As the Port Phillip Herald, this newspaper commenced publication on 3 January 1840 with George Cavenagh as proprietor. It became the Melbourne Morning Herald and General Daily Advertiser on 31 December 1852, when the proprietorship was extended to include Thomas a'Beckett, Archibald Michie and John Forbes. The editor, Frederick Sinnett, replaced Cavenagh as a joint proprietor on 28 November 1853.
The following year, the Weekly Herald was founded, continuing until 1863. The daily paper's title was shortened on 6 September 1856, after which it continued publication under various proprietors, becoming an evening paper in 1868. It began its still-circulating town and country paper, the Weekly Times, on 11 September 1869 and incorporated the Evening Standard (founded 1889) on 1 November 1894.
Businessman Theodore Fink bought shares in the Herald & Sportsman Newspapers Co. in 1889, eventually becoming chairman of directors. In 1921 Keith Murdoch was appointed chief editor and, in 1928, managing editor and director. The Sun News-Pictorial and the Sporting Globe were founded in 1922 and 3DB Radio was acquired in 1929. After Fink's death in 1942 Murdoch became chairman.
In 1987 News Limited, headed by Keith Murdoch's son Rupert, took over the Herald & Weekly Times Ltd. Popular for many years as an evening paper, the Herald was affected by the availability of the day's news on television as well as the declining use of public transport. In 1990 the Herald and the Sun-News Pictorial merged to become the morning Herald Sun, a tabloid.