Manuscripts and Special Collections

William of Orange's Itinerary

Map of southern England showing the routes followed by William's headquarters, four of the main Dutch commanders, and some English detachments

Map of southern England showing the routes followed by William's headquarters, four of the main Dutch commanders, and some English detachments

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The routes marked on this map have been compiled largely from the series of 'Order of March' documents (Pw A 2206-2229) to which Document 10 belongs (Pw A 2221). These Orders do not give a complete day to day picture, but some of the gaps can be filled from information obtainable from some other documents including William Bentinck's account (Pw A 2235 and Pw A 2231), reproduced as Document 8 and Document 9. The following is an itinerary built up from the various documents among the Portland papers at the University of Nottingham. Both Old and New Style dates are given.

Date Event
1/11 Nov. 1688 Second embarkation (after storm) from Helvetsluys.
(according to Pw A 2238, which makes no mention of choice of landing place between North and South-West coasts.)
3/13 Nov. 1688 In straits of Dover. Minor encounter with English fleet, loss of a transport.
4/14 Nov. 1688 Off Isle of Wight. Saw Portland Bill towards evening. Attempts to take forts off Portsmouth foiled by change of wind.
5/15 Nov. 1688 Arrived in Torbay at 3.00 p.m. All infantry ashore by midnight, but it took 2 days to disembark the cavalry. Artillery, ammunition and baggage left on board and sent by water to Exeter because of difficult terrain and lack of wagons.
6/16 Nov. 1688 Bentinck and the Prince at Paignton.
7/17 Nov. 1688 Bentinck and the Prince at Newton Abbot. Joined by the cavalry. At this point the army was in two 'lines', whose routes are indicated side by side on the 'Order of March' document. This double prong of advance is hardly referred to again, and it may be that this was merely a formation used for deploying the army as quickly as possible in the 'beach-head' area and for several miles around.
8/18 Nov. 1688 Bentinck and the Prince at Chudleigh. The army was still in two lines; and at this stage, distances between places were being entered, e. g. 'From Newton 9 miles to Kenford and Ken' - such - and - such a unit. Possibly maps of the area between Torbay and Exeter were not satisfactory; or possibly there were insufficient English adherents who knew the area well enough to make this kind of direction necessary.
9/19 Nov. 1688 Bentinck and the Prince at Exeter, with 4 battalions of infantry and 2 regiments of dragoons. Main force of cavalry quartered round Newton Abbot. Infantry billeted in villages between Newton Abbot and Exeter. William had an enthusiastic reception in Exeter, but Bentinck blamed the aftermath of Monmouth's rebellion for lack of immediate recruits. A few notables, e.g. Lords Colchester and Dover, came in after 3 or 4 days, and a few days after this a small party arrived from Portsmouth. It is noticeable that the maximum day's march on any of these three days is 14 miles and the least 4. But it is not obvious that the longer distances were travelled by cavalry and the shorter by infantry.
10/20 -12/22 Nov. 1688 inclusive. These three days all appear on one sheet, and the entries relate only to cavalry. One curious feature is that the one entry for 10/20 Nov. appears after all those for 11/21 and 12/22, which suggests that this sheet may be a summary of cavalry movements which had already occurred, rather than a programme for three following dates.
14/24 -18/28 Nov. 1688 inclusive There are no entries in the 'Orders of March' for the dates 14/24 - 18/28 inclusive. During this period the army was quartered round Exeter and there was very little movement. There is a sheet of details about billets, so many men in this place, so many in that.
16/26 Nov. 1688 The first sizeable forces came in - Lord Cornbury (Clarendon's heir and therefore James' nephew and Mary's cousin) with all the officers and 100 dragoons of his regiment.
17/27 Nov. 1688 William reviewed these forces. While at Exeter, William had letters from Admiral Herbert at Torbay with information about the English fleet.
19/29 Nov. 1688 By this time, the two-prong advance formation had been abandoned, and the advance beyond Exeter is simply given unit by unit, according to the name of the commander, or, sometimes, the type of troops, e.g. Dragoons of his Highness. The advance was still very slow, the whole army being concentrated within 25 miles or so of Exeter.
20/30 Nov. 1688 Local gentry made Act of Association in Exeter. Bentinck describes the army's transport difficulties (e.g. lack of draught animals) which obliged William to leave stores in Exeter, with a garrison. Troop movements only listed for three units or so. Insignificant redeployments.
21Nov./ 1 Dec. 1688 William, Prince of Orange, marched from Exeter to Honiton. Rather more units are mentioned on this date, but the pace was still very leisurely. It is worth remembering that James's H.Q. was at Salisbury, and William would certainly wish to avoid an outright confrontation with the King.
22 Nov. / 2 Dec. 1688 William marched from Honiton to Axminster. In the margin of his record, Bentinck noted the arrival in the Prince's camp of the Duke of Grafton, Lord Churchill and Mr. Barckley [Berkeley], one of Princess Anne's household and a colonel of dragoons.

