Reported 280 Years Ago (July 17 1739): Quakers debate how to reconcile military order to their doctrine

The July 6 1739 News Letter (July 17 in the modern calendar)
The July 6 1739 News Letter (July 17 in the modern calendar)
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From the July 6 1739 News Letter (July 17 in modern date)

LONDON, June 26.

Several citizens and inhabitants of London have (pursuant to an order they received last week) provided themselves with muskets and bayonets, but the Quakers, according to their doctrine, have beat their swords into plow shears, &c. have appointed a meeting this week, to determine whether they ought to comply with that order; if they refuse to do it, the penalty is five pound per man. [£5 is £1,200 in today’s money. War with Spain was looming]

We hear that an order will soon be issued out to impress all able bodied men for his majesty’s service, from 17 to 30 years of age.

ENGLAND, Bristol, June 22.

A written paper is posted about town, inviting all voluntier sailors to repair on board his majesty’s sloop the Spy, now lying in the Road, when they will meet with all suitable encouragement.

The mackrel boats coming up the river, had all their hands press’d by the Spy’s boat.

As had those ships that have come in this week; except what were put ashore below the Holms, where and off Milford lie two men of war, stationed for the impressing of men for his majesty’s service.


THE TRUSTEES appointed by of Act Parliament for repairing the Road leading from Banbridge to Belfast, are to meet at Lisburn, on Wednesday the 11th of July, 1739. Signed by Order, CHARLES BRETT, Clerk


Since my last arrived the Hanover of Belfast, capt. Lyle, from Gottenbourg, with iron.

FRANCE. Paris, July 11.

Our letters from Genoa of the 17th of last month say, that twelve hostages are arrived at St. Piorenzo, by which it is a sign that the greatest part of the provinces of Balagna is reduced to our obedience.

They write from Calvi, that two other Pieves have demanded to make articles; we flatter ourselves that the inhabitants in the mountains will soon do the same, inasmuch as our Troops are actually encamped under Monte Maggiore, which is an important post, in order to keep them in awe; and we are assured that four of the principal chiefs of the rebels have retired into an adjacent convent with 50 men, where they are blocked on every side.

One of the Corsican chiefs has writ to a friend of his, that he did not doubt but the whole island would be entirely brought under the king’s obedience before the middle of July next.

This would have been done long ago if no mention had been made of the republick of Genoa, of which the very name is held in abomination by those people.

As the French find their views discovered in regard to Corsica, they make no longer a mystery of it, and we shall probably see them as frank in regard to Russia when every thing is ripe for action.[France was helping Genoa resists Corsican rebels]


After my mother’s buried, I arise,

And raise my head, up tow’rds the vaulted skies;

But cruel mankind, to destroy my race,

Cuts off my head, and arms, to their disgrace;

But finding afterwards that I’m alive,

And can so great a loss, as that survive,

They think to torture me and with a press,

To kill me, I survive it ne’er the less;

After they find I live, do what they can,

(Tho’ this may sound incredible to man,)

They stop my throat, and take away my breath,

Thinking that that might cause a speedy death,

(But they mistook, for to their great surprize,)

(I still more glorious, by affliction rise)

For then I gather’d strength, and conquer’d those,

Who us’d me thus, and were my greatest foes,

But in the conquest I myself am slain,

My foes lye scatter’d on the dusty plain,

Confusion reigns, they lose their senses quite,

And can’t distinguish wrong from what is right.

[Often in papers from this time it is unclear who the author is of such a passage, which can appear without further explanation]

Petersburg, June 9. We are assured that some regiments, which compose the army in the Ukrain[sic], have orders to hold themselves in readiness for to march into Livonia on the first orders that they shall receive.

Warsaw, June 18. According to our last advices from the frontiers of the Ukrain, the army commanded by the veldt marshal count Munich is still in the neighbourhood of Kiow.