The paper was founded by John Bell. According to historian Robert Darnton, The Morning Post scandal sheet consisted of paragraph-long news snippets, much of it false. Its original editor, the Reverend Sir Henry Bate Dudley, earned himself nicknames such as "Reverend Bruiser" or "The Fighting Parson", and was soon replaced by an even more vitriolic editor, Reverend William Jackson, also known as "Dr. Viper".
Originally a Whig paper, it was purchased by Daniel Stuart in 1795, who made it into a moderate Tory organ. A number of well-known writers contributed, including Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Charles Lamb, James Mackintosh, Robert Southey, and William Wordsworth. In the seven years of Stuart's proprietorship, the paper's circulation rose from 350 to over 4,000.
Later the paper was acquired by a Lancashire papermaker named Crompton. In 1848 he hired Peter Borthwick, a Scot who had been a Conservative MP for Evesham (1835-1847), as editor. When Peter died in 1852, his son Algernon took over. During the 1850s, the Post was very closely associated with the Palmerston ministry.
With the aid of Andrew Montagu, Borthwick purchased the Post in 1876. His son Oliver (1873-1905) was business manager and editor, but died young, and upon the father's death in 1908 control went to his daughter Lilias Borthwick (1871-1965), wife of Seymour Henry Bathurst, 7th Earl Bathurst (1864-1943). In 1881, the paper appointed the first woman war correspondent when it sent Lady Florence Dixie to South Africa to cover the First Boer War.
The paper was noted for its attentions to the activities of the powerful and wealthy, its interest in foreign affairs, and in literary and artistic events. It began regular printing of notices of plays, concerts, and operas in the early 20th century, and is said to have been the first daily paper in London to do this.Arthur Hervey (1855-1922) was the paper's music critic between 1892 and 1908.
Maurice Baring was a foreign correspondent for the paper, reporting from Manchuria, Russia and Constantinople between 1904 and 1909. He was war correspondent with Russian forces during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905). Also, Harold Williams started to write from Russia.
Howell Arthur Gwynne took over as editor in 1911.
The paper invited the ire of the Liberals in 1919 when it organised a collection for a purse of £18,000 to be presented to Reginald Dyer, the general of the Amritsar massacre, for his services to the British Empire on his return to Britain.
The paper gained notoriety in 1920 when it ran a series of 17 or 18 articles based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, text previously published in Russian by Sergei Nilus as the last chapter, Chapter XII, of Velikoe v malom... (The Great in the Small: The Coming of the Anti-Christ and the Rule of Satan on Earth). It is still widely held that Victor E. Marsden, the paper's Russian desk correspondent, used the copy of this rare book retained by the British Museum to translate this last chapter for the paper. Some have questioned this because the anonymous 1923 publication crediting Marsden as the translator in the pamphlet's preface occurred three years after Marsden's death on October 28, 1920.
These articles were subsequently collected and formed the basis of the book The Cause of World Unrest, to which half the paper's staff contributed, mainly George Shanks as well as Nesta H. Webster. However, credit for the compilation was given principally to the paper's editor, Gwynne. The book further denounced international Jewry and cultural and social dissolution among the Christian Nations.
The Bathursts sold the paper to a consortium headed by the Duke of Northumberland in 1924. In 1937, the Morning Post was sold to the Daily Telegraph, which was owned by William Berry. The Post did not remain a separate title, and it was absorbed into the Telegraph.