Tuesday, 3 July 2012

WILLIAM III at Belfast


KING WILLIAM III's PROGRESS TO THE BOYNE


 FIRST STAGE: CARRICKFERGUS TO BELFAST

About 3 o'clock on the 14th June, 1690, King William landed at Carrickfergus, accompanied by Prince George of Denmark, his brother-in-law, and attended by the Duke of Ormonde, the earls of Oxford, Portland, Scarborough, and Manchester, besides other distinguished individuals.

His Majesty, on landing, rode through this ancient town, and most probably visited the site of what King James I designated "our royal palace of Mountjoy".

Crowds of people are stated to have assembled, who welcomed the King with continual shouts and acclamations.


As the forces disembarked at the "Old Whitehouse", the King, without much delay, proceeded to place himself at their head.

The remains of a house are still shown there, where he is said to have rested; having been joined, at that place, by the Duke of Schomberg, the Prince of Württemberg, Major-General Kirk, and others.

The former brought with him his coach, drawn by six horses, for the use of the King, having driven over the strand to Belfast, attended by a single troop of horse and a few gentlemen.

The uncertainty of the time and place of His Majesty's landing, and the suddenness of the news was such, that few of the multitude that flocked to Belfast to see it had their ends, the General's motion was so quick;

Yet before they got into the town there were abundance that met them, and, coming to the North Gate, he was received by the magistrates of Belfast in their formalities.

His Majesty went directly to the castle, which had been some time before prepared for him, where he alighted, and went in to an apartment appointed for him.

ON SUNDAY, 25TH APRIL, 1708, A FIRE DESTROYED BELFAST CASTLE 
WHICH RESULTED IN THE DEATHS OF THREE DAUGHTERS OF LADY DONEGALL:
 LADY JANE, LADY FRANCES AND LADY HENRIETTA CHICHESTER. 
ALSO A FRIEND OF THE GIRLS, (THE DAUGHTER OF PARSON BERKLEY) 
AND A SERVANT GIRL, CATHERINE DOUGLAS.

It has been already mentioned that the King proceeded to the Castle of Belfast; other notices of this visit state that he remained for five days, and lodged at the house of Sir William Franklin, the site of which became the Donegall Arms Hotel (now Donegall Arcade, 1-15 Castle Place).

It is more probable, however, that some of his suite occupied this house.

The Corporation minutes record that His Majesty stayed five nights in Belfast, and was "very well pleased with the inhabitants and the town and its citizens", and said, when within the Castle, that it was "like Whitehall".

On Sunday, the 15th June, the King attended at the old church in High Street, where St George's now stands, and heard a sermon preached by Dr Boyse. On that day and the next, he was waited on by the nobility, gentry, and military, and received addresses from the Episcopal and Presbyterian clergy.

The King is understood to have remained in Belfast for five days, and then to have joined his army, which consisted of sixty-two squadrons of cavalry, and fifty-two battalions of infantry, in four divisions.

The van-guard was commanded by Lieutenant-General Douglas; the right wing by Major-General Kirk; the left wing by the earls of Oxford and De Solms; and the main body by His Majesty, in person, the Duke of Schomberg, and Monsieur de Seravemoer.

Extracts have been taken from the Ulster Journal of Archaeology, Volume One.

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