Of the army departing from Hoylake, Harold Edgar Young in 1909 wrote:
"I like to think of Hoylake in those days, with the Dee crowded with men of war and transports,
dancing in the then deep water of Hilbre. The army was somewhat of a ragged crew, for the bulk
were taken from the plough, although there was one brigade of steady Dutch troops under the
command of the Count de Solmes. Those were trying times for the people in the neighbourhood of
Hoylake, for be sure the soldiers of those days were none too particular, and the officers would sally
forth bent on wine, whilst the men were proficient in robbing a hen roost, or in rounding up a few
ducks, although the brave Duke of Schomberg, a great and courteous gentleman, enjoying, although
full of years, a vigorous old age, would be sure to do what he could to keep his men in hand. At last
the Duke with the trusted officer, Count Solmes, general of the foot, numerous officers, and nearly
10,000 men, were got safely aboard the ships and embarked at Hoyle Lake for Ireland, leaving behind
them poor John Van Zoelen, who died on September 3rd to be buried in West Kirby Church".
The picture below shows a piece of blood-stained lace which came from the coat worn by King William
III at the Battle of the Boyne on the 12th July 1690. William’s victory over the Jacobite army helped
secure not only a Protestant succession to the throne, but also a Protestant-dominated Army in
Britain. This piece of cloth still exists today and is maintained on display in a museum.
William III set sail from Hoylake with a 10,000 strong army to Ireland, where his army was to take
part in the Battle of the Boyne. The location of departure remains known as Kings Gap. The battle as
well as helping to turn the war in Ireland in William’s favour, grew to be an important symbol of
Protestant dominance there. For this reason it is still marked with a Bank Holiday in Northern Ireland
on 12 July each year. Although Unionists and Loyalists remember the Boyne as a great victory which
helped secure the sovereignty of Parliament and a Protestant monarchy, for Irish Nationalists and
Roman Catholics it remains a symbol of unwanted occupation. The commemoration of the battle has
been a controversial issue for both sides of the sectarian divide during the Irish ‘Troubles’ and
remains so to this day.
William III (14 November 1650 – 8 March 1702) was the Prince of Orange
from his birth, Stadtholder of the main provinces of the Dutch Republic from
28 June 1672, King of England and King of Ireland from 13 February 1689,
and King of Scots (under the name William II) from 11 April 1689, in each
case until his death. For many people, the most memorable image of William
III is bound close to the Battle of the Boyne, in which he defeated the
Catholic James II (James VII of Scotland) in 1690. To this day he is
represented in this battle which took place on the banks of the River Boyne,
County Louth ; on the murals of loyalist Protestant Belfast. There he is
shown triumphant, on a rearing white charger, scattering James's Catholic
army - a symbol of Protestant salvation.
|'William III, Prince of Orange' or "King Billy"
A soldiers account from the time still remains showing a rare glimpse into 17th century life, Dean
Davies diary states:
" 26th April 1690
We dined at our lodgings in Chester, and after dinner they all grey very busy in sending their things
away to Hoylake, where lay our recruits of horse, being 400, and the Nassau and Brandenburg
27th April 1690
In the morning all our sparks were in a great hurry, the wind presenting their hair.
In the afternoon I put on my trunks, bed, saddle and hat case on board Mr Thompson's boat, and sent
them to Hoylake where they were shipped off with the Majors things
In the morning we took horse for Hoylake, and passing by Neston we came there about one o clock.
At our coming we found the commissary at the parsons at dinner with Count Scravenmore, where we
waited on him, and got an order for a ship to carry 18 horses and 23 men. Then we dined at one
Barkers, where it cost us each 2 shillings and in the evening we went out to a farmers house, where
Frank Burton and I lay together.
After breakfast we paid for the horses to be shipped which cost us 3 shillings each. The major and I
walked a mile along the strand and went into two islands on the bay, and then came on board, all the
rest of our company having been on board another ship drinking. They all came to us in the evening
and we lay on board all night.
A roistering roaring crew, depend on it, that lay on the ship drinking and in ferment of joviality. I
wager the farmers of Hoylake, West Kirby and Neston were glad to see the ships scudding away, their
sails filling and bellying before the freshening gales”.
|The blood-stained lace from King William at the Battle in 1690