On this day … 15 January 1689

James Stanley 10th earl of Derby
James Stanley 10th earl of Derby

This was the entry in the diary of Thomas Bellingham:

Ye 15. A frost and thaw. This day was ye election of members to serve in the Convention. Mr. Stanly, whom I personated, was unanimously chosen. Ye competition between Rigby and Patten was carried by 2 votes for Patten: he had 208, ‘tother 206. I was carry’d on mens shoulders from barrs to barrs, and was handsomely treated till very late.

The election was for the Convention Parliament, which faced the tricky question of who was to rule England following the invasion by William of Orange and the flight of James II. Should William become king, which he wanted, or should his wife, Mary, James’ daughter, be queen? Or could some accommodation be found with James?

‘Mr Stanly’ was the Hon James Stanley, later the 10th earl of Derby (pictured). Bellingham ‘personated’ (stood in for) Stanley, who could not take part in the election himself since he was serving in one of William of Orange’s regiments.

Rigby was Edward Rigby, a member of the family prominent in the town in the 17th century. They owned some of the largest houses in the town, as well as Middleton Hall and Longley Hall in Goosnargh

Edward’s grandfather, Alexander, was one of the leaders of the Parliamentary forces in Lancashire during the Civil War. He became a senior judge, who according to one possibly spiteful account, was ‘never knowne to bee worth one [thousand] till hee became a publicke robber by law: but you must remember hee had beene a lawyer and a bad one.’

Patten was Thomas Patten, who lived at Patten House, the magnificent Church Street mansion, later the Preston home of the earls of Derby, demolished in the 19th century.

The barrs to which Bellingham was carried shoulder high were the town’s barrs that were found at the ends of Fishergate, Friargate, Church Street and possibly Mainsprit Weind. As their name suggests, their purpose was to control access to the town, particularly on market days when tolls were collected from traders from out of town.

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