London Gazette

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The London Gazette' of 3-10 September 1666, reporting on the Great Fire of London

The London Gazette is one of the official journals of record of the British government, and the most important among such official journals in the United Kingdom, in which certain statutory notices are required to be published. The London Gazette claims to be the oldest surviving English newspaper and the oldest continuously published newspaper in the United Kingdom, having been first published on 7 November 1665 as The Oxford Gazette.[1] This title is also claimed by the Stamford Mercury and Berrow's Worcester Journal, because the Gazette is not a conventional newspaper offering general news coverage. It does not have a large circulation.

The official newspapers of the British government are:

Apart from reproducing certain materials of nationwide interest published in The London Gazette, also contain publications specific to Scotland and Northern Ireland, respectively.

In turn, The London Gazette not only carries notices of interest across the United Kingdom, but those relating specifically to entities or people in England and Wales, and certain notices required by statute to be published in The London Gazette wherever they arise.

The London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes are published by TSO on behalf of Her Majesty's Stationery Office. They are subject to Crown Copyright.


The London Gazette is published each weekday, except for Bank Holidays. Notices for the following, among others, are published:

  • Granting of Royal Assent to bills of the Parliament of the United Kingdom or of the Scottish Parliament
  • The issue of writs of election when a vacancy occurs in the House of Commons
  • Appointments to certain public offices
  • Commissions in the Armed Forces and subsequent promotion of officers
  • Corporate and personal insolvency
  • Granting of awards of honours
  • Granting of military medals
  • Changes of names or of coats of arms
  • Royal Proclamations and other Declarations

In wartime the London Gazette carries dispatches and official news.

Her Majesty's Stationery Office has digitised all issues of the Gazette, and these are available online.[2]

The official Gazettes are published by The Stationery Office. The content, apart from insolvency notices, is available in a number of machine-readable data|machine-readable formats, including XML (delivery by email/FTP) and XML/RDFa via Atom feed.[3]


The London Gazette, dated 14–17 May 1705 detailing the return of John Leake from Gibraltar after the Battle of Cabrita Point

The London Gazette was first published as The Oxford Gazette on 7 November 1665. Charles II and the Royal Court had moved to Oxford to escape the Great Plague of London, and courtiers were unwilling to touch, let alone read, London newspapers for fear of contagion. The Gazette was "Published by Authority" by Henry Muddiman, and its first publication is noted by Samuel Pepys in his diary. The King returned to London as the plague dissipated, and the Gazette moved too, with the first issue of The London Gazette (labelled No. 24) being published on 5 February 1666.[4] The Gazette was not a newspaper in the modern sense: it was sent by post to subscribers, not printed for sale to the general public.

In 1812 an officer of The London Gazette named George Reynell established the first advertising agency.

Her Majesty's Stationery Office took over the publication of the Gazette in 1889. Publication of the Gazette was transferred to the private sector, under government supervision, in the 1990s, when HMSO was sold and renamed The Stationery Office.


  • In time of war, dispatches from the various conflicts are published in The London Gazette. People referred to are said to have been mentioned in despatches. When members of the armed forces are promoted, and these promotions are published here, the person is said to have been “gazetted”.
  • Being "gazetted" (or "in the gazette") sometimes also meant having official notice of one's bankruptcy published, as in the classic ten-line poem comparing the stolid yeomen of 1722 to the lavishly spending faux-genteel farmers of 1822:[5]
Man to the plough;
Wife to the cow;
Girl to the yarn;
Boy to the barn;
And your rent will be netted.
Man tally-ho;
Miss piano;
Wife silk and satin;
Boy Greek and Latin;
And you'll all be Gazetted.

The phrase "gazetted fortune hunter" is also probably derived from this. Notices of engagement and marriage were also formerly published in the Gazette.

Outside links

("Wikimedia Commons" has material
about London Gazette)


  1. Oxford Gazette: no. 1, p. 1, 7 November 1665. Retrieved 7 January 2009.
  2. Search the London Gazette Archive
  3. "Data Re-use". London Gazette. Retrieved 2 February 2012. 
  4. London Gazette: no. 24, p. 1, 5 February 1666. Retrieved 7 January 2009.
  5. By William Hone (1827); Published by Hunt and Clarke