19th-century nicknames for London newspapers

19th-century nicknames for London newspapers were mentioned and explained in The Slang Dictionary; or, The Vulgar Words, Street Phrases, and “Fast” Expressions of High and Low Society. Many with Their Etymology, and a Few with Their History Traced (London: John Camden Hotten, 1864).

In the prefatory essay titled A Short History of Slang, or The Vulgar Language of Fast Life, the author first mentions “the Times (or, in Slang, the THUNDERER)”, then writes:

The Slang names given to newspapers are curious;—thus, the Morning Advertiser is known as the TAP-TUB, the TIZER, and the GIN AND GOSPEL GAZETTE. The Morning Post has obtained the suggestive sobriquet of JEAMES; whilst the Morning Herald has long been caricatured as MRS HARRIS, and the Standard as MRS GAMP.

The definitions and explanations are as follows in the dictionary itself:

1-: The Times:

THUNDERER, the Times newspaper, sometimes termed “the THUNDERER of Printing-House Square,” from the locality where it is printed. 1

2-: The Morning Advertiser:

GIN-AND-GOSPEL GAZETTE,” the Morning Advertiser, so called from its being the organ of the Dissenting party, and of the Licensed Victuallers’ Association. Sometimes termed the TAP-TUB, or the ’TIZER.
TAP-TUB, the Morning Advertiser,—so called by vulgar people from the fact that this daily newspaper is the principal organ of the London brewers and publicans 2. Sometimes termed THE GIN AND GOSPEL GAZETTE.
’TIZER, the Morning Advertiser.—See TAP TUB.

3-: The Morning Post:

JEAMES, (a generic for “flunkeys,”) the Morning Post newspaper—the organ of Belgravia and the “Haristocracy.”

4-: The Morning Herald and The Standard:

MRS HARRIS and MRS GAMP, nicknames of the Morning Herald and Standard newspapers, while united under the proprietorship of Mr Baldwin 3. MRS GAMP, a monthly nurse, was a character in Mr Charles Dickens’s popular novel of Martin Chuzzlewit 4, who continually quoted an imaginary Mrs Harris in attestation of the superiority of her qualifications, and the infallibility of her opinions; and thus afforded a parallel to the two newspapers, which appealed to each other as independent authorities, being all the while the production of the same editorial staff.

1 This is the definition of Printing-House Square, from The New International Encyclopædia (New York: Dodd, Mead and Company, 1905):

A London court, so called from the former office of the King’s Printer, which occupied the site. On it stands the office of the Times.

According to the Daily Mail (London, England) of Friday 20th May 1904—as quoted by The Times of Saturday 28th May 1904—the nickname was given to The Times in reference to an article by the British journalist Edward Sterling (1773-1847):

It is something, surely, to have recorded for 37,399 days the affairs of the whole world. It is something more to have been, through all these generations, a fearless critic of princes and kings and the enemy of wrong. “We thundered forth the other day,” wrote Captain Sterling in a “leader” which gave The Times its nick-name, “an article on the subject of social and political reform,” and The Times is “thundering forth” still.

(I have not found the issue of The Times in which Captain Sterling’s “leader” was published.)

2 However, in Slang. A Dictionary of the Turf, the Ring, the Chase, the Pit, of Bon-ton, and the Varieties of Life, Forming the Completest and Most Authentic Lexicon Balatronicum * Hitherto Offered to the Notice of the Sporting World (London: Printed for T. Hughes, 1823), the British author and journalist Jon Bee (John Badcock – fl. 1810-1830) gave a different explanation of the nickname Tap-tub—he also explained the literal meaning of this word:

Tap-tub (the)—Morning Advertiser; so surnamed after the tubs placed under the taps of each proprietor—whether licensed victualler, or gin-spinner; because that print catcheth the drippings of yesterday’s news, and disheth it up anew.

(* The adjective balatronicum was derived from the Latin noun bălātro/ōnis, which denoted a babbler, hence a jester, a buffoon. This noun was in turn derived from the verb blătĕro, to talk idly or foolishly, to babble, prate.)

3 Edward Baldwin (1803-1890) was a British newspaper-owner.

4 This refers to The Life and Adventures of Martin Chuzzlewit, His Relatives, Friends, and Enemies. Comprising All His Wills and His Ways: With an Historical Record of What He Did, and What He Didn’t: Showing, Moreover, Who Inherited the Family Plate, Who Came in for the Silver Spoons, and Who for the Wooden Ladles. The Whole Forming a Complete Key to the House of Chuzzlewit (London: Chapman and Hall, 1844), by the English novelist Charles Dickens (1812-1870).


This poem was published in The Standard (London, England) of Friday 9th January 1829:


Three journals in three different garrets born,
Did London’s famed metropolis adorn;
The first in pothouse muddiness surpassed,
The next in dullness dense, in both the last:
Dame Nature joined the precious pair in one,
And in the Times combined the Taptub and the Sun


Cf. also:
origin of Grauniad (colloquial name for The Guardian)
Torygraph, and other newspaper nicknames

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