Reported On This Day (Jan 20 1739): Sailors thwart hanging; Jews die in plague; negroes kill surgeon; bull found in Straid

The fifth surviving News Letter, dated January 9 1738 (which is in fact equivalent to January 20 1739 in the modern calendar)
The fifth surviving News Letter, dated January 9 1738 (which is in fact equivalent to January 20 1739 in the modern calendar)

From the fifth surviving Belfast News Letter. The edition is dated January 9 1738 but that is in fact Jan 20 1739 in the modern calendar, which Britain adopted in the 1750s. Under the old calendar the new year did not begin until March. The paper was founded Sept 1737 but the first year is lost:

LONDON, Dec, 21, 23, 26 and 28.

Yesterday Morning, about nine o’Clock, James Buchanan, condemned at the last Admiralty Sessions, for a Murder in the East-Indies, was carried from Newgate to Execution Dock, the Silver Oar being carried before him; as soon as he was tied up some Sailors got on the Scaffold, and endeavoured to cut him down, on which a Scuffle ensued between them and the Officers, but many other Sailors coming to the Assistance of those who first made the Attempt, he was cut down in less than five Minutes after he was hung up, and his Body carried off in a Boat, with loud Acclamations of Joy, accompanied by at least threescore Sailors, &c.

The untimely Fate of this unhappy Man may serve as a Caution to Mankind not to let their Passions gain the Ascendancy of their Reason; for at such Times they are properly subjected to the State of Madmen. This Buchanan, from those that knew him many Years, had the Character of an honest industrious Man, was a valuable Sailor, and not subject to any one Vice; a pretty rare Instance among seafaring Persons; and yet by one passionate Act he destroy’d a Life that might have been comfortable to himself and of Use to the Commonwealth.

The Death of Michael Smith the Mate, for the Murder of whom he was executed, may also stand as a Memento to the Petit-Officers on Shipboard or elsewhere, to be wary in the Exercise of the Power given them, and always to remember that the People they command are MEN, and they themselves are NO MORE: That by carrying too strict a Hand they become odious to the Ignorant, (who are nevertheless sensible of Injuries) and contemptible to the thinking Part of Men; and thereby lose the most valuable Gem belonging to Power, that of acquiring the Love and Esteem of all around them, and becoming the Delight of Mankind.

Private Letters from Constantinople, by the Way of Francfort say, that near 9000 Jews have died of the Plague in the Capital, since the time of its breaking out to the middle of October last, and that the Number of Christians and Turks that died with it are in Proportion; but according to these advices the Distemper is considerably abated, and those who had retired into the Country begin to flock to Town again.

We have advice from the Coast of Africa that Mr. Gawer, who has been many Years Surgeon in the Company’s Service, has been murder’d by some of the Negroes on the Coast.

THAT of late a Black, broad headed BULL, about two Years old, came into Lands belonging to Lieut. Hercules Clements, at Straid [see below] in this County. Whoever proves their Property to the said BULL, may have him, on paying for this Advertisement, and other Charges upon him. Dated the 5th of January, 1738-9. [The word above seems to be Straid, but it might be Strand, and cannot be ascertained due to ageing paper. The county is not made clear. If any reader can shed light on this ad email ben.lowry@newsletter.co.uk or call 028 9089 7713]