4th December 1745. Enter the White Cockade.

The succession of the Hanoverians had denied the throne to the grandson of the Catholic James II, ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, the Young Pretender. He moved south to claim his inheritance.

Today in 1745 the Jacobites entered Derby, some to advance as far as nearby Swarkestone Bridge, one of the few crossings of the Trent; but already Hanoverian forces were advancing from the south.


Plaque on the front of a pub in Derby.

The Jacobite threat caused the 1745 Militia Act authorising Lords Lieutenant to raise local militias against any attempt to usurp the throne of George II.(1)

The Act was put to the test on the 3rd of December, when word reached Derby that a nine or ten thousand strong army of Charles Edward Stuart, was about to arrive.

However militia raised by the Duke of Devonshire-the Derbyshire Blues-named from their uniform colour, billeted at the George Hotel in Irongate, decided to retreat to Retford fifty miles away leaving Derby to its fate.(2)

The Prince had passed through Manchester, Preston and Newark; farther north Carlisle had barred the gates, but Derby had no gates to bar. ‘The Duke wanted the inhabitants to stir and defend their town’, wrote the Earl of Malmesbury to Horace Walpole. ‘The only stir they made was to get away as fast as their torch-lights would take them’.

Two staff officers turned up at the Town Hall at 11am on Friday December 4th 1745, according to the Derby Mercury. The Council-men who remained had to agree to the Town Crier proclaiming the Prince as James III King of England, Scotland, France and Ireland at the Market Cross.

The Prince was described, by the Mercury, as being ‘tall, straight, slender and handsome, in a green bonnet laced with gold, white bob-wig, a highland plaid and a broadsword. His presence where, ‘all the ladies were busy making [supportive] white cockades’, caused panic.

Bonnie Prince Charlie

Bonnie Prince Charlie wearing the white cockade.

There was a ‘run’ on the Bank of England, and Ladies of the Court packed bags for a return to Hanover, the Crown Jewels were sent to a ship on the Thames.

However reinforcements failed him and forced to return north his army was defeated in 1746, at Culloden, the last British pitched battle. He fled back to the Continent, still maintaining he was Charles III.

My Bonnie remained over the ocean! Britain had to endure the dour and Protestant King Georges.

(1) Act dated 13th September 1745.

(2) To distinguish from the red uniforms of the regulars.


Ref: wikipedia.org/cockades/Pic Image.

Ref: wikipedia.org/jacobite_rebellions/Pic Image.

Ref: wikipedia.org/derbyshire_blues.


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About colindunkerley

My name is Colin Dunkerley who having spent two years in the Royal Army Pay Corps ploughed many a barren industrial furrow until drawn to the 'chalk-face' as a teacher, now retired. I have spent the last 15 years researching all aspects of life in Britain since Roman times.

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