The Jacobite defence of Carlisle

castleIt would have to be said that the Jacobites were not as gentlemanly on their way home as they had been on their journey south and the prince was starting to look a bit grim round the edges.  They’d left Carlisle confident that Stuart supporters would flock to their cause but Lancashire with its pro-Jacobite sympathies hadn’t yielded the manpower that Charles’ Scottish generals had hoped for.  Lord George Murray had only agreed to continue to Derby to test the waters.

Prince Charles reached Carlisle on the 19th of December.  He bedded down for the night in Mr Highmore’s house – it’s long gone, replaced by marks and Spencer. He and his army marched back into Scotland on the 21st December. He left behind him a garrison of some three hundred and eighty men.  Many of them were from the Manchester Regiment as the prospect of entering Scotland was not one which some found appealing.  Colonel Townley commanded those men whilst Captain Hamilton was made governor of the city. This had the unlooked for effect of dividing command.

The rationale for leaving Carlisle in Jacobite hands was two-fold.  It would slow Cumberland’s pursuit and it would send the message that Charles intended to return and raise the siege which would no doubt follow.

Sure enough Cumberland arrived and found the city gates locked against him.  Carlisle was besieged once again – the last time in its long history: in fact the last time any English town was besieged. It was Cumberland who said that the castle was no better than an old hen coop.  He had a point. A messenger was sent to Whitehaven to demand canon.  IN order to break the walls the duke needed artillery.

A battery was set up on Primrose Bank whilst the Scots took pot shots from the castle.  It’s said that the duke only narrowly missed a bullet.Things started to deteriorate from the Scottish point of view when Dutch troops under the command of General Wade arrived and set up their own batteries at Stanwix.  The Scots fired their own artillery.  They don’t seem to have been particularly good shots.

As soon as the guns arrived from Whitehaven and were mounted on the batteries the siege was over. It took two days.  The Scots surrounded on the 29th of December. As the walls started to topple Hamilton asked for his men to be treated as prisoners of war.  His request was rejected.  The Jacobites found themselves incarcerated for a time in Carlisle Cathedral where they carved their names into the woodwork before they were eventually moved, tried and then many were returned to Carlisle to be executed; their leaders for treason, the ordinary jacobites for having the misfortune to have their names drawn by lot irrelevant of their role in proceedings.  Those who weren’t executed or didn’t die due to poor treatment could look forward to being transported to the Americas…more of that anon.

They weren’t the only ones for the high jump.  The Hanoverians had been scared by the fact that the Jacobites had got so far as Derby and now set about making an example of their foes and those who were deemed to be accomplices.  Carlisle’s mayor and town clerk found themselves under arrest along with eight other citizens of Carlisle.

Mr Highmore’s house now became home to the duke of Cumberland whilst he remained in Carlisle.

7 thoughts on “The Jacobite defence of Carlisle

  1. When I visited Carlisle, we went into the room where the prisoners were held and I got really creeped out. There was a lot of suffering in that room.

    • I think that might have been the so-called “licking stone” cell in Carlisle Castle Keep. It was said that the prisoners got moisture by licking the walls – a grim place indeed. I will have to admit though that Carlisle Castle is one of my favourite castles in the country and I know I’m lucky to be able to visit so many historic places at the drop of a hat.

  2. Your fine article presents that time honored mistake that Charles arrived with his army in Carlisle of 19th but he was camped in Kendal on the evening of 18th. He stayed in a house on Stricklandgate. I have walked the fells he traced.Even without the battle near Penrith at Clifton Dykes no man never mind an army could have been in Kendal on the night of 18th to arrive in Carlisle next day. maybe dark in the night he arrived but it would have been the 20th. To add to his route being harder than hell it was snowing a blizzard too all night and next morning all over that part of what today is Cumbria. I argued this with many historians over the years.At 23 I marched over that same route at good pace on a summer morning at 6am . I arrived at Penrith with swollen ankle at noon. .Two months later from Clifton along with three friends we walked to Carlisle .It was after 9pm and with only one stop for lunch from sarneys and cold fried chicken. It was a hard walk but eased as we ambled by Temple Sowerby with mothers house set below. Unless the battle of Clifton was fought in less than an hour Charles arrived on 19th without most of his army. We made no allowance for snow in our calculations and unless they had wings it is hard thing to understand. My thought is that on the 2oth of October is snow Charlies rag tag army walked foot sore and weary into the city left by Rome called Carlisle.In the cathedral north wall many bullet holes are seen and post holes from the platform that held many poor misguided souls before the line of red coated musket aiming soldiers. Used to be the smallest cathedral in Britain until Oxford chapel claimed that title, another mistake as it is but a chapel and never seen by anyone other than a what it is. I know what is recorded by witnesses in Charlies case but one wonders who went out in a snow storm to see a gang of rag tag starving men ramble like drunks through their streets. All doors locked Ill be bound.

    • I have the feeling that the dates for the movement up and down the country are based on those who arrived first rather than last. Let’s face it, His Bonniness was nowhere near Clifton when the shenanigans started and in all honesty it was more of a skirmish than a battle – I’d have to agree that most citizens would have kept their heads down! I defer to the fact that you’ve made the walk so know the foot aching distances involved. I think its very telling that once the Jacobites arrived in Dumfries they demanded new shoes!

  3. Pingback: Hundreds of holes, in Carlisle Cathedral - Cumbrian Characters

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