Weather reports from northern Britain, 1786
Presented here are reports relating to weather in 1786 up to September (plus a free bonus earthquake in August) from two northern English newspapers, the east-coast Newcastle Courant, and the west-coast Cumberland Pacquet (published in Whitehaven). [My own occasional comments appear in square brackets.]
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 7 Jan 1786: Since our last we have had a very heavy fall of snow, accompanied with an intense frost, which has rendered many of the roads impassable. The navigation of the river has been stopped since Saturday last, and, on Wednesday, was so completely frozen below the Bridge, that many persons took the diversion of skaiting upon it. On Thursday night the storm was dreadful indeed, as much snow fell, with a very strong wind S.S.E. which drifted it, and rendered many roads impassable. 'Tis feared that much damage must have been done at sea on this coast.
We have accounts from several places in the counties of Durham and York, that the frost was more intense in these parts on Monday and Tuesday last, than ever was remembered by the oldest person living.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 7 Jan 1786: In the hard gale of wind on Saturday se'nnight, two English vessels were put ashore in St Andrew's bay, and two at Holy Island, one of them an English vessel, from Malaga, said to have foundered.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 11 Jan 1786: On the night of Tuesday last, and during the former part of the next day, a great deal of snow fell here, and in the neighbourhood.— On Thursday evening, about five o'clock, a violent gale of wind came on, which continued, without intermission, till near seven o'clock on Tuesday morning, accompanied with a very heavy rain.— There is scarce a remembrance or a more severe night, as it was felt here; how it affected vessels in the channel we have yet had no account. It is however supposed that it happened at a period when few would be exposed to its inclemency:— we mean the vessels from this coast, whose business lays them more frequently open to the rigours and dangers of the season than any others, in these seas. The wind moderated greatly before nine o'clock, on Friday morning, and in less than an hour the weather was more mild than is generally experienced at this season of the year.— A good deal of rain fell in the evening.— As the wind was from the N.E. no damage was done in the harbour, nor did the sea run so high as might have been expected.— We have accounts from different parts of the country of the severity of the weather during the time above mentioned, a great deal of snow having fallen; which has rendered the roads impassable in many places.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 14 Jan 1786: Yesterday se'nnight, a sudden thaw came on here, attended with some rain; and the mildness of the weather since, with the gradual decrease of the snow, has providentially prevented any of the dreadful consequences, which were so much to be feared from the dissolving of the great quantity of snow on the ground. On Sunday, the ice on the river Tyne broke up, and the navigation was opened without any injury being done to the vessels, of which the harbour is at present very full. The roads from the country are now open, and the waggons from every part, which were prevented, by the depth of the snow, from reaching here last week, have this week arrived in town. The Edinburgh waggons, which should have come in yesterday se'nnight, did not arrive till Tuesday evening.
In the late storm the driver of the stage-coach to this town lost the track coming over Doncaster race-ground, and getting off his box to search it out, lost his way back to the coach. His companion on the box waited, taking care of the horses till nearly perished, and then got in amongst the passengers, where he remained till day-break, when he took off the horses, returned to Doncaster for others, and another coachman; and on their way back to the carriage, discovered that the coachman, who had lost his way and his coach in the night, had, after wandering about near an hour, very luckily stumbled upon a public-house, from whence he scorned to stir a step till broad day, and the company of his friends enabled him to sally forth in safety.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 14 Jan 1786: Tuesday night the Sophia, Capt. Roberts, a new vessel, on her first voyage from Yarmouth to this port, laden with flour and corn, was, by the strength of the current, arising from the fresh in the river, driven upon the Herd Sand. The cargo is saved, and some hopes are entertained of getting her off.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 14 Jan 1786: Edinburgh, Jan. 2. The cold, for several days past, has been very intense. On Friday morning, betwixt eight and nine o'clock, the mercury in Farenheit's thermometer stood at 20 degrees; on Saturday, at 16; on Sunday, at 14; and this day, at the same hour, it stood at 7½ degrees, being no less than 24½ degrees below the freezing point.
Jan.9. The London mail, due on Saturday, did not arrive till yesterday afternoon betwixt three and four o'clock. It appears from the way-bill, that all the roads betwixt Newcastle and Berwick, were blown up with snow; and that the mail, in several places, was obliged to be carried through the fields. Betwixt Alnwick and Berwick the roads became altogether impassable, and the mail was obliged to be lodged in a private house during a whole night.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 14 Jan 1786: York, Jan. 10. The North mail, which was due on Saturday afternoon, did not arrive here until six o'clock on Sunday evening.
