On this day … 8 April 1689

The entry in the diary of Col Lawrence Rawstorne read, ‘8 at Preston & at prayers, the troops above menioned went away, & i’th evening came 3 others of Q [ueen] Dowagers Rgt: under Sr. Heorge [?George] Howet, in number about 30 a peice besides officers.’

The Battle of Aughrim
The Battle of Aughrim, at which some of the troops passing through Preston would have fought the Jacobite force loyal to James II. It is reputed to be the bloodiest ever fought in the British Isles with 7,000 killed. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:John_Mulvany_-_The_Battle_of_Aughrim.jpg

At this time, as William III was gathering his army to take on the forces of James II in Ireland, Preston was awash with soldiery. While Rawstorne and his friends enjoyed carousing with the officers in the town’s ale houses, the rest of the community had to put up with the rough and ready troops.

Six cavalry troops had arrived in town over the previous two days, and were now heading out for Liverpool to take ship for Ireland. In their stead came ninety men of the Queen Dowager’s Regiment of Foot. Many would have been in a bad way, poorly clad and short of money, and the townsfolk would be locking up their property to guard against marauding and thieving soldiers.

The condition of the regiment was recorded a few months later:

There are some fine men in this Rgt., but the clothing is very bad. Many still left on the Sick List on the Island of Inch, and many dead both there and here. The Lieut.-Col., Major, and some Captains seem to be pretty good officers, but the Subalterns are mostly young, and not all gentlemen. Two Captains are rarely with the Regt., being Captains of vessels. The Regt. complains of irregular payments, and that they are twenty weeks in arrears.

The men would likely be constantly hungry and foraging for food, as when Rawstorne’s friend and fellow diarist, Thomas Bellingham, recorded coming across soldiers stealing apples from a garden in Avenham.

Their marauding could take a more disturbing turn, especially for Catholics, as Bellingham noted in another entry, ‘Ye soldiers unslated the Popish Chappell’. This was probably the Benedictine chapel at Fishwick Hall, built during the last years of James II’s reign, when the penal restrictions on Catholics were briefly lifted.

Sir George Howett was among those close to James II who deserted the king shortly after the invasion of William of Orange. He was reputed have kept an actress, Rebecca Marshall, ‘a very pretty woman’, as mistress. She was labelled a prostitute and a procurer for her daughter in lampoons of the period, as in the following example (‘Curtizan’ is courtesan):

Proud Curtizan Marshall tis time to give o’re
Since now your Daughter, shee is turn’d whore
But be not discourag’d it was in Cambridge she fell
And her London Maidenhead you have still to sell.

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