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MOTT, JACOB S., printer, publisher, office holder, bookseller, and stationer; b. c. 1772 on Long Island, N.Y., son of John Mott; d. 7 Jan. 1814 in Saint John, N.B.

Jacob S. Mott was a member of the printing fraternity both by family and by profession, and all the records that survive about him relate to that trade. His father was a printer, and in 1780 his sister Amelia married John Ryan*, who was to be Jacob’s immediate predecessor as king’s printer of New Brunswick. Before and during the American revolution Mott and his parents were resident on Long Island, a stronghold of loyalism. Although he has been called a loyalist, Jacob was only about 11 when his parents joined the exodus to Nova Scotia in 1783. In the event, Mrs Mott took one look at Parrtown (Saint John) and declared that she would “never live in such a god-forsaken place.” The family immediately returned to New York, where Jacob learned the printing trade. He subsequently published in New York City Mott and Hurtins New-York Weekly Chronicle (1 Jan.–16 April 1795), in partnership with William Hurtin Jr, and Youths News Paper (30 Sept.–4 Nov. 1797). The latter publication was innovative in that it surveyed the news for younger readers. In 1795 Mott married Ann Hinton of New York.

Mott returned to Saint John in 1798, as a local commentator mysteriously notes, “consequent on the yellow fever.” He registered as a freeman of the city with the trade of printer on 4 May 1799. Earlier that year he had purchased from his brother-in-law the Saint John Gazette, and Weekly Advertiser upon Ryan’s appointment as king’s printer and his acquisition from Christopher Sower* of the Royal Gazette and the New Brunswick Advertiser. The pattern was repeated in 1808 when Mott took over the Royal Gazette from Ryan and on 5 March himself became king’s printer, a position he held until his death in 1814 “after a short illness.” His wife attempted to continue publication of the Royal Gazette, at first leaving Jacob’s name on the mast-head, then listing “Ann Mott & Son” as publishers, and finally using her name alone. She was denied appointment as king’s printer because of her sex (George Kilman Lugrin* obtained the position) and subsequently dropped the word “Royal” from the newspaper’s name. In spite of an appeal for public support – “as their smiles will in this instance tend to relieve the necessities of the Widow, and to foster the industry of the fatherless, she feels a just confidence that these considerations will not lessen her claim to the public favour” – she had to discontinue publication in 1815. She returned to New York, where she died in Brooklyn on 17 July 1861.

Jacob Mott had at least two sons. The elder, Gabriel F. Mott, also trained as a printer. After assisting his mother briefly in 1814, he joined his uncle in St John’s, Nfld, where Ryan was publishing the Royal Gazette and Newfoundland Advertiser. Gabriel returned to the United States and established a newspaper, the Blakeley Sun, and Alabama Advertiser, in Alabama Territory in 1818. The younger son, William Hinton Mott, returned with his mother to New York.

In his printing shop on Prince William Street Jacob Mott established the first book and stationery store in Saint John. Although his contribution to journalism in New Brunswick was relatively modest, he initiated the career of the influential Henry Chubb*, who was apprenticed to him as a printer. For the most part Mott carried on the custom of reprinting large chunks of news from foreign newspapers along with official notices and advertisements. Before becoming king’s printer, however, he had allowed occasional criticism of government to appear in the Saint John Gazette. He thus belongs to the independent tradition established by Ryan, and carried on by Chubb and the apprentices trained in the offices of his New Brunswick Courier over a number of years.

Jo-Ann Carr Fellows

[There are no private papers extant. A few of Mott’s accounts with the province for the period 1804–14 are in PANB, RG 4, RS24. A mortgage is on file at the Saint John Registry Office (Saint John, N.B.), Libro Kl: 63. There is a letter from Mott to Edward Winslow, dated 28 Jan. 1811, in UNBL. MG H2.  j.-a.c.f.]

Saint John Regional Library (Saint John), “Ward scrapbook of early printers and newspapers of New Brunswick and their times,” vol.3 (mfm. at PANB). Royal Gazette and New Brunswick Advertiser (Saint John), 1808–14. Saint John Gazette (Saint John), 1799–1806. C. S. Brigham, History and bibliography of American newspapers, 1690–1820 (2v., Worcester, Mass., 1947). J. R. Harper, Historical directory of New Brunswick newspapers and periodicals (Fredericton, 1961). Tremaine, Biblio. of Canadian imprints. D. R. Jack, “Early journalism in New Brunswick,” Acadiensis (Saint John), 8 (1908): 250–65.

General Bibliography

Cite This Article

Jo-Ann Carr Fellows, “MOTT, JACOB S,” in Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5, University of Toronto/Université Laval, 2003–, accessed June 10, 2023, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/mott_jacob_s_5E.html.

The citation above shows the format for footnotes and endnotes according to the Chicago manual of style (16th edition). Information to be used in other citation formats:

Permalink:   http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/mott_jacob_s_5E.html
Author of Article:   Jo-Ann Carr Fellows
Title of Article:   MOTT, JACOB S
Publication Name:   Dictionary of Canadian Biography, vol. 5
Publisher:   University of Toronto/Université Laval
Year of publication:   1983
Year of revision:   1983
Access Date:   June 10, 2023