Meres, John (DNB00)

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MERES, JOHN (1698–1761), printer and journalist, son of Thomas, the disinherited eldest son of Sir Thomas Meres (1635–1715) [see under Meres, Francis, ad fin.], was born in London in 1698, and apprenticed by his father, on 9 Feb. 1712, to William Stephens, printer. A kinsman, Hugh Meres or Meere, was already in the printing business, and was also a director of the Sun Fire Insurance, for which he printed the ‘British Mercury,’ and subsequently the ‘Historical Register’ (1716–38), the estimable precursor of the ‘Gentleman's Magazine;’ the ‘Register’ was his private enterprise from 1721 onwards. In October 1719 Hugh Meres commenced issuing a new daily paper, the ‘Daily Post’ (1719–71), and in September 1722 he started the ‘British Journal,’ which distinguished itself by its denunciations of the South Sea promoters. Hugh Meres died 19 April 1723, but his business passed entire into the hands of his widow, Cassandra, until her death in February 1726. It passed then into the hands of the daughter's husband, Richard Nutt (1694–1780), who started in December 1727 the ‘London Evening Post.’ It was this paper, which for a time distanced all its daily rivals, that John Meres came to direct in 1737. Meres, who seems to have become partner in all Nutt's enterprises and ultimately sole manager of them, took up his abode in the Old Bailey, dropped the ‘Historical Register,’ and devoted himself to the newspaper, which he carried on side by side with the ‘Daily Post,’ the imprint on both journals being ‘printed for John Meres.’ He was imprisoned for ten weeks in 1740 for passing some remarks upon an act of parliament dealing with the provision trade, and in 1745 he unwarily exposed himself to Fielding's attacks in the ‘Jacobite Journal’ by his high-flying and barely concealed Jacobite tendencies. In 1754 the ‘Evening Post’ published a letter reflecting on the government, and on 10 July 1755 Richard Nutt, the printer, was defendant in an action for libel, was found guilty, sentenced to stand in the pillory, and heavily fined. Ten years later Meres was mulcted 140l. for mentioning the name of a nobleman in his paper. Meres died in 1761, and left the business to his son by his wife Sarah Robinson (married 2 June 1732), also named John, by whom the ‘Daily Post’ was discontinued in 1772. The ‘London Evening Post’ survived until the death of Nutt in 1780.

Nichols confuses John Meres with William Mears (fl. 1722), a London publisher, son of Leonard Meers of Faversham, Kent, mariner. Made free of the Stationers' Company 6 Oct. 1707, he ‘opened an office at the Lamb without Temple Bar,’ and issued in 1722 an edition of Holinshed's ‘Chronicle’ at 5l.; Defoe's ‘Moll Flanders,’ 3rd edit.; Ludlow's ‘Memoirs;’ and Spelman's English works. On 23 Nov. 1732 he was committed to the custody of a messenger for publishing ‘A Philosophical Dissertation on Death,’ by Count de Passereau and John Morgan (Gent. Mag. 1732). William Mears is twice mentioned in Pope's ‘Dunciad’ (bk. ii. l. 125, and bk. iii. l. 28). He compiled a useful catalogue of English plays (London 1713, 4to, with continuation, 1715), and in 1734 published ‘Lives of the Princes of the House of Orange.’ His son William was apprenticed to him in 1727.

[The Family of Meres, a paper by Mr. Edward Deacon, Bridgeport, Conn. 1891; Nichols's Lit. Anecd. i. 62, 311–12, iii. 733, viii. 481; Fox Bourne's English Newspapers, i. 53; Knight Hunt's Fourth Estate; Gent. Mag. 1755, p. 826; Lowe's Engl. Theatr. Lit. p. 235.]

T. S.