On this day … 12 January 1689

Thomas Bellingham wrote the following in his diary:

Ye 12th. Frost in ye morning; thaw’d in ye afternoon. This is call’d ye great Saturday, but a very slender markett; no goods goe off. I was att Rigby’s wth Capt W. Clifton and his brother James and one Mr. Westby, all R [Catholics], who seeme very high upon ye newes of Tirconnell [who was leading James II’s forces i Ireland] houlding out.

The market Bellingham mentions would be one of the four horse fairs held in January, March, August and November each year, well into the 19th century, according to the Preston historian Anthony Hewitson. Up until 1878 the January fair lasted a week, spreading across Fishergate, Church Street and Lancaster Road. Starting from the following year, it lasted only three days, and was confined to the Covered Market.

This was the age of the horse, when cart congestion clogged Preston’s streets. If the internal combustion engine had not come along, the town would soon have been drowning in horse muck.

Sir Thomas Clifton of Lytham Hall
The portrait of Sir Thomas which is on display at Lytham Hall.

The Cliftons would be brothers of Sir Thomas Clifton and Mr Westby was probably his brother-in-law Thomas Westby, members of the principal Catholic gentry families in the Fylde, later to be implicated in a ‘Jacobite plot’. Bellingham seems already to be identifying them as Jacobites. Sir Thomas himself was accused of high treason at the trial of the ‘Jacobite plotters’ in Manchester. He was acquitted, but was dead within a month.

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