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The Early History of the Illustrated London News

The Early History of The Illustrated London News


A wonderful pictorial pageant of history began when the world's first illustrated newspaper proclaimed, "Here we make our bow, determined to keep continually before the eye of the world a living and moving panorama of all its activities and influences".

The panorama opened with the first issue of The Illustrated London News published on Whit Saturday, May 14th, 1842, containing as its principal feature two pages of pictures illustrating the Magnificent Fancy Dress Ball given by Queen Victoria at Buckingham Palace only two days before publication.

News of a disastrous fire at Hamburg which broke out on May 5th was brought to London by the steamship Caledonia when she anchored off the Tower of London during the evening of May 10th. The big fire was red-hot news just the very thing for the first issue, so an artist hurried to the British Museum, borrowed a print of Hamburg, re-drew it on to a wood-block and added smoke, flames and sightseers. Then the picture was engraved and, accompanied by a full descriptive text, made a dramatic feature for the ILN's first front page.

The sixteen pages of the first issue had plenty of up-to-date news items in addition to the thirty engravings of various sizes. The letterpress included a

  • Parliamentary Report;
  • a Dreadful Railway accident near Paris;
  • an Awful Steamboat Explosion in America;
  • War in Afghanistan;
  • The Bal Masque at Buckingham Palace;
  • Royal Academy Exhibition;
  • Cases heard at the Central Criminal Court;
  • Horticulture;
  • Everybody's Column;
  • Paris Fashions; and three pages of small advertisements.

The leading article began, "We commence our political course by a distinct avowal of an unconquerable aversion to the very name of 'Party'...". An engraving across the foot of the last page depicted a crocodile of two hundred men with ILN billboards above their shoulders announcing the advent "of this important publication".


Illustrations of news events had been published in newspapers from time to time before the ILN's advent but not as a regular feature. The Weekly Chronicle, which fostered sensational pictures, went to town in 1837 when Hannah Brown was murdered by James Greenacre, whose trial at Newgate with its many gruesome details provided ample material for engravings in six consecutive issues.

When Queen Victoria aged nineteen was crowned in 1835 The Observer published a somewhat crude engraving of the scene in Westminster Abbey; and two years later when she married Albert, later Prince Consort, the same paper contained a picture which had been engraved by Orrin Smith who later was to work for the ILN.

Those and other sundry illustrations were scanned eagerly by a young man, Herbert Ingram, who sold papers at his shop in Nottingham. Born of poor parents near the Market Place in Boston, Lincolnshire, in May 1811, Ingram subsequently attended the local elementary school and at the age of fourteen became apprenticed to Joseph Clarke, owner of a printing business in Boston.

Young Ingram's apprenticeship ended in 1832, and at the age of twenty-one he journeyed down to London where he worked in the printing trade for about two years, becoming familiar with the contents of the chief newspapers and making contact with many useful people in and about Fleet Street.

In the meantime his mater had married Nathaniel Cooke, with whom in 1834 he set up a partnership in a printing business which also sold newspapers and books at its premises in Chapel Bar, Nottingham. During the next few years Ingram became increasingly aware of the fact that many additional copies of the London newspapers were sold whenever they contained a picture of a topical event. Thousands of extra copies of the Weekly Chronicle were demanded when the public were eager to read all about the Greenacre murder and to see pictures of the accused man, his house at Camberwell and items more sordid.

Ingram dreamed of the day when he could launch his very own newspaper, a paper with plenty of pictures to illustrate the current news, but he knew that a lot of money would be needed for that purpose. Although the business of Ingram and Cooke had become profitable, there was not enough capital to spare for the launching and running of an illustrated newspaper, but the partners had a useful sideline which could be developed. They sold a patent medicine, an early Victorian custom often indulged in by printers. The medicine, Parr's Life Pills, sold by the partners was favoured by thousands of people who bought them in boxes of different sizes costing Is. l1/2d., 2s. 9d., or lls. for a "family box". The printing side of the firm came in useful for supplying the large number of illustrated pamphlets which were given away to advertise the medicine: "The Life and Times of Old Parr who lived to be one hundred and fifty-two years old, with remarks on Health and the means for Prolonging Life, - to be had gratis of all Agents".

