Reported On This Day 280 years ago (March 17 1739): Boat set to sail for America from Belfast in May
From the Belfast News Letter of March 6 1738, However, it was in the then Julian calendar, when the new year began in March, and there is also an 11 day time lag, so the date is equivalent to March 17 1739 in the calendar we use today:
This is to give Notice.
THAT the Snow Charming Molly, Mr. Henry Mc. Lachlin Master, will be well fitted out, Mann’d and Victual’d, and clear to sail from Belfast for New Castle or Pennsylvania in America, against the first Day of May next, the said Mr. Mc. Lachlin will treat with any who have Goods to transport thither, or go as Passengers, Redemptioners, or Servants, on the most easy and reasonable Terms.
[This short notice is now of major historical value. It is the earliest surviving newspaper advert for a boat from Belfast to America, at a key time in the development of the New World, 37 years before independence from Britain was declared.
While there were probably many other such ads in the first 18 months of Belfast News Letters, from September 1737, most of those 150 earliest editions of the paper are lost. This is the earliest surviving ad in the only one of today’s English language daily newspapers that was publishing back in the 1730s.
Ulster settlers who travelled out on boats such as this helped form the society which would become the United States. While the Scots Irish immigrants were later greatly outnumbered by arrivals from countries such as Germany and Italy, by the late 1700s they were second in number only to the English, and their influence was profound, with many US presidents having had Ulster ancestry — perhaps one of them via this boat. Pennsylvania had been founded by the Quaker William Penn in 1681]