Jacobite occupation: Carlisle 1745

The Jacobite rising of 1745 greatly affected Cumberland and Westmorland. This is Carlisle’s story.

In my post on the celebrations at the opening of the Carlisle Canal, in 1823, I mentioned that one the after-dinner speakers – canal committee chairman Dr William Blamire – went a little off-topic by talking about 1745.

In fairness, there was a connection. The canal celebrations had included two 21-gun salutes. The first was fired from ‘a slight eminence’ near the city’s new canal basin. The second was fired from the castle.

Dr Blamire spoke about the salutes and contrasted the celebrations that day with what was going on in the same spots less than a century earlier. For the two points from which the cannon had been fired had, in 1745, been ‘points of hostile array’.

It was a ‘curious fact’ that in 1745, the Duke of Cumberland had placed his battery on the precise spot where the canal basin had been excavated.

And the second had been fired from the castle, which had then been occupied by ‘the Rebels’.

The Jacobite rising, 1745

The Jacobite rebellion of 1745 was the last attempt by the Stuart descendants of James II of England (James VII of Scotland) to claim the thrones. 

Charles Edward Stuart – known as the Young Pretender, or Bonnie Prince Charlie – launched his rebellion in the Scottish Highlands in August 1745. It went well for a few months, and they got as far south as Derby, before turning back early in December.

It ended on April 16, 1746, back in Scotland, with the Battle of Culloden. Where the Jacobite army was roundly defeated by the British force led by Prince William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland (youngest son of King George II).

The road from Scotland to Derby (and back) took the Jacobites through Cumberland and Westmorland. There’s a clear illustration (map) of this on Explore Penrith.

There are many stories to be told along the way, but the short version for Carlisle is that on November 18, 1745, Charles Edward Stuart took Carlisle and its castle. 

On November 21, the Duke of Cumberland’s army laid siege to Carlisle Castle.

The Jacobites take Carlisle

In his Penrith jottings, J E Horsley says:

After the Duke of Perth had besieged Carlisle for less than three days, the Prince dictated the terms of surrender, the rebels entered the city, and next day (Saturday) the Duke proclaimed “King James’, attended by the mayor, and civil officers in their robes and mace. On the following day, the keys of the city were presented to the Prince at Brampton by the mayor and corporation on their knees.

The mayor’s name was Joseph Backhouse.

The English get it back

The Jacobite garrison was forced to surrender, when news of relief from the north failed to arrive. Many prisoners were executed at Harraby Hill and at Brampton’s Capon Tree (source).

Whitehall. Dec 26, 1745

Letters received yesterday by express from Blichall, near Carlisle, give an account that upon the march from Penrith thither, his Royal Highness the Duke had received the news of the rebel army having quitted that place and left in it only 300-400 men. Who, according to the latest intelligence, consisted chiefly of their English recruits and John Gordon of Glenbucket’s men, commanded by one Hamilton.

The King’s forces arrived within sight of the town the 21st about noon, and Major General Bland had invested it on the Scotch side with St George’s Dragoons and 300 men of Bligh’s regiment, with orders to prevent any passage over the bridge upon the river Eden, which leads directly to the Scotch Gate. Major Adams, with 200 foot, was posted in the suburbs of the English Gate, to prevent any of the garrison escaping that way. Major Meirac was at the Irish Gate with the same orders, and Sir Andrew Agnew at the Sally Port with 300. 

All the horse and foot guards were cantoned round the town, at a mile or two distance.

The Rebels who were left made a shew of intending to defend the place, firing their cannon upon everybody who appeared in sight of it.

The Artillery from Whitehaven was expected to arrive in a day or two and it was proposed to have a battery erected by the morning of the 24th, after which it was not doubted but his Royal Highness would be master of the town in 24 hours, in which he intended to leave a sufficient garrison. The Rebels left their cannon behind them in Carlisle, excepting three pieces. Major General Bland took 16 carts laden with their tents.

A gruesome punishment

You can read a lot more about the occupation of Carlisle in 1745 in this ebook, which was written in 1846. It includes the account of those who met a fate worse than just death for their part in the rebellion: part-hanged, then disembowelled while still alive. The heads of two of them were  displayed on the Scotch Gate, ‘where they remained for many years’. ‘Pour encourager les autres,’ as it were.

I may well revisit the Jacobite incursions into other parts of Cumbria in the future.

Meanwhile, as the main photo shows, both armies at one point had their headquarters in Carlisle Marks and Spencers!