One agent wrote, "Please to send me one hundred dozen boxes small, and twenty dozen large as my stock is again low. I perceive my sale since a year ago has been 18,308 boxes". The increase of this business encouraged Ingram and Cooke to operate from London and premises were acquired in Crane Court, Fleet Street, next door to Number Ten, where Palmer and Clayton's had their steam driven printing machine.

Plans for launching the illustrated newspaper were now being organised and Ingram became friendly with a young man named Henry Vizetelly who, with his elder brother, had an engraving and publishing business near to Crane Court. Vizetelly, a wood engraver, was already associated with others who engraved illustrations for books, and he knew many versatile artists including A. Crowquill, Kenny Meadows, "Phiz", and Leech, who were making drawings for Punch, then only recently founded in July 1841.

Based on Ingram's own ideas and Vizetelly's recommendations and suggestions, a million copies of a prospectus for "No. 1 of A NEW WEEKLY JOURNAL" Were printed and distributed to the public in March 1842. "Entitled The ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS, Price Sixpence. Containing Thirty Engravings Every Week of the Most Interesting Events of the Day, in Addition to Forty-Eight Columns of News. Engagements have been made with Artists of Ability in Every Important Town in England and in Paris and other places on the Continent".

To ensure continuity of readership Ingram astutely dangled a free gift before the eyes of the many thousands of people who had been influenced by the prospectus, "To Subscribers who buy The Illustrated London News regularly each week for six months a copy of the splendid Colosseum Print of London will be presented". That Colosseum Print was to be one of Herbert Ingram's most brilliant ideas.

Palmer and Clayton were engaged to print the contents of the ILN at 10 Crane Court, and to publish it at Clayton's newsagent's shop at 320 Strand, on the north side of the church, St. Mary-le-Strand.


Accommodation for the editorial department was made available at No. 10 and, as an editor was needed, Vizetelly introduced an experienced journalist, Frederick William Naylor Bayley (a minor poet, also known as Alphabet or Omnibus Bayley, aged thirty-four and the author of Comic Nursery Tales, A New Tale of a Tub and Little Red Riding Hood. A reviewer wrote of Bayley, "His verse is flowing and easy; rhymes seem to be his natural language, and his stories are evidently dashed off rapidly by a masterhand".

Although Bayley was named as Editor there is no doubt he was only responsible for organising the descriptive text. ( His assistant was John Timbs, author of Curiousities of London ) Vizetelly, under Ingram's direction, was chiefly concerned with the engravings, sad there is some evidence that Ingram's boyhood friend, Mark Lemon, lent a helping hand when he was not too busy editing Punch. No information, however, is available concerning Nathaniel Cooke's activities on the first issue. It may be he stayed up in Nottingham to keep an eye on the Ingram and Cooke premises in that city.

The pictorial heading and title for ILN'S front page had already been chosen by Ingram and engraved -

St. Paul's Cathedral and the multi-flagged barges of the City of London Companies escorting the Lord Mayor's State Barge along the Thames to Westminster Hall.

The engraving was made at Stephen Sly's wood-engraving firm and is signed S. Sly, a signature which frequently appears on ILN wood-blocks.


Immediately after the first announcement of the forthcoming Fancy Dress Ball at Buckingham Palace, Ingram hurried down to the Blackheath home of John Gilbert, a young artist, nearly twenty-five years of age. Gilbert had become adept at drawing pictures direct on to the smooth surface of woodblocks so that an engraver's work could begin immediately. He undertook to work for Ingram and arrangements were made to deliver eight pieces of box-wood to him with various news-cuttings describing the guests who would be attending the Ball and the historic costumes they would wear. The artist, after reading the details, was to use his fertile imagination and with a pencil draw the picture lines on the wood blocks which would then be taken back to London for engraving.

The date of the Ball was Thursday, May 12th, just before the Whitsun weekend, and Ingram realised that John Gilbert's double page of eight pictures of young Queen Victoria as Queen Philippa, escorted by the Prince Consort robed as Edward III and their numerous titled guests all in historic costumes, would make a strong topical feature. He therefore decided that Saturday, May 14th, was the appropriate day for his illustrated newspaper to spring to life.

