The Jacobite Rebellion

The Jacobite rising took place in 1745. The rebellion was an attempt by Charles Edward Stuart to regain the British throne for his father, James Francis Edward Stuart. It took place during the War of the Austrian Succession, when the bulk of the British Army was fighting in mainland Europe, and proved to be the last in a series of revolts that began in 1689, with major outbreaks in 1708, 1715 and 1719.

Charles launched the rebellion on 19 August 1745 at Glenfinnan in the Scottish Highlands, capturing Edinburgh and winning the Battle of Prestonpans in September. At a council in October, the Scots agreed to invade England after Charles assured them of substantial support from English Jacobites and a simultaneous French landing in Southern England. On that basis, the Jacobite army entered England in early November, reaching Derby on 4 December, where they decided to turn back.

The army was divided into two columns to conceal their destination from General Wade, government commander in Newcastle, and entered England on 8 November without opposition. On 10th, they reached Carlisle, an important border fortress before the 1707 Union but whose defences were now in poor condition, held by a garrison of 80 elderly veterans. Despite this, without siege artillery the Jacobites would have to starve it into submission, an operation for which they had neither the equipment or time.

In April 1741, ten iron 18-pounder cannons, and stores were delivered to Whitehaven. The guns were to be placed in a new structure subsequently known as the "Old Fort". Having been installed in 1741, the ten guns remained in situ for the next four years until the dramatic events of 1745.

In a letter to the Bishop of Carlisle dated 11 January 1745/6, Sir James Lowther wrote that the Royal Family "expressed their concern for us, and were much pleased that our Guns at Whitehaven and my Horses there were in such readiness to assist in his Majesty's Service."

Following the defeat of Sir John Cope at Prestonpans on the 21 September 1745, the Scottish army was in a position to threaten England, and preparations began at Carlisle and elsewhere to withstand the expected assault. The advance party of the Highland army was sighted above Stanwix on Saturday 9 November, and six days later, on the 15th, the city had surrendered.

Some six or seven weeks before the surrender of Carlisle, preparations began at Whitehaven to defend the town; a defence force was raised and strong-points set up to protect the landward approaches. Information that the fall of Carlisle was imminent must have reached Whitehaven two or three days before the actual act of submission on the 15 November, causing the inhabitants to reconsider their decision to make a stand.

The knowledge that Carlisle, a fortified garrison town, was unable to withstand an assault by the Scots, led to the abandonment of defensive notions; the strong-points being demolished and the defence force disbanded. However, certain precautionary measures were adopted to prevent guns, ammunition, records and money, from falling into enemy hands. "Whitehaven being an open Town, it was thought advisable to dismount the Guns, and put them on board the Ships "To be sent to Dublin, the Isle of Man, etc. to prevent falling into their Hands".

The Scottish army remained only a few days in Carlisle, the horse leaving on the 18 November, and the main body on the 21st. A garrison of 100-200 men remained, under the command of Capt. John Hamilton, with Sir John Arbuthnot as City Governor.

The restoration of the 18-Pounders to their Whitehaven home proved to be of short duration. A week after their participation in the "Rejoicing Night", saw them once more on the move, this time along the "road" to Carlisle; not yet having been discharged in anger, they were about to embark upon a more deadly phase of their existence.

A number of sources suggest that the instigator of the idea that the 18-pounders be offered to the Duke of Cumberland for use against the Carlisle garrison, was Walter Lutwidge, an Irish sea captain turned merchant and a prominent citizen of Whitehaven. Hughes states that this initiative "had brought him (i.e. Lutwidge) great credit in high places". Supporting this contention is the fact that Lutwedge's name heads the list of addressees in the following letter from Cumberland's secretary, Sir Everard Fawkener, written from Lancaster on the 16 December 1745.
Gentlemen, I am commanded by his Royal Highness the Duke to acquaint you that he thanks you for your very kind offer of furnishing ten pieces of battering Cannon to be employed against the Rebels at Carlisle, if they should make a stand there or attempt a defence of that place, and which he will readily accept if the case should exist.
His Royal Highness thinks the quantity of Ammunition you mention will suffice. He therefore desires all may be held in a readiness, and that you will make your disposition where to have Horses to bring both Artillery and Ammunition to the Camp. and as his Royal Highness expects a quantity of Hay which is to be sent from Liverpool by Sea to Whitehaven, and may likewise want to be supplied with many things from thence. He recommends to you to be looking out for all the Carriages and Horses that may be to become at, all which shall be punctually paid a reasonable and just hire for the Service they may perform. I will give you the necessary Notice on the first appearance of a want, and from your voluntary Offer his Royal Highness reckons on your assistance in all the occasions of the Service which may present themselves.
Following their northward retreat from Derby, the main body of the Scottish army reached Carlisle on the 19 December, while some baggage parties by-passed the town and crossed the Eden at Warwick Bridge. It was Lord George Murray's opinion that Carlisle should be evacuated — the Castle blown up — and surplus stores destroyed, since the place was untenable against heavy artillery. Fortunately for posterity, his advice was not acted on. The precise date of the Jacobite retreat from Carlisle and the arrival of the Duke's forces, varies in both earlier and later sources. A garrison of some 400 men was left behind, including a number of French and Irish, and volunteers raised at Manchester. Francis Townley, Colonel of the Manchester Regiment was appointed City Governor, with John Hamilton remaining Commandant of the Castle.

