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The London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes are the Official Journals of the United Kingdom, Scotland and Northern Ireland. They are published by a private company under the superintendence of Her Majesty's Stationery Office.
History of The London Gazette
The London Gazette (originally called The Oxford Gazette) is the world's oldest continuously published newspaper and is still published "with Authority", as it has been since it was established by Charles II whilst the Court (effectively the government of the time) was removed to Oxford during the Great Plague of 1665. Samuel Pepys even recorded the event in his diary and said that:
'This day the first of the 'Oxford Gazettes' came out, which is very pretty, full of news, and no folly in it-wrote by Williamson.'
When the Court returned to London the name was then changed to its current title.
Since the beginning The London Gazette has provided a mix of State intelligence, government notices and trade/business news. The earliest editions were full of the movements of ships and reports from the trade routes published alongside official notices about royal appointments and state visits. The start of the Great Fire of London was recorded on 2 September 1666.
As one of the few widely available publications, the Gazette was even used to distribute descriptions of highwaymen and stolen property. Circulation reached an early peak in 1683 with publication of the latest reports from the Austro-Turkish war that was having a devastating effect on the trade routes, with merchants eager to make alternative transit arrangements for their goods.
The London Gazette contains all official dispatches when Britain is at war. For example The London Gazette extraordinary published 22 June 1815 announced victory at the Battle of Waterloo on 18 June. The declaration of War against Germany in 1939 was also recorded in The London Gazette.
The Gazettes today
Publication in the London Gazette has business and legal significance with the courts. It is published Monday to Friday.
The Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes fulfil similar functions in respect of Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Edinburgh Gazette is published on Tuesday and Friday and the Belfast Gazette every Friday.
The Gazette is of the utmost importance in a number of legal situations, with the court clock starting to tick only when the Gazette publishes an official announcement, and it is accepted as evidence in legal matters.
The Gazettes are the primary source of a wide range of official notices. These include:
- State (including Royal Household), Parliamentary and Ecclesiastical notices
- Implementation of Statutory Instruments
- Corporate and Personal insolvency notices, including petitions for winding-up of companies and notices relating to meetings of creditors
- Transport and planning notices
- Other public notices
- Trustee Act notices
In addition various supplements are published which include:
- The Queen's Birthday and New Year's Honours Lists
- Other honours and awards
- Details of Premium Bond prize draws
- Armed Forces Promotions and Re-gradings
- Companies information
All three Gazettes are, in addition to the printed edition, published on the internet. There are also individual websites for each Gazette. Each of the websites contains information about the placing of notices/advertisements in each of the Gazettes.
On behalf of HMSO, the publisher of the Gazettes is currently undertaking a major digitisation programme of the entire historical printed archive. The first phase, which is now available free online, covers all London Gazettes of the 20th Century including the war years (1914-1920 and 1939-1948) and all the 20th Century Honours and Awards. These can be searched on the London Gazette website.