William Jerdan - Encyclopedia




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WILLIAM JERDAN (1782-1869), Scottish journalist, was born on the 16th of April 1782, at Kelso, Scotland. During the years between 1799 and 1806 he spent short periods in a country lawyer's office, a London West India merchant's countinghouse, an Edinburgh solicitor's chambers,and held the position of surgeon's mate on board H.M. guardship "Gladiator" in Portsmouth Harbour, under his uncle, who was surgeon. He went to London in 1806, and became a newspaper reporter. He was in the lobby of the House of Commons on the 11th of May 1812 when Spencer Perceval was shot, and was the first to seize the assassin. By 1812 he had become editor of The Sun, a semi-official Tory paper; he occasionally inserted literary articles, then quite an unusual proceeding; but a quarrel with the chief proprietor brought that engagement to a close in 1817. He passed next to the editor's chair of the Literary Gazette, which he conducted with success for thirty-four years. Jerdan's position as editor brought him into contact with many distinguished writers. An account of his friends, among whom Canning was a special intimate, is to be found in his Men I have Known (1866). When Jerdan retired in 1850 from the editorship of the Literary Gazette his pecuniary affairs were far from satisfactory. A testimonial of over £900 was subscribed by his friends; and in 1853 a government pension of loo guineas was conferred on him by Lord Aberdeen. He published his Autobiography in 1852-18J3, and died on the 11th of July 1869.

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