The paper, on which the ILN was to be printed, had been ordered from Spalding and Hodge of Drury Lane, and they had to deliver it by horse and cart to Somerset House in the Strand where a Revenue official lifted the corner of each sheet and stamped it with the words "NEWSPAPER. ONE PENNY" around a design which included a crown and the ILN's name. The paper then had to be carted back to Crane Court for printing. In addition to the penny tax, the white paper itself was taxed and eighteen pence had to be paid for every advertisement published in a newspaper.

Activity at 10 Crane Court increased. Compositors were setting type, proofs were being read and corrected, engraved woodblocks were accumulating, newspapers were being scanned for the latest happenings at home and abroad, and at long last came Saturday morning, May 14th, a mild day in Spring, temperature seventy, birds singing, omnibuses, hackney cabs, and drays all with horses clip-clopping over the cobble stones of Fleet Street-a wonderful day!

Inside 10 Crane Court the piston-rod of Palmer and Clayton's steam engine heehawed up and down to make a big fly-wheel rotate adjacent to the recess in the wall; governor-balls spun round to control the engine's speed; the engineer looked at the pressure-gauge and shovelled more coal into the boiler's stokehole; the printing machine manipulated its cogs, cranks and rollers, and as the printed sheets came hot off the press they were stacked and loaded quickly onto carts and galloped along Fleet Street, past Fetter Lane, through the old Temple Bar, past St. Clement Danes Church, down The Strand until alongside St. Mary-le-Strand the vehicles pulled up at No. 320 where Joseph Clayton in his paper-shop received the very first batches of the newly born Illustrated London News and sold them in quires to the eager crowd of newsvendors, who hurried off to their own shops in all parts of London and elsewhere.

The sale of the ILN's first issue exceeded 26,000 copies "which might have been doubled could we have anticipated the demand" but they made up for that omission during the next few weeks by reprinting it three times. Subsequent issues remained steady with an average of 24,000 weekly until a second Royal occasion presented itself in September when Queen Victoria went up to Scotland in the Royal Yacht on a fortnight's tour with Prince Albert.

Ebenezer Landells, "our distinguished artist", aged thirty-four, was commissioned by the ILN to record the various incidents of the tour, and no fewer than fifty-six engravings were published in five consecutive issues with the result that sales continued to increase week by week until they reached 66,000 by the end of December, by which time the readers were eagerly awaiting publication of the Colosseum Print of London, as promised in the Prospectus "for all our subscribers of six months".


Herbert Ingram believed that photography, first announced to the world in 1839, could be of use to his illustrated newspaper and he had in mind the publication of the giant view of London photographed from the top of the Duke of York's column, 124 feet high. Official permission was granted for photographs to be taken from its summit and Antoine Claudet, with his daguerreotype camera, climbed the twisting steps inside the monument. At the dizzy top he set up his apparatus and exposed a sequence of views of London, looking north, and another sequence looking south.

After development, the daguerreotype plates of silvery metal were laid side by side in two rows one above the other to make a lay-out of the picture which was to be printed on paper four feet four inches wide and nearly three feet high, but first an artist, C. F. Sargent, using a pencil, had to draw the photographic detail onto the smooth surface of the biggest wood-block ever made. It was composed of sixty pieces of box-wood joined tightly together "without line, speck or flaw" and then sent to Ebenezer Landell's engraving firm where he and his staff of eighteen assistants worked day and night for two months on the largest engraving ever executed.

While it was being completed, the ILN moved into its own premises at 198 Strand, a big shop at the corner of Milford Lane facing St. Clement Danes Church. The ground floor was used as the publishing office, and on the three floors above four rooms accommodated the editorial and advertisement offices and an engraving studio. Two rooms were lived in by the new publisher, William Little, whose sister Ann was engaged to be married to Herbert Ingram.

By the end of the year, the great Colosseum View of London in 1842 had been engraved, stereotyped and printed by Palmer and Clayton at 10 Crane Court, and this famous picture was supplied in company with the ILN issue of 7 January 1843. The print was a huge success and exciting scenes were witnessed at 198 Strand where crowds of newsmen shouted their demands to be served. At one period the staff were so tired that the premises had to be closed while the men rested.


