Category Archives: Eighteenth Century

Bonnie Prince Charlie – retreat.

000106_hartington_exterior_001.jpgThe Jacobites left Derby on the 6th December but William Augustus (the duke of Cumberland) didn’t get the information until the next day.  He set off in hot pursuit hoping to catch Charles on English soil.  Meanwhile the Jacobites headed back the way that they came with brief interludes for making local legends.  For reasons best known to himself and the original story teller Bonnie Prince Charlie  allegedly diverted off the main road at Ashbourne for a quick jaunt around the White Peak – he also allegedly stayed in Hartington where he took a mistress – one night stand might be a more apt description- who died presumably from love and who continues to haunt Hartington Hall waiting for her prince to return, pictured above.  Far more likely is the tale of the landlord of the Royal Oak by the River Dove who failed to part with his horse when the Jacobites demanded it and was shot for his pains.

Anyway, as Cumberland pursued the Jacobites north, General Wade who’d made it all the way to Yorkshire headed towards Lancashire in a bid to cut the Jacobite army off – clearly not a resounding success. Cumberland also wrote a sternly worded note to the local magistrates of Cheshire telling them it was their duty to slow the Jacobites down so that he could catch up with them.  It would appear that many magistrates nailed their letterboxes shut or suddenly found they had pressing engagements elsewhere not least because in the aftermath of the Jacobite army heading south many of the local militias had been disbanded having been palpably useless during the Jacobite advance. Oates makes the point that there wasn’t a Cheshire militia because the focus had been on building Chester’s defensive strength. By the 16th December Cumberland was in Preston and not amused by the fact that the citizens of the North West of England had failed to intercept the Jacobites.

There were the occasional skirmishes.  In Macclesfield one Jacobite was shot dead and in Manchester loyalists threw clods of earth at the retreating army but swiftly ran away themselves when the rear guard took exception to their treatment.

By the time the Jacobites arrived in Westmorland and Cumbria (to avoid confusion with the duke) the situation had changed.  The retreating army was less chivalrous than it had been on its march south.  The men who made up its parts were now looting and pillaging – they were becoming steadily more desperate. The regular army was catching up – as Bonnie Prince Charlie got up in the morning and rode off his hosts barely had time to change the bed sheets (if indeed they did) before the duke of Cumberland arrived looking for a bed for the night!

The advance party of Jacobites arrived in Kendal on the 14th December.  It was market day.  There were scuffles. A Jacobite was killed and in the exchange of gunfire that followed so was a Kendal cobbler.  In total four men died that day. The Jacobite advance party headed for Penrith via Shap and Orton.  The country was alight as it had been in the days of the border reivers with beacons being lit to warn of the Jacobite approach and skirmishes between the Scots and rural Cumbrians.

By now Cumberland was writing to those in authority demanding that they tear up roads and fell trees to stop the Jacobites in their tracks. The road from Kendal to Shap was broken.  With this information and the speed of the retreat its no wonder that horses fell in their traces on the pull up the hills over Shap. On the  16th December, the main  part of the army was at Shap. However, the rear guard commanded by Lord George Murray was delayed because of the difficulty of moving the wagons and what artillery they did have.  Many of the wagons broke or were simply too heavy to haul up the road.  Smaller carts had to be requisitioned and the contents of the wagons redistributed. The remnants of a cart and a horse skeleton would be found in a ravine demonstrating the difficulties of transport in the eighteenth century.  Every delay saw Cumberland drawing closer.

DSC_0077-54.jpgclifton war grave49.jpg It was at Clifton,outside Penrith that Cumberland’s advance party clashed with the Jacobite rearguard who had been ordered to conceal themselves behind two hedges.  It was the 18 December and was to be the last battle on English soil.  As the sunset the two sides met and both sides claimed victory – whilst the Redcoats retained the field the Scots could very justifiably argue that their retreat had not been impeded. The St Cuthbert’s Church, Clifton contains a memorial to the men of Bland’s regiment who fell during the skirmish and there is a roadside memorial to the battle.  Cumberland stayed the night at Townend Cottage.

A site known as the Rebel’s Tree in Clifton was where 15 Jacobites were thought to have been buried but an archeological dig preluding a housing development failed to uncover their grave although it did yield rather a lot of musket balls.  The archeological report noted that the railway embankment could have destroyed the graves or that the bodies lay within the restricted 20m zone around the tree which is protected not only because of its links with the battle but because it was also the local hanging tree.

