History of the Stewarts | Battles and Historic Events
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The Battle of Preston 1715
Despite the importance of the castle, Forster failed to reinforce the Erringtons; a detachment of 100 men was sent from Berwick to retake it, and the Erringtons held it for only one day. When the Government soldiers aproached, the Erringtons fled, but were captured and imprisoned in the Tolbooth at Berwick. Once again, security was so lax that they were able to tunnel out and escape.
James Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater joined them since as was the case for other English Jacobites he was suspected by the government, and the secretary of state, Stanhope, had signed a warrant for his arrest. A messenger was sent to Durham to secure him, but Radclyffe went into hiding. He heard that Thomas Forster had raised the standard of the Pretender, and Radclyffe joined him at Greenrigg, on 6 October 1715, at the head of a company of gentlemen and armed servants from Dilston Hall. His following, at most 70, was under the immediate command of his brother, Charles Radclyffe.
Two days later, Forster gave up waiting for French assistance, broke camp, and proclaimed James III on 13 October in Alnwick and on 15 October in Hexham. It is possible that if Forster had reinforced Errington on Holy Island, the eventual outcome might have been very different. Two French ships signalled Holy Island castle on 13 October, but received no reply and withdrew.
The small. force that set out from north-east England led by Forster was joined by 2,000 Scottish Jacobites, led by the energetic Mackintosh of Borlum, in the Borders.Unlike Forster, Mackintosh was an experienced military man. However, the agreement was that Forster would command on English soil and Mackintosh in Scotland. An assault on Newcastle was considered. However, the Scots and English leaders could not agree since the Scots had no wish to fight under Forster´s command. Then, on 31 October, Widdrington brought news that the Jacobites of Manchester were ready and waiting, and would rise in force if the Highlanders appeared. It was too tempting; though some of the Scots refused to come, the main Jacobite force headed for Lancashire, by way of Cumbria.
Here James Radclyffe, 3rd Earl of Derwentwater joined them; he was suspected by the government, and the secretary of state, Stanhope, had signed a warrant for his arrest. A messenger was sent to Durham to secure him, but Radclyffe went into hiding. He heard that Thomas Forster had raised the standard of the Pretender, and Radclyffe joined him at Greenrigg, on 6 October 1715, at the head of a company of gentlemen and armed servants from Dilston Hall. His following, at most 70, was under the immediate command of his brother, Charles Radclyffe.
The main Jacobite forces arrived in Preston on 10 November. They proclaimed James III as king from the steps of the cross which stood in the Market Square (commonly known as the Flag Market). Meanwhile, a government army was on route from the south. In response, the Jacobites took over the centre of Preston and set up barricades on the main streets into the town.
At the same time as the battle in Preston, a larger Jacobite army was fighting the government at the Battle of Sherrifmuir, near Dunblane in Scotland.
The main fighting took place on 12 November. Jacobite troops defended the town centre at barricades on Church Street and Friargate. The government troops, under General Wills, attacked up Church Street but were driven back with over 100 casualties. More Government forces then skirted round the town to the north and launched a new attack on Friargate and buildings were set on fire in both locations.
There was no clear winner, but additional government troops arrived the following day. The Jacobites were split about whether to continue fighting, but their leader Forster chose to surrender early on 14 November.
The impact on Preston was bloody and long-lasting. In the aftermath, government troops looted the town, 12 of the Jacobites were executed on Gallows Hill, near Moor Park, Preston and the interior of Preston Minster was destroyed by prisoners, housed there through the following winter.
Derwentwater was escorted with the other prisoners to London by General Henry Lumley, and lodged in the Devereux tower of the Tower of London, along with the Earls of Nithsdale and of Carnwath, and Lords Widdrington, Kenmure, and Nairne. He was examined before the privy council on 10 January 1716, and impeached with the other lords on 19 January. Derwentwater pleaded guilty, urging in extenuation his inexperience, and his advice to those who were about him to throw themselves upon the royal clemency. He was attainted, and condemned to death. Efforts were made to procure his pardon. Petitions were brought before both Houses of Parliament, and an address was carried from the upper house to the throne on 22 February, praying that his majesty George I of Great Britain would reprieve ´such of the condemned lords as might appear to him deserving of clemency.´ Widdrington, Carnwath, and Nairn were reprieved. The countess, accompanied by her sister, their maternal aunt, the Duchess of Richmond, the Duchess of Cleveland, and other ladies, was introduced by the Duke of Richmond into the king´s bedchamber, where the countess, in French, asked for his majesty´s mercy. The king, however, prompted by Robert Walpole (who declared that he had been offered £60,000 to save Derwentwater, but that he was determined to make an example), would not back down.
Derwentwater was beheaded on Tower Hill on 24 February 1716. On the scaffold he expressed regret at having pleaded guilty, and declared his devotion to his Roman Catholic religion and to James III. Lord Kenmure suffered at the same time. The Earl of Nithsdale escaped from the Tower the day before. Charles Radclyffe escaped to France but was captured in 1745 on his return to support the 1745 uprising and was executed in 1746. Nairne was still in the Tower of London in 1717, so was able to benefit from the Indemnity Act 1717 and was released.
Mackintosh of Borlum was charged with treason, but escaped from Newgate Prison with seven others the night before his trial was due to start.