Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Ingram, Herbert

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INGRAM, HERBERT (1811–1860), proprietor of the ‘Illustrated London News,’ was born at Boston, Lincolnshire, on 27 May 1811, and was educated at the Boston free school. At the age of fourteen he was apprenticed to Joseph Clarke, printer, Market Place, Boston. From 1832 to 1834 he worked as a journeyman printer in London, and about 1834 settled at Nottingham as a printer, bookseller, and newsagent, in partnership with his brother-in-law, Nathaniel Cooke. In company with his partner he soon afterwards purchased from T. Roberts, a druggist at Manchester, a receipt for an aperient pill, and employed a schoolmaster to write its history. Ingram claimed to have received from a descendant of Thomas Parr, known as Old Parr, who was said to have lived to the age of one hundred and fifty-two, the secret method of preparing a vegetable pill to which Parr's length of life was attributed (Medical Circular, 23 Feb. 1853, pp. 146–7, 2 March, pp. 167–8). Mainly in order to advertise the pill its proprietors removed to London in 1842.

Meanwhile Ingram had projected an illustrated newspaper. He had long noticed how the demand for the ‘Weekly Chronicle’ increased on the rare occasions when it contained woodcuts, and on 14 May 1842 he and his partner produced the first number of the ‘Illustrated London News.’ Their original design was to make it an illustrated weekly record of crime, but Henry Vizetelly, who was employed on the paper, persuaded Ingram to give it a more general character. The Bow Street police reports were, however, illustrated by Crowquill. The first number of the paper, published at sixpence, contains sixteen printed pages and thirty-two wood-cuts, and twenty-six thousand copies were circulated. The best artists and writers of the day were employed. Frederick William Naylor Bayley, known as Alphabet Bayley, or Omnibus Bayley, was the editor, and John Timbs was the working editor. The newspaper steadily advanced in public favour, and soon had a circulation of sixty-six thousand copies. The Great Exhibition of 1851 gave it a further impetus, and in 1852 a quarter of a million copies of the shilling number illustrating the funeral of the Duke of Wellington are said to have been sold. At Christmas 1855 the first number containing coloured prints was brought out. High prices were charged for advertisements, and the average profit on the paper became 12,000l. a year. The success of the enterprise caused Andrew Spottiswoode, the queen's printer, to start a rival paper, the ‘Pictorial Times,’ in which he lost 20,000l., and then sold it to Ingram, who afterwards merged it in a venture of his own, the ‘Lady's Newspaper.’ Another rival was the ‘Illustrated Times,’ commenced by Henry Vizetelly on 9 June 1855, which also came into Ingram's hands, and in 1861 was incorporated with the ‘Penny Illustrated Paper.’ On 8 Oct. 1857 he purchased from George Stiff the copyright and plant of the ‘London Journal,’ a weekly illustrated periodical of tales and romances, for 24,000l. (Ingram v. Stiff, 1 Oct. 1859, in The Jurist Reports, 1860, v. pt. i. pp. 947–8). Elated by the success of the ‘Illustrated London News,’ Ingram, on 1 Feb. 1848, started the ‘London Telegraph,’ in which he proposed to give daily for threepence as much news as the other journals supplied for fivepence. The paper was published at noon, so as to furnish later intelligence than the morning papers. It commenced with a novel, ‘The Pottleton Legacy,’ by Albert Smith, but the speculation was unprofitable, and the last number appeared on 9 July 1848.

Ingram and Cooke, besides publishing newspapers, brought out many books, chiefly illustrated works. In 1848 the partnership was dissolved, and the book-publishing branch of the business was taken over by Cooke. From 7 March 1856 till his death Ingram was M.P. for Boston. In an evil hour he made the acquaintance of John Sadleir [q. v.], M.P. for Sligo, a junior lord of the treasury, and he innocently allowed Sadleir to use his name in connection with fraudulent companies started by Sadleir and his brother James, chiefly in Ireland. After the suicide of Sadleir on 16 Feb. 1856, documents were found among his papers which enabled Vincent Scully, formerly member for Sligo, to bring against Ingram an action for recovery of some losses incurred by him owing to Sadleir's frauds (Law Mag. and Law Review, February 1862, pp. 279–81). The verdict went against Ingram, but the judge and jury agreed that his honour was unsullied. He left England with his eldest son in 1859, partly for his health, and partly to provide illustrations of the Prince of Wales's tour in America. In 1860 he visited the chief cities of Canada. On 7 Sept. he took passage at Chicago on board the steamer Lady Elgin for an excursion through Lake Michigan to Lake Superior. On 8 Sept. the ship was sunk in a collision with another vessel, and he and his son, with almost all the passengers and crew, were drowned. Ingram's body was found, and buried in Boston cemetery, Lincolnshire, on 5 Oct. A statue was erected to Ingram's memory at Boston in 1862. He married, on 4 July 1843, Anne Little of Eye, Northamptonshire.

His youngest son, Walter Ingram (1855–1888), became an officer of the Middlesex yeomanry, and studied military tactics with great success. At the outset of Lord Wolseley's expedition to Khartoum in 1884, Ingram ascended the Nile in his steam launch, joined the brigade of Sir Herbert Stewart in its march across the desert, was attached to Lord Charles Beresford's naval corps, and took part in the battles of Abu Klea and Metammeh, after which he accompanied Sir Charles Wilson and Lord Charles Beresford up the Nile to within sight of Khartoum. His services were mentioned in a despatch, and he was rewarded with a medal (Sir C. Wilson, From Korti to Khartoum, 1886, p. 120; Times, 11 April 1888, p. 5). He was killed by an elephant while on a hunting expedition near Berbera, on the east coast of Africa, on 6 April 1888.

[Mackay's Forty Years' Recollections, 1877, ii. 64–75; Jackson's Pictorial Press, 1885, pp. 284–311, with portrait; Hatton's Journalistic London, 1882, pp. 24, 221–39, with portrait; Bourne's English Newspaper Press, 1887, ii. 119–124, 226–7, 235, 251, 294–8; Grant's Newspaper Press, 1872, iii. 129–32; Andrews's British Journalism, 1859, ii. 213, 255–6, 320, 336, 338, 340; Bookseller, 26 Sept. 1860, p. 558; Gent. Mag. November 1860, pp. 554–6; Annual Register, 1860, pp. 154–6; Times, 24 Sept. 1860, p. 7, 27 Sept. p. 10; Illustrated London News, 29 Sept. 1860, p. 285, 6 Oct. pp. 306–7, with portrait, 26 Sept. 1863, pp. 306, 309, with view of statue; Boston Gazette, 29 Sept. and 6 Oct. 1860.]

G. C. B.