On the morning of the 19th December the Jacobites were back in Carlisle and the recruits of the Manchester Regiment were having to decide whether to continue with the army or disperse and go home.  Cumberland would arrive outside Carlisle’s gates on the 21st December. Carlisle found itself under siege but this time, unlike so many in the past – the Scots were inside the city gates rather than outside.

Oates, Jonathan D. (2006) The Jacobite Invasion of 1745 in North West England. Lancaster: Lancaster University

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The Jacobite advance.

bonnie prince chalrie derby38.JPGAs the Jacobites marched south via Lancaster the Hanoverians in the form of the Lancashire Militia and the Liverpool Blues marched into action – which meant breaking bridges.  The bridge over the Mersey at Warrington was demolished as were several others but by the time the order came to demolish the bridge at Stockport it was too late.  The Blues hurried off to join the garrison at Chester and Liverpudlians heaved a sigh of collective relief as the Jacobites headed for Manchester and Manchester’s magistrates promptly left.  There was something of an exodus prior to their arrival.  Such was the state of concern that Oates records that families packed their belongings and their families onboard boats in Liverpool ready to sail in the event of the army turning its attention in their direction.  Not everyone felt the same about the Stuart cause apparently two fiddlers played the Jacobites into Preston – though Preston a town with a reputation of jacobite sympathies didn’t offer up many in the way of recruits.

Once they arrived in Manchester on the 29th November 1745 the Jacobites set about having the bridge at Crossford repaired, food to be foraged for and Prince Charles declared regent.

The perennial problem of recruitment remained. Eight men had joined in Preston.  At Ormskirk the story was a bit different in that there was more popular support but it appeared that although Prince Charles had well wishers none wished to pick up a weapon in his cause.  This was disappointing as Lancashire had the reputation for being Catholic in outlook.  Oates observes that there was little correspondence between the Catholic Church in England and the Stuart court, ironically based in Rome, as the Stuarts didn’t wish the English to think of them as being a Catholic faction.  Ultimately a Manchester Regiment of Jacobites was formed. Charles took this as a good sign – his officers felt that two hundred men didn’t constitute a popular uprising nor for that matter did they come solely from Manchester.  They came from all over the north of England. They were in the command of Colonel Francis Towneley who had seen service in the French army.  The regiment was inspected on the 30th November.  When Towneley was tried for treason in London in 1746 he claimed that as a veteran of the french army he should be treated as a prisoner of war.  His plea was not admitted.

The Jacobites left Manchester with their new recruits on the 1st of December 1745.  They continued south via Macclesfield and Leek where they arrived on 3rd December- it is said that the Jacobites sharpened their swords on the tombstones of St Edward’s Church. The vicar’s wife either died from fright or gave the prince a flea in his ear depending on which story you chose to believe.From there it was a hop, skip and a jump to Ashbourne and Derby.

Meanwhile Cumberland decided that the prince was heading for Wales based on a feint that Lord George Murray made at Congleton so marched his forces from Lichfield to Stone south of Stoke where he waited to give battle – and was presumably very irritated when it didn’t happen. Murray’s manoeuvre meant that the Jacobites were able to march into Derby unopposed on 4th December with between six  and nine thousand men depending on the source.  The newly formed Derbyshire regiment commanded by the Duke of Devonshire having decided that discretion was the better part of valour and scarpered to Retford.  Bonnie Prince Charlie feeling that he was on a roll made arrangements for the capture of Swarkestone Bridge which was the only one crossing the Trent between Burton and Nottingham.

There was a meeting in Exeter House on the 5th December.  There are 125 miles between Derby and London – another week would have seen the army in England’s capital. However, it was decided that the army would return to Scotland  as it risked being surrounded with Wade and Cumberland’s men coming around behind them and another force to their south.  There was also the lack of support from the English for the Jacobite cause and in addition to which the Scots were a bit restive about the fact that the french were supposed to be offering assistance and so far there had been not so much as a hint of french boots on the ground.   Lord George Murray was very clear as to his concerns.

The final straw may have come in the form of Dudley Bradstreet who presented himself in Derby as a Jacobite but who was really a spy working for Cumberland – he “let slip’ that there were 9,000 men in Northampton on the Hanoverian side.  There weren’t but there wasn’t any way of checking.