During the early stages of the siege, the garrison kept up a lively but ineffective fire on the English army, while the latter lay comparatively inactive "waiting the arrival of a train of artillery from Whitehaven, which was detained in consequence of the roads being in very bad condition".

The response from Whitehaven to the Duke's request was prompt, despite the practical difficulties of transporting the heavy cannon and stores "The People arose in a Body, and got Horses and Carriages ready with all Expedition: They were ten Pieces of eighteen Pounders, of which four were drawn by forty Horses of Sir James Lowther's, Bart which went along pretty briskly; but I saw 16 or 18 of the Country Horses to a Gun and often set, the Roads being very soft".

The guns were placed "upon the Traveling Carriages" while the men were rewarded for "Loading other Carriages with Powder, Shott, the Gun Carriages from the Battery".

The travelling carriages were purely as designated, and were not intended to withstand the stresses and strains of a discharge, bearing only a superficial resemblance to a conventional field gun-carriage. On arrival at their destination, the gun barrels would be removed and re-mounted on their standing carriages ready for firing.

The first six guns left Whitehaven on Sunday 22 December, the short period of daylight would necessitate an early start. At that time, the main road out of the town to the north lay up over Bransty Brow, and having negotiated this fairly steep gradient with fresh horses, few remaining obstacles would have presented themselves on the first day's march.

The remaining four guns began their journey from Whitehaven on Thursday 26 December, but again trouble was experienced en route and they "were not able to get further than Flimby with some and Allonby with others". Some twenty-four horses which had returned to Whitehaven on the Wednesday night "were sent away again on Thursday afternoon to help forwards the other 4 Cannon which the Country People carried from Whitehaven on Thursday Morning."

On the 26th the Trenches were opened and the Batteries fixed and Guns mounted on the 27th at night.

The arrival of the Whitehaven ordnance had a profound effect upon the defending garrison and the course of the siege. On the 28th, about Eight in the Morning, our Forces began to batter their four and seven Gun Batteries, with six Eighteen Pounders, at which the Rebel Garrison were as much surprised, as if they had felt the Shock of an Earthquake, wondering from whence those roaring Guns came, knowing that the English Army brought none with them.

By mid-afternoon many of the Rebels' Cannon were dismounted and their Batteries put to Silence. In the night the Rebels were much perplexed with Cohorns flung into the Castle; the Sailors from Whitehaven assisted in working the Cannon, so that upwards of eleven hundred Shot was fired that Day.

The 18-Pounders kept up an almost continuous barrage until Sunday 29th, when they ran out of shot, James Ray being sent for further supplies. When firing re-commenced that evening, concentrating on the Sally-Port, "the wall was observed to totter". The defenders must have been running out of shot by the 29th". The Rebels fired several times on Sunday with powder only; and pretty certain that they have no ball, but plenty of grapeshot". Subsequently, the rebel garrison surrendered.

The 18-Pounders from did not make the return journey to Whitehaven, the Board of Ordnance sending out replacements in January 1747, followed by ordnance stores in October 1747.
  • The Jacobite army was defeated and massacred at the battle of Culloden in 1746.

Carlisle Castle
Carlisle Castle


Whitehaven had been small harbour and fishing village from 13th century or earlier. Expansion began in mid-17th century with building of piers by Lowthers 1632-4 and 1679-81 and granting of market charter 1660. By the 1680s it had grown rapidly, expanding from village of c.30 households in early 17th century to a town of over 1,000 inhabitants by 1685, which more than doubled to 2,281 by 1696. Sir John Lowther had laid out grid of streets by 1680s, making Whitehaven the earliest planned new town in post-medieval Britain.

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