For Bellingham, worse news came at the beginning of January with the man who was probably his agent in Ireland telling him that his Gernonstown estate was threatened:
Januar. ye 1st [1688-89]. … I receiv’d bad newes from Ireland, of great preparations by Tirconnell, and that T. White [other entries suggest this was Bellingham’s agent] was afraid of possession being taken. A few days later more favourable, but soon to prove false, news came, Ye 6th. … We had newes that Tirconnell had resign’d and fled into France, and that most of the considerable places in ye Kingdome had declar’d for ye P of O [Prince of Orange].
A more sobering report came on 11 January, Ill newes from Ireland. And next day Bellingham was drinking with Catholic gentry at one of the town’s inns, 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 houlding out 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, shortly to be implicated in a ‘Jacobite plot’. Bellingham seems already to be identifying them as Jacobites.
Regular correspondence was continually arriving from Ireland, as for example on 18 January, when Bellingham writes I receiv’d severall letters from Ireland, but all speak of great preparations there, and yt T [Tyrconnell] will not surrender. Next day, he records, I was wth Mr. Fleetwood and his cousen Dick [Richard Fleetwood] who sayes he heard by a vessell come from Ireland last Sunday yt ye Protestants there were in good posture of defence. And on 20 January, Mr. Franks came from Liverpoole, and brought an account yt ye Protestants in Ireland were in a good posture to defend themselves.
One of the Protestants fleeing Ireland was Sir James Coghill, of Coghill Hall in the West Riding of Yorkshire, who was master in the High Court of Chancery in Ireland, being knighted in 1686 by the Earl of Clarendon, who was then lord lieutenant. Coghill had married into a family that, like Bellingham’s, had been granted estates in Ireland for their military services to Cromwell in that country. He was in Preston on 21 January, when Bellingham just missed meeting him, Sr John Coghill was for some time in this town to-day, and Seem’d very desirous to see me. He has brought his family out of Ireland, and plac’d them att Lancaster: himselfe is gone for some time to London; so I was disappointed.
More news arrived on 22 January, I had letters from Ireland, and ye Sligoe declaration. Att night James Charlton [not identified] came hither, who had been att Gernonstoune [Gernonstowne, Bellingham’s estate in Ireland] a weeke agoe. He gives a dismall account of Ireland, especially of our county, from whence most of ye Protestants are fled.
Joseph Dolan, who edited the Bellingham diary for the County Louth Archaeological Society at the beginning of the 20th century furnishes some background here, and is sceptical of the more inflammatory reports from Ireland:
I cannot find what was the ‘Sligoe declaration’. It may probably have been the manifesto of the Williamite party in Ulster, who had formed an association about December 1688 under the leadership of Lord Blaney of Castleblaney, Sir Arthur Rawdon, and Sir Anthony Skeffington, ‘for the maintenance of the Protestant religion and the dependancy of Ireland upon England,’ and who had taken Coleraine, Culmore (at Derry) and Sligo in the name of King William.
‘Dismal account of Ireland’.? – An absurd rumour of a conspiracy by the Irish to massacre the new colonists on the previous 9th December, and the more reasonable fear that Tyrconnell would repeal the Act of Settlement and restore the land to its pre-Cromwellian owners, impelled great numbers of the Protestants (‘thousands’, Macaulay? ‘five hundred’ Col. Bellingham) to fly to England in these months.
Two days before, the diary records the information from two distinct sources: ‘the Protestants of Ireland were in a good position of defence’. The account given here of most of the Protestants having quitted Louth cannot be accurate, for if so, they would not have returned to it during the next eight months, whilst their party had no military support there; yet Storey tells of the following September that the people of Ardee were mostly Protestant, and had provided great quantities of ale, bread, and other provisions for the soldiers of Schomberg’s army, which they expected to come to their town.
More worrying reports arrived on 26 January, which Bellingham recorded, I saw young Clayton, who sayes that severall passengers came to Liverpoole from Ireland, that Tirconnell had taken severall protestant soldiers who were deserting, and bound and imprison’d them, yt ye Protestants there are in great consternation and endeavouring all they can to escape for England or ye North, yt Tir. [Tyrconnell] threatens if any forces land from here he will turn his army loose to doe what they please.
