by Michael K. Southern
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Memorial stone to the Jacobite prisoners at Tilbury Fort

Chance reading of a work on Scottish history has produced evidence of a little known period of Thurrock's history. This article is an attempt to collect together such evidence as is available, in order that further facts may be forthcoming. It fills one of the many gaps in the history of Tilbury Fort with a vision of horror and suffering such as was never imagined to be connected with the well known building on the marshes.

In 1745 Prince Charles Edward Stuart (known as The Young Pretender or romantically as Bonnie Prince Charlie) landed in Scotland and raised his standard leading the Scottish clans in rebellion against George II. This caused consternation in Thurrock, and the men of West Thurrock vestry passed a resolution "For a day and night watch on suspition of Invasion" obviously fearing an attempt to attack London. (I. Sparkes "A Bibliography or Thurrock Page 201 no 4546C)

On 16th April 1746 the battle of Culloden was fought and the Prince's army defeated in driving sleet by an army led by the Duke of Cumberland (son of George II and known henceforth as "Butcher Cumberland"). As a result of this campaign 3470 prisoners were taken, men women and children, most of whom were taken to Inverness.

On 10th June 1746 a convoy left Inverness bound for London. On board seven leaky transports were 564 prisoners as follows:

The "Thane of Fife" with 97 prisoners.
The "Wallsgrave" with 102.
The "Margaret & Mary" with 40.
The "Dolphin" with 101.
The "Jane of Alloway" with 43.
The "Jane of Leith" with 98
and the "Alexander James" with 83.

The State Papers Domestic Entry book 226 page 222 bears an entry that the Duke of Newcastle told the Secretary at War that the Savoy Barracks in London be prepared to receive these prisoners. However on 18th June Newcastle wrote:
"His Majesty having been pleased to direct that three hundred of the rebel prisoners which are now on board the transports in the River should be carried to Tilbury Fort in order to be kept there until his Majesty’s further pleasure shall be known concerning them, and that the remaining number should continue on board the transports. I am commanded to signify to your Lordships ...

That you should give the necessary directions to the Commander of His Majesty’s ship who has the care of them, that the said three hundred prisoners be accordingly landed at Tilbury: and that the Commissioners For Sick and Wounded should provide the said prisoners with necessaries during their imprisonment there". [S.P. Dom. 226-125]

Thus the convoy from Inverness escorted by HMS Winchilsea (Capt. Dyve RN) brought the prisoners to Tilbury. The transports were anchored in the river near the Fort.

On 20th August 1746, a Mr. Minshaw (a surgeon) reported on the state of prisoners on board the "Pamela" at Woolwich that they had Typhus and that at roll call fifty four came up onto the deck but that eighteen were too ill to climb up. This outbreak had been caused by overcrowding, insanitary conditions and starvation.

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Note: The text of this article has not been changed from the original publication. It is known to contain discrepancies which it has not been possible to resolve.

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