23 Nov. /3 Dec. -

24 Nov. /4 Dec. 1688

William detached Bentinck and 1,200 horses with orders to move towards Wincanton with a view to detaching waverers from James' army. But at Sherborne, Bentinck heard from deserters that James' army was hastily retreating from Salisbury and Warminster towards London.
24 Nov. / 4 Dec. 1688 The 'Order of March' for this date has no fewer than 21 place entries, and 9 separate units recorded. The whole army appears to have made a concerted, though not very extended, move forward.
25 Nov. / 5 Dec. 1688 On this day, the army made no further progress, but stayed in quarters near Sherborne. [It is not possible to assign specific places to the various units and the lines of advance between 24/4 and 25/5 have not been entered on the map.]
26 Nov. / 6 Dec. 1688 William marched to Crewkerne. Joined by officers deserting from War minster, e.g. Col. Trelani [Trelawney] and all the officers of his infantry regiment.
27 Nov. / 7 Dec. 1688 William marched to Sherborne where he lodged at Lord Bristol's and was received by Dorset notables. News came in of Prince George of Denmark's defection, the arrest of Major-Gen. Kerch [sic] and the break up of Trelani's [Trelawney's] regiment; also of Plymouth's declaration for William and the withdrawal of the English fleet to Portsmouth.
30 Nov. / 10 Dec. 1688 William marched to Wincanton.
1/11 Dec. 1688 William marched to Hindon. A King's messenger arrived with a letter from Lord Feversham asking for safe-conducts for the King's Commissioners. William had news of supporters in the Midlands and North: letters from Lord Delamere at Gloucester where a mob had released Lord Lovelace from prison, and letters about the march South of Danby, Devonshire, Lumley and their supporters. Large-scale troop movements, with a fairly wide spread of units.
2/12 Dec. 1688 Letter from Lord Shrewsbury announcing his capture of Bristol amid local rejoicing; also a letter from Princess Anne saying that she was fleeing from Court to Nottingham.
3/13 Dec. 1688 The King's messenger left with safe conducts for Commissioners. The Dutch ambassador (with James' permission) and Lord Clarendon (who had passed through James' army without hindrance) arrived. While H.Q. remained at Hindon ('blyft leggen' = 'stays lying'), various of the more important leaders moved forward on to Salisbury Plain.
4/14 Dec. 1688 William advanced his H.Q. to Amesbury. On the way, at Salisbury he was received by the Mayor and Corporation.
5/15 Dec. 1688 William sent an officer to conduct Royal Commissioners - Lords Halifax, Godolphin and Nottingham -to await him at Hungerford.
6/16 Dec. 1688 William marched to Collingbourne Kingston. The advance continued steadily, with Cornbury making an outlying move to Marlborough, while Sidney, last recorded on 24 Nov./4 Dec. as moving from Lyme to Beaminster reappeared at Amesbury.
7/17 Dec. 1688 William and his headquarters moved to Hungerford, where James' Commissioners (Halifax, Godolphin and Nottingham) met William in conference. The army's deployment has been indicated on the map by the ringed dots, and these mark some of the main billets. It is worth noting that, although William was staying at Hungerford for several days, a prong, under Waldeck, was pushed forward to Newbury.
9/19 Dec. 1688 News of fighting at Littlecott between James' Scots and Irish troops and Nassau's men.
10/20 Dec. 1688 H.Q., referred to as 'Court's quarters', moved forward to Newbury, while the 'English dragoons and cavalry', first recorded as a separate unit on 7/17 Dec. at Lambourne, north of Hungerford, moved to Wallingford, well to the north-east of Newbury. H.H. dragoons pushed forward, with Waldeck, to Reading, and Bentinck moved east to occupy Stretley (now Streatley), in advance of H.Q., and between these other two thrusts. News came from Nassau at Reading about the defection of 500 Scots Guards under a sergeant and two corporals who formerly served William in the Netherlands.
11/21 Dec. 1688 William promoted these N.C.O.s to officers. He received an invitation from both town and gown at Oxford to proceed there, and marched on Abingdon. But at 3.00 p.m. got news of the flight of the Queen (Dec. 20) and of James (early morning of Dec. 21). More deserters came in. This move by William and his H.Q. amounted to a sharp and extensive detour from what appeared to be a steady advance on London. The aim of this was apparently to join up with the movements of the 'northern rebels', Danby, Delamere and Devereux, around Oxford. Much of the rest of the army stayed where it was, and in the sheet dealing with this day as many as four units are bracketed together with the words 'blyven leggen' ('remain lying', i.e. stay where they are).
12/22 Dec. 1688 A letter was received from Lord Feversham informing William of James' instructions about the army.
13/23 Dec. 1688 The H.Q. at Abingdon, and the plan to join up with the northern groups near Oxford, had been abandoned when news of James's flight came through, and there was an immediate switch to bring the nerve-centre of the army to Henley-on-Thames, so as to be in closer touch with the general line of advance towards London. When at Henley, William received a deputation of London magnates. The other main units moved forward on this line, Sidney rather to the rear of the advance, near Reading, and Waldeck well out in front at Bray. The only exception to this was Nassau, who made a sharp cast up north, to Warborough, which lies southeast of Oxford. Without more detailed evidence, it is impossible to say why he made this sudden detour.
14/24 Dec. 1688 William and his H.Q. were now at Windsor, where he was delayed for a couple of days while arrangements were made about James. William received news of James's arrest at Faversham. Nassau, Waldeck and Bentinck all stayed where they were, while Ginkel moved to Great Marlow, and Sidney made a two-pronged move, well south of the general line of advance into the very north of Hampshire, at Bramsill (now Branshill) and south-east to Barkham and Arborfield (which appears on the sheet as Aberfelde). Possibly, this was a merely exploratory probe, to see whether there was any movement in this area, because immediately afterwards Sidney joined up with the final move on London.
15/25 Dec. 1688 Details came in of James' flight and arrest, William arrested Lord Feversham who brought the letter. Zuylestein was sent to James to warn him to stay at Rochester, but James had gone when Zuylestein arrived.
16/26 Dec. 1688 The advance was now concentrated on quite a narrow front directed at the west side of London. It does not seem to have been thought necessary to encircle the city, and this underlines the peacefulness of this particular occupation.
17/27 Dec. 1688 William moved forward to Sion House, the Duke of Somerset's seat. The entries for this day are almost all within what is now Greater London (e. g. Chiswick, Acton, Fulham, Ealing, Hounslow, Richmond and Twickenham). These were all small places in 1688; the area of London was still quite small.


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