The ‘young Clayton’ was probably William Clayton, the son of Robert Clayton of Fulwood. He would have been in his thirties at this time and had established himself in Liverpool where he was shortly to become mayor. Bellingham’s diary entry for 29 January continues the growing concern about the situation Ireland, Little newes but what is bad from Ireland.
Next month the situation in Ireland seemed to have improved with Bellingham writing on 12 February, I had good newes from Ireland, yt ye Prot were in good posture of defence.
The mood soon turned pessimistic again, as witness Bellingham’s 15 February entry:
One Mr. Peper of Ireland and his wife came to this town. Here came Dean Pullein, Mr. Mead and Lee, 2 Bulleris, Ellwood, and Billy Graves. They landed att Whithaven, and bring a most dismall account of affayres in ye north [of Ireland]. I wrote a very long letter to my cousen Frowde, to be communicated to my Ld Clarendon, about ye present state of affayres there. Stayd wth ye Dean till very late.
Dean Pullein was Tobias Pullein (1648-1713), the Yorkshire-born bishop of Dromore in Ireland. From 1682 to 1694 he was vicar of St Peter’s, Drogheda, from where he was forced to flee to England in January 1689 as the Jacobites advanced towards his parish.
Philip Frowde, the second husband of Bellingham’s cousin Sarah, served as a captain with William III’s forces in Ireland. He was the eldest son of Sir Philip Frowde, a royalist colonel who became deputy postmaster-general and then governor of the Post Office. The younger Philip ‘inherited’ his father’s Post Office positions in 1677 three years after his father’s death and held them until just after the revolution, in April 1689.
Henry Hyde, second earl of Clarendon, was appointed lord lieutenant of Ireland in 1685 but his position was undermined by Tyrconnell who towards the end of James II’s reign assumed control of Ireland, lending his support to Catholics and oppressing Protestants. Bellingham presumably supposed that Clarendon had influence with William in matters concerning Ireland.
An ambiguous report recorded by Bellingham on 19 February suggests a worsening situation in Ireland, One Woodwood [not identified] att Mr. Mayors, a lame clerke, spoake very saucily to D. Langton, and sayd yt ye rising on ye Blundering Saturday was to cutt ye Papists’ throats. No other reference to a Blundering Saturday has been traced. Three days later Bellingham receiv’d letters from Ireland yt ye Prot were 40,000 strong.
March brought more grim news for Bellingham from Ireland, by way of Dean Pullein:
Ye 4th. … Dean Pullein came to this town from Liverpoole. He was att Chester and Rixam [Wrexham?]. He brings a sad account from Ireland yt Mr. Downs and severall of ye Colledge came from thence last Friday. Christ’s and St. Pattricks Churches and ye round Church are made into garrisons. Tirconnell has disarm’d all Protestants att Dublin, ransack’d ye colledge for armes, sends 20,000 men speedily into ye North, and dayly expects ye late King.
Given such reports, it is not surprising that fears of local Jacobite conspiracies were developing, as when Bellingham reports on 11 March that, Coll. Rawstorne receiv’d severall lers [letters] of ye Papists Caballing.
News of a great battle in Ireland was next to arrive (Bellingham, 21 March) costing the lives of thousands on both sides:
We had an account that there was a great engagement in Ireland, that the Protestants lost 4,000 and the Papists 6,000 men, but yt ye Prots kept ye field; but ye master of ye vessell affirms that he saw severall officers brought into Drogheda desperately wounded.
The position of the Protestants in Ireland was getting more desperate by the day. James II had landed in Ireland earlier in the month and Tyrconnel had sent troops against the Protestants, causing them to flee the country or seek safety behind the walls of Londonderry, praying for relief from England. The reported engagement did not take place, as Bellingham’s next entry makes clear:
I saw Dean Ward (see above), who sayes ye newes of an engagement in Ireland is wholy false, that Sr William Franklin (one of the leaders of the Protestant resistance to Tyrconnel) is in Liverpoole and brings an account that all the Northern forces were joyn’d and resolv’d to maintaine their ground.
On 24 March, Bellingham shows that the news of James II’s arrival in Ireland earlier in the month had finally reached Preston, We have a certaine account of K Ja being landed in Ireland and the deserters laying down theyr armes.
Bellingham records more ill tidings on 26 and 27 March, I receiv’d ye dismall account from Lancaster of ye Protestants’ defeat in ye North of Ireland, and that severall made theyr escapes to England, Scotland, and Londonderry. This Dr Lee brought wth a letter from Dean Pullein [see above] … and the following day, We had severall of ye defeated of ye North come to this town. They confirme ye newes and that the Irish are now in possession of all but Londonderry.