Since Christmas Eve we have had many showers of snow, which lay deep in the country, attended with an intense frost; but on Thursday night there was the greatest fall of snow that has been know [sic] for many years, accompanied by a high wind, which rendered the roads from this city impassable, the Diligences that set out on Friday last being all obliged to return, and several hundreds of men have been employed in opening the roads. the navigation to this place has been stopped since Sunday se'nnight; but on Friday noon a fine thaw came on, since which time the snow and ice have gone gradually away.
On Tuesday last the frost was so intense that Fahrenheit's thermometer stood at 7.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 18 Jan 1786: We are happy in informing our readers that the shipping belonging to this coast has suffered nothing in the heavy gale of wind of the 2d and 3d inst.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 18 Jan 1786: [Letter from a Whitehaven captain at Poole, Dorset, about the storm on 7 Jan in the English Channel]
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 21 Jan 1786: [Accounts of storms in the English Channel, flooding in London, etc.]
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 21 Jan 1786: On Thursday the 5th inst. as Mr Thomas Harper, of Acklington, in Northumberland, a young man of 24 years of age, was returning home from Swarland, where he had been upon a visit, he unfortunately perished among the snow within half a mile of his own house. The same night, one Baker, an industrious travelling Shoemaker, belonging to Belford, on his return home fell a victim to the inclemency of the weather, within two miles of that place.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 21 Jan 1786: Edinburgh, Jan. 4. We hear from Banff, that on Wednesday last there came ashore on that coast, from Whitehills to Gardenstown, a quantity of deals and other wood, with several pieces of wreck. One of the oars had painted on it, "The Fortune of Scarbrough." The vessel had been drove among the rocks by a hard gale at north the night before, and all on board perished.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 21 Jan 1786: Extract of a letter from Montrose, Jan. 7.
"Thursday and Friday were two most dismal days here. A brig, the Hannah, came ashore in our bay on Thursday at three. But being a good vessel, at nine, when the tide fell off, the men were got out, and the vessel will also be got off."
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 21 Jan 1786: Yesterday se'nnight, at night, a severe frost commenced here, which still continues, and has been attended with a considerable fall of snow. As there is a great quantity of ice in the river, there is great reason to apprehend the navigation will again be stopped, should the frost be of longer duration.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 28 Jan 1786: Benholm, near Montrose, Jan. 7. Yesterday forenoon, in a prodigious hurricane of wind, a boisterous sea, and heavy rain, the Assistance, Capt. Thompson, from Limekilns, for Bourdeaux, loaded with coals, was driven on the rocks of the Haugh of Nether Benholm, where she soon went to pieces. All the crew perished.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 11 Feb 1786: Tuesday morning, between three and four o'clock, the inhabitants of York were greatly alarmed by a most tremendous storm of wind and hail, accompanied by dreadful flashes of lightening; happily the storm was but of short continuance, and we have not heard of any damage it has done.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 15 Feb 1786: On Sunday last we had a heavy gale of wind from the W.N.W. which came on about eight o'clock in the morning, and, increasing with the tide, raged with great violence till near two in the afternoon. The sea ran amazingly high, and the vessels in the harbour, of which there were a great number, were agitated in such a manner as to threaten much mischief:— however, from the favourable circumstance of day-light, and the exertions of the people in securing the vessels, no damage of any consequence was sustained, by those within the Tongues.— About an hour before high water, the Good Intent, Capt. McKeene, from Rush, and the Mary & Nelly, Capt. Connoll, from Kinsale, (both light ships) entered the harbour and run up the outside of the New Tongue, the former to the end of Marlborough-street, (where she lay very well) and the latter almost close to the battlement at the end of New Lowther-street. Several logs of timber, which had been hulled in the sand there, were washed up, and the ship, beating amongst them, has suffered considerably. The weather was the most tempestuous between twelve and one; the sea frequently struck the outer end of the North Wall, and breaking, rolled a torrent of water upon it half the length of the platform, and afterwards rushed down the inside like a cataract; at other times, it lashed the battlement with such fury, as made the waves, rebounding, mount a considerable height into the air;— the Bulwark was, at one time, covered for near four minutes; and the atmosphere was, for a much longer time, almost totally obscured by the great quantity of spray driving about, and the flocks of sea gulls flying to the shore for shelter.— Added to these circumstances, the roaring of the waves, and the winds blustering through the rigging of near two hundred sail of vessels, rendering the scene more awful and tremendous than can be conceived.— Every precaution was taken to secure the shipping against the return of the tide, but happily the tempest had entirely subsided before that time.