The memoirs of Marchamont Nedham
Marchamont Nedham’s had a bad press for almost 400 years. Critics called him a triple turncoat. At last Nedham, England’s first great journalist, sets the record straight.
Nobody was safe from the pen of the 17th century’s most notorious newspaperman. In turn, he attacked King Charles I, Oliver Cromwell and King Charles II and, in turn, each of them gave him a job.
Marchamont Nedham – Republican and Royalist, Roundhead and Cavalier, doctor and lawyer – was the leading reporter of the English civil war. Hated, loathed and despised by his enemies, more than once he was jailed and faced execution.
In an era notorious for religious bigotry, he was married to a Puritan and a Catholic. At the same time.
The first newspaper written by Marchamont Nedham at the start of the English Civil War came out strongly in support of Parliament and was aimed at deliberately antagonising Charles I’s main propaganda-sheet ‘Mercurius Auculus’ (The Court Mercury).
Marchamont Nedham had to give up his first newspaper after he was jailed by Parliament for being excessively rude about the King (they hadn’t decided to chop Charles’s head off at the time). So he started working for Charles instead and did so until he was forced into hiding after the King’s execution.
Marchamont was captured and jailed again. This time there was some suggestion he might be hanged as a traitor. Instead, he persuaded Parliament he was just the man to write their new newspaper and for the next ten years that’s just what he did.
‘This filthy Aviary, this moth-eaten crew of News-mongers, Every Jack-sprat that hath but a pen in his ink-horn is ready to gather up the Excrements of the Kingdom.’
The reputation of journalists in the 17th century
THE PIERS MORGAN OF
THE 17TH CENTURY
Britain’s first journalist reveals all about his work during the bloody and epoch-making English Civil War. Including intimate portraits of King Charles I and Oliver Cromwell, as well as confessions about his three wives, Nedham’s memoirs are compelling reading.
TRIGGER WARNING: This book contains foul language, scenes of a sexual nature, extreme violence, racism, torture, slavery, religious bigotry, communism, monarchism and even journalism.
WHAT HIS READERS THOUGHT OF MARCHAMONT NEDHAM
‘He hath more wit than honesty; he is the wittiest knave of the whole crew: (give the Devil his due,) he is the Court-jester, the Cavaliers fool, the chief squib-crack, arch pamphlet-puppy; if his brethren (in iniquity) get him, the fools hug him, as the Papists doe a Dispensation, to eat flesh Fridays; wherewith they are furnished with jests and jeers for a long time after. An old malignant pamphleteer, that lying railing defamer… odious to almost everybody, who prostrates his Learning, Conscience, Credit, and Pen, to serve the interests and lusts of a few corrupt men.’
‘As for his writings, there is as much difference between them and finer Invectives, as there is between a man cut with a Razor, and spewed upon. For as such a one cannot be said to be wounded, but bemired, so we cannot say, that this Fellow writes, but vomits.’