Reported 280 years ago (Feb 1739): Strict new laws to stop butter fraud

The front page of the Belfast News Letter of February 16 1738 (February 27 1739 in the modern calendar)
The front page of the Belfast News Letter of February 16 1738 (February 27 1739 in the modern calendar)

From the Belfast News Letter of February 16 1738 (Feb 27 1739 in today’s calendar):


WHEREAS there have been, of late, great Complaints made from Abroad, not only of the bad Quality of our Butter, but of great Frauds committed, in weighing empty Casks, by the Weighmasters in the Country, many of whom, for a small Premium, lend their Irons to the Coopers, to brand their own Casks; by which Means, as well as by the Negligence of many of said Weighmasters, great Abuses have been committed; there being now in the WeighHouse of Belfast an empty Firkin, weigh and branded by James O Roney, Weighmaster of Templepatrick, mark’d 12 lib, Tare, and returned from Abroad, now, though it be fully dried, weighs 19 lib.

This is therefore to give Notice, to all Persons concerned in making and weighing of Butter Casks, or in the making of Butter, that this ensuing Year, the several Laws made and now in Force, for the Regulation of Butter and Butter Casks, will be strictly put in Execution, and the Fines and Penalties prescribed by Law, will be levied and applied by ROBERT BYRTT, Esq Sovereign of Belfast, as the Law directs.

Wherefore let all Persons take Notice, that every Butter Cask must be made tight to hold Pickle, of good season’d Timber, well and sufficiently hooped and twigged, the Head and Bottom equally dooled and set in to the Cross, honestly weighed, and legally branded, with 2 lib. Soakage added for a Firkin, and 4 lib. for a half Barrel, which Tare and Soakage must be branded, in Figures, on the Head, Side and Bottom of each Cask, with the first Letter of the Weighmaster’s Christian Name, and his Sirname at Length, with the Place where he lives, and this to be in legible Letters.

The Cask being thus made and branded, is then to be filled just up to the Cross, with good, clean, well made, merchantable Butter, neither over salt nor too fresh, and brought to the Weigh-House, without the Loss of any Hoops or Heads, in clean and good Order, then will all Persons bringing in their Butter in such Order, be quickly dispatched at the Scale, and a good Demand will be for their Butter; whereas, all those who act contrary to the Law, may expect to be dealt with according to Law.

Advertised by Order of ROBERT BYRTT, Esq; Sovereign of Belfast, 13th Feb. 1738, by JOHN GORDON, Weighmaster

THE TYTHES and DUES, great and small, of the Parish of Killinchy, in the County of Downe, are to be sett, for three or seven Years, from the first Day of June, 1739. PROPOSALS to be received by the Rev. John Brafeild, at Ballylinch, near Thomastown, per Gowran, or by Mr. John Shee, at the GOLDEN-BALL, in Michael’s LANE, DUBLIN, who will forward the same to the said Mr. Brafeild, so that Answers shall be given to such as propose a reasonable Rent and good Security, as early as possible.


ON Thursday a great Number of poor Prisoners were released out of the Marshalsea Prison, by the generous Benefaction of an unknown Person, who sent by the Hands of two worthy Gentlemen, that staid in the Goal to see the Design executed, a Donation of 200l. for the Relief of such Debtors who were the most proper Objects of Charity.