Bellingham resumes his diary on 13 January, and on 30 January reports troops passing through Preston their return from Ireland. Next day brings news that King William is planning to go to Ireland.
February entries in Bellingham’s diary include only two notices of Ireland: of Great preparations for Ireland on 2 February and newes of a victory at Newry on 23 February, although it is unclear what action he was referring to. There was only a single reference for March, We had an account of Scravenmore’s [This would be the general of that name] being come from Bellfast to Chester. He sayes severall Danes were landed in Ireland before his coming away.
April 5 brought news of the detention of two Irishmen in Preston:
Att night 2 Irish men, James Doran and Tho Bourke, were seiz’d as suspicious persons. They had letters about them to Sr James Poole, Sr Rowland Stanly, Sr Wm Creagh, and to young Mr. Mollineaux. They were examin’d aparte. They differ’ d in theyr examinations and produc’d a counterfeite certificate under Rich. Engolsbys hand. They are secur’d and confin’d.
The letters were addressed to leading Catholics in the region.
Sir James Poole and Sir Rowland Stanley are so described in footnotes in the diary of the Thomas Cartwright, Bishop of Chester:
Sir James Poole was the head of the Roman Catholic family of Poole, of Poole, in the hundred of Wirral. Sir Rowland Stanley was another Cheshire baronet, seated in the same parish of Eastham, at Hooton, and also a Roman Catholic. The Mr. Massey, at whose house the bishop dined, must have been the neighbour of the Pooles and the Stanleys, Massey of Podington, the head of another of the great Roman Catholic families of the hundred of Wirral …’
Sir William Creagh was a Catholic Irishman who ‘enjoyed the doubtful favour of James II’, who made him mayor of Newcastle in 1687. Young Mr Mollineaux was probably the son of Viscount Molyneux. Engolsby would have been Richard Ingoldsby, who had been serving in Ireland where he had succeeded his uncle as colonel of a foot regiment.
Bellingham’s entry for 7 April conflicts with his information on the two Irishmen, One Edwards, a 3d person who was in company of Bourke and Doran, came to town and was examin’d. He proves an honest man. All theyr Portmanteaus were open’d and some letters were found, but of little consequence. What had become of the suspicious letters discovered on 5 April? They were clearly of concern to the lord lieutenant Lord Brandon, who wrote to Rawstorne, the colonel of the militia regiment, on 13 April instructing him to keep ye Irish men close prisoners
A letter to came for Captain Clayton of Fulwood on 8 April, that gave an account how ill a condition K. Ja. army was in Ireland, and of 4 Regiments of French being landed there.
More Irishmen were detained around the 18 April, as Bellingham reports, I went wth Coll Matthewes to see Dore and Bourke. These Irishmen were taken att Lodge and att ye ashes and brought to town. The Ashes at Goosnargh was the home of the Threlfall family, Catholic gentry of whom the heir at this time, Edmund Threlfall, was a noted supporter of James II. He was killed at his home later in the year by a party of militia sent to arrest him.
Next day, Bellingham visited one of the Irishmen again, I went to visit Dore, and found a Dutch trooper wth him, on whose toe he had trod when I came in. A Danish troop had arrived in town that day.
In town on 21 April was an informant offering to sell details of a Catholic plot, One Dodsworth [not identified], a person who pretends to discover a plott of ye Papists, is come to this town. He insists much upon having money before he informes. Next day Ye Dutch troop sent out a party to apprehend Papists, and brought in one Irish man, who had his wife wth him.
The first report from Ireland in May came on the third, when Bellingham reported, A. soldier who came late from Ireland tould us of some action att Charlemont, where 30 of ye enemy were killed and 25 taken prisoners, wth ye loss only of 7 of our side, and that Tirconnell was in disgrace with K J [James II]. Macaulay attributes the success to Count Schomberg who was commanding the Williamite troops in Ireland, ‘Schomberg had opened the campaign auspiciously. He had with little difficulty taken Charlemont, the last important fastness which the Irish occupied in Ulster. But the great work of reconquering the three southern provinces of the island he deferred till William should arrive.’
Bellingham’s diary followed this on 6 May with, We have newes of recruits being gotten into Charlemont. I saw one Buchanan [not identified] who was a minister att Clogher in Ireland. And on 8 May more suspicions of local Catholics was raised by the following information, Here was Capt Pash [probably Capt Samuel Pash] and Corpr Berry of Sr George St. George Regiment. They are sent wth private orders relating to Papists. I was late wth them …
More news came from Ireland on 18 May, We had an account from Lerpoole of Lewt King’s deserting K James and coming over wth a list of ye Irish army. He sayes that Charlemont [see above] has capitulated to surrender.
A few days later Bellingham was on his way to Ireland, by way of Liverpool and Hoylake, to serve in the Williamite forces and see action at the Battle of the Boyne. He served as William’s aide-de-camp and was promoted colonel. There is no more news from Preston in his diary.