Reported On This Day 280 Years Ago (May 26 1739): French captain apologises for insult to Britain in the Caribbean

The front page of the Belfast News Letter of May 15 1739 (which is May 26 in the modern calendar)
The front page of the Belfast News Letter of May 15 1739 (which is May 26 in the modern calendar)
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From the Belfast News Letter of May 15 1739 (May 26 in the modern calendar):

By our letters from the West-Indies, dated in February last, we have an account, that Captain Reddish, commanding one of his Majesty’s ships of war, standing into Port St. Piers in Martinique, was haled by the Captain of a French ship, who told him,

‘That as he had the honour to command a man of war belonging to the king of France, that he must not anchor there without his leave’; to which Captain Reddish reply’d,

‘That as he had the honour to command a man of war belonging to the king of Great Britain, he would anchor there, when and where he pleased; and if that he thought fit to dispute it, he would fall along side of him immediately’.

Some Barbadoes gentlemen, then at Martinique, coming off to wait on Capt. Reddish, the French man of war’s boat, that was rowing from the shore to the ship, took the Barbadians and carried them on board the French man of war; whereupon Capt. Reddish sent his lieutenant to demand instant satisfaction for the insults done to the king of Great Britain’s subjects, even under the nose of one of his ships of war.

On this the French Captain disown’d any orders of his to the officer in the boat, reprimanded him for meddling with the gentlemen, and made him ask for their pardon; and thus the whole matter ended, intirely to the honour of our Captain, and to the satisfaction of us all; who wish to hear the ancient English language spoke on board our ships.


Dresden, May 6, N.S.

The king of Poland has ever since his return to this capital, been confined to his room by a slight intermitting fever, occasioned by a cold, and attended with pain and a little inflamation in one leg.

Gibraltar, April 2, 1739.

From on board his Majesty’s Ship the Somerset.

Upon our arrival here from Port-Mahon, general Sabine sent a message to Admiral Hadddock, to acquaint him, that a Spanish frigate had taken out a vessel belonging to Gibraltar several Moors; upon which Admiral Haddock wrote to the Spanish admiral at Carthagena, and sent lord Augustus Fitzroy, to demand satisfaction, which was immediately given, the Moors with their effects were deliver’d up, and a most obliging answer sent to our admiral.

LONDON, May 5. It was yesterday currently reported, that the Fleet of ten French men of war, was ready to sail from Brest to the Baltick; we are likewise inform’d that a squadron of fifteen British men of war will be sent by way of observation to those seas.

It’s talked about town that the king of Spain has absolutely refused the 95,000l. stipulated by the Convention, and to give up his pretended right of searching our ships, ‘till we have delivered up Georgia and Gibraltar into their hands. If this be true a War is unavoidable.

Yesterday we received advice from New England, that a ship commanded by Capt. Gwynn bound from thence to the Muscato shore has been taken by a Spanish guarda costa: by this we may see that the Ethiopian can as soon change his skin, as the Spaniards leave off their old tricks, without they are thrashed out of them. [These reports chart the slide into the War of Jenkins’ Ear, against Spain]

We have advice from South Carolina, that the small-pox still continues in that province; and as several persons were inclinable to inoculate for the same, the grand assembly has made an act, forbidding, on severe penalties, any person to inoculate within two miles of Charles-Town.


On Thursday the right hon. Sir Robert Walpole was so well recovered as to be able to attend the service of the house of commons.

Yesterday in the evening Sir Edward Hulse, bart, M.D. was sent for to attend Sir Robert Walpole at his house in Downing kreet [sic], Westminster. We hear that the said right hon, gentleman was to attend the house of commons this day with a message from his Majesty.

We hear, that upon the king’s demise, a parliamentary provision will take place for their royal-highnesses the duke of Cumberland, the princesses Amelia, Carolina, Louisa, and Mary (in case they survive) settling on the duke 15,000l yearly, and on each of the said princesses 6,000l. yearly.

[These are the younger children of King George II. £15,000 is about £3.5 million in today’s money, £6,000 is about £1.4 million]