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October 30th 1745

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The battle of Perth

The welcome extended to Prince Charles when he arrived in Perth in early September was less than enthusiastic; the Town Clerk, the Magistrates and a number of others retired to Edinburgh, but most accepted the occupation as an unpleasant fact that the town would need to thole. As it turned out the Jacobites stayed a mere week before moving on to Edinburgh, leaving a small party under Oliphant of Gask as Deputy Governor to take charge of the town.

It was over a month later that the townspeople got the opportunity of showing where their sympathies lay. October 30th was George 3rd’s birthday, and on that day a number of tradesmen took possession of the church and rang the bells in celebration from noon until midnight although ordered to desist by Oliphant.

He for his part, sent messages to some of the Jacobite lairds living in the district telling them of the situation and asking them for help. In the meantime, as a precaution, he occupied the Council House where there were 1,400 small arms and ammunition. In the evening a number of lairds arrived with their servants to join the small party in the Council House. However by this time numbers of townspeople had gathered in the streets lighting bonfires and demanding that the windows of the houses be illuminated; those few who did not comply had their windows broken.

About nine o’clock that night, a party from the Council House marched down the street firing upon the mob in an attempt to disperse them. Three of the townspeople were injured but their companions rushed upon the soldiers and succeeded in disarming them. Having done this, they posted guards at all the gates in the town and rang the fire bell by which they brought more people out on the streets. They then sent a message to the Deputy Governor demanding that he should withdraw from Perth leaving the arms and ammunition behind. The demand was refused.

It was now 2 o’clock in the morning and for the next three hours a battle raged for the possession of the Council House. The townspeople fired from close heads, windows and stairways but were unable to dislodge the small group of men within the Council House. When the action finished at 5am, one Irish soldier had been killed and four of his companions wounded. Four townspeople were wounded.

Later that day, sixty of Lord Nairn’s men arrived and not long after one hundred and thirty Highlanders. The battle of Perth was over. It was an interesting example of the differing attitudes shown towards Prince Charles. Though the countryside around Perth was strongly Jacobite in sympathy, the town itself with its strong Presbyterian traditions showed little desire to support a possible Catholic revival (even though the Prince had promised religious tolerance).

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