So on the 6th of December Ashbourne once again played host to Bonnie Prince Charlie and his very cross army because whilst the officers didn’t fancy being pinned on three sides the men themselves were keen for a fight.

Oates, Jonathan D. (2006) The Jacobite Invasion of 1745 in Northwest England. Lancaster: lancaster University

 

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The grocer and Bonnie Prince Charlie

bonnie prince charlie.jpgBonnie Prince Charlie’s entry to Carlisle on a white horse followed by the declaration of his father as James III at the foot of the market cross all seems very straight forward but as with much to do with the rebellion of 1745 an element of farce is never far away.

Charles was based at Blackhall but heard that Wade was moving from Newcastle to intercept him, so the prince shifted to Brampton where he stayed in what is now known as Prince Charlie’s House on High Cross Street. It has a blue plaque.  In Carlisle the deputy mayor had a rush of blood to the head at the Jacobite departure. Thomas Pattinson wrote a niftily worded note to the government  and the London Gazette to the effect that Carlisle had routed the enemy and that it had outdone Edinburgh – he also managed to infer that it was all thanks to him.

Unfortunately for Pattinson the Jacobites returned the following day and behaved in a most unchivalrous way by turning the locals into human shields.  Pattinson surrendered and offered up two thousand pounds if the Scots would promise not to ransack the place.  This happened on the 15th of November as you may recall from my previous post.

Inside the castle, Captain Durand took an audit of their situation. Durand had received a letter on the 10th November from Wade saying that he probably wouldn’t arrive in Carlisle in time.  The castle was not what it had once been- it was likened at one point in its history to a ‘chicken coop,’ the militia refused to fight and the castle was garrisoned by the elderly and the infirm. Prior to the rebellion extra groups had been requested but this had been turned down on the grounds that it would have cost too much money.  Fifty pounds could have halted the Jacobites in their tracks – medieval monarchs were well aware of the importance of Carlisle as a strategic key to the kingdom.  The knowledge had been lost and in November 1745 the Scots were able to take advantage of the situation even though they didn’t have much in the way of canon.  The castle surrendered the next day and after the rebellion Durrand was court-martialled but acquitted. In addition to being hobbled by the state the Government had left Carlisle in there was the small matter of the Jacobites forcing local women and children to walk ahead of them rather preventing Durand from firing the castle guns.  The city folk were also quite keen that the castle surrender asap because the Scots refused to accept the town’s surrender without the castle.

Meanwhile all was not well in the Scottish camp.  Lord George Murray had not been impressed by Prince Charles’ failure to rotate troups according to Riding so resigned his commission. It was symptomatic of the difficulty that Charles would increasingly face as the Jacobites travelled further south.  His men were not a cohesive body and prone to their own jealousies and agendas.  The Duke of Perth also resigned his commission whilst the Jacobites were in Carlisle added to which there was dissension amongst Charles’ advisers about whether they should advance further into England or return to Scotland.  The main problem seems to have been the lack of support – folk were not flocking to the Stuart colours – only two notable Cumbrian gentlemen arrived to swell their numbers, though once the Jacobites arrived in Lancashire which was more Catholic the numbers of recruits rose.  I should add that whilst the 1715 uprising had been almost entirely Catholic in flavour the 1745 rebels were Catholic, Episcopalian and there were even some Presbyterians amongst their number it was simply that not many people wanted the Stuarts back including some of those who’d merrily been drinking toasts to the ‘king over the water.’

Ultimately Colonel John Hamilton was left in charge of Carlisle’s Jacobite garrison with a hundred men and Sir John Arbuthnot who was named governor of Carlisle whilst the prince and the rest of the army headed down the A6 towards Penrith where the prince spent the night in what is now the George Hotel but which was then known as the George and Dragon; Kendal on November 20th where the mayor promised not to resist (but didn’t manage an entire song about it).  The Jacobites remained in Kendal for forty eight hours.  The prince stayed in a house on Strickland Gate (yes- there is a plaque- there are plaques all over the countryside from Carlisle to Derby based on Bonnie Prince Charlie’s pronouncements and sleeping habits) and the Angel Inn gained a legend that a child was saved from certain death at the hands of a Jacobite by the appearance of a helpful angel. Part of the reason for the decision to continue south was that the fall of Carlisle in the aftermath of Prestonpans and the fall of Edinburgh gave Prince Charles the prestige of victory.

