On this day … 28 January 1716

Five Jacobites were hanged on Gallows Hill in Preston. They were Richard Shuttleworth, of Preston, and four others. Shuttleworth’s head was cut off and fixed on the town hall. Seven more rebels were executed two weeks later, and four at Garstang.

According to David Hunt in his History of Preston, the executioners were paid £60 for their work in Lancashire. He adds the following extract from the Sheriff’s accounts, ‘January 27th: Erecting gallows and paid for materialls, hurdle, fire, cart etc. in executing Shuttleworth and 4 more at Preston and setting up his head etc £12. 0s. 4d.’

English Martyrs Church on Garstang Road now stands on what was Gallows Hill. Hewitson in his History of Preston records that when the road from Preston to Lancaster was being improved in 1817, the hill was cut through to reduce the gradient, and workmen uncovered two coffins containing headless corpses. These were probably the bodies of Jacobite rebels executed on the spot. They would have been among the more than 1,500 rebels, 1,088 Scots and 464 English, who had taken Preston in 1715 and then surrendered when the town was retaken by Government forces.

After the surrender, officers and gentlemen were detained in inns and other properties around the town. Ordinary soldiers, according to Hewitson, were herded into the parish church where they were held for a month, living on bread and water, and ‘keeping themselves warm with breeches and hose made out of material which they ripped from the seats and linings of pews’.

The last reminder of the executions of three hundred years ago are Kenmure Place and Derwentwater Place, which now stand on what was Gallows Hill. They are named for Viscount Kenmure and the Earl of Derwentwater, leaders of the Jacobite Rebellion. They were not among those executed there. Instead, they were taken to London to be tried by their peers in the House of Lords, and afterwards beheaded.

One source for this item is David Hunt’s A History of Preston, which sadly is not available on line, although there are copies at the Harris Library in Preston. A mark of its popularity is that it was at one time, according to David, the book most frequently stolen from the Harris. The other source is Hewitson’s History of Preston.

1840s map of the Gallows Hill district of Preston
Gallows Hill can be seen on this section of the 1840s map of Preston from the National Library of Scotland collection (National Library of Scotland)
Map of the 1715 Battle of Preston
Boyer’s map of the 1715 Battle of Preston

One thought on “On this day … 28 January 1716

  1. For anyone seeking more on the Battle of Preston 1715 and its aftermath, the following may be of interest:
    Jonathan Oates’ book, ‘The Second Battle of Preston 1715 – the last battle on English soil’ was published by Helion earlier this year – a revised and much cheaper version of his earlier book published by Routledge in 2015.
    Robert Patten’s very readable eyewitness account, ‘The history of the rebellion in the year 1715 : with original papers, and the characters of the principal noblemen and gentlemen concern’d in it’ is online at https://archive.org/details/gri_33125010917959
    Samuel Hibbert’s collation of sources (including Patten) for the Chetham Society, ‘Lancashire memorials of the rebellion, MDCCXV’, is also online at https://archive.org/details/lancashirememori00edin
    The Last Battle on English Soil, a Heritage Lottery funded project marking the 300th anniversary in 2015, created an app telling the story of the battle through the streets of Preston (suitable for a walking or couch tour). There are also maps and documents to view. It has been recently refreshed (but now only appears to be available for ioS users), and can be downloaded from the App store https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/battle-of-preston-1715/id1054031377
    The project also maintains a Twitter account @Preston1715, which has covered the events of November 1715 in different ways each year since.
    And the project archive, along with original and facsimile sources, is available at Lancashire Archives.


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