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 18 Feb 1786: Saturday night, a violent hurricane of wind from W.N.W. came on here, which continued to rage with great fury till Sunday at noon, when it began to abate. Many stacks of chimnies were blown down, and several houses unroofed, but happily no person was hurt; nor has any damage been sustained by the shipping in the river.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 18 Feb 1786: Edinburgh, ... Feb. 9. Saturday night, and Sunday forenoon, it blew a perfect hurricane from the West. The Dunfermline packet, Scott, coal loaded, was yesterday observed in great distress near Inchkeith, and the Captain and a seaman, being all that were on board, hanging by the shrouds. A Newhaven boat, though at the greatest risk of the lives of the crew, went out to their assistance. But they were too late, the Captain and sailor having been obliged to quit their hold before the boat reached the vessel, and she soon after went down. The Race Horse ship of war was driven on this side of Inchkeith, after having left two anchors and two cables.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 18 Feb 1786: We hear from Burton on Trent, that on Tuesday se'nnight, between three and four in the morning, they were much alarmed with a very heavy storm of hail and wind, accompanied by tremendous and vivid flashes of lightning, and loud claps of thunder, which seemed to rend the elements. The wind, during the storm, stood generally south-west; the lightning seemed first to appear in the north, but afterwards took a N.E. direction; and the earth was for some time (notwithstanding the aid of the moon) obscured in total darkness.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 4 Mar 1786: Saturday morning a violent storm of wind, attended with a strong frost, came on here from E.S.E. which continued with several variations from the easterly point till Wednesday, when it began to abate, but the frost continues. The long continuance of the wind in the above quarter, occasions Shields harbour to be fuller of shipping now, than it was at any time during the depth of winter, not one being able to get out; and we happily hear the traders of this port are all safe in Burlington Bay.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 4 Mar 1786: The ships mentioned in our last having been drove on shore on the North Sand off Sunderland harbour are all got off except two, which are drove so high on the Sands by the high tides and late storm, that it is not known when they will be got off.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 8 Mar 1786: An uncommon storm of wind and sleet was severely felt in that part of Westmorland which borders on Cross-fell and the other eminences forming the ridge of mountains from Hartside to Stainmore. It began on the evening of Sunday se'ennight, and continued with a violence not known in the memory of any person living, till the following night, in which time a very great number of farmhouses and cottages were unroofed, and even the walls of some of them were blown down.— The greatest devastation made by it is in a range of four miles, by the edge of the mountains: but its effects extended partially through a much greater tract of country.— The villages of Ousby, Blencarn, Milburn, Knock, Dufton, and Brampton, have suffered considerably; and at so great a distance as Temple Sowerby, the wind was so high as to make it dangerous for the people to stir out of their houses.— Though the inhabitants of that part consider this storm in some respects as a phoenomenon, yet we are informed, that they are frequent witnesses to scenes something similar to it, and which would not fail at any time to strike a stranger with the idea of a prodigy. These are known among the inhabitants by the name of helm winds, whose approach is denoted by a long black cloud which hangs over the tops of the mountains, and is commonly seen accumulating for several days together, apparently fixed.— The prognostics of its dispersion are, first a slow vibration of the whole body of the cloud, always parallel to the range of the mountains, and afterwards a smart breeze, which never fails of blowing from a point directly contrary to that from which the tempest issues that succeeds it, and which is generally exhausted in three or four hours. The shepherds, and others occupied in the vicinity of these mountains, are familiarized to these discharges, and know when to retreat for shelter.
We hear that a gentleman well qualified for the task, intends publishing a treatise on the cause and progress of these British Siroccoi.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 8 Mar 1786 [from the Newcastle papers]: Saturday morning a violent storm of wind attended with a strong frost, came on here from E.S.E. which continued with several variations from the easterly point till Wednesday, when it began to abate, but the frost continues. The long continuance of the wind in the above quarter, occasions Shields harbour to be fuller of shipping now, than it was at any time during the depth of winter, not one being able to get out; and we happily hear the traders of this port are all safe at Burlington Bay.
The ships mentioned in our last having been drove on shore on the North Sand off Sunderland harbour are all got off except two, which are drove so high on the sands by the high tides and the late storm, that it is not known when they will be got off.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 11 Mar 1786: Thursday the Tyne was completely froze over so low as Sir Peter's Quay, a mile below bridge; and on Thursday several boys were skaiting on the ice; but yesterday a gentle thaw came on, and in the afternoon about three o'clock the ice began to give way.
The present storm has been very severe in the north country. A few days ago two young men perished in passing the hills in the neighbourhood of Tay bridge.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 11 Mar 1786: March 10th, 1786.
