Reported 280 Years Ago (August 14 1739): Early morning theft from shop in Belfast

The Belfast News Letter of August 3 1739 (August 14 in the modern calendar)
The Belfast News Letter of August 3 1739 (August 14 in the modern calendar)
Share this article

From the Belfast News Letter of August 3 1739 (August 14 in the modern calendar):


Early on Wednesday morning last the shop of Mr. William Wallace of Belfast, was broke open, and thereout feloniously taken some silver specie, the person being fearr’d made off without waiting to get greater booty.

LONDON, July 24.

They write from Paris, that the earl of Waldergrave, his majesty’s ambassador there, having demanded of the French ministry to explain themselves concerning the part which the king their master will act, in case the court of Great Britain and Madrid come to a rupture, the following answer was made to his excellency:

‘The king will behave on that occasion according to his usual prudence, his majesty will consult the treaties in order to see what they require of him; he will take particular care that the trade shall not suffer by a rupture: in fine, he will behave in a manner that will manifest to the purity of his intentions.’

How far we may rely on the purity of the French king’s intentions, the following extract of a letter from Paris tells us:

We have a confirmation that orders have been sent down to all the sea-ports for repairing the king’s ships; and we hear from Toulon that several men of war are fitting up there, which are design’d to join the Spanish squadron at Cadiz.

They write from cape St. Francis, on the coast of St. Dominguo, that one of the king’s ships, with a merchantman, are actually there with troops on board, which they are to transport to Mississippi, in order to be employed in an expedition against the Chickesaws Indians who border on the English colonies, and who make frequent incursions on the French territories.

The men of war lately built at Quebec in Canada are design’d to assist the Spaniards in the West-Indies in case of need.

The king has granted letters patent to a company for making paper at Montargis, from whence it’s thought that benefit will result to the kingdom, in employing a great number of hands, and in making paper [word unclear] everywhere.

[Britain was on the verge of war with Spain, and France’s intentions were being watched closely]

Extract of a private Letter from Bristol, dated July 24.

The embargo on shipping continues here still and it’s talk’d it will be laid on for 20 days longer after the 40 days are expired, which will be on the 30th instant. There was a very hot press began here on Saturday night last, both for sea and landmen, which continues still; and ‘tis said they are to raise 2000 men in this place. All foreign goods are rais’d here, especially sugars and tobacco ---.

[Such reports were of great interest, given that war with Spain was on the verge of being declared. The further news was from Belfast, the longer it took to travel. Hence why that letter, dated July 24, refers to the 30th instant, yet is being read in a newspaper dated August 4. Reports from mainland Europe are typically dated more than a week before publication, and sometimes weeks. Reports from the Far East can be dated months earlier. It is not uncommon for a report on a foreign event to come via a particular location on a particular date and sit alongside a further report, with different information on the same event, but via another location at a later or earlier date. The situation is further complicated by the difference between the calendar that existed then and the one we use today. While Britain did not adopt the modern calendar until the 1750s, it was sometimes already used in the 1730s. and denoted by the initials N.S. which meant New Style]

This is to give NOTICE,

THAT on Tuesday the 7th of August inst, there will be a SADDLE, value one Guinea, run for in Grange, by any Horse, Mare, or Gelding [words unclear, might be ‘that never stated’] for the value of three Pounds sterling or one Time, each Horse, &c. carrying a Feather, and to run the best of three Heats, paying an English Shilling Entrance, also there will be a good Purse run for the same Day, given by the Gentlemen of the Country. August 3, 1739.

To be LET, from Allsaints next (or the Interest to be Sold, of)

A FARM of Land in Ballyskeagh, in the Parish of Newtown, in the County of Down, containing 65 Acres, Tyth free, with great Plenty of Marl and sufficient Meadow and Turff Moss; Part of the said Land is already marl’d. Note, that the Corn and Meadow now growing on said Land will be sold. Enquire at Mr. William Osborn of Newtown aforesaid.