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The reason why the Jacobites fixed upon Plainfield as their place of rendezvous in Upper Coquetdale was probably owing to its central position, as well as being near that point where the troop coming out of Redewater would enter the valley of the Coquet. Plainfield Moor, where it is said they met, forms part of the Harbottle estate, and is situated midway between Harbottle and Rothbury, on the lower slopes of the Wreigh Hill Pike, and commands a full view of the Cheviot hills on the north, is only a very short distance from Biddlestone, the seat of the Selbys; Callaly, at that time the seat of the Claverings; and Cartington, then the seat of the Talbots; all of whom were staunch Catholics, and active partizans in the movement. Plainfield Moor still exists, and, with the exception of the fences by which it is surrounded? and intersected, it probably presents much the same aspect to-day as it did on that October afternoon of 1715, when those loyal hearted Northumbrian Jacobites, led by the earl of Derwentwater, gathered round the standard of the exiled prince. Tradition points to a fine old ash tree, which forms a prominent feature in the landscape, on the moor between Sharperton Edge and Plainfield, as the spot where Derwentwater first unfurled the standard of the prince in Coquetdale. During the early part of the present century a farmer named Robert Wealleans, residing at the adjoining farm of Charity Hall, had in his possession, amongst other relics and curiosities, a gentleman's leather gauntlet glove, said to have been found on a thorn bush near to this ash tree, shortly after the departure of the Jacobites to their quarters at Rothbury.
It is evident that the final step had been taken somewhat hastily by Derwentwater and Forster, the leaders of the Northumbrian Jacobites, because lord Widdrington only heard of the gathering on the evening of October 5th, when, with several members of his family, he hurried
up the next day to join the earl of Derwentwater at Plainfield. There is not a complete list of those of our Coquetdale ancestors who, on the 6th of October, 1715, went to swell the ranks
? In a map of Rothbury parish, made by Edward Smith in 1816, kindly lent me by Mr. James Brook of Hepple, the highway leading from Rothbury to Harbottle is shown as not enclosed, being at that time quite an open road through Plainfield Moor.
Hodgson's Hist. of Northumberland, part ii. vol. ii. p. 256 (note 41, Widdrington Miscellanea).
IN UPPER COQUETDALE IN 1715.
of the insurgents on Plainfield Moor ; yet, along with the men out of Tynedale and Redesdale, we would have found there lord Widdrington and his two brothers Charles and Peregrine, John Talbot of Cartington, William Clavering of Callaly, and his kinsman George Collingwood of Eslington; Ephraim Selby of Biddlestone and his steward; John Hunter of Callaly, laird Ratcliffe of Thropton, and his neighbour James Robson, the stonemason, with probably a few family retainers and yeomen out of the valleys of the Coquet and the Aln. Towards the close of that stormy autumn afternoon, two horsemen might have been observed hastening across the moor, their heads bent down over their horses' necks as they struggled against the westerly gale which blows hard and strong on that high-lying portion of Upper Coquetdale. Suddenly they are surrounded by a band of Jacobite troopers, who order them to halt, and without much resistance lead them prisoners into the Jacobite camp. The two captives were Justice Hall, better known throughout the county as Mad Jack Hall of Otterburn, and his man servant. Judging from the remark of Patten, that at Plainfield “they were joined by others who came straggling in,' it would seem that the movement was more among the squires and well-to-do yeomen, than amongst the middle and lower classes of the population, and that not many of the common people in Coquetdale joined in the rising. It is amusing to learn that whilst several of our Northumbrian gentry were induced to join in the Jacobite movement only after much persuasion on the part of their Jacobitish friends, we find it was exactly the reverse with others, whose friends did their utmost to restrain them from taking any part in the rising, and who, when force of argument failed, had recourse to extreme measures, as in the case of Joseph Forster of Old Buston, a hot-headed, warm-hearted Jacobite, known as the Old Justice.' This plucky old gentleman was actully put in prison by his own relatives until the commotion was past, and was only thus prevented from joining the Jacobite army at Warkworth.
The rector of Rothbury, Dr. John Thomlinson, appears to have been neutral in the matter, or rather, he may not have had his loyalty to the reigning power put to the test. The Jacobite party left Roth
· Extract from the Forster deeds, kindly given me by Major Thompson, Walworth hall, Darlington.
bury on the Friday, and spent the Sunday at Warkworth ; therefore it was reserved for the poor vicar of Warkworth10 to stand the trial whether he would, or would not, read the prayers in the parish church, according to the dictation of the Jacobite general. One can easily imagine the alarm there would be amongst the inhabitants of Coquetdale, as the cavalcade of armed men marched down the valley on their way from Plainfield towards Rothbury, and the anxious excitement within the little market town itself, when the Jacobites entered the wide old-fashioned street, and halted in the market-place in front of , the “Three Half-moons' and the Old Black Bull,' and there, under the shadow of the venerable walls of the old parish church, proclaimed James the third, king of England. Amongst the Coquetdale Jacobites already mentioned, we know there were with them that night at Rothbury :_11 Thomas Forster, jun., of Etherstone; the earl of Derwentwater and his brother Charles ; Philip Hodgson of Sandhoe; Thomas Errington of Beaufront; John Clavering of Berrington; William Shaftoe of Bavington and his son John; old Edward Shaftoe and his son captain John Shaftoe; John Thornton of Netherwitton; Charleton of the Bower and his son William : the pick of Northumberland. How or where the men and horses were quartered we are not told; but, according to a well-known tradition, the earl of Derwentwater spent the night under the thatched roof of that ancient hostelry the “Three Half-moons,' now in ruins, the apartment in which he slept being afterwards called the earl’s chamber.
The troops of lords Derwentwater and Widdrington are said to have been well armed, but the greater part of those who joined in the rising was certainly not ; neither were these trained to act in concert. The Jacobite army of 1715 has been described as a mob of brave men armed with swords, guns, and pistols, which they had not been drilled to use. Whether it was in the affair of '15 or '45 I am not sure,
but it was said that when the Jacobites in one of their marches through the county were about to enter the town of Wooler, the commanding officer, wishing his men to present a soldier-like appearance before the good folks of Wooler, gave the word of command, ‘Draw swords, when, much to the amusement of the spectators, a wag amongst the
10 Patten's Hist. of the Rebellion of 1715, p. 28.
ARCHAEOLOGIA AELIANA, Vol. XVI, 10 face p. 102.
>THREE HALF MOONS AND BLACK BULL INNS, ROTHBURY.