Chairman of The Loyal Company of Town Criers
A Short History of Town Criers.
As long as there has been news to share, there have been messengers to deliver it and Town Criers were the original 'newsmen' finding their origins in the early Greek Empire as Spartan Runners.
The first criers in Britain are thought to have made their first appearance in 1066 when news of William of Normandy's invasion was passed from town to town by men employed to remind everybody of Harold's authority by individuals specifically employed to call out the King's proclamation.
As the literacy of Britain's population remained low well into the late 19th century, people came to rely on criers as a useful way of hearing about proclamations, edicts, laws and news as books and newspapers were generally only accessible to a small percentage of the English population.
Proclamations, edicts, laws and news may well have been written on paper, but they were usually passed on to the general public by the Town Crier - the first (talking) newspaper.
Oyez, Oyez, Oyez (roughly translated as "Hark" or "Listen")became a familiar call in town squares, markets and public meeting places all over Britain, a summons for the townspeople to gather and listen to news of plague, victories in far off lands, royal births and deaths by execution.
The Town Crier would read a proclamation, usually at the door of the local inn, then nail it to the doorpost of the inn. The result of this tradition has been the naming of newspapers as "The Post", the expression "posting a notice", the "post office" and "posting a message" on the Internet.
Their position became so important that harming a Town Crier was turned into a treasonable offence and even in the 21st Century, these ancient laws are supposed to guard them against heckling.
As literacy spread, the Town Crier's role was eventually superceded by newspapers and modern media, but there are lots of Towns that still retain the service of it's Town Crier to enhance the traditional character of their Town and promote tourism.