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William III - Prince of Orange

William III - Prince of Orange who frequented the Wirral Peninsula


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 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.


King William III., who was still called in Ireland the Prince of Orange, travelled hard from London, and reached Chester in five days. His army was camped on the great plains stretching from Hoylake to Great Meols, and in the Dee awaiting his arrival was the great and gallant Admiral Sir Cloudesley Shovel. The King was at Chester on the loth, where he attended divine service in the Cathedral, and, taking boat down the Dee in the afternoon, he slept at Gayton Hall, knighting his host next morning ere he sailed. Samuel Mulleneaux, writing in 1690, says : " On Wednesday (Thursday), June 12, in the morning, his majesty, accompanied with His Royal Highness the Prince of Denmark, and several other persons of quality, embarked at Highlake, and the same afterwards went out to sea, but the wind wavering made not much way that day." I declare I never visit the King's Gap without in fancy seeing the great King passing down with his attendant retinue through the gaping crowd to perform his appointed task. Not jogging sleepingly down to the boats with a mincing gait, for those were brisk days, and the King hated noise and flattery. A few words of sharp command, tramp, tramp, and away they would go down to the King's Gap. There would be sure to be someone wanting him to touch for the King's evil, and as certain as he touched, he would exclaim, as he did elsewhere, " God give thee better health, and better sense."

Kings Gap Hoylake