By then The Illustrated London News had been well and truly established as the world's first illustrated newspaper, the forerunner of the French L'lllustration and Le Monde Illustre; Germany's Illustrierte Zeitung; Amsterdam's Hollandsche Illustratie; America's Leslie's Weekly (started by one Harry Carter from Ipswich, Suffolk - he had worked previously for the ILN in charge of engraving for 6 years) and Harper's Weekly; The Graphic; The Sphere, Gleason's Pictorial Drawing -Room Companion (Boston, USA) and scores of other well known weekly and daily picture papers including in recent years Life and Paris Match.

But what of Herbert Ingram himself? Men who worked with him said he was short, broad-shouldered, dark complexioned, untidy and careless of appearance, but with fine intelligent eyes, a genial smile, kind-hearted and generous. If you wished to see him at 198 Strand you had to fight your way step by step through a howling mob of news-boys and men waiting for their supplies of the ILN.

Arriving at the stairs, you went up to the first floor and joined a motley crowd of authors, artists, engravers and personal friends of Ingram. He was full of excellent ideas, determined to carry them through at all costs and would silence objections with a vigorous thump of his fist on the table. His pluck and enthusiasm were infectious and everyone worked with a will to get the paper out in time. Artists and engravers often worked sixteen hours a day, and sometimes thirty-six hours at a stretch with only a few snatches for meals, and an occasional halfhour's rest on the floor.

Other occupants of the editorial room were the Editor, F. W. N. Bayley, a portly figure with long ringlets of black hair, and John Timbs. Very few details are available about Bayley's activities, which were mostly literary no doubt, but he was lucky in having John Timbs as the "working editor", who, busy with scissors and paste, remained oblivious to the noisy buzz of conversation within, and the sound of traffic, people and bells (of St. Clements) outside in the Strand. Timbs had previously been editor of the Mirror and author of the books: Curiosities of London and Year-Book of Facts, and a critic had said of him that "he is a man of nice discernment who knows where to look for good things and to make the best of them".

Bayley disappeared from the scene early in 1846, and Timbs, with three assistants named Carlton, Clyatt and Wade, kept the editorial flag flying until 1852 when Ingram invited Dr. Charles Mackay, ex-editor of the Glasgow Argus and a forceful writer on foreign politics, to take the lead at ILN. He served there until 1859 and was followed by John Lash Latey, already on the staff, who remained responsible chiefly on the literary side of the paper until 1890.

Others who wrote for the ILN in its early days included Peter Cunningham, Douglas Jerrold, Mark Lemon and Shirley Brooks. In addition to John Gilbert, artists included Henry Anelay, Alfred Crowquill, Birket Foster, Harrison Weir, H. G. Hine, Charles Keene, George Cruikshank, John Leech, Hablot K Browne and Kenny Meadows among a host of others whose pictures appeared during the ensuing years.

Wood engravers working for the ILN included Ebenezer Landells (1808-1860), and William Harvey (1796-1866) each having been pupils of the famous Thomas Bewick (173-1828). Landells, artist and engraver, had a large staff of assistants and pupils and the signature "Landells" in small letters appears below many of the engravings. Pictures signed "S. Sly" were engraved by members of Stephen Sly's firm in Bouverie Street, just off Fleet Street. Other engravers included WJ Linton and Orn Smith.

One of the reasons for moving the ILN to 198 Strand was to get accommodation where its own staff engravers could work- "We shall be able to keep our wood engraving department further in advance by the retention of permanent artists ready at a moment's notice for the contingencies of every public event".

Wood for the engravings came from the box tree whose close-grained trunk grew to about seven inches in diameter. Slices sawn across the trunk had the bark removed and were cut into rectangles, the edges squared up and the surface made smooth for the artist's pencil. These blocks, about five inches wide, were then available for engraving.


When an illustration was to occupy a page, or double-page or even a larger space, the small blocks were drilled and channelled underneath for the insertion of brass bolts and nuts which gripped the pieces of wood together "without line, speck or flaw", thus making a printing surface of the size required. If a large illustration had been drawn on the surface of six blocks bolted together, the pieces could be unbolted and distributed to six engravers and when their work was finished the pieces would be bolted up again, thus saving much time.