Tomorrow’s post will take the Jacobites south to their fateful meeting at Exeter House  in Derby and the decision to turn back at a point where had they but known it London was in a state of chaos.  The Jacobites would be back in Kendal on the 13 December 1745 and they would be back in Carlisle by the 19th December with William Augutus better known as the Duke of Cumberland in hot pursuit.

Meanwhile the deputy mayor of Carlisle had become the topic of a ballad – and it wasn’t terribly flattering:

O Pattison ! ohon ! ohon !

Thou wonder of a Mayor !
Thou blest thy lot thou wert no Scot

And blustered like a player.

What hast thou done with sword or gun

To baffle the Pretender ?
Of mouldy cheese and bacon-grease

Thou much more fit defender.

front of brass and brain of ass

With heart of hare compounded,
How are thy boasts repaid with costs

And all thy pride confounded 

Thou need’st not rave lest Scotland crave

Thy kindred or thy favour ;
Thy wretched race can give no grace,

No glory thy behaviour.

 

The reference to cheese and bacon grease is made because Pattinson was actually a grocer and whether it was fair is another matter entirely as much of our understanding of the period comes from a source personally hostile to the deputy mayor.

Riding, Jacqueline. (2015) Jacobites: A New History of the ’45 Rebellion London:Bloomsbury Publishing

Carlisle in ballad and story. A lecture delivered before the Carlisle Scientific and Literary Society, on October 31st, 1911; and … to the Cumberland and Westmorland Association of London, on February 21st, 1912

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The White Cockade, the baby and the Jacobite.

rose castle 2Bonnie Prince Charlie and his army cross into England via the Solway Firth at a similar location to the point that Edward I crossed into Scotland more than four hundred years previously.    Carlisle prepared for attack.  It was still a walled city and even if the Carlisle Militia weren’t keen on a confrontation there was always an Autumn fog to keep the Scots at bay.  The prince headed off to find a comfortable bed in Brampton to the east of Carlisle and on the 10th November the Jacobites advanced. The following day the Prince sent a letter to the mayor saying that if the town surrendered that no harm would befall anyone.  It’s only fair to point out that by this time the prince had visited Warwick Hall and Blackwell Hall providing future local landowners with colourful tales and plenty of blue plaques.

The attack when it came was on the 14th of November lasting until the citizens of Carlisle surrendered on the 15th.  The castle remained defiant for a further 24 hours but ultimately Joseph Backhouse, the Mayor of Carlisle went to Brampton to hand the keys of the city over to the prince who duly had his father declared King James III at the market cross.  On Monday 18th Bonnie Prince Charlie paraded into the town on his white horse.  The Scots remained in Carlisle until the 22nd restocking their provisions and acquiring transport.  Every horse in the area  had to be taken to the castle and their owners were required to prove ownership or else the Scots took them as being militia horse and fair game.

So where does the baby and the bishop fit into the story? Joseph Dacre of Kirklinton Hall was in Carlisle as these events unfolded but his heavily pregnant wife, who happened to be the daughter of a former Bishop of Carlisle had gone to Rose Castle – which was the bishop’s residence. Rose Castle is only six miles south of Carlisle and it wasn’t long before the Jacobites arrived looking for the treasure that rumour said was kept in the castle.  MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart (Clanranold)  was just about to make a rather forceful entry when a servant appeared and pleaded for a bit of peace and quiet as Mrs Dacre had just given birth and the baby was so poorly that she was just about to be baptised.  There are several versions of the story but MacDonald gave the child the white cockade that he wore to signify that he was a Jacobite.  He ordered that there should be no robbery and that the little family should be left in peace and that furthermore the cockade would be guarantee that no other Jacobites would attempt to harm the castle whilst the infant was there.

Rosemary Dacre kept her white cockade even when she became Lady Rosemary Clark. The story is told in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine (volume 1) – see the link here which will open at the letter said to be from Lady Rosemary.   She is also said to have shown the white cockade to George IV when he visited Edinburgh in 1822 – the first Hanoverian monarch to do so and at a point where all things Scottish became popular thanks to the king and thus opened up the way for Sir Walter Scott at a slightly later date to play on  the romanticism that Victorians liked – making it difficult sometimes to identify actual chivalric attitudes from fictional flourishes.

