Tag Archives: St Cuthbert’s Church

The end of Carlisle’s Jacobites

archibald primrose.jpgIn the aftermath of the 1745 uprising many Jacobite prisoners found themselves in Carlisle once more. Legend tells that “the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lommand” was composed by a man destined for the gallows at this time.  The castle cells were so full that prisoners were kept in the Cathedral; troops were billeted. Court officials arrived. Friends and families arrived to try and save the lives of their loved ones. There were so many prisoners that it was decided that it was an impossible task to try them all. The Jacobites were made to draw lots. Nineteen out of twenty men were to be transported to the colonies. The twentieth man was to be put on trial for treason which usually meant execution. A Special Commission of Goal Delivery was held. The Grand Jury convened in August 1746 with the trials beginning on Tuesday, 9th September the same year. To have worn the white cockade was enough to confirm a man’s guilt.

One hundred and thirty people were taken forward for trial. Two men were too sick to stand trial and one man, Lord Mordington, pleaded his peerage so could not legally be tried by the judges in Carlisle as they were not his equals. Of the remaining defendants forty-two pleaded guilty and a further forty-nine were found guilty at their trials including Sir Archibald Primrose, the nephew of the Earl of Rosebery. Thirty-three of the convicted Jacobites were executed while one man died in prison.

Sir Archibald Primrose  of Dunipace having first been imprisoned in Aberdeen was moved to Carlisle for trial and went to his death on Harraby Hill leaving only a letter for his sister in Edinburgh which he handed over to a friend at the foot of the scaffold.  In it he assured her that he was meeting his death as a Christian. He had hoped for a pardon having pleaded guilty and thrown himself on the mercy of the court believing that this was the course that would preserve his life. No messenger arrived in time to save him. There is a story that reprieve arrived half an hour after Sir Archibald’s execution. He is buried in St Cuthbert’s Churchyard along with many of the other executed Jacobites in an unmarked grave. Mourners at the funerals of the executed men would not recognize the St Cuthbert’s Church today as the current building was erected in 1779. Primrose’s family must have been horrified by his decision to join with the Jacobites, although it would have to be said that keeping track of the Primrose family’s loyalties isn’t always straight forward.  They’d shifted from loyalty to James II to William of Orange and risen through Scottish society by telling tales on Jacobites. Primrose’s near ancestor  was a commissioner for the 1707 Act of Union – an event that didn’t go down terribly well in Scotland at the time – having risen to the rank of earl on 1703 on the strength of his political affiliations – so quite why our Archibald had opted to affiliate himself to his princeliness is a matter for some speculation and one which he only hints at in his final letter.

Archibald’s letter reveals the extent to which Hanoverian prosecutors were determined to make an example of the Jacobites. He says that William Gray one of his prosecutors “suborned witnesses” and “threatened some.”  He went on to say that one man was to be hanged alongside him who had been offered his life on the proviso that he incriminate Primrose.  The man had refused:

I have endeavoured to take some small time, from a much more immediate concern, to offer you a few lines, and to let you know that this day I am to suffer, I think,
for my religion, my prince, and my country. For each of these I wish I had a thousand lives to spend. The shortness of the intimation will not allow me much time to write to you so fully in my vindication for what I did that I know concerns you. But I heartily repent of the bad advice I got even from men of judgment and sense. And what I did by their advice in my own opinion was no more than acknowledging I bore arms
against the present government, for my lawful, undoubted prince, my religion, and country; and I thought by my plea to procure some time longer life only to do service to my poor family, not doubting but yet in a short time that glorious cause will succeed, which God of His infinite mercy grant.

I repent most heartily for what I did, and I merit this death as my punishment, and I trust in the Almighty for mercy for my poor soul. As I am very soon to leave this world, I pray God to forgive all my enemies, particularly Mr. Gray, he who did me all the injury he could by suborning witnesses, and threatening some which was my terror. Particularly there is one poor man is to suffer with me that had an offer of his life tobe an evidence against me, which he rejccted.

