THE GREAT WINDSTORMS OF JANUARY 1739
The hurricane-force storms which affected Britain (particularly Scotland) and surrounding areas in January 1739 (or 1738 based on the strange custom then followed in Britain of New Year at Lady Day, 25 Mar) are well known to climatologists, but little noticed in history books. News reports show that they were very significant to a great many people at the time, so here's another page of reports from the Newcastle Courant newspaper, similar to the one I prepared a couple of years ago on the 1736 storm surge.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 13 Jan 1739:
From several LONDON PRINTS Jan. 6.
On Thursday Morning [4 Jan] was the most violent Storm of Thunder, Lightning, Wind, and Rain, that has been known at this time of the Year, in the Memory of Man. it continued for upwards of two Hours with such Impetuosity, that in many Parts about Town great Numbers of Trees were blown up by the Roots, many twisted off at their Trunks, several Houses stripp'd of their Tiling, and a great Number of Boats stav'd in the River.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 20 Jan 1739:
Norwich, Jan. 6. Last Week a Ship, laden with Salt for this City, was lost off Corton, between Lowestoft and Yarmouth, and all the Men on board perish'd.
Exeter, Jan. 6. The heavy Rains have render'd the Roads almost unpassable, the Post not coming in here Yesterday till Two in the Afternoon, that usually came in the Thursday Night. In Monkenton-Brook, betwixt this City and Topsham, a Waggon coming hither had two Horses drown'd, and the Man himself narrowly escap'd. One Joseph Quash, a Cork-Cutter of this City, coming from Morton, is suppos'd to be drown'd, his Horse being return'd without him. Yesterday Morning the water was even with our Key, and the Wind so very high, that some of the Ships, for more Safety, struck their Yards and Topmasts.
From several LONDON PRINTS Jan. 11.
They write from Bath, that the same Storm happen'd there which we had last Thursday morning [4 Jan], and that at Nigh abundance of Rain fell; which occasion'd so great a Flood, that a Boat came up Horse-street, and the cellars were filled with Water, whereby incredible Damage was done; that the Spring-Gardens were likewise overflow'd, and the Fish-Ponds very much damaged; and that at the same Time there happen'd a Whirlwind, which roll'd up Part of the Lead on one Side of Woolcot Church, and levelled several Trees about Bath-Easton to the Ground.
The Letters from reading say, that the same Storm began there at Two o'Clock, and held till near Four; and that it was accompany'd with an incessant rumbling Noise through the Air.
The Waters are so out in most Parts of the Kingdon, that in many Places there is no Travelling for Men or Horses. A Funeral going to St. Edmondsbury in Suffolk, the Coachman had like to have been lost; several of the Cattle were drowned, and they were forced to cut the Traces of the others, and leave the Hearse, with the Corpse, in the waters; nor did they known when they should be able to remove it out of that Situation.
The Eliza, Capt. Mullins, belonging to Cork, from Lisbon, was lately lost at Four-Mill-Water, in the Westward of Bantry, laden with Salt. the Captain and Crew were saved.
We hear from Cornwall, that on the 4th Inst. an Irish Vessel, laden with Butter, Cheese, Hides, and Tallow, was drove upon the Rocks near Port Isaack, and all the Men perish'd.
Last Saturday [6 Jan] came Advice, that the Magdalen, Capt. Crawford, bound from Londonderry to Venice, was lately lost near that Place.
The same Day came Advice from Dover, that the Gibraltar, Capt. Bevin, bound from London to Seville, was lost, with the Cargo, off Dover, the Captain and Crew being with much Difficulty saved.
