The Freeman's Journal was established in June 1850 by Archdeacon John McEncroe as a Catholic newspaper. For much of its life, the Freeman's Journal espoused liberal and non-sectarian views, though it tended to focus mainly on Church and Irish news, rather than on day to day events and political news.
Whilst it was not an official Church newspaper, the Freeman's Journal nevertheless generally supported the official Church line, the exception being during its initial period, when under the editorship of D'Arcy, Moore and then Heydon, it was deeply embroiled in Church politics.
Despite the intentions of its founder, the Freeman's Journal did not always remain aloof from political controversy either. In the later 1860s, under the editorship of radical Irish nationalist Richard O'Sullivan, its strongly sectarian position alienated Catholics and Protestants alike, and following the attempted assassination of H. R. H. Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, in Sydney in 1868, it was targeted by the New South Wales Government for its supposed disloyalty. However, its fortunes were restored during Thomas Butler's editorship, when the newspaper returned to a less sectarian, liberal position, and enjoyed a lengthy period of stability and prosperity.
Following Butler's departure, the Freeman's Journal developed political affiliations with the emerging Labor Party. Throughout its life, the Freeman's Journal remained a consistent advocate and supporter of Catholic education.
The Freeman's Journal's successor, the Catholic Weekly notes that the Journal 'was able to draw on the best minds of the day to become an eminently intelligent source, one that was never out of touch with what was happening in the local community. One of its greatest achievements was its work for Catholic education and its tireless (although unsuccessful in its time) crusade against unfair discrimination of denominational schools.' (www.catholicweekly.com.au/)
The Freeman's Journal reproduces an article from the Dublin Nation detailing the Freeman's prosecution at the hands of Premier and Attorney-General James Martin. The Irish paper concludes: 'But, however the case may go, whether the Journal escapes its present danger or perishes beneath the tyranny of an insolent and stupid official, we can promise the objects of this shameful attack the good wishes of their countrymen at home, and the sympathy of the lovers of independence throughout the world'.
The Freeman's Journal advises readers that, due to the recent change in the make-up of the New South Wales government, the prosecution of the newspaper has been put back to February 1869. (The case was due to be heard in the Supreme Court on 3 November 1868.)
A short report on a meeting of the Bathurst 'friends and supporters of the Freeman's Journal' at which it was agreed that the sum of £50 be forwarded to the newspaper's proprietors 'to assist them in defending the case at present pending in the Supreme Court at the instance of the late Attorney-General'.
An advertisement advising that Freeman's Journal 'is filed and may be seen, free of charge, at Holloway's, 533, Oxford-street, W. C., (late of 224, Strand) London, where advertisements and subscriptions may be received'.
'Irish-Catholic news and intelligence, original and selected articles on religious and general topics, selected poetry.'
Source: Australian Periodicals With Literary Content, 1821-1925. (2003).
'The Freeman's Journal, was printed on an old hand-turned "mangle" in the gallery of St Mary's Seminary, in a building adjacent to the first St Mary's Cathedral.'
Source: www.catholicweekly.com.au/ (Sighted 11/11/2009).