Reported 280 Years Ago (August 25 1739): Latest on the impending war against the Spaniards

The front page of the Belfast News Letter of August 14 1739 (which is August 25 in the modern calendar)
The front page of the Belfast News Letter of August 14 1739 (which is August 25 in the modern calendar)
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From August 14 1739 News Letter (Aug 25 modern date).

This is the last paper in the surviving nine-month batch of News Letters from late 1738. Most papers between 1737 and the early 1750s are lost. Over coming days we are reproducing the entirety of this newspaper, which was printed as Britain was on the verge of war with Spain, with footnotes to explain references:

FRANCE, Paris, July 31.

Advice has been receiv’d from Madrid, that a register-ship from the Havanna is arriv’d at Cadiz. We hear that three East-India ships are lately arriv’d at Port Orient, and that four more are expected.

LONDON, August 4.

Thursday last the Royal Guardian, captain Hadley, in the Service of the India company, was cleared out at the custom-house, and immediately sailed from Deptford for Gravesend, where last night she took on board several chests, containing 1,112,000 oz. of silver coin for Bombay and China.

They write from the Hague, that the same day, that the same day that the British ambassador communicated to the States General the resolution of the king of Great Britain to empower his subjects to make reprisals on the Spaniards, the marquis de St. Gilles was with the grand pensionary, and several members of the regency, where he very much blamed the conduct of Great Britain, whose proceeding he treated as violent and unreasonable, and took occasion therefrom to shew, that he hoped the States General would not in any sort imitate that nation; but that on the contrary, he flatters himself, that their high mightinesses would, by their behaviour, put it in his power to make his court entertain a good opinion of the republick.

The marquis de St. Gilles also declared, that the king his master had sent orders to the West Indies to give full satisfaction to the Hollanders, in relation to the misunderstandings that they have therewith the Spaniards.

This ambassador having been informed that a report had been spread in Holland, that the captains of some ships which sailed from Cadiz above two months ago for the West-Indies, were charged with certain orders relating to Curracco, be protected that these reports were entirely false; that in truth they were very sensible in Spain of the disposition that prevailed among the inhabitants of that island, but that the king his master had too much grandeur of soul to take advantage of such circumstances.

But the question is, whether his Catholic majesty’s gentleness towards the Dutch at this time, does not proceed rather from apprehending that he shall have enough to do to deal with Great Britain, than from a greatness of soul, or any disposition to so give injuries. [The marquis, Spain’s ambassador to the Dutch states, tried hard to influence opinion against Britain, aware that the Dutch had similar complaints against Spain. Meanwhile, France had threatened the states if they backed Britain they would face an invasion of up to 100,000 French]

They write from York of the 31st ult. that William Pulteney, Esq; and his brother col. Harry Pulteney, together with several other persons of distinction, were arrived in that city from London; and that the colonel was pursuing his journey to Scotland to visit his regiment. And, That they heard from Hull, that a strict guard was kept at the town gates, and no persons whatsoever suffered to go in or out without examination. [William was a Whig MP for Middlesex and would later become prime minister. Harry, a soldier, would become a general while war against Spain was ongoing]

Details of British shipping movements, preparations and commands

LONDON August 4. The arrival of the Wager India-man, captain Raymond, from Coast and Bay, is hourly waited, after whom the company expect but four more this year; all which would be welcome to the company in our port, considering the present situation of affairs.

The lords of the admiralty have been pleased to appoint capt. Hooke to be captain of his majesty’s ship the Portland, in the room of the hon. capt. Byne, who is appointed capt. of his majesty’s ship the Sunderland.

We hear no ships will be fitted out here as letters of marque by the Jamaica merchants, there being ships proper for the purpose there, and brave fellows enough ready to engage in such enterprizes, who have long wish’d for nothing more than to be at liberty to take revenge on the Spaniards for the repeated insults and abuses our countrymen have of late years so often received from them. [a letter of marque and reprisal authorised attack or capture of enemy boats]

They write from Lisbon, that the king of Portugal has engaged himself, in case of a rupture between Great Britain and Spain, to remain neuter, and that the engagement even extends itself to the British fleet, which are not to be admitted to cast anchor in any of the ports of the kingdom of Portugal but under certain conditions —[words missing] for our protecting them against the Spaniards.