William had always been unsure of the parentage of the King's new infant, however whatever his views, he'd wisely kept them a private matter. Although he respected family ties, he was deeply concerned that England would stumble into another civil war or become a satellite of Catholic France, with James as Louis XIV's subordinate. James might try to distract his subjects from the foolishness of his deeds, by joining Louis in another attack on the United Provinces. It would be possible that this in turn, could lead to another Anglo-Dutch war, in which William's country would be the underdog. At the same time, James was bringing regiments of Irish Roman Catholics soldiers into England. His subjects saw this as an attempt by the King to subdue the country with the possible objective of forcing the Catholic religion onto the people.




Louis XIV of France


Louis was very aware of William's plans to invade England, however he was convinced William would not undertake the hazardous venture across the North Sea so late in the year. Although Louis informed James of William's invasion plans, the English King refused to believe Louis and rejected his offer of naval help. Louis then had the French Ambassador to the United Provinces, the Comte d'Avaux, present an address to the States General in which Louis declared that the bonds of friendship and alliance between him and King James would force him to come to the aid of England, if an invasion was attempted by William. The threat has the opposite desired effect - it united the States General and made them much more willing to support William in his planned invasion. 

On 30th September 1688, William issued a declaration to the English people. It consisted of a catalogue of grievances blamed on the King's evil advisers, rather than the King himself, referring to the "pretended" Prince of Wales and stating that the expedition was intended with the single purpose of establishing a free and lawful Parliament in England.




The fleet of William of Orange, near Torbay


William had little choice, but to invade, as he feared that otherwise he would have no chance of bringing England's wealth and power into his lifelong struggle against France. He knew this would probably mean he was forced to dethrone his father-in-law, and this act of dis-loyality played heavily on his and Mary's minds as the extensive preparations were made for the invasion fleet.


The Invasion Fleet

The invasion fleet was made ready. In addition to the ordinary force of 25 men-of-war and 10 fire-ships, 24 other men-of-war were fitted out. For the transport of the troops, the horses and their equipment the Prince had at first calculated he would need just under 200 vessels. By the time they had provided space for a portable bridge, a mobile smithy, a printing press, moulds for striking money, the baggage of senior officers, extra provisions such as 4 tons of tobacco, 1600 hogsheads of beer and 50 of brandy, 10,000 pairs of boots and the Prince's personal coach and horses, the number of transports had risen to 225. The impressive fleet was divided into 3 squadrons, one under Admiral Herbert, one under Lt. Admiral Van Almonde and one under Admiral Evertsen.

On 9th November (new style calendar) William and Mary parted for the final time (they had parted on 26th October, but poor weather had delayed the invasion fleet). The next morning William sailed from Helvoetsluys with over two hundred transport ships and an escort of fifty warships. The total number of men on board was 15,500 and 4,000 horses. At first the weather was fine but the next day the fleet was driven back by high winds, although there was little damage to the fleet - the biggest loss being the death of around 1,300 horses who suffocated when the hatches were battened down .

On the 11th November the fleet put to sea again with the two proposed arrival points being either the West Country, or the North of England - this very much depended on the wind.




Statue of William, in Brixham


Good fortune was on William's side and helped by what became known as the "Protestant East Wind", the invasion fleet sailed towards the English Channel, with the West Country being the selected landing point. The English naval Commander, Lord Dartmouth had his fleet moored off the Essex coast, but bad weather on the coast prevented him from putting to sea and finally once they got going, calm weather kept them at Beachy head for two days. 


As the huge Dutch Armada passed the Isle of Wight, crowds gathered on the beaches and headlands to see the fleet sail down the channel, nearly 300 strong! From the mast of the Prince's flagship Den Briel, streamed a huge banner with the Orange family motto "Je  Maintiendrai". Other ships carried great streamers with slogans in Latin such as "Pro libertate et religione" and "Pro religione protestante", or in English announcing
"The Liberty of England and the Protestant religion, I will maintain"


Once Dartmouth's English fleet got moving again, bad weather forced them to seek shelter in Portsmouth, by which time William's fleet were well ahead and making for the West Country.


