Gregory, Barnard (DNB00)

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GREGORY, BARNARD (1796–1852), journalist, born in 1796, came into notice as editor and proprietor of a new London weekly paper, issued on Sunday, 10 April 1831, which was called ‘The Satirist, or the Censor of the Times,’ was printed by James Thompson at 119 Fleet Street, and published at 11 Crane Court, London, price 7d. The motto on the first page was ‘Satire's my weapon. I was born a critic and a satirist; and my nurse remarked that I hissed as soon as I saw light.’ This paper obtained the support of readers delighting in scandal and calumny, and prospered by levying blackmail. The libels were often sent in manuscript to the persons concerned, threatening publication unless a price were paid for suppression. The weak yielded and were plundered, the strong resisted and were libelled, when, owing to the uncertain state of the law and the expenses attending a trial, it was not easy to obtain any redress. During a period of eighteen years Gregory was almost continually engaged in litigation, and several times was the inmate of a prison. In September 1832 John Deas, an attorney, recovered 300l. damages and costs from the proprietor of the ‘Satirist’ for a libel. On 11 Feb. 1833 the proprietor was convicted of accusing a gentleman called Digby, of Brighton, of cheating at cards (Barnewall and Adolphus's Reports, iv. 821–6). In November 1838 an action was brought for a libel printed 15 July 1838, reflecting on the characters of the Marquis of Blandford and his son the Earl of Sunderland (Times, 23 Nov. 1838, p. 6), in which Lord Denman described Gregory as ‘a trafficker in character.’ In the same year he libelled J. Last, the printer of ‘The Town.’ Here, however, he made a mistake in his policy; for ‘Chief-baron’ Renton Nicholson, the editor of that paper, replied in a series of articles which thoroughly exposed Gregory's character and his proceedings (The Town, 28 July 1838, p. 484 et seq.) On 14 Feb. 1839 he was convicted in the court of queen's bench for a libel on the wife of James Weir Hogg, esq., M.P. for Beverley, and imprisoned for three months. Charles, duke of Brunswick and Lüneburg, who, after his flight from his dukedom in September 1830, lived many years in England, was frequently made the subject of severe articles in many of the English papers, and more especially in the ‘Satirist.’ On 14 Nov. 1841 the duke and his attorney, Mr. Vallance, were libelled in that paper; proceedings were taken, and Gregory was on 2 Dec. 1843 sentenced to six months' imprisonment in Newgate. He, however, appealed, and, taking advantage of all the intricacies of the law, kept the case in the courts until 13 June 1850, when the judgment was affirmed (Carrington and Kirwan's Reports, 1845, i. 208–10, 228–32; Adolphus and Ellis's Queen's Bench Reports, new ser. 1847, vii. 274–81, xv. 957–75; Dowling and Lowndes's Reports, 1848, iv. 777–87; Cox's Cases in Criminal Law, 1853, v. 247–54). On 25 Feb. 1843 he was again found guilty in a case in the court of exchequer, McGregor v. Gregory, for a libel published 11 Oct. 1842, in which the plaintiff was called a black-sheep, the associate of blacklegs, &c. In the same year Gregory was convicted of another series of libels on the Duke of Brunswick, in which he charged him with being the assassin of Eliza Grimwood, an unfortunate woman, who had been found murdered in her room in Wellington Terrace, Waterloo Road, on 26 May 1838. In 1848 the duke brought a third action against Crowle, the printer of the ‘Satirist,’ and was awarded damages, which, however, he never succeeded in obtaining. The ‘Satirist’ had a circulation of ten thousand copies. In private life Gregory is said to have been gentlemanly and retiring in his manners, and possessed of a good fund of anecdote. He was, moreover, a good actor, and could play several Shakespearean characters as effectively as the majority of the professionals of his time. The public, however, would not tolerate his appearance on the stage. On 13 Feb. 1843 he attempted Hamlet at Covent Garden before an infuriated mob, who would not listen to a word he said. The leader of the mob was the Duke of Brunswick, who, seated in a private box, led the opposition. Gregory at once brought an action in the court of queen's bench against the duke, charging him with conspiracy in hiring persons to hiss him. The duke in reply stated that Gregory had during the past five years been busy slandering him and other persons, and that it was not for the public good that such a person should be permitted to appear on the stage. The jury gave a verdict for the defendant, 21 June 1843 (Carrington and Kirwan's Reports, 1845, i. 24–53). In August 1846 he appeared in ‘Hamlet’ at the Haymarket, and continued his efforts for several evenings; but the old systematic rioting was resumed, and the house had to be closed. He then went to the Victoria Theatre, where he played on 7 Sept. 1846, and on the following Thursday, 10 Sept., acted Richard III at the Strand Theatre. This was his last appearance on the stage. He was the author of four unpublished dramas, two of which were acted with success. At length, by the force of public opinion, aided by the law courts and the lasting hostility of the Duke of Brunswick, the ‘Satirist’ was suppressed, No. 924, Saturday, 15 Dec. 1849, being the last issue of that journal. Gregory, in March 1847, married Margaret, niece of John Thompson of Frognall Priory, Hampstead, who was generally known as ‘Memory Thompson.’ Thompson died just before the marriage, and Gregory came into Thompson's money, which with his own savings made him a comparatively well-to-do man. After an illness of three years, of disease of the lungs, he died at The Priory, 22 Aberdeen Place, St. John's Wood, London, on 24 Nov. 1852, aged 56. His will, dated 17 Nov. 1852, was proved 22 April 1853. It is now at Somerset House, and in it he speaks of a daughter by a first wife who had greatly offended him, and he refers in bitter terms to ‘his enemy’ the Duke of Brunswick.

[Era, 19 Feb. 1843, p. 6; The Theatre, September 1878, pp. 117–21, by Dutton Cook; the Rev. J. Richardson's Recollections (1855), i. 22, 25–8, ii. 181–3; Cobbett's Weekly Political Register, 10 Sept. 1832, pp. 395–8.]

G. C. B.

Dictionary of National Biography, Errata (1904), p.141
N.B.— f.e. stands for from end and l.l. for last line

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92 i l.l. Gregory, Barnard: for Lunenburg read Lüneburg