Reported 280 Years Ago (August 4 1739): Caution urged on the recruit of Catholics to the military

The Belfast News Letter of July 24 1739 (which is August 4 in the modern calendar)
The Belfast News Letter of July 24 1739 (which is August 4 in the modern calendar)
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From the Belfast News Letter of July 24 1739 (August 4 in the modern calendar):

LONDON, July 14.

The recruiting officers are ordered to be very cautious against inlisting Scots jacobites or Irish papists.

[The Williamite wars of the 1690s, in which the Catholic King James was defeated in Ireland, would have been remembered by News Letter readers over the age of 55 in the 1730s. By 1739, the Jacobite ‘Pretenders’ to the British throne were in mainland Europe, and their movements were often in the news. Some years after this report they would fight on British soil. Meanwhile, as the reports below show, there were major military recruitment drives in both Britain and Spain, as war between the two major powers got very close]

We soon expect to hear of the blow being given by admiral Haddock, especially since the declaration of war was published against Spain in last Gazette, which gives general joy and satisfaction to our merchants, particularly those of Bristol, Jamaica, &c. and we may be sure they will act with courage and vigour; and the sailors, mindful of the barbarous treatmen [sic] of their brethren, enter in such numbers voluntarily that there is no room for an impress.

This gracious and most just order was signed by the archbishops, &c. and ‘tis thought the lord chancellor was so indisposed that he could not attend; and as for Sir Robert Walpole, he is, you know, at his seat at Norfolk; so that ‘tis apprehended the war will be not only desperate, but general, which God avert.

Mr Keene having received orders to break off all conferences with the Spaniards, is hourly expected home; and tho’ Sir Thomas Geraldino has not yet left the kingdom, yet ‘tis assured he’ll do it this night or to-morrow.

[War with Spain, due to ongoing tensions over the harassment of British ships in the Caribbean, had not in fact been declared, and would not be so until the autumn, but the point of no return was very close and the British fleet had in the Gazette been given an order to seize Spanish ships]

SPAIN. Cadiz, June 24.

The preparations for war continue here with great ardour.

All the sailors that can be met with, who are unwilling to enter into the king’s service, are pressed, and voluntiers have some months pay advanced.

Recruits are raising in most parts of the kingdom, to complete and augment the troops; so that there is a strong appearance of an approaching rupture. The loading of the flotiall goes now on but slowly. There are in this port twenty-four English ships, twenty French, sixteen Dutch, and one Swedish. [175 years before the outbreak of World War I, there was conflict in Europe: as well as the approaching Spain-Britain war, there were religious disputes in numerous places; a bitter war of independence in Corsica from Genoa, France had just made peace with the Holy Roman Empire/Britain and its stance on the war between Russia/Austria and the Turks was monitored, as below]

RUSSIA. Petersburg, June 16,

UPON advice that the French squadron commanded by the marquis d’Antin was arrived in the Sound, the court has ordered the frigates which cruize in the Baltick to observe what course that squadron will steer. According to our last letters from the commandant of Asoph, the Turks have not yet meddled with that fortress; they had indeed proposed to attack one of the forts with their troops, but the uncertainty the enemy is in concerning the marches and designs of the Russian armies, has determined the Turkish admiral to keep that body of troops on board, that he may land them in the Crim.

SWEDEN. Stockholm, July 5.

The court has received, with as much surprize as dissatisfaction, an account, that the baron de Sinclair, a Swedish officer, who about five months ago had been sent by this court to execute a commission at Constantinople, in the beginning of June set out from thence, with a French merchant, and took the road to Poland. From Kaminieck, quite thro’ the Polish territories, he was constantly pursued by some soldiers till he came into Silesia, where they overtook him, and demanded the papers that he had with him; with which the baron refused to comply, and undertook to defend himself, but he was killed by the man wounds received from their sabres and swords. They carried off his papers. It is reported by some, that there was nothing of importance among them but a treaty of commerce between Sweden and the Porte. Others pretend, that there were papers of the utmost consequence. The French merchant, who was witness of this tragedy, proceeded on his journey without interruption. This act of violence makes a great noise, for which the court is resolved to procure satisfaction.


THE Lease of the Dwelling-House, Office Houses and Garden in Northstreet in Belfast, possessed by James Stewart, Tallow-chandler, there being 4 Years from the first of November next unexpired of the Term, at 7l. 10s. per Ann.

Dated July 20 1739