Reported On This Day 280 Years Ago (May 12 1739): Outcry as great ship is sold in India for a fraction of its value

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


Calcutta, in the Kingdom of Bengal, Feb. 21, 1738-9.

ON the 13th of this Month arrived before Fort-William, the Devonshire, an East Indiaman, sold by Capt. P----ce at publick Outcry, for one thousand and one Rupees current, and bought at that Price by Order of Mr. William Eliott, a senior Merchant in the Company’s Service.

The Ship lies now ready to come into the Company’s Dock, having lost thirty Foot main Keel abast, and three Foot of the Stern Post carried clean off.

The Ship, which is the finest that ever was seen in this Port, has been surveyed by Numbers of Seamen, who unanimously agree that she does not appear to have suffered the least hurt in any other Part; and altho’ she has laid upwards of eight Days at her Anchors, with Main and Fore Masts and Bowsprit in, she has been pump’d only once; and when fitted for the Sea, may be worth eighty thousand Rupees.

By the Recovery of this Ship the East-India Company save three thousand Pounds Sterling, principal Bottomree-money, which would have been otherwise entirely lost.

Many Bottomree-Lenders and Insurers likewise save large Sums. [£3,000 is about £700k in today’s money]


York, April 7. They write from Ham sterly, that the Rev. Mr. Bartlett died suddenly there. It is suspected his Death was occasioned by eating Fish which had been newly taken from the River by a Person who is suppos’d to have poyson’d them.

Sunderland, April 11. Last Saturday about 20 Sail of light Ships, belonging to this and other Ports came to an Anchor in our Road and the next Morning the Wind blowing excessively hard at N.N.W. the Sea also running Mountains high, sixteen of the said Ships were forced from their Anchors, and drove to Sea, and the remaining four, with a Sloop in Company, endeavoured to ride out the Storm; but the same encreasing rather than abating, the said last mentioned Vessels were in the Night between the 8th and 9th instant all forced from their Anchors, and drove to Sea; since which none of the said Vessels have been heard of: But we have certain advice, that the same Night a Ship belonging to this Place, of which Capt.

Davis Cockeril went Master, was cast away on the Seaton Sands, near Hartlepool, but all the Crew were saved.

It is likewise currently reported, that the Duke Sloop, Captain Bunnis, Commander, who was sent to cruize upon the Smugglers on this Coast, was lost, with all her Crew, the same Night, off of Hartlepool.

Northampton, April 16. We hear from Kate’s Cabbin near Stilton in Huntingdonshire, that about a Fortnight since was plough’d up in the High-Road, a Leaden Coffin, which weighs 400lb. and has been buried 400 Years, as appears by the Date thereon: It had a Skeleton in it, the Bones of which were very fresh.

Near the same Place were also plough’d up several Silver and Brass Medals of the old Romish Coin, some of them 2000 Years old.

And since that Time an Uurn [sic] has been found there, with burnt Bones in it, and the Effigy of a Woman that was burnt. All which are to be seen at Kate’s Cabbin.

LONDON April 19.

This being Maunday Thursday, the Rev. Dr Gilbert, Sub-Almoner to his Majesty, wash’d the Feet of 56 old Men and Women, (the Number of Years of his Majesty’s Age) in Imitation of our Saviour’s washing of his Disciples Feet.

They likewise, at the same time, every one receiv’d three Ells of Linen, a Piece of Woolen Cloth, a pair of Shoes and Stokings, twenty Shillings in a Purse, 56 Silver Pence, Two-pence, and Three-pence; a Loaf of Bread, a wooden Platter of dry’d Fish, and were all entertain’d at a Dinner provided for them in the Banqueting-room, Whitehall.


Edinburgh, April 19. We learn from Tungue (the Seat of the Right Hon. Lord Rae in Sutherlandshire) that on the 8th inst. a Dublin Ship was cast away there; but no particulars.

Edinburgh, April 24. The Dane we lately mentioned to be cast away in Murray-Frith was loaded with Log and Dales from Christian sand, for Ireland, 250 Tuns. The Captain and 6 Men saved, 6 of the Crew were washed off Deck and perished.

Edinburgh, April 19. Last Tuesday Night the Edinburgh Merchant-Company gave a sumptuous and elegant Entertainment to the Hon. Sir Charles Gilmour, Bart. Representative for this Shire at Mr. Clark’s, with a Consort which was usher’d in and concluded with Britons, strike home! revenge! revenge! your Country’s Wrong!

Sir Charles came to Town upon Invitation of the Master and Assistants of the Merchant Company; who on this Occasion drank a Cup of Thankfulness to him (with all Solemnity) for his Care of their Petition against the Convention.

An ACROSTICK written extempore.

C an Britons any longer doubt

O f their unhappy Fate?

N o! now th’Event is brought about; V engeance is come, tho’ late.

E ngage, ne’er less, each free born Soul,

N or let yon Spanish Wights,

T hink they your Freedom can controul,

I f you assert your Rights.

O n your own Strength and energy repose,

N o Spanish Arms e’er dare that Strength oppose.

[This spells out ‘convention’, a proposed deal with Spain unpopular in Britain, including, it seems, Scotland]