James Gordon Bennett, Senior, was born at Enzie in 1792, son of a
poor crofter and, while still an infant, his family moved to Newmill
James was educated at school in Newmill by teacher, Donald
Cameron, and at Keith by the Rev. John Murdoch and was an able
scholar. Upon finishing his education, he went to a Seminary in
Aberdeen, then continued his studies in Spain. It was there he
decided that he did not have a vocation for the priesthood.
James returned to Newmill and started work in Keith with
Robert Stronach, a haberdasher. Later he went into business with
his uncle, Cosmo Reid, in Aberdeen and this lasted for a number of years.
In 1819, along with his friend James Wilson from Keith, he
decided to emigrate and, with only five pounds in his pocket, left for
Halifax, Nova Scotia. He had some knowledge of Spanish, French
and bookkeeping and so managed to support himself for a time. He
moved to Boston in 1820 and there found employment as a proof
reader, bookseller and translator. In 1823 he moved to New York
and drifted into a variety of jobs, including freelance writer and
editorial assistant on a newspaper. Finally he had found his forte and
entered the newspaper business.
Spurred on with this type of work, he set up his own
newspaper ‘The New York Herald’ in 1835. Initially he was editor,
publisher and vendor. The paper recorded interesting and risqué
facts in a brief form; it had no political allegiance and cost only one
cent! He was the first to introduce the cash-in-advance method for
advertising, which became the standard procedure for the industry.
‘The New York Herald’ was an instant success.
He had always contributed towards the welfare of his family
back home and, on one occasion, was able to visit them in Newmill
and Keith. It was noted that James helped and supported anyone
from Banffshire he met in America.
He erected a gravestone in memory of his parents in the old
cemetery in Keith and his daughter Jeannette (Mrs Isaac Bell) was
later interred in the same grave.
James Gordon Bennett, Senior, died on 2nd June 1872, a self-made
millionaire from Newmill, Keith.