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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.

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Filed under Anglo-Scottish history, Carlisle, Eighteenth Century, The Stuarts