Dr Lee was probably Charles Leigh, a medical practitioner in Preston at this time and author of a Natural History of Lancashire, Cheshire, and the Peak in Derbyshire.
Another Protestant fleeing Ireland arrived in Preston, Sr Henry Ponsonby came hither from London. He gives a dismall account of his escape. I was wth him and others att the anchor. (Bellingham, March 31). Sir Henry Ponsonby, of Bessborough in Ireland, was just one of the many Protestant gentry fleeing the country. He was succeeded by his brother, William, one of the principal defenders of Londonderry. Bellingham’s entry for the next day contains a premature report of William’s death, anticipating his demise by some 35 years, Sr H. Ponsonby went very early. I had an account of ye sad defeat in ye N of Ireland, and yt honest Will Ponsonby was kill’d.
Early in the month Dean Pullein and Sir John Coghill were in Preston again for a few days.
For the rest of the month Bellingham was away in London. The only reference to Ireland comes in a brief, and false, report in Rawstorne’s diary for 22 April, the Newes of LondonDerry being left to the Irish, came to town. This shows that without Bellingham’s diary there would have been virtually no evidence of the regular comings and goings in Preston of Protestant gentry from Ireland, with their reports of the situation there. Bellingham’s diary continues on 7 May on his return from London, and finds him reporting, Express came from Liverpoole yt Derry [besieged by James II’s troops] holds out still.
Anti-Catholic feeling in England was inflamed by accounts of the suffering of the Protestants in Ireland where the Jacobites had taken control of nearly all the island, with the notable exception of Londonderry, the plight of whose inhabitants was becoming increasingly desperate. So it was probably with some relief that Bellingham could record on 18 May, A fayr day and wind for ye forces who are gone to Derry. On 24 May Sir John Coghill was back in Preston who, Bellingham records, gave me an account of another great defeat given by those of Derry to ye beseigers.
June brought fresh conspiracy rumours, with Bellingham recording on 15 June, Stay’d some time att Chorley. Met Alderman Sandyford, who gave us an account of a Papists ship that came from Ireland to Lancaster, that severall Papers and Commissions were seizd come from K James to severall persons of this country, but directed to women. Here came ye Ld Brandon, Gerard, and Capt Kirby, in order to rayse ye militia of ye whole county.
There was a good deal of rumour mongering at this time, so it is uncertain how reliable Alderman Sandyford’s information was. It does indicate that suspicion was growing of support for James in the county, especially among Catholics. That might account for Brandon, the Lord Lieutenant, calling out the militia. Bellingham reports the result two days later, Ye militia come in apace. Severall Papists seiz’d.
More news about the siege of Derry arrived for Bellingham on 23 June, We had newes that Richards could not gett into Derry, the river being block’d upp by a boome. I saw blacke George Mr Cartney [Macartney, the Mr Cartney is probably a transcription error] of Belfast. Richards was probably Col Solomon Richards, whose regiment had sailed from Liverpool to attempt to raise the siege of Derry. The siege was lifted a month later when three ships breached the boom. Macartney was a prosperous Belfast merchant, one of the many Protestant gentry who fled Ireland to escape Tyrconnell’s intimidation and settled briefly in Lancashire.
On 26 June Bellingham records that, Severall papists were brought in here by Sr Wm. Pennington. This was Sir William Pennington of Pennington, near Ulverston, and Muncaster, who married Margaret, the daughter of John Fleetwood of Penwortham and brother of Edward Fleetwood. The Pennington family acquired the Leyland estate of Farington early in the 17th century, which Sir William inherited: apparently the family had already held land there for some time.
By July relief was at hand for the inhabitants of Derry, with Bellingham reporting on 23 July, We had a good account from Capt Billings [not identified] of ye state of ye Protestants of Derry and Eniskillin. And next day, Councellour Kearnes [?] came through with an express from Kirke to Schomberg. Derry holds out bravely, and it is hoped that Kirke will relieve it. General Kirke had been attempting to raise the siege of Derry for nearly six weeks. He succeeded on 28 July and shortly after Marshal Schomberg arrived in Ireland with an army estimated to include as many as 26,000 troops.
