The Manchester Regiment was a unit of soldiers recruited by the Jacobites in Manchester during the 1745 Jacobite Rebellion.
The majority of the regiment was recruited from the north of England after the surrender of Carlisle on 17th Nov 1745 but there were also men who were English prisoners that joined the Princes army after Prestonpans.
On 19th November 1745 the Prince Charles Edward Stuart and his army entered Manchester to loud acclamation and ringing of bells. To encourage support and please the town it was thought wise that recruits should be enrolled into what would be called ‘The Manchester Regiment’.
The regiment formed around a nucleus of English officers and men from the Duke of Perths Regiment, this was originally to have been commanded by Captain Sir Francis Geohegan from France but for the sake of political expediency it was instead given to an Englishman, Francis Towneley. By the 30th Nov recruits were speedily raised and mustered within the precincts of the Collegiate Church in Manchester, the focal point of Jacobite sympathy for a generation or more.
Initially recruits were given blue and white ribbons formed into ‘favours’ but afterwards rank and file were reported to have worn blue coats. One witness stated the regiments colours had the words Liberty and Property inscribed on one side and Church and Country on the other, whilst another recalled the men with white colours with red crosses. It is said the officers never sought pay for themselves or their men, maintaining the regiment by their own means.
The strength of the regiment never exceeded 300 men and accompanied the Prince to Derby and then back to Carlisle. Many men deserted along the way and at Carlisle only some 118 men remained. They stayed at Carlisle to form part of a 300-400 strong garrison left to hold the town as the main Jacobite army continued north.
On 21st December 1745 the Duke of Cumberland lay siege to Carlisle with huge gun batteries. He set blockades and established a battery on Carlisle castles west curtain. His hopes was that by aiming his main fire at the west curtaun he could batter the Jacobites into submission without inflicting unacceptable collateral damage on the towns inhabitants and property. Eventually the Jacobites were forced to surrender.
After the men surrendered to the Duke of Cumberland they were held in a dungeon in Carlisle castle without food, water or sanitation facilities until they were brought out for execution. Today you can apparently still see the so-called “licking-stones”, where desperate prisoners licked the walls to obtain some moisture.
The executions of the men were staggered with nearly all the officers and sergeants of the Manchester Regiment hanged. Most of the men were not executed but were transported with at least thirteen men recroded as having been shipped to Antigua.
Hopefully this has given you a bit more information about just one of the regiments that fought with the Jacobite army. As always please like, share, comment, follow and if you like this we might do some more posts looking into regiments in the ’45.
All the best K & D