On Saturday last the frost set in very severe, and has continued most of the week. The wind has been very variable seldom six hours together in the same point of the compass. On Tuesday morning we had a considerable quantity of snow.— As an accurate register of Farenheit's Thermometer and the Barometer, is kept at Highgate, and published in the Whitehall Evening Post, it may not be disagreeable to your readers to compare it with one kept in Westgate-street, in this town, by your humble servant, J.R.
|Newcastle||||| At Highgate |
|Farenheit's Thermometer, in the open air|||||Fronting the North. |
|in the shade, fronting the North East||||| |
|Saturday March 4, || 11 at night || 15 ||||| Midnight || 19 |
|Sunday March 5. || 8 morn. || 10 ||||| Morn. 6 || 17 |
| || || ||||| Noon || 32 |
| || 10 even. || 24 ||||| Even. 6 || 23 |
| || || ||||| Midnight || 23 |
|Monday 6, || 9 morn. || 30 ||||| Morn. 6 || 21 |
| || 11 night || 26 ||||| || |
|Tuesday 7, || 8 morn. || 29 ||||| || |
|Wednesday 8, || 8 morn. || 17 ||||| || |
|Thursday 9, || 8 morn. || 23 ||||| || |
| || 10 even. || 30 ||||| || |
|Friday 10, || 8 morn. || 36 ||||| || |
| ||||| |
|Barometer at Newcastle.|||||Ditto at Highgate.|
|Saturday March 4, || 11 even. || 30 ||||| Midnight || 30. 4 |
|Sunday March 5, || 8 morn. || 29. 8 ||||| Morn. 6 || 30. 2 |
| || || ||||| Noon || 30. 15 |
| || 10 after. || 29. 7 ||||| After. 6 || 30. 3 |
| || || ||||| Midnight || 29. 95 |
|Monday 6, || 9 morn. || 29. 6 ||||| Morn. 6 || 29. 8 |
| || 11 after. || 29. 6 ||||| || |
|Tuesday 7, || 8 morn. || 29. 63 ||||| || |
|Wednesday 8, || 8 morn. || 29. 9 ||||| || |
|Thursday 9, || 8 morn. || 30 ||||| || |
| || 10 after. || 29. 9 ||||| || |
|Friday 10 || 8 morn. || 29. 8 ||||| || |
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 15 Mar 1786: Notwithstanding the unusual severity of the weather at this season, the northern part of this kingdom has been exempted from much of its inclemency, which has been sensibly felt in the southern part. The cold, for five days together, by observation thirty miles from London, was found to be several degrees more than in the year 1739 and 1740. The quantity of snow which has fallen is almost incredible, and the roads were impassable in some places.— One of the Penrith Coaches, on Saturday se'ennight, was upwards of three hours in going between Barnet and London, a distance of ten miles, though it was drawn by six horses.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 15 Mar 1786: [Describes various shipwrecks and summarises:]
The last ships which left Dublin arrived here on Sunday night, and bring accounts of various shipping materials having been driven on shore on different parts of the Irish coast; there were also found in one day, between Skerries and Rush, eighteen dead bodies, all of whom, we hear, are decently interred.
From other accounts it appears that the late storm has been general along the whole East coast of Ireland.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 18 Mar 1786: Wednesday, a fresh storm of snow came on from the east, attended with a high wind; but the wind became moderate on Thursday evening. No damage has been heard of among the shipping.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 22 Mar 1786: THURSDAY last was the severest day that has been felt in this part of the kingdom during the winter, and a very great deal of snow fell, which soon dissolved here, but lays very thick in many parts of the country.
No post arrived here on Friday; and since then the mails have been twenty-four hours later than usual. The delay, we are informed, is occasioned by the snow in Derbyshire.— ***Monday's mail had not arrived when this paper went to press.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 22 Mar 1786: We hear from Ulverston, that the fall of snow, on Thursday last, was not near so great as it has been here;— and as the weather has been very mild since then, it is hoped the inconvenience of travelling, in the parts where the storm was more severely felt, will soon be removed.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 29 Mar 1786: The Friends, Stitt, sailed from hence the 14th inst. for Dublin; about twelve hours after (a gale of wind coming on) she sprung a leak, and was obliged to bear away before the wind; the next evening, she made Wicklow lights, and, the gale still increasing, about ten o'clock the same night, she struck upon the rocks near two miles to the northward, and bulged.