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=MsQCAAAAIAAJ&pg=PA130&lpg=PA130&dq=lady+rosemary+clerk+%2B+white+cockade&source=bl&ots=TooqglmBWN&sig=cdGxDPCQr5L0Nvj4WM34ALs2OvY&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjCt_WzlcXUAhWPZlAKHQeOD_8Q6AEILTAC#v=onepage&q=lady%20rosemary%20clerk%20%2B%20white%20cockade&f=false

As for MacDonald – he was A.D.C.to Prince Charles.  He was taken prisoner and sent to Edinburgh in the aftermath of Culloden before being sent to Carlisle along with other notable Jacobite prisoners. His house at Kinlochmoidart was destroyed by Cumberland’s men.  The prince had stayed there from the 11-17 August 1745 before he raised his standard and no doubt the Scot was proud of his home as he had only had it remodelled during the previous few years. The whole estate was forfeit when MacDonald was executed on the 18th October 1746.  It was ultimately repurchased by his grandson.

Once again song gets in on the act although as is often the case with folk history forms historians are uncertain as to who composed it although there is a definite link to the Jaobites –  the Lament for MacDonald of Kinlochmoidart tells of his clan’s grief at the death of their lord.

The sun is clouded. The hills are shrouded;
The sea is silent, it ends its roar.
The streams are crying; winds are sighing,
Our Moidart hero returns no more.
Cockade-1
 

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Johnnie Cope – officer and popular song

Sir_John_Cope.jpgThe Camerons are coming!   Charles Stuart made his way south from the Highlands to Corstorphine near the Scottish capital.  The Hanoverian red coats retreated.  Sir John Cope, Commander-in-Chief of Scotland, had no desire to fight the clans on their own territory.

Bonnie Prince Charlie gave the citizens of Edinburgh and ultimatum whilst Sir John landed with his troops in Dunbar.  The city council sent a deputation to see the Jacobite leaders late in the night.  Charlie sent them a way with a flea in their ear without meeting them. The Camerons were instructed to take the city.

In the early hours of the 17 September 1745 the tired and no doubt worried councillors arrived back in Edinburgh  – with the Camerons right behind them.  By six in the morning the city was theirs apart from the castle.  Edinburgh was knee deep in burly men playing the bagpipes and where white cockades.  Bonnie Prince Charlie made his way to Holyrood where he did a very modern thing – he appeared at an open window to wave at the crowds.

There was small the matter of Sir John Cope and his troops. What followed is recorded in folk history in the ballad of Johnnie Cope.  It does not paint the man in a very charitable light.  Cope should have been victorious when it came to a confrontation.  He had cavalry, infantry and artillery.  The Highlanders had an elderly field-piece called “the mother of muskets.”  Someone kindly directed the Highlanders through the marshy grounds to Prestonpans where Cope was camped.  They also had the advantage of a thick mist and the fact that Cope regarded them as a “parcel of brutes.”  He hadn’t yet encountered the Highland charge.  The sight of the highlanders running towards them three deep was sufficient to make the redcoats break ranks and run.  Cope distinguished himself by running even faster.

sir_john_cope_prestonpans.jpg

He was court marshalled for deserting his men but found innocent of the charges by the Board of Enquiry that took five days in its deliberations.  Cope had been with his men on the field rather than sleeping comfortably in a feather bed elsewhere as some of his detractors suggested but the public were not impressed that Cope’s arrival in Berwick-Upon-Tweed made him one of the few generals to actually bring news of his own defeat! It wasn’t long before all sorts of rumours abounded – that Cope had only managed to get five rounds off from the artillery before his men were overwhelmed, that he’d run before his men etc but the evidence suggests that he was just luckless rather than cowardly.

The song meanwhile alludes to correspondence between Bonnie Prince Charlie and Cope – apocryphal but why let truth get in the way of a jolly good story or song. For more about singing warfare including a version of the song by The Corries follow the link to open a new window https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LlyCSlAYECA

 

The drums of war were sounding far,
When Johnnie Cope cam tae Dunbar,
When Johnnie Cope cam tae Dunbar,
Upon a misty Morning

Cope Sent a a Message tae Dunbar
Said; ‘Charlie meet me if you daur,
‘And I’ll learn you the arts of war,
‘If you’ll meet me in the morning’

Chorus:
Hey Johnnie Cope are you wauking yet,
Or are your drums a- beating yet?
If you were wauking I would wait,
Tae gang tae The Coals in the morning

When Charlie looked this letter upon,
He drew his sword the scabbard from,
Come follow me my merry men,
And we’ll meet Johnnie Cope in the morning.

