospital for Incurables, c.1897-1898.[65] Honorary Vice-President, Dundee Gymnastic & Athletic Club, c.1897-1906.[66] Committee, Dundee Consumptive Hospital, c.1899-1903.[67] Elected Trustee, Blyth Halls, Newport, c.1900-1906.[68] Honorary Vice-President, Boys Brigade, c.1902-1906.[69] Trustee, Leng Trust for Encouragement of Literary and Scientific Pursuits and to Promote Teaching of the Songs of Scotland, c.1902-1906.[69] Vice-President, Dundee & District Mission to Adult Deaf & Dumb, c.1903-1906.[70] Honorary President, Society of Experimental Engineers, c.1903-1904.[71] Vice-President, Dundee & District Free Trade Association, c.1904-1906.[72] Honorary President, Newport Swimming Association, c.1904-1906.[72] Chairman, Dundee, Perth & London Shipping Co.[6] Joint Owner, Donside Paper Works, Aberdeenshire, 1893-1906.[6]

Sources

  1. Porter, Dilwyn. (2004) Sir John Leng. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography website.
  2. Dundee Directories, 1856-1859. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  3. Dundee Directories, 1861-1881. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  4. Dundee Directories, 1884-1907. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  5. Millar, A.H., revised by Porter, Dilwyn. (2004) Sir William Christopher Leng. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography website.
  6. Small, Gordon. (2009) The Lengs - Dundee's Other Publishing Dynasty. Dundee: Tay Valley Family History Society. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  7. 1851 Census England. Sculcoates, Yorkshire. HO107 Piece2361 Folio2361 p.6. Ancestry website.
  8. Dundee Directory, 1853-54. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  9. Dundee Directories, 1850-1859. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  10. Dundee Directory, 1853-54. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  11. Dundee Directories, 1856-1859. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  12. Dundee Directories, 1861-1865. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  13. Old Parish Records. Dundee. Baptism. 7 November 1852. 282/200 183. ScotlandsPeople website.
  14. Statutory Records. Dundee. Birth. 1855. 282/1X25. ScotlandsPeople website.
  15. Statutory Records. Forgan. Death. 1940. 431/7. ScotlandsPeople website.
  16. Statutory Records. Dundee. Birth. 8 September 1857. 282/1 1277. ScotlandsPeople website.
  17. Statutory Records. Dundee. Birth. 20 July 1859. 282/1 975. ScotlandsPeople website.
  18. Statutory Records. Dundee. Birth. 3 June 1862. 282/2 694. ScotlandsPeople website.
  19. Statutory Records. Dundee. Birth. 16 March 1864. 282/2 694 and Dundee. Death. 1864. 282/2 1227. ScotlandsPeople website.
  20. Statutory Records. Forgan. Birth. 3 November 1865. 431/38. ScotlandsPeople website.
  21. Kinbrae House, Newport, Fife. Dictionary of Scottish Architects website and Dundee Directory, 1871-72. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  22. Dundee Directories, 1867-1891. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  23. Dundee Directory, 1861-62. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  24. 1861 Census Scotland. Dundee. 282/1 ED33 34 p.79. Ancestry website.
  25. Statutory Registers. Dundee. Birth. 24 June 1861. 282/1 1014. ScotlandsPeople website.
  26. Statutory Registers. Dundee. Birth. 12 March 1863. 282/1 479. ScotlandsPeople website.
  27. 1871 Census England. Ecclesall Bierlow, Sheffield. RG10 Piece 4670 Folio 151 p.51. Ancestry website.
  28. 1881 Census England. Ecclesall Bierlow, Sheffield. RG11 Piece 4633 Folio 79 p.1. Ancestry website.
  29. Connelly, Stephen. (1975) Scottish Catholic Attitudes to the Irish Question in British General Elections, 1885-1922. (M.A Thesis, University of Dundee). University of Dundee Archive Services.
  30. Leng, John & Co. (1907) Dundee Year Book, 1906. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  31. Dundee Directories, 1892-1906. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  32. Leng, John & Co. (1903) Dundee Year Book, 1902. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  33. Dundee Directories, 1884-1906. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  34. Statutory Registers. Forgan. Death. 1894. 431/22. ScotlandsPeople website.
  35. Leng Memorial Chapel, Fife. Canmore website.
  36. Statutory Registers. Monifieth. Marriage. 1897. 310/10. ScotlandsPeople website.
  37. Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories, 1902. Local & Family History, A.K. Bell Library, Perth.
  38. Calendar of Confirmations and Inventories, 1907. Local & Family History, A.K. Bell Library, Perth.
  39. Dundee Directories, 1867-1872. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  40. Dundee Directories, 1871-1906. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  41. Dundee Directory, 1871-72. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  42. Dundee Directories, 1871-1875. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  43. Dundee Directories, 1876-1885. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  44. Dundee Directories, 1876-1879. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  45. Dundee Directories, 1878-1886. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  46. Dundee Directory, 1880-81. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  47. Dundee Directory, 1884-85. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  48. Dundee Directories, 1884-1906. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  49. Dundee Directories, 1884-1889. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  50. Dundee Directory, 1884-85. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  51. Dundee Directories, 1884-1906. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  52. Dundee Directory, 1888-89. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  53. Dundee Directories, 1890-1906. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  54. Dundee Directories, 1890-1892. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  55. Dundee Directories, 1890-1905. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  56. Dundee Directories, 1890-1895. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  57. Dundee Directory, 1890-91. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  58. Dundee Directories, 1891-1893. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  59. Dundee Directory, 1891-92. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  60. Dundee Directories, 1891-1895. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  61. Dundee Directories, 1891-1898. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  62. Dundee Directories, 1894-1906. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  63. Dundee Directories, 1894-1896. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  64. Dundee Directories, 1894-1905. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  65. Dundee Directory, 1897-98. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  66. Dundee Directories, 1897-1906. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  67. Dundee Directories, 1899-1903. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  68. Dundee Directories, 1900-1906. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  69. Dundee Directories, 1902-1906. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  70. Dundee Directories, 1903-1906. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  71. Dundee Directory, 1903-04. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.
  72. Dundee Directories, 1904-1906. Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee.

Credits

Thanks to the staff of Local Studies, Central Library, Dundee and John Irvine for initial research.

The information above about has been collated from a range of digital and hard copy sources. To the best of our knowledge it is correct but if you are relying on any information from our website for the purpose of your own research we would advise you to follow up the sources to your own satisfaction. If you are aware of an inaccuracy in our text please do not hesitate to notify us through our Contact page.