Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Jacobites are Coming!

Perhaps the oddest thing about the two Jacobite rebellions (along with their consequent marches through the Fylde and Wyre) is that they barely receive a mention in most local history books. This might be down to the fact that the uprising is regarded by many as ‘not ancient enough to count as ‘interesting history’’ and by the rest as ‘too ancient to have produced any photographs that might feature familiar buildings.’

Whatever the case, to condense the history behind this subject into something more manageable, there were actually two insurgencies, the first being an uprising in 1715 of James III’s followers against George I, believing James to be the rightful heir to the throne. In this instance the Jacobites met with defeat at Preston, Henry Butler (of Rawcliffe Hall) and his son Richard both being supporters of James.

Richard was captured and died in captivity, fortunately escaping execution which, according to Baines’ ‘History of Lancashire’ would have involved being: “…severely hanged by the neck, not till….dead, but cut down alive, then their bowels to be taken out and burnt before their faces, their heads to be severed from their bodies and their bodies severally divided into four quarters, and these to be at the king’s disposal.” (Exactly what the king wanted to do with the body parts Baines doesn’t tell us.)

Fancy a gratuitously bloodthirsty etching?

Despite the ordeals faced by the Butler family, on the whole our Fylde and Wyre locals were indifferent to the Jacobite cause. According to Porter’s ‘History of the Fylde’: “Those insurgents who found their way into the district were treated with kindness, but no encouragement was given them to prolong their stay, either by professions of sympathy or offers of assistance in their insurrectionary enterprise.”

In fact Porter supplies us with an example of this neutrality: “The Scots who accompanied Prince Charles were so renowned for their voracious appetites that the householders of the Fylde prepared for their expected visit by laying in an abundant supply of eatables, hoping that a good repast, like a soft answer, would turn away wrath.”

Then again, of course, there always has to be one: “Mr Physic, of Poulton, was an exception to the general rule, and having barricaded his house, determined vigorously to resist any attack of the rebels either on his larder or his purse.”

As it transpired the Jacobites, or at least those determined to eat Mr Physic out of house and home, apparently never made it to Poulton. However, we’re getting ahead of ourselves. To return to the second insurrection, in 1745, during the reign of George II, another attempt to gain the throne was made, this time under the leadership of James III’s son, Charles Edward, or Bonnie Prince Charlie as he’s more familiarly known.

In William Thornber’s day there were still people alive who’d actually witnessed the Jacobite march through the Wyre and, as the good reverend informs us: “I have heard old Anna Dobson, of Poulton, when in her ninety-fourth year, relate how she accompanied her father to Garstang, with crowds of her neighbours, laden with provision for the royal forces, and how upon her arrival there, she beheld numbers of the Scotch (sic), enveloped in their plaides, reclining in the sun under the walls of the houses.”

Not everybody, however, was so ecstatic to see them. As Thornber continues: “John Miller, of Layton, gloried in telling a long story of these times, which always ended in lamentation for the loss of his clogs, which were taken from his feet by a bare-footed Scot, with, “Hout mon, but I mon tak’ thy brogues.”

During the second rebellion, as history recounts, the Jacobites once again met with defeat, this time at Derby.

On their retreat, as Baines’ ‘History of Lancashire’ informs us: “The speedy arrival of the Duke of Cumberland in Lancashire contributed essentially to the reestablishment of the public peace and confidence; and a number of stragglers from the fugitive army, who had loitered behind for the purpose of plunder, were taken prisoners by General Oglethorp’s dragoons on the sixteenth instant, and committed to Lancaster castle.”

Time for another quick picture.

And, according to Thornber: “Perhaps these stragglers, or some of their party, who were afterwards captured near the town of Garstang, were the persons who penetrated into this neighbourhood as far as Mains Hall, on their way to Poulton. Here they were received by Mrs Hesketh, the lady of the mansion, in the absence of her husband, William Hesketh esq. who had secreted himself, by the advice of a friend, on Rossall warren, fearing lest he should be suspected of favouring their cause, as he had in some way or other been connected with the affair in 1715.” Thornber shortly continues: “After they had been entertained in an hospitable manner, among other questions, inquiry was made concerning the wealth and respectability of Poulton; her (Mrs Hesketh’s) cautious answer, that it was composed only of huts, and was a mean town, preserved its inhabitants from their unwelcome visit, and the plundering rebels hurried their return to regain the main body.” Thus explaining why Mr Physic was never allowed the chance to test his barricade.

Legend has it that Bonnie Prince Charlie himself landed secretly on the Fleetwood Peninsula. There might even be some truth in the rumour. George Mould’s ‘Lancashire’s Unknown River’ tells us that: “Before Fleetwood was born Poulton was considered as the Wyre’s shipping headquarters. The custom house was there. There was an attempt to move activities nearer to the river mouth. There is record of the existence in 1744 of a quay for discharging ships called James Road in Higham Pool. The quay was 140 yards in length. It was six miles from the custom house at Poulton and therefore was regarded as useless and soon it must have fallen out of favour.”

The question is, of course, was this quay built for a more ‘short-term’ purpose? Ralph Porter’s ‘Personal Recollections of Fleetwood’ in 1928 recalls that, during the construction of Fleetwood docks: “There had been an attempt to fill up the gap known as ‘Jameson’s Hole’ but it didn’t succeed and they constructed a bank running from the railway embankment across to the river bank where now are the new oil works.” Jameson’s Hole could be found a little to the west of where the harbour wall now stands and might well take its name from Bonnie Prince Charlie himself, being, of course, James III’s son.

Want to know what Bonnie Prince Charlie actually looked like? No problem…we aim to please.

Yes…we’re not so sure that ‘bonnie’ was the correct adjective to use. Presumably it must have been a euphemism for something else.

‘So, where’s the archaeology?’ you might be asking. Well, returning, once again, to William Thornber: “In country towns, and remote villages, the squire concealed his plate and papers; the housewife, her pewter and store etc; and, we may conclude that the deposits of coin of the reign of Charles the First, found a few years ago in an old ditch at Carleton and in a wall of a house at the green, Poulton, were secreted during the restless times of which they bear the impress, when, being forgotten, or their owner dead, they were discovered when all knowledge of their existence had ceased.”

Are they any more Jacobite treasure hoards buried in secret locations around the Wyre? The sword that fell out of Bourne Hill during the straightening of Fleetwood Road might be one example. Trowels at the ready, folks…there might be a stash of Jacobite-connected archaeology left to uncover yet.


John said...

Thanks for an informative article about a period of history I knew little about. Okay, I knew some, but it never hurts to refresh one's memory as far as history goes.

Cheers, JOHN :0)

Brian Hughes said...


Ach, nae problem.

Feral Beast said...

What a sticky way to end, also I think there might be some more treasure.
This is great history Brian, thanks!

Brian Hughes said...

Mr Beast,

I wonder if, when the chief executioner was late for his dinner, he ever said to his subordinates: "Come on...chop, chop!"

Ozfemme said...

Clogs. Gah. Hideously ugly footwear. Should be buried. Hang on, maybe not. People with trowels might dig them up...again.

Brian Hughes said...

Lancashire clogs...ugly? We're not talking about those stupid, pointy Dutch things here Bella, with flowers painted on them and the general theme of a narrowboat. You'd be hard pushed to tell the difference between a pair of Lancashire clogs and a pair of Dr. Martins to be honest. Apart from the noise the former make down narrow, cobbled streets, of course.

Lancashire clogs: the choice of footwork for the seriously violent yobbo!