Edinburgh, Jan. 15. Sunday Morning there happen'd one of the most terrible Storms of Wind that ever was felt in this Country. It began to blow pretty hard betwixt Eleven and Twelve o'Clock at Night, and before One, rose to a compleat Hurricane, and continued with surprising Fury till near Four in the Morning: As the Houses in the City are built high, they suffer'd considerable Damage, the Leads which cover'd the stately Buildings in the Parliament Closs were carried off the Roofs, some of them upwards of 40 Foot in Dimensions; the Canongate-Church suffer'd extremely, and the fine Portico which belongs to it almost quite demolished. 'Tis scerce possible to tell the Consternation the Inhabitants were in, which was heightened by the Alarm of the Fire-Drum; the Brewry at the East-End of the Meadow, belonging to Mr. Bryson, took Fire; the Wind increased the Flame. The Water-Works prov'd so many useless Machines, being stopt from playing with any Success by the Violence of the Storm: The whole Pile of Building was consum'd, and some low Houses, at a considerable Distance, catch'd the Flame, and are likewise reduced to Ashes. The Multitude of frighten'd Spectators could be of no Service, and one of them venturing to go too near the Burning, is scorched to such a degree, that 'tis doubted if ever he can recover. Nor was the Loss by Fire confin'd to that Quarter, for, near the Canon-Mills, on the opposite Side of the Town, a Farm-house belonging to Mrs. Mary Angus likewise took Fire, which consumed it, together with the Corn-stacks and Out-houses. There were Fires in a great many other Places Round: At Coltbridge a Dwelling was consumed, and another at Liberton; and we learn from Fife, that a terrible Burning happened there, which did a vast deal of Damage. These Fires happened not through any negligence: the Misfortune was entirely occasioned by the Impetuosity of the Wind, which having got Entrance to the Houses, scattered the Fire, and set it in a Glow. A large new House at the Back of the Canongate, consisting of five Stories, is entirely beat down: This is more remarkable, as it had been twice destroyed before, and the Owner had rebuilt it so strongly, that she promised against any Accidents of that Kind. The Buildings in the Castle are prodigiously hurt; their fine Lead-Coverings are carried off, and thrown upon the Rocks; the Magazine is almost quite demolish'd, and a vast deal of other Damage done. the Houses at the Multries-hill, which lay prodigiously exposed, are almost all unroof'd. Amidst the general Terror which such a dreadful Storm occasioned, a Woman and a Child were smother'd, and two more killed at Dauphinston; a Man is crush'd by the Fall of a Stone from some of the hig Houses, in such a terrible Manner, that 'tis thought he cannot long survive it. A great many others are hirt. The new Play-house is quite uncover'd, which will serve in Place of a Sist, whch was lately proposed to be apply'd for. [A sist, in Scottish law, is a legal order to cease and desist from some specified activity; Presbyterian Scotland took a while to accept the legitimacy of theatrical performances]
At Leith the Storm produced likewise very dismal Effects; several Houses were damaged, and the End of one struck down; the Lead-Mill is uncover'd; the Ships in the Harbour were pretty well secur'd against the Outrage of the storm; however several of them broke loose, and with such Violence, that they carried along with them the great Iron-Rings to which they were fastned.
The Country has suffer'd extremely, several Houses are almost quite demolished; the Oats, pease and Barley were carried by the Wind, and promiscuously scattered on the Fields of growing Wheat, and other Grounds, which Mixture of Grain will probably occasion no small Hurt to the next crop; fine large Trees are blown down and broke to pieces, Firs of 40 Foot high are rooted up, and even the low walls which surrounded Gentlemen's Inclosures are levelled with the Ground.
Two fine Ships in the Harbour of Cockenzie are dash'd to Pieces. At Whitburn the Roof of the Stable fell in, and smother'd several Horses.
Before this storm happened, it was observed by the Curious, that the Mercury in the Baromwter had violent Agitations; it sometimes rose to a great Height, and immedietaly after subsisted as low, which was looked upon as an extraordinary Phoenomena.
The Remainder of the dismal Effects of this Storm (which are very considerable) we refer to our next.
Bath, Jan. 10. A few Hours after the terrible Claps of Thunder and Lightning last Thursday Morining, which was severely felt about this City, a most uncommon, and almost incredible Gust of Wind happend in the Parish of Walcott in this City, by whose Power the Parish Church received such a Shock that it is now rendered unfit for the Service of God. The Lead that covered the Roof on one Side is rolled up from the Eves to the Top, almost like a Roll of Parchment, and the Sides of the Church are obliged to be supported lest they should fall.
