Reported On This Day 280 Years Ago (August 14 1739): Dublin watchman is stabbed for his loyalty to the king

The Belfast News Letter of August 3 1739 (August 14 in the modern calendar)
The Belfast News Letter of August 3 1739 (August 14 in the modern calendar)
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From the Belfast News Letter of August 3 1739 (which is equivalent to August 14 in the modern calendar):

DUBLIN, July 31.

One night last week as a watchman was at his stand in Peter Street, two rogues came up to him and asked him, What king was he for? The watchman answered, For king George; upon which they stabb’d him so cruelly that his lif is despair’d of.

[A striking feature of the surviving 1738 and 1739 News Letters is how little news there is of political or tribal strife in Ulster or anywhere in Ireland, a century after the 1641 violence, 50 years after the Williamite wars, and 60 years before the United Irishmen. This stabbing is one such incident, seemingly involving Jacobites. The progress of the Jacobite pretenders to the British throne, who were living in mainland Europe at this time, is a constant source of interest and news at this time, but there is no real sense as to their support. The other incident that hinted at the underlying divisions was a report of an early morning disturbance in Magherafelt in June 1739]

Yesterday forenoon cornet Marselli of the right honourable the lord viscount Molesworth’s dragoon, shot himself through the head, at his lodgings in Sycamore alley; he before sent a letter to his brother at the barracks, acquainting him of his design, and that he might come there as soon as possible, that nothing might be embezzled, desiring him at the same time not to be concerned at it.

The coroner’s inquest sat upon the body, and brought in their verdict lunacy.

We hear the right hon. the lord viscount Duncannon is created earl of Besburrow. [Brabazon Ponsonby, aged 60 in 1739, was son of the 1st Viscount Duncannon. He represented Newtownards and Co Kildare in the Irish House of Commons. His wife’s family owned Bishopscourt, the Kildare mansion. The Ponsonbys were powerful in Ireland.More on Duncannon just below, this report via London, unlike the above report, which was via Dublin]

LONDON, July 24.

We hear the lord viscount Duncannon’s second son is to be made collector of Cork, in the room of Henry Hamilton, Esq; who is made surveyor general of the Excise in Dublin, in the room of Patrick Aylmer, Esq; deceas’d.

LONDON, July 26.

Yesterday at noon Sir Robert Walpole arrived in town from Norfolk, and went immediately to wait on his majesty at Kensington. [Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister, had had patchy health over the summer]

This day at noon a general council was held in his majesty’s presence in the royal palace at Kensington. [War with Spain was looming]

On Monday last the following unfortunate accident happened on the river Thames, viz, four gentlemen, with the mate of a ship, and a waterman, went down to Gravesend on a party of pleasure, but on their return they ran foul of a ship that lay off Barkin, and overset the boat, by which accident four of the company were drown’d, but a gentlewoman, that had missed the Gravesend oat, whom they had taken in by the way, the waterman, and one other person were saved. We hear, the unfortunate people who lost their lives were a young surgeon, an apothecary’s journeyman, a linen-draper’s journeyman, and the mate of the ship, to which the boat belong’d.


A Quantity of choice good Oats, at the Granary, at the Wheat Miln, near Belfast, belonging to George Macartney, Esq; is to be sold, at a reasonable price.

Enquire at Hugh Linn in Mill-street, Belfast, and know further.

JAMES CRAIG and ROBERT MOOR of CARRICKFERGUS, CONTINUE to Dye and Dress Scarlets, Blews, Greens, and other common colour’d Cloaths as well as any in the Kingdom, very reasonably.


Edinburgh, July 19.

We hear from the trading towns in the west, that they received the accounts of letters of Marques, &c. with the greatest satisfaction; and, as some of them have been considered sufferers by guards costas, are preparing for a severe revenge, having several fine ships for the purpose, and are immediately to fit them out, as soon as they shall receive the letters of Marques and Reprisal.

[A recent order had been given allowing British ships to seize Spanish ones, a major step towards war]

Great numbers of recruits voluntarily inlist here both for the sea and land service; and those they are bearing up for voluntiers to several regiments, yet all of them meet with extraordinary success; so that at no time, even when the press was hottest in the late wars, did this place supply the army or ships of war with greater numbers.

[As war with loomed, the 1739 papers showed a huge recruitment drive across Britain and Ireland]

Tuesday night arrived here the right hon. the earl of Marchmont.