When Johnnie Cope he heard o’ this,
He thought it wouldna be amiss,
To hae a horse in readiness,
To flee awa’ inthe morning.

Fye now Johnnie, get up and run,
The Highland bagpipes mak a din,
It’s better tae sleep in a hale skin.
For ’twill be a bloody morning.

When Johnnie Cope tae Dunbar came,
They spiered at him, ‘where’s a’ your men?’
‘The Deil confound me gin I ken,
For I left them a this morning.’

Now Jonnie troth, ye were na blate,
Tae come wi’ news o’ your ain defeat,
And leave your men in sic a straight
So early in the morning.

‘Faith’, quo Johnnie, ‘I had sic fegs,
Wi’ their claymores and their philabegs,
If I face them again Deil brak ma legs,
So I wish you a’ good morning.’

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The arrival of Bonnie Prince Charlie in Scotland.

bonnie prince charlieThe sailing vessel La Du Teillay made land fall on the island of Eriskay on the 23 July 1745.  On board was Charles Edward Stuart, known to his fans as Bonnie Prince Charlie and to the Hanoverians as the Young Pretender.  Charles’ father, the so-called Old Pretender was James Stuart, to some the rightful king of England and only surviving son of King James II whilst to others he was the baby in the bedpan – a changeling placed by James’ send wife Mary of Modena to ensure a catholic succession.  For more about James and Mary as well as the baby in the bed pan click here to open a new window: https://thehistoryjar.com/2016/12/09/mary-of-modena/

James II was defeated at the Battle of the Boyne in 1689.  From there he had fled to France where his family lived in exile. Jacobites from that time forward giving their toast to the king passed their glasses and goblets over a jug or bowl of water to signify their loyalty lay with the ‘king over the water.’ The failed rebellion of 1715 had dashed many Jacobite hopes but now some thirty years later the bonnie prince arrived in the name of his father and immediately set about striking heroic poses.

On that day in 1745 the inhabitants of Eriskay weren’t wildly enthusiastic to greet their Stuart monarch.  MacDonald of Boisdale told Charlie to take himself home where upon, with commendable speed, the prince announced that he was home.  It didn’t look good from the outset.  He didn’t bring any French support with him and he’d been told that at most he could probably count on the loyalty of 4,000 Highlanders.  There actually had been a planned invasion by the French the previous year but bad weather had prevented the enterprise.

On the 25 July the prince and his followers sailed for and arrived in mainland Scotland. The Cameron Clan were persuaded to declare their loyalty and the vessel which had carried Charlie to Scotland was dispatched back to France with a letter to the Old Pretender stating that the prince was prepared to die amongst the Highlanders.  It would be the 19th August before the royal standard of the Stuarts was raised drawing the Camerons, Macleods and Keppoch Macdonalds to its colours in the first instance.  There were about 1,200 men. The rebellion had officially begun.

Meanwhile in Edinburgh a wanted poster was drawn up with a price of £30,000 on Charles Edward Stuart’s head. The rebellion, for Bonnie Prince Charlie, would last slightly more than a year and it would see his army march beyond Derby spawning a plethora of blue plaques commemorating locations were he stayed or declared his father to be king as well as providing Sir Walter Scott with heady tales of love, honour and betrayal for the novels he wrote that made historical fiction a best seller.

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Eleven Days – from Julian to Gregory

the-melting-watch.jpgI’m about to launch myself into the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745 but before that I thought I’d take the opportunity to get my head around the calendar switch that occurred in England in 1752.

Prior to that date in England we followed the Julian Calendar.  The Julian Calendar had a leap year every four years which it turns out is far too many. This system had quite been around since the Romans had been in charge.  The formula for calculating leap years was developed by Julius Caesar (squashed his nose in a lemon squeezer- an unhelpful childhood rhyme) who was trying to reform a system that had somehow got itself approximately three months ahead of what was actually happening to the seasons- unfortunately this meant that in 46 B.C. or B.C.E. the year ran to a whopping 445 days in a bid to get the months synchronised with what the sun was doing.  Unsurprisingly the calendar then took approximately the next forty years for everyone who was using it to be singing from the same ..er..calendar.