How did these remarkable craftsmen, the wood engravers, work - The block, which was steadied by the thumb and fingers of the left hand, lay on top of a leather bag filled with sand. During daylight hours, the bag rested on a bench close to a window, but at night, an oil or gas lamp provided illumination. The engraver's head, with a watchmaker's magnifying glass clipped to one eye, would be bent down near to the block while the thumb and fingers of the right hand gently pushed the sharp front edge of the cutting tool - the graver - to shave away narrow slivers of wood so as to leave whites and tints between the darker lines of the picture.

If we look through a magnifying glass at these magnificent wood-cuts, we must marvel at the skill and patience of those wood engravers and regret that such artistic craftsmanship is now almost lost for ever.


Photography, as a direct aid to the wood engraver, began to be used after Scott Archer's collodion process had been.published in 1851. Hitherto, daguerreotypes had been traced and pencilled on the wood-block, but usually the printed results lacked photographic realism. The collodion process yielded a photographic image of an artist's drawing on the surface of the box-wood and thus the engraver could do his work without the delay and expense of having a pencilled drawing made on the wood. Some of the engravings published in the ILN of the Great Exhibition of 1851; and of the Crystal Palace at Sydenham during 1853-54, have a very "photographic" appearance. Photography "on the wood" continued to be used until the end of the 'eighties when the halftone and line processes came into general use for the rapid production of illustrations.

During the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park, circulation figures of the ILN rose to 130,000 a week, and to 200,000 in 1855 when five of its artists were covering the Crimean War. One of them, J. A. Crowe, wrote: "I had a hard day of it when a shell burst in my tent. T got outside in time to see a cannon-shot bowl through the place where I was sitting just before. Artillery fire became too hot for me and I walked to the rear with shells bursting about me for at least ten minutes. I have never had such narrow escapes of life as on that day."

Photographs of Crimean War scenes were taken by Roger Fenton who had a horsedrawn "photographic van" for use as a darkroom and to hold his cameras, glass plates, dishes, chemicals and tanks of water. He photographed over three hundred war scenes and military portraits, and some of them, including the van, were reproduced in the ILN.


Early in the ILN's career, a competitor appeared-the Pictorial Times which started, after witnessing the ILN's rise to fame, in March 1843, with the help of Henry Vizetelly. It lasted for a while until it was bought up by Herbert Ingram who combined its title' with another acquisition of his, the Lady's Newspaper.

Opposition became more serious in 1855, during the Crimean War period, when Vizetelly and a publisher, David Bogue, started the Illustrated Times in June, price threepence, the ILN's price was fivepence. The success of the Illustrated Times met with Ingram's disapproval until in 1859 he bought it for several thousand pounds, with Vizetelly remaining as Editor under its new proprietor who had, since 1856, become Member of Parliament for Boston, Lincolnshire.

With the increased circulation and prosperity of the ILN, expansion of its premises became necessary and 9 Milford Lane, behind and communicating with 198 Strand, was acquired for the installation of the ILN's own printing machinery; and two machines, "with a power to produce nearly four times the present circulation" (over 60,000), were ordered in 1843, to be made by Middleton of Southwark.

At a later date, a "Four-Feeder Vertical Machine" which had been bought for four thousand pounds from Applegarth, came into use and could be seen printing copies of the ILN in the Machinery Section of the Great Exhibition, 1851. The machine was subsequently offered for sale at four hundred pounds when the space it occupied was needed for more modern equipment.

Additional working space was acquired from time to time and by 1860 Milford House, and several other buildings in Milford Lane, were buzzing with machinery and employees coping with the huge demand but, sadly, it was in that year that the founder, Herbert Ingram, died while on a tour in Canada and America. After visiting Montreal and the Niagara Falls, he had gone to Chicago with his eldest son, Herbert, aged fifteen, and on the night of September 7th, 1860 they were among the several hundred passengers on the steamship Lady Elgin, which was touring Lake Michigan. While music and dancing was being enjoyed on board, there was a sudden crash,the ship lurched, rammed on the port side near the paddle wheel by the schooner Augusta, and sank thirty minutes later. Herbert Ingram, aged forty-nine, and his son were among the hundreds drowned. (The Funeral ) A statue to his memory stands near St. Botolph's Church in Boston, Lincolnshire.