The news of the relief of Derry did not reach Bellingham until 7 August, We receiv’d joyfull newes of Derry’s being reliev’d and ye seige raysed. It came by Capt Withers in ye Dartmouth. Here are great rejoycing by bells ringing, bonefires, and we dranke a bowl of punch att cousen Pattens.
William’s forces were engaging James’s supporters in Scotland in August, duly reported by Bellingham on 16 August, Mr. Couling [not identified] gives an account of Dundee’s party being totally disperst. The Jacobite Viscount Dundee raised support for James II in Scotland among the Highland clans and, from May 1689, was leading raids against the Williamites. His forces won a pyrrhic victory at the Battle of Killiecrankie on 27 July during which the Jacobites lost a third of their troops and Dundee himself was killed. In August the Jacobites were routed at a battle at Dunkeld, which is presumably what Bellingham was referring to.
And in Ireland William’s forces were prevailing over James’s men, We hear that Schomberg is gotten to Carrigfergus. Marshal Schomberg had arrived in Ireland shortly after the relief of Londonderry with an estimated 26,000 men and proceeded to take the town of Carrickfergus from the Jacobites. Protestant civilians were reported to have badly treated the surrendered force, stripping them and killing many.
One of the Derry governors was in Preston this month as Bellingham reports on 20 August, Last night Governour Walker came here privately. He was very obleiging to me. Was nobly Receiv’d and treated att the Mayor‘s. I went wth him parte of his way. He made large professions of kindness. George Walker was one of two governors of Londonderry during the siege. Macaulay described him as ‘an aged clergyman’, the rector of Donaghore.
Bellingham left Preston on 21 August, travelling to Liverpool to sail to Ireland to serve with the Williamite forces. With Bellingham away the only source for information relating to Ireland and the situation facing Catholics and proto-Jacobites in Preston is Lawrence Rawstorne’s diary.
Rawstorne was in Walton-le-Dale on 5 September, spending the day questioning an Irishman and committing him to jail, went to Walton to vew the Cop [embankment protecting the road north to the Ribble bridge], where Major ffarrington & I & Mr Kenion [Roger Kenyon — Lancashire clerk of the peace] stayed from Eight ’till ‘4 a Clock to Examine an Irish Man, one of 4 that had committed abuses in that Towne the night before, drinking K James’s helath & thretning to fire houses &c he called himselfe Edmund Macnoughell wee sent him to Lanc: Gaole.
The next month finds more visitors from Ireland, with clerics preaching in the parish church, as Rawstorne records on 20 October, at Preston Church heard Archdeacon Williamson & one Mr. Tomlinson [not identified] both Irishmen. Williamson would have been William Williamson, Archdeacon of Glendaloch, Ireland, from 1676 to 1705. On 31 October Rawstorne, writ to Capt Bellingham into Ireland, set it by Mr. Brady.
Bellingham was back in Preston on 13 November when he was most kindly receiv’d by all freindes. Next day he was visited by severall freindes, and carry’ d to ye alehouse, and entertain’d by them.
On 16 November Bellingham recorded that A messenger lay att ye anchor who pretends to be sent from Schomberg [William’s commander in Ireland] to discover deserters and those who hold correspondence wth ye enemy. On the same day Rawstorne’s entry has at Ancor & Mr. Mayors house wth on[e] Mr. faircloth [Bellingham’s messenger?] on that came from the Camp in Ireland.
There were more visitors from Ireland on 17 November, Count Solmes came hither who landed last Thursday att Whithaven. He came thither from Donnoghadee in 12 houres. I saw Cunningham, who came along wth him, who sayes that Douglass has orders to Bombard Charlemont. Next day Solmes left for London.
The Count of Solmes commanded a brigade of Dutch troops under Schomberg in Ireland, and took part in the battle of the Boyne. He was then appointed commander-in-chief of the army in Ireland. Cunningham could be the Capt. Coningham who was in Preston with Lt.-Gen. Douglas’s regiment on 17 October 1688. For more on Douglas see Bellingham’s 14 October 1688 entry.
On 19 November, Bellingham reported, Mr. Hodgkinson had a letter from a private hand from London of ye ill state of affayres in Ireland. Bellingham was laid low with fever a few days later and this is the last entry in his diary until the following January. There is no further information on Ireland in Rawstorne’s subsequent diary entries, the last of which was for 25 December.