What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Mein and Fleeming’s REGISTER … With all the BRITISH LISTS.”
John Mein and John Fleeming marketed “Mein and Fleeming’s REGISTER FOR NEW ENGLALD [sic] AND NOVA SCOTIA, With all the BRITISH LISTS, AND AN Almanack for 1768” in several newspapers in New England in late 1767 and early 1768. Their advertisement in the January 15, 1768, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette indicated that readers could purchase copies directly from Mein at his “London Book Store, in Kingstreet Boston” or from local vendors, either William Appleton, a bookseller, or Daniel Fowle and Robert Fowle, the printers of the colony’s only newspaper.
Their advertisement, which extended an entire column, also elaborated on the contents. Despite the length, the advertisement placed relatively little emphasis on many of the standard items included in almanacs, such as “Sun’s rising and setting” and other astronomical details. Instead, Mein and Fleeming devoted much more space to the various “BRITISH LISTS” in their Register, including “Marriages and Issues of the Royal Family,” “Summary of the house of Commons,” and “Officers of His Majesty’s houshold.” The Register also contained lists of colonial officials in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Nova Scotia.
Both the contents and the advertisement distinguished “Mein & Fleeming’s REGISTER” from all other almanacs for 1768 advertised anywhere in the colonies. Though useful, the astronomical calculations seemed secondary to content that positioned the American colonies within an expansive and powerful British empire. Mein and Fleeming, both Tories, began publishing the Boston Chronicle, near the end of December 1767. Although that publication only ran until 1770, it qualifies as a Loyalist newspaper based on the editorial position of the printers. Mein and Fleeming pursued a single purpose in simultaneously publishing the Boston Chronicle and their Register: deploying print culture to celebrate their identity as Britons at a time that the imperial crisis intensified as a result of an ongoing trade imbalance between colonies and mother country, the imposition of new duties when the Townshend Act went into effect in November 1767, and renewed nonimportation agreements that commenced at the beginning of 1768.
Even if readers of the New-Hampshire Gazette and other newspapers that carried Mein and Fleeming’s advertisements did not purchase or peruse the Register, the extensive notice reminded them that they shared a common culture with king, nobles, and commoners on the other side of the Atlantic. Lengthy lists of officials that served the empire and colonies on both sides of the Atlantic suggested good order and the benefits of being British, a system that many colonists did not wish to disrupt unnecessarily in the process of seeking redress of grievances from Parliamentary overreach. Mein and Fleeming may not have been able to make such arguments explicitly among the news items in newspapers published by others, but they could advance that perspective implicitly in the advertisements they paid to place in those publications.