John Warlick, a young man belonging to the ship, determined on endeavouring to swim on shore, leapt overboard, but was thrown back by the surf, and washed under the stern of the vessel. By the exertions of his shipmates, after several fruitless attempts, he was got upon deck, but in so exhausted a state, (and it being out of the power of his companions to give him any further assistance) that he expired in about an hour.— The survivors remained on board till seven o'clock next morning, exposed to the inclemency of the weather, continually washed with the sea, and under perpetual apprehensions of the vessel going to pieces; about that hour they were relieved from their dreadful situation by the humane labours of the inhabitants. The storm increased, and, the second tide after that, the vessel went to pieces.
The Minerva, Dawson, of this port, is lost in Dundalk Bay. The accident happened the 14th or 15th inst.— The people are saved.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 5 Apr 1786: Notwithstanding the late severe weather, there are several instances of the forwardness of the season; but the following is a very singular proof of it; on Tuesday last, potatoes of this year's produce were dug in the garden of Humphrey Senhouse, Esq. at Netherhall; several of them weighed an ounce each, and when dressed were found perfectly firm and dry.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 3 May 1786: The month of May was ushered in yesterday morning in the usual noisy manner. To countenance the ceremony, a plentiful snow had fallen about four o'clock, which produced a sufficient quantity of May-dew. ...
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 10 May 1786: Thursday last a remarkably black cloud appeared to the Eastward of this town, which seemed to rest upon the neighbouring mountains; and we are informed it emptied itself into the vale of Lowswater, and on the adjacent hills (in this county) by a shower of hailstones, which lasted near a quarter of an hour, covered the ground, and might have been taken up in handfulls. They were of such a size as never was seen in the memory of any man living, being in general as large as a moderate sized plumb.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 13 May 1786: The fair at Orton, in Westmoreland, on Tuesday se'nnight, was very small, owing to a very heavy rain at that time; but at Shap, on Thursday se'nnight, there was a tolerable good fair, and cattle sold pretty well.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 24 May 1786: A very plentiful and seasonable rain has fallen in this part of the country, within these few days, which has had a fine effect on the ground, and gives a very promising appearance of grass, &c.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 27 May 1786: The oldest man living cannot remember a greater prospect of plenty of Grass and Corn, than the present season affords, which begins to be already felt in different parts of the north, the price of meat and corn falling in many markets; and there is every reason to hope that they must be considerably lower in a short time, particularly the price of wheat, as there is no demand abroad nor to the south of England; and several accounts say that the Corn Merchants in the south have considerable quantities of both wheat and oats upon their hands, for which they cannot find a market.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 31 May 1786: The rains that have lately fallen have produced a wonderful and pleasing change in the face of the country: and we are well assured that there has seldom been a more promising prospect of a plentiful crop of hay than is at present exhibited in several parts of this county.
Best grass butter sold in our market on Saturday last, so low as 5½ per pound. On an average, this article has not sold lower than 8d. per pound for twelve months past.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 3 Jun 1786: [Make of this what you will ...] Dr Campbell of Lancaster, has found by an experiment made on Thursday se'nnight, that the atmosphere is very much impregnated with putrid particles, which he demonstrated by the ascension of a piece of meat, which, after a short duration in that elevated region, descended very much putrified. He supposes this to be the cause of the present sickliness that prevails there, owing to the long continuation of the dry unwholesome easterly winds.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 7 Jun 1786: A field of grass belonging to Mr. John Palmer of Great Broughton, in this county, was cut on Tuesday last, which afforded a very plentiful crop.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 10 Jun 1786: The river has been for some days so remarkably clear in Shields harbour, as to render the dragging for anchors, cordage, &c. very successful; some people employed in the above business, saw at the bottom two watches, one of which they got up.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 17 Jun 1786: Wednesday the hay harvest begun in this neighbourhood.
