The Manchester Gazette was founded by William Cowdroy in 1795. William and his four sons were responsible for writing and printing the newspaper. Although it was considered to be of poor quality, it was purchased because it was the only non-Tory paper in Manchester.
When William Cowdroy died in 1814, his eldest son, also called William, became the new editor. With sales of only 250, the new editor decided to improve the quality of the newspaper by encouraging members of the political reform group that met at John Potter's house, to contribute articles. John Edward Taylor, Archibald Prentice and John Shuttleworth all contributed regular articles and by 1819 the Manchester Gazette was selling over 1,000 copies a week.
The arrival of the Manchester Guardian in 1821 meant that Cowdroy lost all his best writers. Sales went into decline and when William Cowdray died in 1822, his wife decided to sell the newspaper. However, it was not until 1824 that Archibald Prentice, with the help of Richard Potter and John Shuttleworth, was able to raise the £1,600 needed to buy the newspaper. As editor, Prentice was determined to make the Manchester Gazette a much more radical newspaper.