Reported 280 Years Ago (May 19 1739): Unconfirmed reports arrive in Belfast of war with Spain

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


We hear, there are private Letters in Town, from London, which import, ‘that the Spanish Court and that of Great Britain had broke up Conferences at Madrid, that the Convention is entirely laid aside, and that France and Spain will immediately, jointly, proclaim War against England.’ --- but this wants Confirmation.

[This is an early example of a major but unconfirmed news report. At this time, it took days if not weeks to confirm news from distant places. With regard to this sort of story, word would first have to travel between Spain and Britain, and then would take at least another three days to reach the north of Ireland.

In fact, war with Spain had not been declared. But the long-running tensions between it and Britain were worsening, and a convention, that sought to settle the dispute early in 1739, was so unpopular that it was set aside, and would indeed lead to war, later that year.]

Doctor in Grange, Co Antrim

WHEREAS there was an Advertisement in one of our former Papers, setting forth not only the unparalell’d and excellent Perfections of the famous Doctor L’Ver, but also the Place of his Residence, viz. at Killyslavan, but by a later Account, we find the Place of his Abode was a Mistake.

Now this is to acquaint the World that I the said Doctor have taken Lodgings in Grange in the County of Antrim at the Sign of the four half Hydes, where I propose to stay for six Calendar Months from the Date hereof, and am to be seen from ten in the Morning to twelve at Noon; the rest of my Time I shall be employ’d in writing the History of two famous effeminate Preachers who have lately travell’d thro’ a great Part of America in order to get their half Hydes well curried: But to the everlasting Ignominy of the Leather-Dressers for those Parts of the World, have brought them back with the Hair on.

The Title Page of this History is to be the Life and Adventures of Ruth and Susannah, and fairly done on Vellum for its Duration, and neatly bound up in Calf-Skin, suitable to the Dignity of the renowned Preachers.

I am likewise to inform the World, that as soon as this Volume is finished, there is only two of them to be printed; one of which is to be sent to the Royal Society; there being above one hundred new Remarks and Observations made on Agriculture; especially, a new Method of improving the Hempen Manufacture, viz. by making a Present of a Rope to every Leather-Dresser in America; and as soon as they have apply’d them to the proper Use, there is Proposals made for a certain Quantity of Hemp to be distributed amongst their Widows, to provide fresh Cravats for their second Husbands, in case they are not more hospitable than the former.

There is likewise one hundred and seventy six most elegant Sermons in a smooth and easy Stile: The second I intend to keep in my own Library for the Benefit of all young Gentlemen, who intend to go into Holy Orders, and also for the Benefit of Quakers, Anabaptists, Popish Priests of what Order soever; and for Turks, Jews, Infidels and Hereticks.

N.B. After this is finished, my Library will be open from eight in the Morning till one in the Afternoon (Wednesdays and Sundays excepted) where all well-meaning Gentlemen may have the Preusal of said Book gratis.

Given under my Physical Hand, and Glyster-pipe Seal, of Sheepskin Office, this second Day of the third Month, commonly called by the Ungodly, May 1739,

Witnessed by my two Select Frieds [sic], James Pillars; Patrick Donagby.

Sign’d by Order, Sampson Sidebally, alias Leatbergut Secretary to said Doctor.

DUBLIN, May 5.

The right hon. the lord Santry hath ordered all his tradesmen to send in their bills, that they may be paid off. His lordship is much indisposed, and continues to behave himself with the greatest contrition.

On Saturday night last the Success, captain Main master, bound from Burdeaux to this city, laden with wine, struck on a rock near Wexford; there were 12 hands and 6 passengers were drowned, but the greatest part of the cargo were saved. The ship and cargo belong’d to alderm. Dawson.

Yesterday being quarter assembly, the lord mayor, alderman and common-council met at the Tholsel, when alderman Daniel Falkiner, member of parliament for Baltinglass, was elected lord mayor, John Barnard Hoffshleger, and John Adamson, Esqrs. sheriffs for the ensuing year.

By letters from Limerick, we are informed of a very great seizure lately made by a gentleman, in the river Shannon, consisting of brandy, teas, Florence wines, and other goods, amount to 500l. The gentleman who made this seizure is the person, that in the year 1735, made another seizure of ten thousand gallons of rum and brandy, which he did for the good of his country without any reward or mercenary view, purely for the benefit of the fair and industrious trader.