Hay harvest is begun in the neighbourhood of Dumfries, with a very abundant crop.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 21 Jun 1786: Though the complaints of a want of rain are general throughout this neighbourhood, we hear from several parts of this county and Westmorland, that many refreshing showers have fallen within the last ten days.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 24 Jun 1786: A correspondent informs us of a singular circumstance lately observed upon that Ridge of mountains, extending from the North part of Yorkshire to the neighbourhood of Brampton, in Cumberland. All the green parts of the fells are covered with swarms of an insect, in size and shape resembling a caterpillar, but of a dark brown colour. These creatures, which have never been seen but in very dry summers like the present, we are very apprehensive will be productive of very bad consequences, as the cattle cannot possibly graze without devouring great numbers of them.- At the head of the Teese, Lune, and Baldersdales, the progress of this rapacious creature is marked with the most alarming devastation; having destroyed all the herbage on the Commons, they have fallen upon the meadow and pasture Grounds, and as far as they have advanced, not a single living plant is left. The crops, before the approach of the insect, wore the most promising appearance of plenty. Many methods have been taken to extirpate them, but every endeavour has proved ineffectual.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 28 Jun 1786: A meteor, apparently of no great size, was seen here on Tuesday evening: its direction was from East to West.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 28 Jun 1786: The hay harvest begun in the neighbourhood of Cockermouth the week before last.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 28 Jun 1786: Considerable damage has been done by the numerous tribe of insects which have, for some time past, infested the fells in Cumberland and Westmorland; in many laces the herbage has been totally destroyed, and the sheep obliged to leave their usual grazing places. These devastations had however decreased considerably before the last rains, which, we understand, have been pretty general; and, it is hoped, these destructive animalcules are deprived of the power of doing more mischief. We are informed that a little verdure is springing up in several places where their effects had been most visible.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 1 Jul 1786: The late drought has been very severely felt in Westmoreland, the hay harvest commenced in the neighbourhood of Appleby last week, and the crops are bound to fall far short of their usual production; one close containing 3 acres and 3 roods, which in former years produced between 30 and 40 carts of fine hay, has this year produced only five carts.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 5 Jul 1786: A very plentiful rain has fallen in this part of the kingdom, since Tuesday last.
The vessel, on board of which the 58th regiment embarked for the Isle of Mann, was put back by contrary winds, and the troops were relanded next day.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 5 Jul 1786: Workington Races on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday last, might, and in all possibility would, have afforded good entertainment, had not the "clouds hung heavily upon them"; scarce a blink of sun-shine to enliven the dripping scene.— This is the third year the Stewards have been particularly unfortunate in the time fixed for these races.— But "who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven?"— To be sure, it was a little mortifying to those who went upon the ground, and had both their cloaths and their sport spoiled; and it was not a pleasant season to those who had an inclination to go, but were prevented by the fore-bodings of what might happen. ...
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 12 Jul 1786: We hear from the Isle of Mann, that the herring fishery so far promises well; a considerable quantity was taken in the course of last week.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 15 Jul 1786: A considerable quantity of hay is cut in Cumberland, and some has been got in: the crops are lighter than last year, but in general not so much so as was apprehended.
We hear from Yetholm, that a quantity of barley belonging to Mr George Wanless, of that place, was cut on Saturday the 8th inst. it was sown the 8th of November, and notwithstanding the severity of the frosts and droughts since that time, it has proved an excellent crop.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 19 Jul 1786: The accounts from various parts of the country speak of the hay harvest being much more productive than was expected, or could have been hoped from the long drought.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 26 Jul 1786: Thursday last the first boat-load of Manks herrings arrived here which have been brought to our market this season.
There is the appearance of great plenty of mackerel near the mouth of this harbour ...
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 29 Jul 1786: On Thursday we had a heavy gale of wind from the S.S. and W. which continued several hours. Part of an unfinished house in Saville-row, in this town, was blown down. Also a new building in Milburn Place, North Shields: providentially the workmen had left the same not five minutes before it fell.- Several keels were sunk in the river, but happily no lives were lost.- Many pikes of hay, standing in the fields of this neighbourhood, were blown down and scattered abroad; and much other damage done.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 29 Jul 1786: We are credibly informed, that no fewer than 300 fine salmon were taken, at one draught, on Monday se'nnight; and 155 were also taken, at one draught, on Saturday last, below Berwick bridge.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 29 Jul 1786: The fine showers of rain which fell last week and this, will be of great service to the after grass, and also to the wheat; which the curious in agriculture say, always fills better after moderate rains at this season. At present there is a prospect of a very plentiful harvest, for the hills and vallies stand thick with corn, and the prices of wheat fall in all the markets, and must, in a few weeks, be still considerably lower.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 2 Aug 1786: We had very rough weather on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, with a strong wind at N.W.— The Creswell, Wilson, on Thursday morning, was forced into the harbour, and struck within the New-quay: the John, Renny, was put on shore behind the North-wall on Friday evening, but was got off again without receiving much damage.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 12 Aug 1786: Yesterday, between the hours of two and three o'clock in the morning, the shock of an earthquake was very evidently perceived here, but no damage ensued.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 16 Aug 1786: A few minutes before two o'clock on Friday morning, the shock of an earthquake was felt very sensibly in this town and neighbourhood, and the agitation, according to the most observations respecting it, continued from three to five seconds.— The weather as observed immediately after the motion ceased, was close and sultry, the barometer stood at 29¾ inches, and there was no wind. Earthquakes are admitted to be the greatest and most formidable of all the phenomena of nature, and the most approved Theories have defined them of two kinds, distinguished by the names of Tremor and Pulse, from the manner of the shake; the first being horizontal, in alternate vibrations; the second perpendicular, up and down.— The vehement concussion (but happily of short duration) which is the subject of this paragraph, was doubtless of the former kind, which is more rapid, and generally less destructive than the latter.— Its direction is supposed to have been from the South-East, accompanied by a rumbling noise in the air: there was not sufficient light to make any other observation immediately after the shock, except that of the atmosphere being very thick and hazy. The consternation it caused in this town was very great, a chimney in Tangier-street was thrown down, three people, in different parts of the town, were thrown off their feet, and one of them considerably hurt, but no further damage was done.
