Thirty years after the first Jacobite army’s march south which led to surrender in Preston, a second army was on the move.
At its head was the son of the Old Pretender, the charismatic Charles Edward Stuart or Bonnie Prince Charlie as he was better known. A generation on though, the aim was the same – to restore the Stuart line to the throne – as was the hope for support from France and Lancashire.
After a successful Scottish campaign, the army took Carlisle on 14th November 1745. The choice then was to consolidate the Scottish gains or to push south with an eye to the greater prize. This second view was a minority one but, importantly was that of Bonnie Prince Charlie himself. Like his father, he believed their number would be swelled as they passed through Lancashire.
However, 30 years on, the general view of the Englishman on the street was that the Jacobite cause was an historical curiosity of little public interest. Few were afraid of the passing army.
As the Jacobite army processed south through Shap, Penrith, Kendal and Lancaster, people came out to watch as if it were a passing pageant rather than a cause to be joined. The gentry who might have leant their support would not commit themselves unless they saw it as being assured of success.
The declaration of Charles Edward Stuart as King in Lancaster on 25th November was heard in silence. While in Lancaster, Bonnie Prince Charlie is said to have lodged at 76 Church Street although a claim has also been made that he stayed at the Manor House in Slyne as the guest of Thomas Greene.
The arrival at Preston on 27th November brought back memories of the 1715 surrender and, despite promises of armed support, again gave little sign of new recruits. A couple of hundred in Manchester helped raise the mood of an otherwise exhausting march in increasingly cold weather.
By the time the rebellion’s army reached Derby on 4th December it was being described in the loyalist pages of the “Gentleman’s Magazine” as being made up of shabby, lousy, pitiful fellows mix’d up with old men and boys’ whose main body ‘commanded our pity rather than fear’.
Two days later, the Jacobite army began to re-trace its route back to the north, a final defeat at Culloden and exile. With Charles a shadow of his former ebullient self, the mood was more sombre and discipline lax. A trail of thefts of goods, weapons and horses followed the route of retreat. An assassination attempt was made on Charles in Manchester while the column was fired upon by the townspeople in Kendal. Without bread, the Highlanders were said to have scattered oats and barley on straw, set it alight and eaten the parched grains.
The Jacobite’s return to Lancaster was uglier than previously, not least because the Hanoverians were snapping at their heels just to the south of the town. Before finally leaving on 15th December a few old scores were settled from the time of the march south just 20 days before. Importantly for Lancashire, Lancaster and its smaller neighbours, the campaigns of 1715 and 1745 marked the last warlike Scottish incursions into the area.
The Green Heritage Plaque at 76 Church Street is one of over thirty around the Lancaster area and you can take a tour of these by clicking the link – Lancaster Civic Vision Heritage Plaque Tour
There is also a ‘Tour of 76 Church Street, Lancaster’ by John Regan on our web page Guides, Leaflets and Walks where he describes the building as
“At first glance it is just another beautiful Georgian building in a city of Georgian buildings. You should never take anything at face value.”