His widow, Ann, became sole proprietress of the ILN and her interests were managed by its Printer and Publisher, George C. Leighton, in company with a friend of the family, Mr. Thomas Parry. John Lash Latey continued as Editor, ably supported by Mason Jackson, the Art Editor. Jackson's own experience as an artist and wood engraver enabled him to get the finest results from staff artists and engravers while exciting and important events were taking place during the 'sixties, in particular the American Civil War which broke out when the Confederates shelled Fort Sumter in April 1861. Frank Vizetelly, ILN's special artist and a brother of Henry, contributed a large number of vivid sketches of the bitter four-year conflict between North and South.

Other subjects of outstanding interest were the death of the Prince Consort in December 1861, the International Exhibition of 1862 at South Kensington, and the Marriage of the Prince of Wales to Princess Alexandra of Denmark in March 1863, when the ILN's circulation soared to over three hundred thousand copies.

There was Garibaldi's visit to London in 1864; the completion of the Atlantic Cable in 1866; and the Great International Exhibition in Paris, opened by Emperor Napoleon and the Empress in May 1867, the month and year which completed a quarter of a century's history in pictures recorded in The Illustrated London News which will celebrate its 125th anniversary in May, 1967.

W. H. Smith

[Mr. W. H. Smith began his career in the publishing office of The Illustrated London News at 198 Strand, a week before his thirteenth birthday in 1897. Later, he joined the editorial staff and subsequently became assistant editor and chief of the art department. His interest in the early history started while he was engaged on all-night fire guard duties at ILN's premises during the last war.]

Additional information

  • Not all artists were offered work both Degas and Van Gogh were turned down as "not suitable"
  • Other contributors Robert Louis Stephenson, JM Barrie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Kingsley Amis, Malcolm Bradbury and Alan Sillitoe
  • photographers such as Robert Capa and Bert Hardy
  • Illustrated London News was the first magazine to put out a Christmas Edition in 1848

Below is...


Extract from The Oxford Book of National Biography – September 2004

Ingram, Herbert (1811-1860), newspaper proprietor and politician, was the son of Herbert Ingram (b. 1776), butcher, and his wife, Jane, née Wedd (bap. 1787), and was born on 27 May 1811 at Paddock Grove, Boston, Lincolnshire. His father having died before Herbert was a year old, his mother was left to provide for him and his elder sister, Harriet, by her own industry, and he learned at first hand the deprivations suffered by the poor and disadvantaged. After attending Boston's charity school and the national school, he was apprenticed to the printer Joseph Clarke, Market Place, Boston. From 1832, having higher aims than to remain a provincial printer, he worked in London for two years as a journeyman, then about 1834 he set up in Nottingham as printer, newsagent, and bookseller in partnership with Nathaniel Cooke (1810–1879). Cooke married Ingram's sister, Harriet, on 31 December 1835.

Ambitious to make money fast, Ingram became an agent for aperient pills, which made good profits. By some mutually advantageous arrangement with Manchester druggist and businessman T. Roberts, he became the sole distributor of Parr's Life Pills, said to have been concocted by Shropshire man Thomas Parr (d. 1635, aged 152), who attributed his longevity to the regular taking of his pill. Ingram printed a fictitious ‘history’ of Old Parr, with accounts of supposed incidents in his life, and engaged the engraver Henry Richard Vizetelly (1820–1895) to concoct a portrait of Old Parr, which Ingram then fraudulently attributed to Rubens. Many thousands of the booklet were sold—and of the pills!

Increasing profits encouraged Ingram in his ambition to found a newspaper. Some of his customers were always eager for London news; he also noticed the interest aroused when he displayed sketches and caricatures in his shop window, and that a newspaper sold well when it contained a picture or reported a shocking crime. These observations led him to plan an illustrated paper devoted mainly to such subjects. Accordingly, the partners moved to London and rented premises in Crane Court, where the Illustrated London News was first printed. On the advice of some of his more experienced London friends, Ingram, reluctantly at first, agreed that the paper should be of a higher tone. Frederick William Naylor Bayley (1808-1852), the paper's first editor, set this tone in his article on the front page of the first issue on 14 May 1842. The paper, wrote Bayley, would:
associate its principle with a purity of tone that may secure and hold fast for our journal the fearless patronage of families; to seek in all things to uphold the cause of public morality, … and to withhold from society no point that its literature can furnish or its art adorn. (Bailey, 211)
Such principles immediately set it apart from all other journals: its impact was explosive and changed the character of printed news for all time. Huge profits accrued and Ingram enjoyed the wealth and influence for which he had always hoped. Soon, larger premises at 198 Strand were acquired.

