1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/L'Estrange, Sir Roger

L’ESTRANGE, SIR ROGER (1616–1704), English pamphleteer on the royalist and court side during the Restoration epoch, but principally remarkable as the first English man of letters of any distinction who made journalism a profession, was born at Hunstanton in Norfolk on the 17th of December 1616. In 1644, during the civil war, he headed a conspiracy to seize the town of Lynn for the king, under circumstances which led to his being condemned to death as a spy. The sentence, however, was not executed, and after four years’ imprisonment in Newgate he escaped to the Continent. He was excluded from the Act of Indemnity, but in 1653 was pardoned by Cromwell upon his personal solicitation, and lived quietly until the Restoration, when after some delay his services and sufferings were acknowledged by his appointment as licenser of the press. This office was administered by him in the spirit which might be expected from a zealous cavalier. He made himself notorious, not merely by the severity of his literary censorship, but by his vigilance in the suppression of clandestine printing. In 1663 (see Newspapers) he commenced the publication of the Public Intelligencer and the News, from which eventually developed the famous official paper the London Gazette in 1665. In 1679 he again became prominent with the Observator, a journal specially designed to vindicate the court from the charge of a secret inclination to popery. He discredited the Popish Plot, and the suspicion he thus incurred was increased by the conversion of his daughter to Roman Catholicism, but there seems no reason to question the sincerity of his own attachment to the Church of England. In 1687 he gave a further proof of independence by discontinuing the Observator from his unwillingness to advocate James II.’s Edict of Toleration, although he had previously gone all lengths in support of the measures of the court. The Revolution cost him his office as licenser, and the remainder of his life was spent in obscurity. He died in 1704. It is to L’Estrange’s credit that among the agitations of a busy political life he should have found time for much purely literary work as a translator of Josephus, Cicero, Seneca, Quevedo and other standard authors.