Richard Cable was an Antiguan who had adopted the Methodist faith and later moved to St. Kitts with his family. Cable was a prominent member of the board of Trustees of the Methodist church but his sons made different choices. Richard’s grandson, Timothy, kept up the allegiance to the Methodist church. He was married and his children were baptized at the Wesley Chapel.
Cable started the St. Christopher Advertiser and Weekly intelligencer around 1782. It was a weekly publication with its printing office on Fort Street. It was the second newspaper in St. Kitts, the first one being The St. Christopher Gazette owned by the Howe family. Both followed a similar format. The paper consisted of a large sheet folded in half giving four pages. Pages one and four were taken up by advertising. Page two often contained report and often articles from other newspapers in the region or further afield. The editorial occupied page three. Like all colonial newspapers, The Advertiser operated on the margins of profitability but its longevity is a testament to the commitment of the Cable family to their skill.
They emerged as a printing dynasty that lasted till 1915. The paper was continued by Richard’s son also called Richard till he died in a fire at his home. His brother Samuel, then took over till his death in 1839. Their sister Elizabeth continued the work alongside her nephews and other employees till the 1870s. Her great nephew, Richard then took over in 1877 and continued the publication of the Advertiser on a weekly basis but he also started the Daily Express in 1884.
The Cables were part of the free coloured class in St. Kitts. They employed enslaved labour both in their households and in their printing office. Like other free coloureds in the pre-emancipation era they suffered discrimination and though wealthier and better educated then some members of the white community they could not hold public office, vote in elections, serve on juries or prosecute cases against whites unless they could produce white witnesses.
Newspapers owned by free coloureds were rare in the late 18th century through out the Caribbean. The Jamaican Watchman was under the control of Edward Jordon and Robert Osborne, The Weekly Register was founded in Antigua by Henry Loving in 1814 and the Grenada Chronicle was owned and edited by William Baker from 1826. The newspapers adopted varying political opinions. The Register and The Watchman were outspoken opponents of enslavement, and discrimination against free coloureds and their editors were physically attacked by the whites in their communities. The Chronicle opposed Abolition. The Advertiser adopted a less committed stance until 1835 when Samuel Cable questioned the fitness of planters to stand in judgment in cases between the apprentices and their planter employers. He was found to be in contempt of court and sentenced to three months in jail and a fine of £300 but was later released through the intervention of the governor. Samuel Cable can be viewed at a pioneer of the freedom of the press in St. Kitts.
Over the 19th century a number of newssheets appeared often expressing specific interest but they lacked longevity. Even the newspapers that appeared in the 20th century have yet to show the staying power of The Advertiser.