Reported On This Day 280 years ago (March 17 1739): Walpole set to stand down as prime minister

The front page of the Belfast News Letter of March 6 1738 (March 17 1739 in the modern calendar)
The front page of the Belfast News Letter of March 6 1738 (March 17 1739 in the modern calendar)

From the tenth surviving News Letter, dated March 6 1738 (which is March 17 1739 in today’s calendar, because the new year then did not begin until late March and so dates early in the calendar that we would consider part of 1739 were then still considered part of 1738):

LONDON, Feb. 24.

There is great Talk about Town, that Sir Robert Walpole has declared himself unable to undergo the Fatigue of State Affairs, and that he will speedily resign, which if so, ‘tis said that Mr. Pulteney will succeed him. But it is a great Query whether he will accept of the Honour of Prime Minister of State at this present Crisis.

[After the weekend extract we published of the 1739 ad for a sailing from Belfast to American, this is a further historic report from the same edition — the News Letter’s first surviving named reference to Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister. Even the title PM was novel and its usage here significant. Walpole in fact did not stand down until down in 1742, aged 65, after 21 years in post]

This Week a Sailor belonging to a West-India Man, was married; and his Brother Sailors that attended as Bridemen, wore Cockades in their Hats, inscribed thereon no Limits, and the Women that walked as Bridemaids had on the Breast Knots, No Search but in port.

DUBLIN, March 3.

Last Night, James Echlin of Echlid’s Ville, in the County of Downe Esq; was married to a Miss Molly Sampson, a Lady of exquisite Beauty, great Merit, and a very good Fortune.

Yesterday Henry Bellingham, Esq; was married to Miss Henry, Daughter of the late Hugh Henry, Esq; a very eminent Banker, a Lady of great Beauty, Merit, and a very large Fortune.

We hear, that Arthur Rawdon, Esq; brother to Sir John Rawdon, Bart. is hoping to serve as a Volunteer on Board his Majesty’s Fleet.


We hear from Lurgan, that on Thursday last one Ensign Barton with his Handkerchief hang’d himself in his Room; that one of his Children having come down Stairs, told its Mother there was a big Bobo with its Father; and upon their going up, found him dead. Its reported the Cause was his Aunt’s bequeathing her Effects contrary to his Expectation; and that he lately gave Charge to his Wife, Children and Servants to take Care of him, otherwise he would drown or hang himself.

On Tuesday last in the Market-House were sold by publick Cant to the highest Bidder, pursuant to an Advertisement formerly inserted in this Paper, the 27 Hogsheads of sound American Flax-Seet at 36s. per Hogsheads, the damnified at 3s. per Hogshead, ... [etc] The said Goods having been imported from on board the Charming Molly, Mr Henry Mc.Lachlin, Master, which was lately damaged on a Rock coming into this Lough. Cause of the Sale of said Goods was their being insured, and the most were made of them for the Use of the Insurers.


Since my last arrived the Agnes and Mary, Alexander Alexander, and the Unity, Robert Reid, both from Irwin and Coals. Several other Vessels design’d for Dublin, were driven into this Lough and remain Wind-bound.

Proposals for Printing by SUBSCRIPTION

THE whole Works of the most Rev. Dr. John TILLOTSON, containing 254 Sermons and Discourses on several Occasions; as also the Rule of Faith, all in three Volumes Folio, in Half-binding at 30s. one Half to be paid down at subscribing, receiving at the same Time the first Volume which is ready to deliver, the 2d and 3d Volumes to be dispatched with all Expedition, done on the same Letter and Pater with the first Volume already Printed, paying the remaining 15s. at Delivery.

N.B. The said Work will be likewise Printed in small 8vo. or 12mo. in 15 Volumes, at the same Price of the Folio Edition, where ther is six Volumes already Printed to deliver to the Subscribers, paying down 15s. and the other 15s. at the compleating the Whole.

Those that have already the first Folio, or the six Volumes 12mo. at to pay down 10s. at subscribing, and 5s. at receiving every five Volumes 12mo. Those that subscribe for 10 Sets shall have an eleventh Gratis.

Subscriptions are taken by the Undertaker George Grierson, his Majesty’s Printer, at the King’s Arms and Two Bibles in Essex-Street; by Mr. James Blow, Bookseller in Belfast; and by the Booksellers in Cork, Derry and Waterford.

[John Tillotson, 1630 – 1694, was the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury]