Australia's third oldest regional newspaper (after the Geelong Advertiser (1840) and the Launceston Examiner (1842)), the Maitland Mercury began publication as a weekly newspaper on 7 January 1843. Maitland already had an established newspaper, The Hunter River Gazette, when Richard Jones, editor, and Thomas William Tucker, business manager, bookkeeper and reporter, and three other colleagues created The Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser. Part of the success of the newspaper is attributed to the political turmoil of the time which helped to sustain it in that first year, as well as the declaration that its political opinions were 'liberal' and that it would deal temperately with political issues.
The Maitland Mercury was not considered just a local paper but carried reports from all over Australia. It featured news from many parts of the colony from Fremantle, to Hobart, to Moreton Bay, with correspondents scattered right across the country. It also carried news from New Zealand and overseas, which was critical to the financial survival of the newspaper. In 1846 the Maitland Mercury altered its layout from the once weekly, four page, five column format, to the bi-weekly, four page, six column format and reduced the price of each issue to 4½ pence. One of the features of the paper was the passenger lists for shipping arrivals and departures in Sydney and other ports.
On the 28 March 1846, Richard Jones became sole proprietor of the newspaper. Tucker and his wife Martha opened a bookselling and stationary business in Sydney, however it failed and Tucker returned to the Mercury as a reporter in the early 1850s. Ill-health influenced Jones to leave Maitland and on 1st October 1854, he sold the newspaper to three of his employees, Thomas Tucker, Richard Cracknell and Alexander Falls. On 1 April 1856, the Mercury became a tri-weekly paper, and then a daily in 1894.