Newcastle, Dec. 20 [i.e. mistake for day of publication, 20 Jan]. On Sunday Morning last, about One o'Clock, began one of the most violent Storms of Wind that has been known in or about this Town for many Years; which continu'd with great Impetuosity till near Five. The Roofs of several Houses were quite blown away, and many Stacks of Chimneys fell in. A Wet Nurse in a Gentleman's Family (who was in bed with a Sucking Child, who happily escap'd by lying near the Head) was so horribly bruis'd from the Breast downwards, that she dy'd on Thursday Morning. It likewise did a great deal of Damage in the Country adjoining; but we hear of no other Lives being lost.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 27 Jan 1739:
Dublin, Jan. 9. We hear from Cork, that the Storms of Wind, accompany'd with Thunder, Lightning , Rain, and Hail, have of late been greater than were ever known, great damages having been sustained in that Country. One Mr. Nash, near Bandon had five Cows kill'd by the Lightning, and a Meadow torne up as if by a Plow.
Edinburgh, Jan. 16. We have to add to the Account of the sad Effects of the late storm, That, by all we can learn, the Ruin it ocasioned was universal: The Farmers have suffered so much, that many of them will scarce be able to recover it; their Corn-stacks were blown away, and a Variety of Grain is confusedly scatter'd over all the Fields: The terified Owners, who wer so hardy to endeavour to prevent the Destruction, were dashed to the Ground, nor could be of any Service; they were glad to throw themselves flat, to hinder their being carried away, and remained in that pitiful Position till the Violence of the Stprm abated. At Queensferry most of their Houses and Effects are destroyed. At Kinghorn and Burnt-Island, in a great many Parts of the Streets, there is nothing to be seen but a Heap of Ruins: However, the Passage-boats were preserved by the Vigilance of their Owners, who worked hard all that stormy Night, to the imminent Danger of their Lives. At Fisher-Row, besides the Loss of several Lives, their Fishing-boats are all lost. At Musleburgh, the very Streets were incumber'd with vast Quantities of Corn and Hay, which so violent a Wind had profusely scatter'd. The Town of Preston-pans is so demolished, that not one House is forty is left standing entire, and the Salt-pans are laid in a Heap of Rubbish. At Redheugh in the Parish of Cockpen, the whole Houses are laid flat, and the Church is entirely demolish'd. The fine Houses (particularly the Palace of Dalkeith) have suffer'd in a prodigious manner: Hoptoun-house, which lay exceedingly exposed to the Weather, is so much hurt, that it will certainly cost a considerable Expence to repair it. Four Families had their Houses burnt at Liberton, and several of their Cattle destroyed. The Town of pentland is almost levell'd with the ground: Nor is a great Part of Newbottle in a better Condition. The fine Planting at Preston-hall is rooted up, and upwards of 300 beautiful large trees at Edmonston have undergone the same Fate. We hear Inverkeithing has had a large Share in the general Loss, having sustain'd a great deal of Damage by the Storm, and a dreadful Fire which happen'd at the same Time. And the terrible Consequences of the Wind have been no where stronger than in the Castle of Edinburgh, where huge Stones have been carried to some Distance; the Leads either blown over the Walls, or roll'd up like Parchment; most of the Roofs either destroy'd or much damaged; a Part of Ensign Kinloch's House beat down; the Store-master's House uncover'd, and the Walls shatter'd; the Roof of the Powder Magazine entirely blown down, &c. yet there is no Body kill'd, only one Soldier and the Store-master's Son are wounded.
