An extremely rare political 'No Surrender' Staffordshire Nursary Plate, transfer
decorated with a statue of William III on horseback with the words:
William III - No Surrender -
Having also a moulded floral border, a transfer floral laural and handed applied coloured
Circa: Early 19th century
Private Estate / Ireland
Condition: Good - slight discolouration to edge (see image)
On 7th December 1688 13 apprentice boys had closed the gates of Derry against the forces of King James II. The Mayor expelled remaining Catholics from the city and issued this proclamation:
'We have resolved to stand upon our guard and to defend our walls, and not to admit of any Papists whatsoever to quarter amongst us.'
On 22nd March King James arrived from France with a large professional army sent by Louis XIV. Meanwhile the Jacobites – those who remained loyal to King James – were sweeping northwards.
On 14th March 1689 the Protestant gentlemen who had declared for William of Orange suffered crushing defeat in Co Down in what became known as the ‘Break of Dromore’. Lisburn, Belfast and Antrim fell without a fight and after a brisk engagement in a snow storm, the Coleraine garrison pulled west to Derry. On the other side of Ulster the men of Enniskillen with their long fowling pieces kept the Jacobites at a respectful distance.
Meanwhile, from all over the north, Protestants poured into Derry. In addition to a garrison of over 7,000 men, perhaps 30,000 colonists sought sanctuary in the city. In a very real sense, therefore, the fate of the Protestant settlement in Ulster depended on Derry’s ability to hold out. In April men from the Derry garrison were overwhelmed by French and Irish troops. Driven out of their trenches at Lifford and Cladyford, the Protestant foot soldiers were hacked down, while their cavalry support ignominiously galloped in retreat to Derry. Thomas Ash recorded in his diary that the Williamites had been beaten
'although we were five to one against them, which caused suspicion that Colonel Lundy was a traitor to our cause.'
When Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Lundy, the Governor of Derry, refused the support of two regiments sent out from Liverpool, that suspicion became a certainty. The citizens revolted, overthrew Lundy, and appointed as joint governors in his place Major Henry Baker and the Reverend George Walker, Church of Ireland rector of Donaghmore. They were to provide inspired leadership and they both humanely allowed Lundy to slip away over the walls disguised as a common soldier.
What were the prospects of a successful resistance? Walker recalled:
'We had but few horse to sally out with and no forage; no engineers to instruct us in our works; no Fireworks, not so much as a hand-grenado to annoy the enemy; nor a gun well mounted in the town.'
Well-mounted or not, some of the guns were impressive enough. The largest was ‘Roaring Meg’, given to the city in 1642 by the Fishmongers’ Company. And there was no shortage of powder and handguns.
Exhilarated by the victory at the fords, King James joined his besieging army. On 18th April he advanced twoards the walls and offered terms. He was greeted with cries of
This was followed by a sustained barrage of shot and ball. Just out of range, James sat motionless on his horse for several hours in the pouring rain. The King was persuaded to return to Dublin where the French ambassador observed that
'His Majesty appears to me to be very mortified over his latest proceeding.'
The Jacobites were badly equipped for a long siege. One French supply officer reported that
'Most of the soldiers in front of Derry have still only pointed sticks, without iron tips.'
A regiment inspected by the King had only one matchlock in a hundred fit for service. A single mortar was the only artillery piece the besiegers possessed. More heavy guns arrived later but they were not sufficient to attempt a breach of the walls except at very close quarters. Indeed, the defenders made several audacious sallies from the city, in which two French generals were mortally wounded.
The defenders had entrenched themselves on a hillock to the west of the city, where a windmill stood. The Jacobite general, Richard Hamilton, resolved to drive them back, as one of his [Irish] officers recalled:
'This work they well manned with firelocks, and planted two or three small pieces of cannon on the windmill. General Hamilton, observing that the rebels made a walking place of this entrenched ground for the good of their health, and that they gave great annoyance with their cannon from the said mill and with their long fowling-pieces… Whereupon he commanded, on the sixth of May, an attack to be made on the entrenchment.'
The Jacobite assault was a complete failure. As an alternative strategy Hamilton drew the net tighter by moving the main Jacobite camp forward, cutting the city off from much of its water supply. Just downstream, the French constructed a boom, made of fir beams fastened with chains, to stretch across the Foyle. Derry was now completely cut off.
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