Bonnie Prince Charlie in Derby

Charles Edward Stuart was the grandson of King James II who had been forced to abdicate from the British throne in 1688. Charles’ father had briefly attempted to take the throne in 1715 but had not been able to raise the support in Scotland to challenge for the throne. So in 1745, it fell to Charles, Bonnie Prince Charlie as he would become known, to take up the Stuart cause.

He landed in Northern Scotland in July and proceeded south gathering support and in September took Edinburgh. He defeated the British forces at Prestonpans and decided to make a rapid descent on London. He marched south but although he did not encounter much resistance, he received little support and tired and worn-out his army reached Derby on 4th December 1745. During the 5th a messenger arrived with information that a large British force blocked the road to London and that two others were approaching from the West Midlands. Unbeknown to the Stuarts, this was inaccurate as all 3 forces were still days away and the road to London was still open. Acting on the information as they understood it, the Scottish Lords argued for retreat and Charles reluctantly agreed.

A reconstruction of the room in Exeter House where the Jacobites held their council of war in Derby (items and furnishings removed when it was demolished)

So a day after reaching Derby they began to march north again and kept going until they reached Glasgow. Another British army was encountered near Falkirk and the Scots again were successful, but despite this, the generals and Lords still argued for a return to their Highland lands to regroup. This delay was all the British Generals needed to muster their forces and the final battle was fought at Culloden near Inverness and resulted in a massive defeat for the Stuart army.

Charles escaped and despite a large reward and some narrow escapes he made it back to the continent where he continued to live until 1788. 

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