From the Belfast News Letter of July 17 1739 (July 28 in the modern calendar):
By private letters from London, which came by last Thursday’s post, we learn, that the right hon. Arthur, earl of Donnegal, the sole proprietor of this place, and of a fine estate adjacent, hath been pleas’d to send orders to several workmen here to draw up a plan of a Linen-Hall, conformable to the one erected at Dublin, but not quite so large; and proposeth to have such a one forthwith built, at his own expence, on the ground which his lordship lately caused to be wall’d in off the sea in Catharine-Street, in Belfast, and hath now generously granted 1500l. for that purpose[about £350,000 in today’s money].
As this north part of the kingdom exceeds all other parts thereof for making Linens, where that manufacture hath been, for some time past, carried on to such height and perfection, and this port being a very safe one, where ships are already stationed to carry Linen cloth and yarn from hence to London and other parts of England, and shipping very plenty; it’s not doubted but on erecting of a Linen-Hall in this place under proper regulations, and other suitable encouragement from his lordship, merchants from all parts, who formerly bought quantities of Linen in Dublin, will be inducted to buy here, where it can be afforded much cheaper, by which means this place may become a principal mart for Linen cloth and yarn.
[Arthur Chichester, earl of Donnegal (or Donegall), was great-great-grandson of Edward Chichester, the governor of Carrickfergus and younger brother of Belfast founder Arthur Chichester, born in 1563. This Linen Hall was built in Ann Street. A replacement was later built in Donegall Street, where St Anne’s Cathedral is now. In 1785 the White Linen Hall was built what is now site of City Hall, which opened in 1906]
An honest woman near Connor having been given up by doctors and skillful women as incurable, concluding she was in a deep decay, a few days ago a good number of her neighbours, both men and women, were call’d to see her die, who, to their great surprize, heard the repeated cries of a young infant, and upon searching the bed clothes they found a brave boy, at which none seem’d more surpriz’d than the decay’d woman, who cry’d God bless me, what was that? and affirm’d she was not the mother of that, nor any other, child, and says she will swear it; but be that as it will, her pretended decay is daily decreasing.