Drakard, John (DNB00)

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DRAKARD, JOHN (1775?–1854), newspaper proprietor and publisher, commenced business at Stamford as a printer and book-seller at the beginning of this century. On 15 Sept. 1809 he started a weekly newspaper called ‘The Stamford News.’ On 13 March 1811 he was tried at Lincoln before Baron Wood and a special jury on an ex-officio information for libel, and was sentenced to eighteen months' imprisonment in Lincoln Castle, and fined 200l. The subject-matter of the libel was an article published in Drakard's paper for 24 Aug. 1810, entitled ‘One Thousand Lashes,’ which dealt with the question of corporal punishment in the army. Drakard was defended by Brougham, but neither his eloquence, nor the fact that the Hunts, as proprietors of the ‘Examiner,’ had been previously acquitted on the charge of libel for publishing the greater portion of the very same article, were of any avail. Drakard was also the proprietor of the ‘Stamford Champion,’ a weekly newspaper which first appeared on 5 Jan. 1830, under the name of the ‘Champion of the East.’ In 1834 both newspapers ceased to exist, and Drakard retired to Ripley, Yorkshire, where he lived in necessitous circumstances. He died at Ripon on 25 Jan. 1854, aged 79. In politics he was an advanced radical. Drakard was a defendant in several libel suits, and is said to have been horsewhipped in his own shop by Lord Cardigan for some remarks which had appeared in the ‘Stamford News.’ The authorship of the two following works (both of which were published by him) has been attributed to Drakard, but it is more than doubtful whether he had any share in their compilation: 1. ‘Drakard's Edition of the Public and Private Life of Colonel Wardle. … Introduced by an original Essay on Reform,’ &c., Stamford [1810?], 8vo. 2. ‘The History of Stamford, in the County of Lincoln, comprising its ancient, progressive, and modern state; with an Account of St. Martin's, Stamford Baron, and Great and Little Wothorpe, Northamptonshire,’ Stamford, 1822, 8vo.

[Biog. Dict. of Living Authors (1816), p. 98; Howell's State Trials (1823), xxxi. 495–544; Burton's Chronology of Stamford (1846), pp. 229–230; Lincoln, Rutland, and Stamford Mercury, 3 Feb. 1854; Notes and Queries, 7th ser. iii. 89, 176, 196, 235, 375; Brit. Mus. Cat.]

G. F. R. B.