We have accounts of the shock being felt at the following places, viz.
Workington, the quay a little damaged. Maryport, Cockermouth, Redmain, Keswick, Lorton, very severe, but no damage. Egremont, some chimneys thrown down, and a part of the ruins of the castle. Bootle, Broughton, Ravenglass, Ulverston, no damage. Abbey-Holm, Wigton, Carlisle, Brampton, no damage. Kendal, Lancaster, Garstang, Preston, Hawkshead, no damage. Penrith, Appleby, Brough, some old walls thrown down, in the neighbourhood of these places. In the Isle of Mann and at Dublin, no damage whatever.— These are all the places we have received accounts from; but there is little doubt of its having been general, at least throughout these kingdoms.
The most remarkable earthquakes which have happened in England are,— one at Oxford in 1665,— another at the same place in 1683,— one in the north of England in 1703,— one in London in 1749,— several in different parts of the kingdom in 1750,— and one in the north of England in 1767.
[Continues on theory of earthquakes etc.]
The shock was also felt at Newcastle.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 19 Aug 1786: The beginning of last week some corn was cut in the neighbourhood of this town, but the weather since that time having proved very wet, has prevented the harvest from becoming general; the crops have a promising appearance, and the weather being now settled, we have great reason to hope, that a great deal of corn will be cut in the course of the ensuing week.
Tuesday, a quantity of new oats was sold at Hexham market, by Mr Ralph Reed, of Walwick Grange.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 23 Aug 1786: The Regatta at Keswick, on Tuesday last, was attended by a very great concourse of genteel people, and notwithstanding the badness of the day, the entertainment throughout was conducted in such a manner as afforded general pleasure. ...
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 23 Aug 1786: Our Lammas-fair, contrary to all expectation, was renewed on Thursday last, with unusual vigour: the day being remarkably fine, the town was full of company, and all was jollity. ...
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 23 Aug 1786: It blew a hard gale on Friday night; several coal-loaden vessels were put back, some with their sails split. The Moore had the misfortune to lose a boy (his name Harrison) on Saturday morning.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 26 Aug 1786: By letters from Kirkcudbright, we learn, that the shock of an earthquake was felt there on Friday morning the 11th inst. and occasioned much alarm.
Several people in Edinburgh and Leith were likewise sensible of it, though it would seem in a less degree than to the southward. The above shock was also sensibly felt at Appleby and other parts of Westmoreland.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 26 Aug 1786: Saturday and Sunday we had a very heavy fall of rain; that on Saturday was attended with thunder and lightning; since which the weather has been very favourable: the harvest is now become general, in this neighbourhood; and the crops afford a pleasing prospect of plenty.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 30 Aug 1786: We hear from Doncaster, that the late heavy rains have greatly retarded the harvest in that part of the kingdom.
The harvest is now general throughout the northern parts of this kingdom.
NEWCASTLE COURANT, 2 Sep 1786: We learn from Appleby, that new oats were sold in that market on Saturday last, and the crops prove very good.
Wednesday several parcels of new wheat and oats were exposed to sale in Stockton market, which appeared remarkably fine, and sold low. The accounts we have from Cleveland, in Yorkshire, say, that the crops of wheat and oats are very great, and that the produce and quality of grain far exceed the farmer's expectation.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 6 Sep 1786: Notwithstanding the weather in general has appeared to be unfavourable, we are assured by a very intelligent correspondent (who has lately been through the greatest part of the county) that the crop of corn is extremely plentiful this year; no material damage has yet been sustained, and if the weather proves favourable for getting it in, there will be a very great harvest.
