From Belfast News Letter of March 27 1739, April 7 1739 in the new calendar. This is the ‘first’ News Letter of 1739 according to the calendar then in use, because the new year then began on March 25. The previous edition, March 23, was dated 1738 because it was considered part of the preceding year:
They write from Boardeoux, that thirty Capuchin Friars belonging to a Convent of that Place, had been lately poison’d, and were actually dead, by drinking Wine which one of the Brethren, who officiated as Butler, had some Days before fined down with Arsenick.
Paris, March 18.
Last Week twelve Surgeons let out for Corsica, so that there is likely to be bloody Work in that Island. [There was a bitter ongoing rebellion in Corsica against Genoa, which then controlled the island]
GERMANY. Hanover Feb. 23. O.S..
As Affairs seem more embroiled than ever between certain Powers, we begin to fear that we shall not have the Happiness of seeing the King of Great Britain our most Serene Elector, this Summer.
[King George II was the last British monarch born outside the UK. His grandmother was Sophia of Hanover and his father, George I, was Elector of Hanover, had in 1714 become the first British king of the House of Hanover, succeeding Queen Anne, who was the last monarch of the House of Stuart. George II spent twelve summers in Hanover as elector. At this time however, war was looming with Spain, hence the sadness of the Hanoverians, referred to above]
LONDON March 17.
The Chest of Toys sent by the Duchess Dowager of Saxe-Gotha as a Present to Prince George and the Princess Augusta, was not opened at the Custom house, as is usual, but the Commissioners ordered a Land Water to attend at Norfolk-house to see the Contents; which were 300 various Toys and Amusements, the finest of the Kind that ever were seen in the Kingdom, and were mostly made at Nuremburg; There is a vast Resort of the Children of the Nobility and Quality to Norfork-house [sic] to see them.
[Prince George was then not yet even aged one. Grandson of King George II, he would later become George III. Princess Magdalena Augusta of Anhalt-Zerbst, Duchess of Saxe-Gotha-Altenburg, was the infant George’s maternal grandmother]
On Thursday last his Grace the Duke of Bedford presented four young Gentlemen of great Distinction to the Prince of Wales; his Royal Highness received them with particular Marks of Esteem, and they had severally the Honour to kiss his Royal Highness’s hand.
[Frederick, Prince of Wales, predeceased his father, King George II, from whom he was estranged. The throne passed to his son, George III, who became ‘the king who lost America’]
This Day the Ceremonial of baptizing, the new born Prince was to be settled in Council.
[The Princess of Wales had just given birth to a second son, Prince Edward, younger brother to George]
‘Tis now said that the Person in York-Castle, and who has made such a Noise in all the Papers, is not the real Turpin. [The highwayman Dick Turpin had been mentioned in several preceding News Letters, including the first surviving paper from October 1738. Recent reports revealed that he was thought to have been arrested, and then confirmed that it was him, until this report suggesting it wasn’t him. In fact it was, and his trial would soon commence]
This being St. Patrick’s Day, the Tutelar Saint of Ireland, the same was observed at Court as Collar Day, when the Knights Companions of the most Noble Order of the Garter, Thistle and Bath, appeared in the Collars of their respective Orders.
[This is one of the few references in the newspapers of 1739 to St Patrick’s Day]
Advertisements of a moderate Length are inserted in this Paper at two British Shillings for the first Time, and Six-pence for every other Time they are continued, so that Gentlemen who live in the Country, and are pleased to advertise in this Paper, are requested to give Orders along with them how often they shall be continued.
‘Tis hoped my good Customers will not take it amiss that their Advertisements were not inserted now nor formerly, as there was so much News and the Lords Protest; but they shall be continued as Opportunity offers, there being a whole large Sheet furnished for that Purpose.
Printed LEASES of different Sorts, on best Pro patria, and Royal Paper, with proper Covenants and Blanks, are sold by the Printer hereof. [Two shillings was about £20 in today’s money, six pence about £12. The News Letter had recently gone up from two sides of paper per edition to four.]
They write from Wells in Somersetshire, that a Woman at that Place was delivered of four Sons and a Daughter at a Birth, and they are all christen’d and likely to live.