Reported 280 Years Ago (August 25 1739): News of diplomacy and war from across Europe, west to east

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 the August 14 1739 Belfast News Letter (which is equivalent to August 25 in the modern calendar):

This is the last in a surviving nine-month batch of papers that began in late 1738. Most of the other editions of the paper, from its founding in 1737 to early 1750s are lost. This week we are reproducing the last sections of the August 14 paper, which was printed as Britain was close to going to war with Spain, almost exactly 200 years before it would go to war with Germany.

Where appropriate there are explanatory footnotes:

LONDON, August 4.

Letters from Cologne say, that count Coloredo, who has been sent by the emperor to several courts of the empire, has made strong representations there concerning the conduct of some of those courts, which on certain occasions pretend to a right of having recourse directly to the dyet; they add, that the court is since gone to Ratisbon, in order to sollicit the dyet to grant speedily the new supply of roman months which his Imperial majesty demands on account of the Turkish war.

[The dyet, or imperial diet, was a key forum of the Holy Roman Empire. His imperial majesty was the emperor.

Part of the empire, the Austrian part, was fighting alongside the Russians against the Ottomans]

The insurance on ships bound to or from the southward, is double what it was in the middle of July.

Our ambassador at the Hague, having had three conferences with their high mightinesses deputies last week, we hear that his excellency is expected here on some affairs of importance the middle of this month.

Port letters advise, that admiral Vernon continues to cruize on the western ports, with 12 men of war. [Vice Admiral Edward Vernon, aged 54 at this time, would become a her for his capture of Port Bello from the Spanish in the coming war]

They write from Vienna, that the plague still continues in Hungary, and that the Emperor had written letters to all the prince of the empire to assist him with men and money to enable him to carry on the war against the Turks, and that he had already borrowed four millions of money from the English and Dutch for the same end.

They advise from Leige of the 4th inst. That they had made no difficulty in permitting the duke of Harcourt, a French general, attended by a chief engineer, and other officers of that nation, to view the citadel, and all the fortifications; but that those gentlemen had been refused that liberty at the other fortresses on the mase. [Liège, in what is now Belgium, was fortified due to its strategic position]

That the elector Palatine had yielded the town of Germersheim to the French, which they were fortifying to cover Landu, tho’ this last is a very strong place.

[The Electorate of the Palatinate was a patchwork of territory along the Rhine that was part of the Holy Roman Empire]

From Hanover the 4th inst. That by private letters from the Polish frontiers, count munich had sent a considerable detachment to invest Choczim, the main of his army remaining within 9 leagues of that place. That there was such a scarcity of provisions in the grand vizir’s army, that the Janissaries threatned [sic] to lay down their arms. That the grand seignor had considerably fortified Caffs, a sea port in the cham of the Tartars.

Letters from Weymouth yesterday, brought advice, that the 31st past, about 6 in the morning admiral Vernon sailed from Portland road, with the squadron under his command, but whither is kept secret.

His excellency Horatio Walpole, Esq; is expected here on some affairs of great moment the middle of this month.

The hon. Robert Trevor, Esq; secretary to the embassy to the States General sets out next week for the Hague to take upon him the affairs of this court.

Edinburgh, August 7. Notwithstanding the London prints this post say, That there is an account in a letter to one of his majesty’s principal secretaries of state from Vienna, that the right hon. the Earl of Crawford was along with the young prince

Edinburgh, July 24.

Last night one Ratcliff, who was under sentence of death, made his escape from this city goal [gaol was often spelt goal in 1739]. The magistrates, who were very sensible of his uncommon dexterity at opening locks, used the utmost precaution to prevent it; he was doubly chain’d in the stocks, and every night after ten guarded by two soldiers; one Clawson also made his escape with him.

They had two iron doors, and a strong timber one, to unlock, which they did with so little noise, that none of the prisoners over heard; and having hid themselves near the street door, waited till betwixt nine and ten o’clock, and then upon the turnkey’s opening it, they both rush’d out; the keeper struggled a little with Ratcliff, but to no purpose; and the centry, it seems, was not sufficiently nigh to give assistance. The magistrates immediately ordered the city gates to be shut, and made a strict search, but neither of them have been apprehended.

‘Tis said they were both seen this morning by some country people near Gogar, making Westward, and were well mounted.