Chorley Historical and Archaeological Society

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Feb 2017

Tue 14 Feb 2017
Dr David Hunt  Ė Death and Exile: Preston 1715.


Although well known locally as a well-respected historian it was, surprisingly, Dr Huntís first visit to the society as a speaker. In his capacity as the curator of the South Ribble Museum for 35 years, Dr Hunt brought a wealth of local knowledge, and a full house, to his talk.

His talk focused on events that led up to the Jacobite Rising of 1715, the events in Preston and its aftermath.

A long running conflict ran between the new monarchy, which was Hanoverian and protestant and the old regime, Stuarts and catholic. It came to head following Queen Anneís death in 1714. Without an heir, parliament sought a protestant monarch and decided upon a German. He was 56th in line to the British throne but was crowned George I.

Dr Hunt talked about followers of the Stuarts, the Jacobites, forming an army to march south from Scotland. Its aim was to gather support on the way south, large enough to confront and beat the forces of the new monarch.

Dr David Hunt

By the time the Jacobites reached Preston in November 1715 its troops numbered about 4,000. Preston, then a small town, had a population of around 5,000. Using illustrations and images of contemporary maps, Dr Hunt gave a detailed description of early 18th century Preston. Aerial photographs gave a modern perspective of where the conflict took place.

Government troops based in Wigan moved north to confront the Jacobites. Although they crossed the Ribble at Walton-le-Dale unopposed, the Jacobites had, however, set up defensive barricades in Prestonís centre.

Attempts were made to breach these, first on Church Street, then around the north side of town to Friargate. Government troops suffered more casualties than Jacobites and failed to enter the town. However, it became clear to the Jacobite leaders that their attempt to lead a rebellion against George I had failed. Although some Scots wanted to fight on a surrender took place.

About 1,200 surrendered, 50% Scots, 50% English and retribution was swift. There were 42 executions and 4 British officers were shot as traitors. There were 100 locals arrested, of which some were executed and others transported to the colonies in North America.

Dr Huntís compelling talk was a tale of national significance with a very local flavour.

Peter Robinson