Sadly Julius had been advised by a bloke who got his maths ever so slightly wrong to the tune of eleven minutes and 14 seconds per year.  This meant that by the 1500s the dates and the seasons were squiffy once more in that the vernal equinox when the sun shines directly on the equator (the point where day and night are more or less of equal length) was off by ten days which didn’t help if you were trying to work out when to plant your crops.

As a consequence Pope Gregory XIII issued an edict in 1582 declaring that hence forth we should all use a new calendar which made the necessary adjustments and matched the months to the seasons once more. He also decreed that in future a centenary year would not be a leap year unless it was divisible by four hundred. If only it had been that simple.  Sadly the first problem arises for us with the name of the calendar.  It can also be known as the Western Calendar or the Christian Calendar.

This leads us to the second problem that in 1582 not everyone was paying much attention to the edicts of the Pope and some of the Protestant countries actually believed that it was a devious and nasty trick on the part of the papacy. The day after the 4th of October 1582 in Catholic countries such as Spain, Portugal, France and the Vatican was the 15th October 1582 meaning that if historians studying Anglo-Spanish relations between October 1582 and September 1752 want to match dates in the English Archives with those in the Spanish Archives they need to add on ten days increasing to eleven days by the end of the period. Not to do so means that when studying primary materials such as letters it can sometimes appear that replies were sometimes sent from England before the original letter was even penned in Spain or France.

And the third problem was that losing ten days caused riots. Of course by 1752, more time for a leap year every four years had elapsed so the mismatch was even greater than it had been in 1582 so eleven days had to be dropped.  If you’re feeling pedantic and want to calculate the current date on the Julian Calendar you have to knock thirteen days off the Gregorian date now. There was a 1st and 2nd of September 1752 but the next eleven days simply disappeared meaning that you went to bed on the evening of the second and woke up on the 14th of September- which must have been really irritating if you had a birthday during the missing days. Revisionist historians don’t believe that many folk took to the streets demanding their eleven days back but you can imagine the havoc it played with things like pay.

Interestingly the Jacobites seemed to have tried to avoid a date related disaster by dating their cross Channel letters with both dates as do other writers during the calendar mismatch period.

There’s one final difficulty – New Year.  Under the Julian Calendar although the calendar for the year began on the 1st of January just to make life really difficult the actual legal New Year was celebrated on the 25th of March thanks to the Normans. 1752 made it very clear that the start of the year was the start of the year but for reasons beyond my comprehension the financial year  in the United Kingdom still begins on the 6th April (count back eleven!)

 

 

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King James III lands

Prince_James_Edward_Stuart,_the_Old_PretenderOn the 23rd March 1708 King James III of England landed at the Firth of Forth.   History knows the king rather better as James Edward Stuart, the so-called Old-Pretender or the ‘baby in the bedpan.’

Charles II had balanced the political and religious beliefs of his subjects with all the acumen of an accomplished juggler.  Yes he’d relied heavily on the financial largesse of his cousin the French king.  Yes, he’d promised to convert to Catholicism at some point in the future (he was actually received into the Catholic church on his deathbed) and yes his queen Catherine of Braganza was Catholic but he didn’t alienate his people.  By contrast brother James managed to irritate most of the population irrelevant of their religious beliefs mainly because he failed to learn from his father’s errors and tried to turn the clock back to a time when people did what the king told them to do.  The final straw came in 1688 when James’s young bride Mary of Modena gave birth to a baby boy.

Rumours swiftly spread that Mary had given birth to a stillborn child and that a healthy baby had been smuggled into the palace in a bedpan.  Now – I don’t know about you but it would have to have been one heck of a bedpan or a very small baby for no one to spot the deception.  In any event the arrival of baby James prompted the new arrival’s more mature brother-in-law, William of Orange, to kick James Senior off the throne. It’s always nice to encounter a close and loving family.

Little James  grew up in France at the chateau of St-Germain-en-Laye. He was declared King James III of England and VIII of Scotland on his father’s death in 1701.  His title was acclaimed by the Pope as well as Catholic Spain and France.  Unfortunately Protestant England refused to play ball and even when King William died the country preferred James’ big sister Anne who was safely protestant though undesirably female – as we all know kings are better than queens except when they’re catholic or when they’re called Elizabeth Tudor.

In 1708 James attempted to claim his kingdom.  He decided the best bet was to invade Scotland where he would have been King James VIII (just in case you weren’t already confused enough). It was not a rip roaring success.

