Reported 280 Years Ago (August 18 1739): Latest word from Dublin on the preparations for war with Spain

The Belfast News Letter of August 7 1739 (which is August 18 in the modern calendar)
The Belfast News Letter of August 7 1739 (which is August 18 in the modern calendar)
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From the Belfast News Letter of August 7 1739 (which is equivalent to August 18 in the modern calendar):

DUBLIN, August 4.

Extract of a Letter from Minorca, to a gentleman here, dated June 7, 1739.

The only news here worth relating, is, that for certain about 2000 seamen have lately been sent from Barcelona, Alicant, and Majorca to Cadiz and Carthagena, and that the French who sent a considerable reinforcement to Corsica, have had a fair battle with the Islanders were beat, had about 3000 slain, 1200 taken prisoners, and lost 12 pieces of canon and all their baggage.

A plain proof that the spirit of liberty has not quite forsaken Europe; and no doubt should they pay a visit to another island, the haughty Dons and Monsieurs would be serv’d in the like manner.

[This report is unclear. The clumsy and imprecise wording on the French situation does not make crystal clear who has lost that skirmish in Corsica.

It seems to be the French, who were on the island to support the Genoese against the native rebels. It was a a very violent rebellion.

Ironically, Corsica would later become French and one of the country’s most famous leaders would be born there in 1769, Napoleon Bonaparte.

It is also unclear who is making the commentary in italics, because it is unclear exactly where the letter to the gentleman ends, or indeed who the author is or who the gentleman is.

But it seems to be expressing satisfaction that the rebels have inflicted a defeat on the French and similar rebels in other places would do likewise to either French or Spanish overseers ]

We are advised by capt. Colgrave who arrived here last Wednesday in 30 days from Gibraltar, that being bound from thence to Cadiz to load with salt, admiral Haddock who was then at Gibraltar, ordered him to sail home in ballast with all dispatch, and sent two men of war along the coasts of Spain to order all the English merchant men immediately to return home, and that the admiral set sail from Gibraltar to execute some secret instructions which he received from England; that a number of Sallee men were out, and at war with England; that three British men of war are coasting along the Barbary shore, and that the siege of Gibraltar is instantly expected there.

[Admiral Haddock was the commander of the British fleet in the Mediterranean, as war with Spain got close to being declared. Sallee men were pirates, and the Barbary coast was the north African shore from where the pirates were based].

We hear there are private letters in town from London, which say that two Spanish ships said to be worth 40000l. are seized in the river Thames.

[£40,000 is equivalent to about £10 million in today’s money]

Yesterday a great number of recruits landed here from England to fill up the regiments on this establishment according to the late augmentation.

This week the regiments on Dublin duty were exercised several times in Oxmantown green, and performed their firings, and all other exercises with the greatest exactness.

The baggage of his grace the duke of Devonshire is embarked at London for Dublin; so that his grace and family may be soon expected here.

LONDON, July 28.

We hear convoys will be appointed for all ships bound to the Southward. [War with Spain was close]

An order is gone to discharge all such mariners as are the least disabled or infirm.

We have advice from North-Carolina, that the commander of the Anne and Elizabeth having procured new hands, forced all his old crew to go on shore, and threaten’d to drown them all if they refused, after which he stood off for sea, but where he was bound, or on what design no one can tell.

They write from Stockholm that an ordinance was published last Sunday in all the churches in town, expressly forbidding every body to contradict, insult or quarrel with any of the French sailors; and the same was repeated yesterday by beat of drum, in the more general terms than any foreigners of what rank or quality forever, or any body belonging to them.

It is suppos’d that the two raised regiments embarked yesterday at Caplsham for Finland on board of ten transports convoyed by two frigates of 30 guns.

DUBLIN, August 4. Last Wednesday being the anniversary of his late majesty’s happy accession to the throne; the same was observed here with the greatest rejoicings. [This is a reference to King George I, father of the monarch who was on the throne in 1739, George II. The first George had indeed come to the throne on August 1. In May 1739, George I’s birthday had been honoured. All of this was happening 12 years after his death in 1727, and in addition to various celebrations for the current royals]