Writers and artists of the highest order were engaged. Innovative devices were introduced, featuring special places and events: fold-outs, supplements, and commemorative numbers, for example. At the time of the Great Exhibition of 1851, with some issues printed in continental languages, weekly circulation topped 200,000 and copies reached all parts of the civilized world. The Illustrated London News organization also launched many other journals, and several series of high-class and educational books. Competitive papers soon appeared; some survived but the Illustrated London News remained supreme.

In 1846 Ingram regained Swineshead Abbey, Lincolnshire, a ‘lost’ early seat of the family, which it had been one of his youthful ambitions to win back. In 1848 he acquired his own paper mills near Rickmansworth. Generous with his wealth and time, he endowed a school and a church, and served as magistrate in Hertford. In 1859 he got Brunel's ship the Great Eastern completed and launched after insuperable difficulties had ruined its builders and the strain of which had led to the death of its designer.

Ingram also campaigned for, and put money into, Boston's waterworks (opened 1849) and railway schemes (1850–59), and became its Liberal MP in 1856, serving until his death. Had he lived, he would have supported, with his influence and money, plans for radical improvement of the port and sea channel.

In the 1850s Nathaniel Cooke and William Little became disillusioned with their roles within the business, and Cooke left about 1854—in Little's view ‘degraded and ruined by Ingram’. William Little (1816–1884), who, as well as being a highly trained chemist, had considerable skills with machinery, was printer and publisher of the paper for its first fifteen years. He was able on occasion to modify the machines to increase their rates of production, and he had also at one time lent Ingram £10,000 (the repayment of which Ingram continually postponed). Little thus contributed considerably to the success of the paper. Strangely, however, his name has never been mentioned in any histories of the Illustrated London News beyond the fact that he printed and published it.

In 1857 Little became aware of Ingram's sexual harassment, on a number of occasions, of Emma Little (née Godson), the wife of Charles Henry Little, and thus his own—and Ingram's—sister-in-law. In order that the matter should not become public and bring ruin upon all, the Little family agreed that an apology from Ingram would be sufficient and the matter would be at an end. The apology was made, but Ingram, resentful of being considered blameworthy in the matter, made William Little's position in the organization more and more intolerable, to the extent of physically assaulting him in the office. Rather than risk their disagreements becoming public knowledge, Little ceased his connection with the paper in January 1858. Serious embarrassment was thus avoided, the details of the causes of their breakup coming to light only in the late 1990s. It is doubtful whether Little's loan to Ingram was ever repaid. In 1862 Little settled in Heckington, Lincolnshire, the birthplace of his wife, to follow his family's traditional occupation of farming, and he became world famous for his innovative sheep dip and other agricultural improvements.

In the 1850s John Sadleir, MP for Sligo, had used Ingram's name when setting up fraudulent companies. His perfidy discovered, Sadleir committed suicide on 16 February 1856, and documents were later found among his papers that enabled Vincent Scully, former MP for Sligo, to sue Ingram for recovery of some losses incurred by him owing to Sadleir's frauds. Though the verdict went against Ingram, both judge and jury agreed that Ingram's honour was unsullied.

These events so depressed Ingram that he decided to take a holiday, and on 8 August 1860 he and his eldest son (Herbert), aged fifteen, went to America. In Chicago he changed his original plan and took a passage on the steamer Lady Elgin. During a storm on Lake Michigan on the night of 8 September the vessel was sunk by a schooner. Of the 393 people on board only 98 were saved. Young Herbert's body was never found, but Ingram's was washed ashore and was brought back to England and buried on 5 October in the cemetery at Boston, where his wife and daughter, Harriet, also lie. Ingram left his entire property to his wife. A statue of Ingram was later erected in Boston's Market Place, and two lifeboats for the Lincolnshire coast were subscribed for in his memory, named after him, and presented by his wife.

