John Stafford was a lawyer and the town clerk of Macclesfield, near Manchester, at the height of the Jacobite uprising in 1745. Led by the ‘Bonnie Prince’, Charles Stuart, Jacobite rebels invaded England in November 1745. By the end of the month, the Jacobite advance had reached Macclesfield where it was warmly welcomed by most townspeople. Stafford, a Hanover loyalist, was less enthusiastic. Nevertheless, he took an interest in the arrival of the ‘Pretender’s forces, recording observations about their numbers, their personnel and Charles Stuart himself.
Stafford was also required to provide lodgings for two Scottish soldiers. One was a young officer, “exceedingly civil” and a “person of sense and account” who charmed Stafford’s daughters. His second ‘guest’ was a “very ordinary fellow” who “tried all the locks in my bureau and in my wife’s closet” and pilfered several small items from the Stafford house.
After enduring a sleepless night, Stafford walked across the road to visit his neighbour, who was hosting more than 50 Highland soldiers and their camp followers. To his horror:
“The house floor was covered with straw, and men, women and children lay promiscuously together like a kennel of hounds, some of ’em stark naked.”
Stafford then took a walk around the neighbourhood and discovered that it had been befouled by the visiting Scots:
“As soon as it was daylight the streets appeared in the Edinburgh fashion, being beshit all along on both sides, from one end to the other.”
To Stafford’s “great joy” the Jacobite contingent left the following day and pushed on towards Derby. They passed through Macclesfield again a week later, this time in retreat. In April the following year, Charles Stuart and his army were conclusively defeated at the Battle of Culloden.