Battle of Preston 1715
The last battle on English soil was fought through the streets of Preston in November 1715, the year after the Protestant Hanoverian King George I succeeded the last Stuart monarch, Queen Anne. Supporters of Anne’s half-brother James – the Jacobites – were trying to overthrow the new King and restore the Stuart line.
The Jacobite army that fought at Preston included both English High-Church Tories, Catholic Lancastrians and Scottish Jacobites. A force setting out from north-east England was joined by Scottish Jacobites in the Borders and then marched south through Carlisle and Lancaster - joined by fewer supporters than expected on the way.
The main Jacobite forces arrived in Preston on 10 November. They proclaimed James III as king from the steps of the cross which stood in the Market Square (commonly known as the Flag Market).
Meanwhile, a government army was on route from the south. In response, the Jacobites took over the centre of Preston and set up barricades on the main streets into the town.
At the same time as the battle in Preston, a larger Jacobite army was fighting the government at the Battle of Sherrifmuir, near Dunblane in Scotland.
The Last Battle
The main fighting took place on 12 November. Jacobite troops defended the town centre at barricades on Church Street and Friargate. The government troops, under General Wills, attacked up Church Street but were driven back with over 100 casualties. More Government forces then skirted round the town to the north and launched a new attack on Friargate and buildings were set on fire in both locations.
There was no clear winner, but additional government troops arrived the following day. The Jacobites were split about whether to continue fighting, but their leader Forster chose to surrender early on 14 November.
The impact on Preston was bloody and long-lasting. In the aftermath, government troops looted the town, 12 of the Jacobites were executed on Gallows Hill, near Moor Park, Preston and the interior of Preston Minster was destroyed by prisoners, housed there through the following winter.
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