Much more I could say, but as my time is short, I now bid my last adieu to my dear mother and you, my dear sister, and I intreat you’ll be kind to my dear wife and children; and may all the blessings of Heaven attend you all. Live together comfortably and you may expect God’s favour. My grateful acknowledgments for all your favours done and designed.

Remember me kindly to my Lady Caithness, Sauchie, and his sisters, and all my friends and acquaintances. May the Almighty grant you all happiness here, and eternal bliss hereafter, to which bliss, I trust, in His mcrcy soon to retire; and am for ever, dear sistcr, your affectionate brothcr, A.P.
PS:–My blessing for your dear boy, my son. 

Transcript of letter from The Lyon in Mourning which may be accessed from http://digital.nls.uk/print/transcriptions/lyon/vol1/search/index.html

Twenty Guineas and the usual hangman’s prerequisites of clothes and personal belongings convinced William Stout of Hexham that he was the man to execute the Jacobites for their treason. It was not a pleasant job. Thirty-three men had to be hung, cut down, revived, cut open and disemboweled. The executioner was supposed to be sufficiently adept at knotting off vital tubes and arteries so that the dying man could see their bowels being burned in front of them. The last step in the process was to chop the condemned man’s head off and put an end to any lingering misery.

The first nine rebels were hung on Harraby Hill on Saturday 18th October 1746 amongst their number was the gallant highlander who’d presented his white cockade to a new born baby at Rose Castle as a guarantee of safety less than a year previously.  Executions continued throughout October in Brampton and Penrith and concluded on Saturday 15th November with a final batch of condemned men being executed on Harraby Hill.

An entry in the Carlisle Patriot of 10 October 1829 recalls the memories of John Graham who had “gone upon Harraby Hill to witness the melancholy ceremony.” In the years that followed he came into the ownership of the land where the gallows had once stood and it was he who unearthed its remains and the pile of ash that burned the entrails of Bonnie Prince Charlie’s men.

Executed on Saturday 18 October 1746 at Harraby Hill

James Brand

Francis Buchanan

Hugh Cameron

Thomas Coppoch (the so-called Jacobite Bishop of Carlisle)

John Henderson

Donald Macdonald of Teirnardreish

Donald Macdonald of Kinloch Moidart

John Macnaughton

 

Executed on Saturday, 15 November 1746 at Harraby Hill

Molineaux Eaton

Charles Gordon

Thomas Hayes

Patrick Keir

Barnambus Matthew

James Mitchell

Patrick Murray

Sir Archibald Primrose

Robert Reid

Alexander Stevenson

John Wallace

 

Hickey, Julia (2014) High Road to Harraby Hill.  Carlisle:Bookcase

 

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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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Resurrection Men in Carlisle

st cuthThe story begins with the Liverpool coach on the 6th September 1823.  Sadly it overturned and badly injured a little boy.  His right leg was amputated at the knee.  The child died on the 1st November and was buried in the graveyard of St Cuthbert’s Church.

The body-snatchers Burke and Hare were up to no good in Edinburgh this time exhuming bodies and selling them to the medical world for dissection. Accounts of graves being robbed of their occupants featured in all the newspapers.  There was concern that a grave had been tampered with in Stanwix.  Before long suspicion focused on ‘two strangers’ who’d hired a room in Long Island.  The trail led to the offices of the Edinburgh Carriers where a stoutly corded box to be delivered to Lieutenant Todd in Edinburgh had already been dispatched. Suspicion excited, the box was stopped and opened at Hawick.  Inside were the bodies of three children.  Another, rather heavier box, had already been refused transportation.

Meanwhile on the 8th of December, another interment was about to occur in St Cuthbert’s.  The mourners may have been rather alarmed at what was discovered.  The body of a Botchergate Blacksmith wash discovered with cord tied around its feet.  He was carefully reburied and a search of the graveyard made.  The little boy, killed in the coach accident, was missing as was the body of a cotton spinner.

 

A twenty guinea reward was offered for the capture of the resurrection men but they disappeared as swiftly as they had arrived.  By 1828 body-snatching had reached such a pitch  that the Government of the day needed to legalize dissection.

 

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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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