Reported 280 Years Ago (August 21 1739): We had no role in murder of Swede officer, says Russian Czarina

The front page of the Belfast News Letter of August 10 1739, which is August 21 in the modern calendar
The front page of the Belfast News Letter of August 10 1739, which is August 21 in the modern calendar
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From the Belfast News Letter of August 10 1739 (which is equivalent to August 21 in the modern calendar):

They give us from Berlin the following declaration of the empress of Russia, relating to the affair of baron Sinclair.

ANNE, by the grace of God, empress and autocatrix of all the Russias.

‘WE received yesterday, by the post, an extract of a letter date from Grunberg, and sincerely confess that our surprize was inexpressible when we found in it an account of what has happened to a Swedish officer named Sinclair.

Thanks be to God, our reputation, our honour, our Christian sentiments and magnanimity, are so well established that no equitable person will suspect that we, or any belonging to us, had the least hand in that bloody attempt; consequently, we might spare ourselves the trouble of convincing the world of it.

It is very well know what has been publickly talk’d off in Europe since the beginning of the last dyet of Sweden, in regard to the intentions of that crown against us, and the negociations of an offensive and defensive alliance between it and the common enemy of Christendom.

Tho’ we are assured that those things are without foundation, some people may, nevertheless, think that in order to discover an affair so dangerous a nature to us and our subjects, and on which the safety and welfare of so many millions of people depended, we might have had some hand in that action, insomuch as the extract of the letter says it was committed by two Russian officers.

Our honour and conscience are too dear to us to suffer either to make use of or countenance such base methods for discovering a secret, however important it might be to us.

As we have given no manner of credit to the above-mentioned reports, so we have taken ho other measures on that occasion but what found reason and prudence naturally requir’d, & c.’

[This dramatic statement refers to an incident, the baron de Sinclair, a Swedish officer, who was murdered en route to Poland Constantinople, capital of the Ottoman empire, which was at war with Russia. The attackers had demanded papers that he was carrying.

The Swede’s name was Malcolm Sinclair, as he was the son of Scottish immigrants. His murder sparked uproar and would lead to war between Sweden and Russia in 1741.

As the declaration from the empress, or Czarina, makes clear, Russia already feared the Sweden was flirting with the common enemy of Christendom, which means the Muslim Turks, the war against whom is reported below]


Belgrade, July 16.

Everything is ready hear for the march of the army, which, it is believ’d, will begin to file off this night, but we know what route it will take: it has been resolved to form a separate camp for the preservation of the Save: it will be composed of ten battalions of the regiment of Vieux Daun, then of Jeune Daun, ten of Wautzbourg, and one of the electoral troops of Colong: this camp will be commanded by a lieutenant general, who is not yet appointed, and by major general Gaisruck.

By certain advices we hear, that the grand vizir was marching with the body of his army towards the Morave to join the troops, which are there already, and retrenching themselves.

We also hear, that a body of 10000 Turks are encamp’d near Orsova, and the like number near Vipalanca.

Vienna, July 11. O.S. The last

The last proposals made by the Turks for a peace are reduced to these two articles:

1. To restore what they have conquered from us.

2. To renounce for ever what Russia has conquered from them.

But these offers, which might have been accepted if they had been made in time, are not acceptable now.

Besides, ‘tis expected from our court, that the porte should reimburse all the charges we have been at, by money or an equivalent.

[Vienna was at the heart of the Holy Roman Empire and at times its capital.

This offer from the Ottomans to end the war, in which the Austrians were fighting alongside the Russians, was seemingly generous, if as reported]

SPAIN. Madrid, July 3, O.S.

The court is so afraid of a descent by the English on the coasts of Galicia, that it is resolved to shut up the mouth of the harbour of Ferrol by a chain; and major general Macdonald, an Irishman, gon thither to command, the regiments incamp’d in that neighbourhood. [Spain and Britain were on the verge of war. Ferrol is on the northwest corner of Spain]

Wezil,August 5.

The States General have consented that great quantities of iron sent by the king of Prussia from Stettin to the dutchy of Cleves, shall pass thro’ their territories duty free, excepting one Tolgeld.