Reported 280 Years Ago (June 19 1739): Damages that were agreed between Britain and Spain have yet to be paid

The Belfast News Letter of June 8 1739 (June 19 in the modern calendar)
The Belfast News Letter of June 8 1739 (June 19 in the modern calendar)
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From the Belfast News Letter of June 8 1739 (which is June 19 in the modern calendar):

LONDON. May 29.

The right hon. the earl of Granard does not go to the court of Madrid as hath been reported.

An express arrived here on Friday night last, from Mr. Keene, with the ultimate resolution of his catholick majesty, touching the convention.

We hea that his catholick majesty persists in his former resolution of ballancing with the South Sea company, before he pays the sum stipulated by the convention to the British nation, and likewise that of searching the merchant ships.

[Britain and Spain were teetering on the brink of war at this point, and would spill into war later in the summer.

There had been tensions between the two, going back years, over things such as trade in the Caribbean, with Spain allegedly heavy-handed in boarding and harassing British ships.

A deal had been reached at Pardo earlier in 1739 between the two countries, in which the chief British negotiator was Sir Benjamin Keene.

He felt it was a good result, in which Spain would pay British merchants £95,000, £22 million in today’s money, in compensation for seizures, while the South Sea Company would pay the Spanish king £68,000, £17 million in today’s money owing from the Asiento, a licence on trade products.

But the deal was unpopular in Britain and ultimately collapsed.

The Netherlands was also involved in the tensions with Spain, as the report below shows.]

LONDON. May 31.

All our accounts from the West-Indies say, that every thing is at present very quiet there, the Spaniards, for the present behave as if there never had been the least disgust between the two nations.

We hear that Mr. Terry, the king of Spain’s agent at this court, hath made a second demand of the 68,000l. said to be due from the South-Sea company to his Catholick majesty.


By letters from Amsterdam we are advised, that the states general grow more and more impatient with the delay that the court of Spain makes in giving its reply to the last answer of their high mightiness.

They have made fresh representations thereupon to the marquis de St. Gilles, who, from a conciliating soft disposition, has told them, that the Spanish ministry took so much time in order to make a reply which should be unexceptionable, and leave their high mightiness nothing to wish for.

The states general have also sent orders to their ambassador at Madrid, to enquire into the cause of this delay, who, in answer thereto, has acquainted them, that the reply has been drawn up, and ready to deliver, above three weeks, as he had before informed them.

That it consisted of more than fourscore pages; but that he question’d whether the court of Spain should deliver it, before seeing what turn the affairs of Great Britain would take.

He adds, that the reply was drawn up in very strong terms, which would be more or less modified, according to that court’s standing in need of the republick.


Last Week came on trial at Westminster, on the validity of a seafaring person’s marriage with an extravagant young lady in Wapping, who had run him considerably in debt, on which account many suits had been commenced against the quandam husband; a sufficient number of witnesses proved a cohabitation, and a fleet parson being produced, swore not only to his register, but to the identities of the parties: whereupon the jury, after some short consideration, brought the defendant in guilty of wilful marriage, to the no small satisfaction of the creditor.

Letters from Jamaica give account of the death of the hon. John March, Esq; posses’d of a plentiful estate in that island, much lamented by all his acquaintance, being a man of strict honour and virtue.

There are now at the Custom-house a considerable quantity of goods belonging to the rev. Mr. Whitefield, who intends to embark in a few days on board a ship bound to Philadelphia.

The following is an exact scheme of the intended Lottery, viz.

2 of 10000l. 20000l.

2 5000l. 10000l.

2 3000l. 6000l.

4 2000l. 8000l.

20 1000l. 20000l.

30 500l. 15000l.

200 100l. 20000l.

500 50l. 25000l.

4000 20l. 80000l.

11550 10l. 115,500l.

First drawn 500l.

Last drawn 5000l.

16,310 Total 325,000

The number of tickets in the whole is 65,000. The managers and directors of this lottery are the same as were for the last.

[The emergence of a lottery was much in the news at the time. This appears to be a list of the number of prizes that there will be and the amount of each prize. In other words there will be 16,310 prizes in total out of 65,000 sold. The prizes will range from £10, which is about £2,400 in today’s money, to £10,000, which is £2.4m in today’s money. The total prize fund of £325 is about £75 million. It was clearly a huge event Britain]