By a Letter from Glasgow we have very terrible Accounts of the Effects of the late Storm, such as the rooting up of large Trees in the Church-yard, by which vast Quantities of Earth were rais'd, and many sead Corpses which were buried near, were toss'd from their Graves, the Tombs are demolish'd, the Walls blown down, the ancient stately High Church, which, for its Magnificence, Beauty and Strength, can scarce be equall'd, is very much shattered, the Roof-tree broke, and great Sheets of Lead tore off; the Spire, on which the Weather Cock stood, tho' of Iron, very thick, and of large Dimensions, bowed, and several of the fine Ornaments, which beautified the Steeple, are destroy'd, tho' they had stood unhurt for the Space of 600 Years before; neither has the College escaped; the Tolbooth Steeple is near demolished; a vast Number of Houses are almost entirely ruined; a Vessel, loaded with Tobacco, sunk at the Broomilaw, and several others are dash'd in Pieces. At Port-Glasgow and Greenock there has been a prodigious Havock; a vast many of the fine Ships, which belong to these Ports, are either Sunk, or drove upon the Land. The New Church of Killearn is entirely beat down. At Renfrew two Men were found dead, who are supposed to have perished in a Boat the Saturday before.
From the Shire of Air there are very dismal Accounts. At irvine it blew so hard, that many of the Ships are severely damaged, and many of the Buildings in the Town are thrown down. At Air the Loss has been much greater; an universal havock is mad eamong the Houses and Shipping, the most of which have suffer'd, and the Ann Galley, bound for Jamaica, drove on Shore and dash'd to Pieces, but the Crew sav'd.
From Lithgow we have Advice, That the Top of the High Steeple there was blown down, and the Houses miserably defac'd.
From Alloa, that the People sat up all Night expecting every Moment to have been kill'd, and that both their Houses and Shipping have suffer'd exceedingly.
It likewise had very sad Effects at Sterling, demolished some strong Houses in the Castle, and did a great deal of other Mischief.
To conclude, we hear of no Place in the Country that has escap'd: And Yesterday before Noon the whole Stock of Tiles were bought up, and many Houses must remain in Ruins till more are got ready.
Edinburgh, Jan. 18. We are advis'd from Port-Glasgow, that in the late Storm, the Mercury overset, being drove from the Harbour; that the Molly has received much Damage; that the Nelly is bulg'd and much shatter'd; that the May hath met with no better Fortune; that the Martha and the St. Andrew received much Damage; and that a Dublin Pink sunk at the Key, laden with Tobacco.
There are particular Advices from Crawfurdsdyke, Gourock, and Greenock, that the Shiping in all those Places have been in great distress.
By a letter from Maybole, of the 16th, we have an Account, that a vast Quantity of Rum and Brandy is cast in, all along the Coast of Carrick; and that Day above 100 Casks were carried to the Custom-house at Air, and the like Quantity is found at Ballantire: Two Boats are put into Dinure, loaded with Brandy and Rum, one of which was beat to pieces against the Rocks, and in the other, two of the Crew perished. A great deal of Wreck is daily seen; Pieces of Boards, Sea Compasses, the which, no doubt, belong to these unfortunate Vessels which contained the Brandy and the Rum.
The most dismal Account is from the Merse [the area north and west of Berwick on Tweed], where it has occasion'd a terrible Destruction; few Houses being left standing, several Churches are blown down, Numbers smother'd in the Ruins, and an universal Havock made among their Sheep and Cattle.
We hear from Dysart, that a Woman in Labour, attended by the Midwife and some of her Neighbours, were killed by the falling in of the House.
The North Posts relate, that on the Roads there is nothing to be seen but ruinous Houses, which are bare and unroof'd. Over all Perthshire the Buildings are in the same Condition. At Aberbrothwick, the old Abbacy of St. Thomas, now the Church, is near quite destroy'd. And at Dundee there is a great deal of Damage done, and many of the Passage-Boats are shatter'd or sunk.
There are likewise sad Accounts from Dumfries; the fine new Church is unroof'd, and the High Steeple much damag'd; and the Carriers tell, that on the Road they see nothing but Corn and Hay scattered over the Fields in all that Country.
At leith two men lying in Bed fell down three stories, and received no Hurt.
Some Gentlemen of undoubted Credit, who were in the Country at the Time of the Storm, relate, that having betaken themselves to Vaults and low Rooms to presevre themselves, felt the Earth shake and are positive the Tempest was attended with a Shock of an Earthquake.
