Excerpts from 1738 Belfast News Letters

News Letter 275

News Letter 275

The News Letter this week again reproduces reports from 1738.

In October, we published excerpts from our earliest surviving paper, which is in Belfast’s Linen Hall Library.

There are two surviving editions from October 1738 ­— the oldest existing copies of the world’s oldest English language daily newspaper.

The newspaper that we are reproducing this week is the third surviving News Letter, from December 12 1738 (December 23 in the modern calendar — which makes it 275 years old today). The News Letter was founded in September 1737. No editions survive from that year.

The reports reproduced this week come from home and abroad, starting with today’s extraordinary story about the robbery of a priest in what would now be the Republic of Ireland.

Protestant man helps priest foil armed robbery

We hear, by Letters from Rosscrea, that a Fellow dressed like a Beggar, went to the Priest of that Parish in the Evening, and asked Charity, which the Priest very readily gave. The Beggar then asked leave to lye with him, as it was late, and the Gentleman ordered a Bed of clean Straw to be made for him in a Barn; but the Mendicant said, he was afraid of Spirits, and begged leave to be in the House, to which his generous benefactor readily consented.

The supposed Beggar had not been long in his Chamber, when the Maid of the House discovered him undressing himself, and saw him lay two Pistols on the Table.

The Servant acquainted her Master with what she saw, and told her Suspicions to him, that this Fellow must be a Robber, upon which he sent her to a neighbouring Protestant Gentleman, who was so kind as to bring Arms with him.

When the Vagabond beggar, imagined that all were asleep, he went to the Priest’s Chamber, demanded the Key of his Chest, and to tell where all his money lay.

The Priest gave the Key, the Robber went to take the Money, and while he was searching the Chest, the Gentleman shot him thro’ the Back; and the Rogue expired immediately.

The noise of the Pistol alarmed four Villains, which were waiting without, to share the Plunder, who broke into the House, in Order to Murder the Family, and as they were endeavouring to break open the Door, the Gentleman fired a Blunderbuss, which wounded them all in a terrible Manner; and we hear that some of them are since dead; and we hope the others will soon be taken.




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