James returned to Scotland for a second time following the Jacobite uprising in 1715 – a rebellion against the new king (George I) who was German, a little on the podgy side and who didn’t speak a word of English.  His main qualification – you’ve got it- was the the fact that he was protestant.  James had actually turned down the opportunity of getting the crown by invitation when he’d refused overtures which came with the proviso of converting to C of E.

By February 1716 James had left the country once again never to return.  Sentimental types took to toasting the ‘king over the water’ – which sounds vaguely like some kind of Tolkienesque elf but that’s because my reading habits are far too eclectic.

 

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Kendal – Jacobites, an angel and a missing purse

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On the 25 July 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart, a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Charlie, the grandson of James II and Mary of Modena arrived in Scotland.  By September Edinburgh was his and by November he’d arrived in Carlisle.  On the 22nd he set off South stopping at Kendal on the 23rd before marching via Lancaster and Preston to Derby.  The country was in turmoil but the Jacobites hadn’t received the support they’d expected so on the 5th of December they turned north once more leaving the House of Hanover to unpack their crown jewels and heave a huge sigh of relief.

The Jacobites arrived back in Kendal.  Bonnie Prince Charlie settled down for the night in a house belonging to a local JP on Strickland Gate little knowing that the following night the Duke of Cumberland would rest his weary head in exactly the same bed (lets hope there was a change of bed-linen!).

Prince Charlie may have been exhausted from his journey, including an assignation attempt at Preston, but his slumbers will hardly have been restful since the folk of Kendal didn’t give him a warm welcome.  The local militia greeted his arrival with a volley of shots and in the ensuring skirmish it is said that a Jacobite and a local farmer were shot. At least that’s what the Kendal Civic Society plaque proclaims.

Enter an angel…there used to be an inn in Kendal called The Angel.  Apparently the inhabitants of the inn didn’t much like the sound of the approaching Jacobite army so hid themselves out of sight – such was their hurry that they neglected to hide their child – Findler’s Legends of Lakeland makes no reference to the age or gender of the aforementioned child- it simply states that the child was left playing in the parlour while the rest of the family skiddaldled.  Apparently the Scots arrived and were about to grab hold of the child when an angel turned up, did what angels do in those circumstances, and drove the startled rabble from the house.  Okay, so its not history but I do like the way legends evolve from events.

Perhaps it was one of the highlanders who’d had a nasty shock to his sensibilities who lost his purse as he fled Kendal the following morning.  It can now be seen in Kendal’s Museum as can assorted coinage left lying around by Romans, Vikings, Tudors and Eighteenth Century types hoping to hide their savings from the soldiery – of either army.

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St Cuthbert’s Church, Carlisle.

st cuthSt Cuthbert’s Church in Carlisle has had a chequered history.  These days its easy to miss tucked away as it is down a side lane between the House of Fraser and the Crown and Mitre.  St Cuthbert preached in Carlisle but it didn’t stop the Vikings destroying the church that stood on the spot.  It was William Rufus who ordered that the church should be rebuilt and it escaped the worst of the great fire of 1292 as well as the attentions of assorted besieging Scots.  In 1644 when the Parliamentarians closed the cathedral and the parish church of St Mary’s which lays inside the cathedral the mayor made St Cuthbert’s the city’s Civic Church.  It remains so to this day.

However, in 1777 it was decided that the church should be rebuilt, though the opening of the new church was delayed by a particularly bad storm in 1778 it took only two years to raise the money for the building and fitting out of the new church.   Nothing remains of the medieval church apart from some fragments of glass.  

The churchyard is an oasis of green in a city environment.  Headstones have been placed against the churchyard walls so there is no indication of the spot where executed felons and Jacobites were laid to rest.  There’s a further link to Carlisle’s troubled past as the last town besieged in England inside the church in the form of the royal coat of arms which were placed there in the aftermath of 1745 to remind the citizens of Carlisle where their loyalty lay.

  Back outside, the graveyard is the final resting place for members of the Royalist garrison who died during the siege of 1644. The guide-book also makes reference to a highwayman and if that weren’t lively enough in December 1823 the body snatchers came calling in Carlisle.  Graves were tampered with, two bodies went missing and one was discovered parcelled up ready for transportation.

Who would have thought there was so much history lurking in such a peaceful spot?

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