From several LONDON PRINTS Jan. 18.
[Another irrelevant but interesting item, which I shall just briefly summarise.
On 30 December last, an earthquake strong enough to move small household items around was felt in the West Riding of Yorkshire, particularly around Huddersfield, Halifax, Eland, Stainland and Sleighthwait.]
From several LONDON PRINTS Jan. 20.
They write from Bolougne, that two English Colliers, going into that Harbour with Coals, were lost in the late Storm of Wind, Thunder, and Lightning; and that one of the Church Steeples in the Town was blown down.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 3 Feb 1739:
Dublin, Jan. 16. On Saturday Night last [13 Jan] began and ended here, with the Eclipse of the Moon, the violentest and greatest Storm that ever was known by any person living here; it threw down the great Stacks of Chimnies belonging to the Lord Chief Justice Reynolds, and an adjoining House in York-street, drove through the Houses and broke the main Beams; blew down a Corner of the Deanery-House in Francis-street, and almost an innumerable Number of Chimnies, and the Houses stripp'd of their Slates and Tiles. It is greatly feared we shall also hear of great Damage among the Shipping, several having been drove to Sea.
Edinburgh, Jan. 22. A Rev. Clergyman observed Yesterday, that tho' particular Men might suffer by the terrible Storm, yet it possibly might be of universal Advantage, by dispelling the noxious Vapours, and being a Preservative of Health.
From several LONDON PRINTS Jan. 25.
Yesterday came Advice, that the Providence, Capt. Cavin, and the Providence, Capt. Davidson, both bound from Newcastle for France, were lost in the late Storm on that Coast.
Letters by the Dutch Mail from Brussels say, that the little River Senne, which runs through that City, lately overflowed in such a Manner, that all the Cellars of the neighbouring Houses, together with the Gardens, Meadows, &c. were drowned.
They write from Ostend, that 10,000£. Sterling will scarce repair the damage done by the late Hurricanes to the Fortifications and Harbour of that Town. And that the Sea has thrown upon that Coast the Wrecks of several Ships that were cast away by the late Tempest.
From several LONDON PRINTS Jan. 27.
Letters from Leghorn of the 19th of Jan. N.S. [8 Jan, UK style] mention, that they had had a violent Storm there, and several Ships drove ashore, amongst them was the Restoration, Shefford, of and from Cork.
The Diamond, Chevers, of and from Cork, was drove ashore at Leghorn in the Storm which lately happened there, but they were in hopes of getting her off.
The friendship, Capt. Hatton, bound from London for Bourdeaux and Seville, in her passage from the former to the latter, was lost in a violent Storm.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 10 Feb 1739:
Edinburgh, Feb. 1. Yesterday it blew a very hard Gale, insomuch that the Inhabitants of this City were greatly alarm'd; its Violence was so great, that the South-West Corner of the High Church Steeple was seen to totter; and had not a sudden Shower abated the Fury of the Wind, the Consequences might have been very dismal. The Magistrates used all necessary Precautions, and order'd the Shops in the Lane betwixt the Lucken Booths and the St. Giles's Church to be forthwith shut up, and Centries plac'd at the Entries of it, in Case of any Accident. Many Houses in the Country suffered Damage. The Presbytery were hinder'd by it to meet in their ordinary Place, the Old Church Isle [i.e. aisle], and the Magistrates allowed them the Burrow-Room.
We have the melancholly Accounts, that Capt. Gregory's Ship, belonging to Leith, loaded with Wheat, is cast away in Yarmouth Roads, but the Crew are all sav'd. As likewise on the 21st Instant [=Jan], the Christian of Leith, Alexander Crawford Master, was wreck'd in the same Roads, but the People were preserved.
Edinburgh, Feb. 5. We hear that on Wednesday last [31 Jan] the Wind blew so hard, that several Families near Culross, having shut themselves up, and made fast the Doors and Windows of their Houses by way of Precaution, an accidental Flash of Lightning happened, which set them on fire. No less than five Houses are reduced to Ashes, together with all their Furniture, &c.