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IN UPPER COQUETDALE IN 1715.
crowd shouted, 'And what are they to do who haven't swords?' An incident which shows the daring character of the men engaged in the movement, also the great lack of arms amongst them, occurred at Rothbury during the first week of the campaign.12 On Friday, the 14th of October, Matthew Robson of Bellingham (a Redesdale yeoman), when returning from the Quarter Sessions held at Alnwick, proposed on arriving at Rothbury to bait his horse and have some refreshment himself. He had evidently been making his way to the "Three Half-moons,' for on riding up the village, he came quite unexpectedly upon a company of Jacobites assembled in the Market Place. Immediately on his appearance, as he rode round the ‘Black Bull' corner, two or three of the Jacobites, Robert Talbot, William Dod, and William Charleton of Reedsmouth (who no doubt knew very well that Matthew Robson was on the Hanoverian side), came forward and disarmed him, took possession of his horse, and placed the poor yeoman under arrest. After keeping him for three hours in mortal terror of his life, with threats to slay him or shoot him, he was released and sent off home to Bellingham on foot, a distance of twenty mileshis horse and harness, his buff belt, and his trusty broadsword being retained by his captors wherewith to arm a Jacobite trooper.
For several weeks, from the first day of the rising, Rothbury appears to have been the Jacobite head-quarters for the district, and was evidently visited and re-visited by roving parties of Jacobites. It is recorded that on the 2nd of November, 1715, the inhabitants18 att Rothbury were in great consternation by an alarme in the night that they would be attacqued, some gott one boot on, and some neither, but mounted in great disorder.' The rebel army, however, did not molest the town. No wonder, therefore, that the Government kept a watchful eye upon Rothbury, as the following item in the sheriff's accounts for the year 1715 will show :— For the Sheriff's clerk and two Bailiffes expences, by order of the Earl of Scarborough, Ld. Lieutenant of the County, in going to Rothbury as spies, £06 08s. Ood.' On the 19th of October there was a general muster of the whole force of English and Lowland Scotch supporters of the cause held at Rothbury. No doubt from its central position and its easy distance
12 Records of the English Catholics of 1715, by John Orlebar Payne, M.A., from Scotland, the little Border town was on that occasion considered by the Jacobite leaders to be the most convenient spot where they could effect a junction of their forces. As I have already stated, the Jacobites, on leaving Rothbury on the 7th of October, marched down the valley of the Coquet to Warkworth, where they stayed over the Sunday, thence to Morpeth, intending to go on to Newcastle ; but not being received by the wary merchant burgesses of that important town with open arms, as they had been led to expect, the little army, somewhat discouraged, proceeded up the Tyne to Hexham, which they made their head-quarters. On Tuesday, October 18th, a messenger arrived at Hexham with the news that the Scottish Jacobites were crossing the Borders, and wished their Northumbrian friends to meet them at Rothbury. Having also been informed that general Carpenter, who had arrived at Newcastle, was preparing to attack them, the Northumbrian Jacobites at once decided to proceed north ward ; therefore the whole troop, under the command of the earl of Derwentwater, left Hexham early the next morning (being Wednesday, October 19th), and after halting some time at Kirkharle, marched across the fells, and entered Rothbury by the Hexham road late in the afternoon. Here they were met by the Jacobites of the Scottish Lowlands, with their leaders, lord Kenmure, the earl of Nithsdale, the earl of Wintoun, the earl of Carnwath, and lord Nairn, as brave an assembly of hardy Borderers as ever met on the banks of the Coquet. It is said that men and officers spent a convivial night in true border fashion, and we may be sure that many a Jacobite song and many a Jacobite toast would ring through the rafters of the Three Half-moons,' and the ‘Old Black Bull,' on that eventful night. Very fond our Jacobite ancestors were of drinking toasts and singing ballads in which they expressed their sentiments. Many of the Jacobite toasts were so esoteric and seemingly contradictory in their verbiage, that except to the initiated it was most difficult to say which king, Jacobite or Whig, was really being toasted. Besides the well-known toast, “To the king over the water,' the following were often used at mixed meetings with perfect safety :
13 Newcastle Weekly Chronicle.
• Here's a health to the king, whom the crown doth belong to,
IN UPPER COQUETDALE IN 1715.
. God bless the king, I mean the faith's defender,
God bless us all—that's quite another thing.' Thanks to Sir Walter Scott, to the Ettrick Shepherd, and to the compilers of our own Northumbrian minstre sy, we have a goodly collection of Jacobite songs and ballads handed down to us. Many of these songs are yet great favourites amongst the rural population of Northumberland. I myself hear them frequently sung at our social gatherings in Coquetdale, and how expressive and heartstirring these old Jacobite verses are, such as, “There'll never be peace till Jamie comes hame,''Charlie is my darling,'Jamie the rover,' •Wha wadna fight for Charlie,' "The auld Stuart's back again,' and others holding up to ridicule the house of Hanover. “Though Geordie reigns in Jamie's stead,"Awa, Whigs, awa,''Oh, what's the rhyme to porringer,' The wee, wee German Lairdie,' "The sow's tail to Geordie,' and the like. On the morning of Thursday, the 20th of October, the combined forces marched from Rothbury to Wooler, where they rested for the night, and reached Kelso the next day. The subsequent movements of the Jacobite army are too much a matter of general history to be repeated in this paper. The leaders, after much discussion and many dissensions, decided upon entering England by way of Carlisle, which they did, and penetrating as far as Preston in Lancashire, they were totally defeated by the king's forces. Of that miserable affair at Preston, when there were taken no less than seven lords and 1,490 followers, numbering amongst them the finest noblemen in the land, I need not relate to you in full. Among the Jacobite prisoners in that ignominious march from Preston to London, besides the noble earl of Derwentwater, lord Widdrington and his two brothers, William Shaftoe of Bavington, his son John and other two of the family, there were the Ordes, Forsters, Riddells, Thorntons, Claverings, and Scotts, the flower of Northumberland chivalry.