Thursday forenoon, during the inclemency of the storm, a bird which is generally called a Petrel, was forced in shore, and after hovering some time in the air, perched upon the sand, from whence it soon took flight into the country.- The petrel is indeed a rara avis in these latitudes. Zoologists say it is an inhabitant of St. Kilda all the year, except September and October. It is larger than a common gull; lays only one egg, which it hatches in June.- These birds are particularly serviceable to the inhabitants of Kilda; they supply oil for their tables, balm for their wounds, and medicine for their diseases.- Amongst sailors, their flying towards land is considered as a prognostic of bad weather.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 13 Sep 1786: The most remarkable effect produced in this neighbourhood, by the late earthquake, is to be seen a little above Gillerthwaite, near the head of Ennerdale water.- At that place, close by the large mountain called The Pillar, stands a stupendous rock, the altitude of which has perhaps never been taken: but by its forming so large an object near one of the loftiest mountains in England, there can be no doubt of its being immensely high. It is known by the name of the Pillar Rock, has been the resort of eagles time out of mind, and its appearance justifies the general conjecture of its having, in some former convulsion of the earth, been separated from its present bulky neighbour.- In the concussion, which was so generally felt throughout the Northern parts of these kingdoms, a large portion of the rock has been thrown down. The fragments of stone, which have been shaken from it, are at present scattered about its base, and must be of the weight of several thousand tons.- The whole forms a most sublime and tremendous figure, worthy the observation of the curious.
A violent shock of an earthquake was felt at Lisbon, about eight o'clock in the morning of the 5th ult. (6 days before the shock was perceived here) which was of short duration, and produced no bad effects.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 13 Sep 1786: We hear from Carlisle, that on Tuesday afternoon, they had the heaviest hail-shower ever remembered; the streets were in a few seconds three inches thick; notwithstanding this, at the distance of only one mile round the city, the weather was quite fair.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 13 Sep 1786: Considerable quantities of new wheat have been sold in the markets of the county of Durham and N. Riding of Yorkshire, which have reduced the price greatly.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 20 Sep 1786: The excessive heavy rains, which fell on Wednesday and Thursday last, occasioned a greater flood in some parts of this county than perhaps ever was known at this season of the year. The lower part of Keswick was under water for near two days, and the bridge leading towards Cockermouth is washed down.- At Cockermouth, the Derwent overflowed its banks, and on Thursday and Friday afforded frequent melancholy views of corn and hay floating upon it. For several hours on Friday, the water covered the turnpike road a foot deep the length of half a mile on the side of the river, and the grounds on the opposite side, which are much lower, were entirely overflown for two days.- We also have similar accounts from Buttermire, Lowswater, Lamplugh, and several other places. Besides the inconveniences to which many people have been put, by having their habitations deluged, considerable loss has been sustained by many; the produce of their fields being either swept away, or rendered unfit for use; and, it is feared, the reports yet made are only a partial account of the destruction this flood has occasioned.
A correspondent at Cockermouth has furnished us with a further account of the flood, as felt there, in a letter of the 15th inst. of which the following is an extract.- "For two or three days past, we have had very heavy rains, and yesterday it was an incessant storm during the greatest part of the day. The river Cocker was swelled to an unusual height, and many of the inhabitants of this town were driven from their first floors, and obliged to remove great part of their furniture. Great damage was threatened, and, in the evening, the water brought down vast quantities of hay & corn.
The river Derwent was not at its full height till about seven o'clock this morning, when it was raised four feet above its usual surface, and many parts of the town below bridge were overflowed great part of the day. The damage it must have done in its course cannot fail of being very considerable, as hay, corn, and timber, have continued to roll down the river since day-light; and now (at six o'clock in the Evening) it has not fallen more than four inches, though there has been little rain during the last 12 hours.- This may be accounted for by the many different lakes, which supply this stream, acting as reservoirs, and the various channels by which they are fed.
Numbers of people have been flocking continually (this day) to the castle-hill, to view the ravages the water has made, which present a scene at once horrible and sublime.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 20 Sep 1786: The weather has been more settled for the last 24 hours, than for many days past, and this morning the wind came to the Eastward.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 27 Sep 1786: A correspondent who has nicely observed, and kept a regular journal of the weather, since the first of August, says, that on an average, six hours in each day during that month, and that which has come of September, was either rainy, or windy, or both. Such a constant succession of rough weather at the close of a summer, can scarce be remembred by any now living in these kingdoms.
CUMBERLAND PACQUET (Whitehaven), 27 Sep 1786: During the great flood mentioned in our last, the river Eden, at Carlisle, was swelled to an unusual height, as were also the Caldew and the Petterel. Large quantities of corn and wood came down, and several bridges in the neighbourhood were destroyed.
The late heavy rains increased the height of the rivers in the neighbourhood of Lancaster, to such an amazing rapidity, as to sweep down almost every thing in their courses; wood and corn came down in abundance, it being in the height of harvest there. A young man in attempting to cross the Lune in an open boat, was overset in the current, and unfortunately drowned.