On 4 July 1843 he had married William Little's sister, Ann Little (1812–1896) of Eye, Northamptonshire, and they had ten children, several being either born or baptized at Swineshead. After Ingram's death, his friend, railwayman and MP Sir Edward William Watkin (1819-1901), gratuitously managed the business until Ingram's sons William and Charles were old enough to do so. William (1847–1924), who was created baronet in 1893, served as Liberal MP for Boston three times between 1874 and 1895. His son, Bruce (1877–1963), who was knighted in 1950, succeeded him in 1900 as proprietor of the Illustrated London News until his death. The last Ingram to run the paper was Hugh (1910–1994).

Herbert Ingram's youngest son, Walter Ingram (1855-1888), born on 21 November 1855, was a military man and was killed by an elephant while on a hunting expedition in Africa, on 6 April 1888—an accident supposedly foretold by an inscription found inside an Egyptian mummy when he unwound its wrappings. One of Ingram's daughters, Emmeline Paxton Ingram (1851–1937), married Watkin's nephew, Edgar Watkin (1860–1908); their only son was Edward Ingram Watkin. Another dynastic tie was made in 1892 when Sir Edward William Watkin married Ann Ingram, his friend's widow, in spite of great opposition from their families. Ann Watkin died on 25 May 1896.

Isabel Bailey
I. Bailey, Herbert Ingram esq., M.P.: founder of ‘The Illustrated London News’, 1842 (1996) • private information (2004) • DNB • ILN (16 May 1942) • ILN (1992) • ILN (14 May 1842) • ILN (21 May 1853), 401 • ILN (25 July 1857), 94 • ILN (13 June 1857), 578–81 • ILN (20 June 1857), 603 • ILN (13 Aug 1859), 160 • ILN (17 Sept 1859), 280–81 • ILN (29 Sept 1860), 285 • ILN (11 Oct 1862), 382–3 • Stamford Mercury (10 Oct 1845) • Stamford Mercury (14 July 1849) • White's 1856 Directory of Lincolnshire, 291 • A. Cartwright and S. Walker, Boston, a railway town (1987) • Mid-Victorian Sleaford, 1851–1871, Lincolnshire History Series, no. 4 (1981) • Boston poll book (1859) • BL cat. • The Times (10 Feb 1856) • The Times (18 Feb 1856) • The Times (10 March 1856) • The Times (28 Dec 1883) • The Times (11 April 1888) • H. Herd, The march of journalism (1952), 154, 155, 158, 159, 164, 165, 208–13 • H. Vizetelly, Glances back through seventy years: autobiographical and other reminiscences, 1 (1893), 221–59, 423–7 • The Globe [Toronto] (12 Sept 1860) • Knight, Frank and Rutley (auctioneers), conditions of sale relating to Ingram properties in and around Boston, 1912 • Sleaford News (1889) • Boston Guardian (13 April 1859), 2 • C. Kingsley, Alton Locke (1890), 171–2 • Nottingham Guardian (21 May 1927) • C. J. Courtney Lewis, The story of picture printing in England during the nineteenth century [1928] • Hansard 3 [reports of Ingram's speeches in the House of Commons] • CGPLA Eng. & Wales (1889)
priv. coll., letters and notes
Baxter, portrait, c.1841, priv. coll. • J. Hogg?, wood-engraving, 1841 (after daguerreotype), repro. in ILN (14 May 1949) • A. Munro, marble statue, 1862, Market Place, Boston, Lincolnshire • bust, c.1890, parish church, St Botolph's, Boston, Lincolnshire • portrait, 1900, repro. in Boston Society (1900), 11 • portrait, 1992 (after woodcut), repro. in Bailey, ‘Herbert Ingram’ • Smyth, wood-engraving (after photograph by J. Watkins), BM, NPG; repro. in ILN (6 Oct 1860) • R. Taylor and Co., wood-engraving, BM; repro. in ILN (14 May 1892) • J. Watkins?, portrait, repro. in Nottingham Evening Post (5 May 1992) • print, NPG; repro. in Illustrated Family Paper (27 June 1857)

Wealth at Death
under £90,000: probate, 15 March 1861, CGPLA Eng. & Wales • £1405 18s. 2d.—Walter Ingram: probate, 4 March 1889, CGPLA Eng. & Wales
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Isabel Bailey, ‘Ingram, Herbert (1811-1860)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [accessed 29 Sept 2004: http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/14416]