It may be of some interest if I give a short account of some of those brave but misguided gentlemen who were taken prisoners, and the fate which befel them. Of the execution (or, as the Jacobite calendar puts it) the murder of James Ratcliffe,' earl of Derwentwater, and of William Gordon, viscount Kenmure, Kenmure as commanding the
Scotch, and Derwentwater as commanding the English Jacobites at the first rising, who were beheaded on Tower Hill, February 24th, 1716, I shall only remark that, by a strange coincidence, the reading of this paper has fallen on the anniversary of the sad death of these two unfortunate noblemen ; whilst, to show how tradition lingers amongst our rural population in remote districts, it was only the other day & person in Upper Coquetdale told me that from their earliest recollections they had heard the “Aurora Borealis' called “ Derwentwater's Lights.' Patten furnishes us with the names of the prisoners, from whose list I shall give the names of a few who were connected with the rising in Coquetdale :- William Widdrington, lord Widdrington, Charles Widdrington, Esq., brother to the lord Widdrington of Northumberland, Papist, pleaded guilty ; Peregrine Widdrington, Esq., third brother to this lord, and aide-de-camp to General Forster, Papist; John Hunter, a farmer at Callylee, in Northumberland, reputed very rich, he made his escape; John Clarering, a Papist, of Northumberland; John Clavering, brother to William Clavering, both Papists in Northumberland.'
In his defence, lord Widdrington pleaded that14 he went with his kinsmen to the assembly at Plainfield in October, 1715, without any definite knowledge as to what was intended,ʻ15 for although he had met with publick rumours and reports of intended invasions from abroad, and insurrections at home, yet he never knew, or any other way heard of, any formed design against the government, till he was told the night before of a meeting intended at Plainfield in Northumberland on the sixth of October last; and being soon after informed that almost all his neighbours and acquaintance had there met in arms, he took a hasty and inconsiderate resolution of joining them, nor was he in any sort prepared for such an undertaking, having only some of his own family with him, no arms, but his common fowling pieces, and wearing swords.'16 Notwithstanding this evidence, it was well known that lord Widdrington and his two brothers, Charles and Peregrine, with about twenty men, joined the Jacobite army at Warkworth on Saturday, October 8th. Lord Widdrington was sentenced to death, but
14 Doran's London in Jacobite Times, vol. i. p. 135.
15 Hodgson's Hist. of Northumberland, part ii. vol. ii. p. 256 (note 41 Widdrington Miscellanea).
16 Lady Cowper's diary, p. 186 (Appendix).
IN UPPER COQUETDALE IN 1715.
afterwards pardoned. William Clavering of Callaly, the chief of his house, was over seventy years of age when he joined in the rising. It has been a puzzle to many how the Widdringtons, the Selbys, and the Claverings, managed to save their lives and their estates after the active part they took in the affair of 1715 ; but a perusal of lady Cowper's diary makes this matter somewhat clear. Most interesting details relating to the trials in London of the Jacobite prisoners of 1715 are given in the Diary of Mary Countess Cowper, Lady of the Bedchamber to the Princess of Wales, 1714 to 1720.'17 • Her maiden name was Mary Clavering, and she was the Daughter of John Clavering, Esq., of Chopwell, in the county of Durham, who was himself of a younger Branch of the Ancient Northumbrian Family of Clavering of Callalee and Axwell, a Race entertaining the Jacobite predilections which were then so prevalent in the north of England and Scotland.' She was married in 1706 to William lord Cowper, who was then Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, afterwards Lord Chancellor, and at the trial of the Jacobite prisoners he was appointed High Steward of England. Lady Cowper was possessed of considerable personal attractions, and although the object of much admiration at the court of George I. she preserved an unsullied reputation. Lady Mary appears to have sided with the political opinions of her husband in support of the Hanoverian succession, rather than with those of her Jacobite kins
Speaking of the arrival of the prisoners in London, lady Cowper gives the following melancholy picture :-18 “This week the prisoners were brought to town from Preston. They came in with their arms tied, and their horses (whose bridles were taken off) led each by a soldier. The mob insulted them terribly. The chief of my father's house (Wm. Clavering of Callalee) was amongst them. He was about seventy years old. A desperate fortune had drove him from home in hopes to have repaired it.' It was no doubt due to the benign influence of lady Cowper, the beautiful Mary Clavering of Chopwell, that so many of our north country squires and their followers were acquitted or quietly allowed to escape from prison, who would eventually return to their Northumbrian homes, sadder and wiser men. It fared very differently indeed with the gentle George Colling
17 Lady Cowper's diary, p. vii. (Preface).
18 Lady Cowper's diary, p. 62.