On this day … 13 December 1688

The entry in the diary of Thomas Bellingham contained the following:

‘Ye 13th. A very wett day. I rode to Camells to see ye ship wch came from Holland. Ye master tould me he was 3 weekes since att Ireland, and ye Custome house officer assur’d him there were armes lately come over for 15,000 men. He saw 2 dutch ships off Pyle of fother [probably Peel Island at Walney]. Dean Ward came from Liverpoole, and confirms the account of 500 being come from Ireland for fear of a massacre, … ’

Campbells (Bellingham writes ‘Camells’) was an inn on the north bank of the Ribble at Ashton Bank to the south west of the present Ashton Park, at which Thomas Bellingham and his friends frequently dined. It seems to have served as a quay, to judge by Bellingham’s mention of visiting a ship there. Its location is marked on the 1736 survey of the Ribble by Fearon and Eyes, at which time the river followed a more unruly course than today.

This entry illustrates the wild rumours that were circulating among Preston Protestants about the imminent danger of a massacre of their fellow Protestants in Ireland by their Catholic neighbours, and the preparations that were being made to protect them. Life was becoming very difficult for Catholics living in Preston and the surrounding townships: their loyalty was suspect and their homes were soon to be searched for arms. It was a gathering storm, leading to the Battle of the Boyne 18 months later … and centuries of division between Catholic and Protestant communities.

The above chart is taken from James Barron’s ‘A History of the Ribble Navigation’, which contains many more charts of the Ribble estuary over the centuries. It has been transcribed by Barney Smith, curator of the vast Preston Digital Archive. It can be read on line, or downloaded, at the Preston History Library: A History of the Ribble Navigation

For more: Preston, Ireland and the Glorious Revolution

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