Oyez, Oyez! Meet Newquay's Town Crier

Edited by: Keith Riley

Submitted: 20th October 2006

Up until the late 19th century, illiteracy was still rampant. Town Criers cried the news to all and sundry, and then would nail the paper it was written on to a post in front of an inn. Today, many cities and towns are reviving the position of Town Crier as a visible link to the past.

david bradshaw - newquay's town crier

newquay's town crier

The Newquay Town Crier

"Why is that man dressed up funny and yelling at people?" David Bradshaw's job is to promote Newquay and your establishment for any occasion or proclamation including birthdays, anniversaries, weddings and promotions. In fact anything to get David Bradshaw out and about in public to promote our town.

So when you hear the bell ring, and hear the ancient call of, "Oyez Oyez Oyez!" pay attention. The Town Crier just may have something to say! "Oyez" is an old Anglo-Saxon word meaning "Listen". For any enquiry you can contact David Bradshaw by calling 07877 870359 or email him at: newquaytowncrier@btinternet.com.

History of Town Criers

Town Criers, by other names, can date themselves back to ancient Greek and Roman times. In those days, criers would tell the news and local events in the marketplace.

In England, the first recorded use of Town Criers was the battle of Hastings in 1066, when William the Conqueror had men go out to announce his victory in all the towns.

In medieval times, it was not unusual for most people to be illiterate. Nobility had their personal heralds, who announced proclamations and laws and had the special task of memorizing all the coats of arms of everyone in the kingdom, so that they could tell who was present just by looking at their shields.

Up until the late 19th century, illiteracy was still rampant. Town Criers cried the news to all and sundry, and then would nail the paper it was written on to a post in front of an inn so those that were able to read could read it for themselves (hence the term, "to post a notice"). Town Cries, as heralds were before them, were considered to be sacrosanct. An assault on a Town Crier was regarded as a treasonous act, as the Crier spoke with the voice of the King.

The daily newspaper was the beginning of the end of Town Criers as a necessary position. The positions were eliminated by attrition over the first few decades of the 20th century.

Today, many cities and towns are reviving the position of Town Crier as a visible link to the past. The uniform is usually late 18th or early 19th century, although some wear uniforms from well outside that period. Today's Criers work from the cities and towns that appoint them, and often hire themselves out for private functions as well.