Reported On This Day 280 Years Ago (May 19 1739): Prime minister’s health improves and he is out of danger

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):

LONDON, April 28.

We hear that Sir Robert Walpole will remove to Chelsea in a day or two, for the more perfect recovery of his health.

The right hon. the Earl of Halifax is thought to be much better [There have been several Lord Halifaxes, but this seems to be a reference to George Montagu who would die later in 1739 in his mid 50s. Elsewhere this News Letter has another Walpole report, below:]

This day at noon Sir Robert Walpole was judged by his physicians to be out of danger, the medicine they had prescribed, having had the desired effect and almost cured him of his lethargick distemper; he sat up for the greatest part of this day, and was visited by his brother Horatio Walpole, Baron Scroop, the honourable Henry Pelham, paymaster of the army, and several other of his friends.

From Cambridge we hear, that the ingenious Dr. Long, master of Pembroke-Hall, well known for his skill in the mathematicks, will succeed the late Dr. Saunderson, as mathematical professor in that university.

The Batter and Brass-Wire company have laid down their wire-mills at Esher near Kingston, the first that were erected in England for that use, and built others near Bristol for the same purpose.

We hear that there are melancholy accounts in town, from the colony of Georgia.

According to an exact list which was presented to parliament of the British ships taken by the Spaniards since the treaty of Seville, amounts to 52, nine whereof with the cargoes were valued at 6448l. 10s. 9d. and the other 43 remaining were plundered and the captains and crews used with the utmost barbarity.

The losses of the latter were not specified in the said list, but consequently must be, considering their number, of very great value.

[£64,000 is about £15 million in today’s money. The Treaty of Seville of 1729 had ended the Anglo-Spanish War, but these ongoing tensions would lead to the War of Jenkins Ear between Britain and Spain, later in 1739]

On Wednesday a gentleman of distinction walk’d for a wager of fifty gunieas [sic], eight times up and down the Mall, in boots that weigh’d 5lb. he had an hour to do it in, and perform’d it in fifty seven minutes. [The walk described above amounted to a distance of about five miles, so the marcher has maintained a swift walking, or near-jogging, pace of almost 5mph]

Yesterday morning died of the small-pox the right Hon. the countess dowager of Gainsborough, at her house in Great George-street, Hanover-square.

We hear there is a design to bring in a bill this session of parliament for regulating private madhouses, which is chiefly occasioned by the most unjust and most barbarous confinement of her late majesty’s bookseller, of whose amazing case and sufferings we have a plain and exact journal, or narrative, in The London-Citizen exceedingly injured, which is just published, and fit to be read by all lovers of liberty and property.

[This is a reference to a publisher, Alexander Cruden, who wrote a concordance to the Bible, and was put in mental institutions at various times.]

They write from Boston, that capt. Clark, of that place, bound from Cape Francois, was lost on the back side of Long Island; the crew and 100 hogsheads of sugar were sav’d.

The Neptune, capt. John Landle, bound from Tinby to Rotterdam, founder’d the beginning of this month, within a mile of the Shore of the island Lundy; the crew all saved by getting into their boat.

By a private letter from Boston in New-England, dated the 16th of March, they write, that a Spanish sloop bound from the Gulph of Honduras to the Havanna, was lost in her passage; the captain and crew with the utmost difficulty got to Moccroon Island, where they all soon were famish’d. Capt. Darby, of Rhode-Island, having information where the wreck lay, went and took up 7,000 pieces of eight, 500 pistoles, a silver tea-table, a gold cup, several crucifixes of great value, and other valuable goods; they raised up an iron chest, supposed to contain pieces of eight, but being in a boat, and the Wind exceeding high, was obliged to let it go again, rather than endanger their lives; it is said there were three large chests of Silver on board when the ship was lost. Capt. Darby sailed from Holland to dispose of the above, but in his Voyage unfortunatly founder’d about fourteen days ago near the land’s end, whereby all was lost.

Yesterday the East-India company finish’d their sale of tea, some whereof sold for 8s. 4d. a pound, exclusive of the Inland duty; so that without doubt the price of that commodity will be largely raised upon the consumers about town.

HUNGARY. Belgrade, March 29, O.S.

Two hundred carpenters, & c. have been sent under a strong escort, to turn the course of the river Marava, to make it enter the Danube, a few leagues from hence, instead of falling into it near Semendria, as it does at present, which measures will defeat the Turks design of penetrating as far as Peterwaraden.

It has been resolv’d to augment the garrison of this place to 8,000 men. A few days ago a purveyor for the Imperial army was committed to prison of this town, in whose custory had been found near 3lb. of poison, which was designed to be mixed with the flour and other provisions of the Imperial troops. [The imperial army is the Holy Roman Empire, which with Russia was at war with the Ottomans]


Hague, April 24. O.S. The oldest man living does not remember the waters ever so high in this country as they have been this year, the canals not being able to discharge themselves into the rivers, which have been prodigiously swelled for three months past, that the wind has been continually at W. and N.W, So general is the inundation, that the whole province of Holland looks like a sea, to the vast prejudice of the people of the country, who begin to want hay for their cattle, and cannot hope to put them to grazing before the 4th of May which will be as soon as the meadows can be clear of the waters.