UNLIKE the arrival of the new Prince born to William and Kate this week, the birth in June, 1688, of James,, Prince of Wales, led not to rejoicing, but to revolution.

The basic cause was that the child’s father, James II, contrary to the wishes of his mainly Protestant subjects, was a Roman Catholic, who expected his son to belong to the same faith.

Moreover, as the succession law stood until 2013, the baby being a boy would displace the King’s female heirs. They were his Protestant daughters Mary and Anne.

The third heir was James’s nephew, the ruler of Holland, William of Orange, who was married to Mary.

Locally, events were chronicled with mounting despair by Daniel Flemming, of Rydal Hall.

Thus, he noted, ‘great apprehensions on the birth’, ‘the ordering of bonfires and sums to drink the health of the Prince’ and how Protestants ruined the Mayor of Lancaster’s reluctant celebrations by throwing gunpowder into the bonfire.

Back at Kendal, a Protestant mob rampaged out to Sizergh Castle to despoil the home of the Catholic Stricklands.

Adding to the confusion, the Westmorland Militia set out either to support or to repel (no one knew which) a rumoured Dutch invasion in the south and, also, the arrival of 2,000 Irish Catholic forces to Whitehaven, along with an undefined body of horsemen to Piel Island, near Barrow.

When it was reported that 29 companies of ‘Scotch’ troops had entered Carlisle and ‘gun firing had been heard over Shap’, a posse of 500 Kendal warriors crying ‘No Popery’ marched to Orton.

But finding neither enemies nor allies, they went on to Kirkby Lonsdale in an event which was extolled in verse as ‘In eighty eight was Kerby feight, when niver a man was slain, they yatt their meatte, an drank their drank and soe cam merrily haem again’.

Eventually, on November 5, William invaded and, in December, James fled to France along with the prince, who the Protestants claimed had not been born to the King and Queen but had been smuggled into the Queen’s bed. Subsequently the prince became known as ‘The Old Pretender’.

Finally, in February, William and Mary were proclaimed joint sovereigns from the caul stone in Kendal Market Place.

A century later, their forebears’ inglorious antics in 1688 being forgotten, Kendalians erected on Castle Howe an obelisk inscribed ‘Sacred to Liberty’ to commemorate what was by now called The Glorious Revolution.

But the anachronism that it is still illegal for the sovereign to be a Catholic serves as a reminder of the birth of an unwanted heir to the throne 325 years ago.