Reported 280 Years Ago (May 12 1739): Ulsterman Hans Sloane treats the prime minister, Walpole

The front page of the Belfast News Letter of May 1 1739 (May 12 in the modern calendar)
The front page of the Belfast News Letter of May 1 1739 (May 12 in the modern calendar)
Share this article

From the Belfast News Letter of May 1 1739 (which is May 12 in the modern calendar):

LONDON, April 19.

The Right Hon. Sir Robert Walpole, who has been ill, is much better; he had been taken cold coming from Mr. Walker’s at Wimbleton [sic] on Sunday night last, which had thrown him into a Fever, and Disorder in the Bowels, but found Relief by the Advice of Sir Hans Sloane, and Sir Edward Hulse, Barts.

[Hans Sloane, after whom Sloane Square in Chelsea is named, had been born in Killyleagh to a family of Scottish settlers. He had just entered his 80th year at the time of the above report, days after turning 79, and by then had long been a celebrated figure in London society, having been made a baronet in 1716.

Sloane was a physician, in which role he treated the prime minister, as the above report explains. Sir Robert is considered by historians to have been the first ever prime minister.

Sloane was an entrepreneur, philanthropist and scientist, who had in 1727 succeeded Isaac Newton as president of the Royal Society. Sir Hans would live until 1753, aged 92. His bequest of collections founded the British Museum]

LONDON, April 21.

We hear that the Right Hon. Sir Robert Walpole’s Disorder is turn’d to an Ague and Intermitting Fever.

On Tuesday last Mr. Sharp, Surgeon to Guy’s Hospital, opened the Body of the Hon. Edward Carteret, Esq; late Post-Master-General, and found two white smooth Stones, about the Size of Chesnuts [sic], in his Bladder. The Kidneys and Bladder were in a sound State. [Cateret had just died aged in his 60sfrom ‘the stone’, as gallstones were called. Searches for a cure to this agonising condition were frequently in the news at that time]

We hear that Signora Busterla, a famous Italian Singer, arrived here on Tuesday last, and is to perform in the Operas that are intended to be performed by Mr. Handel, after the Hollidays. [The German-born composer George Frideric Handel was aged 54 and living in London at this time. In 1742, his Messiah would premiere in Dublin. Sadly, no News Letters survive from that year]

BELFAST

Last Week died in the Isle of Man James Arbuckle, once an eminent Merchant in this Place.