The Landing at Brixham

 On the 15th November (5th Nov old style calendar), the fleet landed at Brixham, near Torbay. Significantly, this date was also the anniversary of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605, an earlier deliverance from Popish perils. The Prince's Chaplain, William Carstares suggested a short service of thanksgiving. The men were drawn up in their ranks, prayers were said and they sang Psalm 118.

One of William's commanders, Count von Solms-Braunfels, was rowed ashore with ten grenadiers and when villagers of Brixham offered no resistance, the Prince followed almost immediately. In light armour with the insignia of the Garter gleaming on his left shoulder, he was at once recognised and some local women ran into the sea to kiss his hands saying "God bless you!"

A local fisherman, Peter Varnell rushed forward and carried William ashore on his shoulders. By nightfall, nearly all the men were ashore and the invasion fleet made their camp in Brixham village, with William sleeping on a mattress in an old fisherman's hut in the nearby Middle Street - the house where William stayed was knocked down in the 1950's
.

The next day William set off for Langcombe which is only a few miles from Brixham. It was in a cottage here that the future King held his first meeting or Parliament - the house is still there today and is called 'Parliament Cottage'.



The landing at Brixham


Three days later William and his army arrived with full pomp and ceremony in Exeter, where he was given a warm welcome by the townspeople, if not by the local clergy. To show the people an example of his discipline, he had two of his soldiers hanged for stealing a chicken. On the 17th November Edward Seymour (the richest, most influencial man in the West Country), came and joined his standard and two days later the Marquis of Bath, commander of the Plymouth Garrison, offered to place his troops at William's disposal. In the following days, Williams force grew even larger as various garrisons were enroled into his force, but the core of his force remained, English and Scots Regiments from Holland, soldiers from Sweden and Brandenburg, Dutch Guards, Wurttemberg cavalrymen, Swiss mercenaries and French Huguenots - a total of 11,000 on foot and 4,000 on horseback.




Arriving in Exeter


Although James had increased the English army's numbers to 34,000, he was blind to the fact that most men in his armies were loyal Protestants, who resented the King's pro-Catholic stance. Before James could meet up with his army, his nephew Lord Cornbury had declared for William and Lord Delamere had led a rising in Cheshire.
On  21st November, William left Exeter and headed east for London. Two days later whilst the opposing armies were more than 60 miles apart, James decided to withdraw without battle. Several of his leading Colonels including John Churchill and his son-in-law Prince George of Denmark, had declared for William. By the end of November James had accepted the Tories' recommendation that he should negotiate.

On 7th December William received James' commissioners at The Bear Inn at Hungerford, where William stated his terms. Among these were the dismissal of all Catholic officers and the revocation of all proclamations against William and his adherents; James was to pay William's army; William agreed to halt his army at a position 40 mles west of London if James placed his own 40 miles to the east; both William and James were to attend the next session of Parliament; James was to guarantee that he would not try to bring a French force into England.
William was ready to leave the way open for reconciliation and compromise - he was prepared to leave James on the throne, though with greatly reduced powers. 


James received the letter stating William's terms the following evening and informed his commissioners that he would give an answer the next morning. He had already decided that he could not compromise and so having already sent his wife and son to France for safety, he made the decision to follow them. During the night of 11th December, he slipped quietly into a waiting boat, accompanied by two Catholic friends. As they crossed the Thames to Vauxhall, he threw the Great Seal of England into the dark waters.

However, the fleeing King was back in Whitehall four days later, having been apprehended by two Kentish fishermen and he cut a sad and humiliated sight as he entered the capital.
William was extremely unsympathetic towards his father-in-law as he knew he'd fled from his responsibility and left his nation in a state of near anarchy.

For a few days, James stayed in Rochester under armed guard, but on the 23rd December, he was allowed to sail for France. It would be the last time he would set foot in England.

William was very careful to avoid giving an impression of triumphalism and would only proceed to the crown once invited to do so by Parliament. He had previously stated, it was not his intention to conquer England and wisely decided to leave all disputed matters for Parliament to resolve.



William and Mary formally offered the Crown


On 6th Feburary 1689, the Lords agreed that James had abdicated and seven days later William and Mary were formally offered the crown. The conditions would be that if William and Mary were to remain childless (Mary had already had two miscarriages),
Anne and her children would take precedence in the succession, over any children William may have by a second marriage, in the event of Mary dying before her husband. Parliament insisted that Mary be made joint ruler, however it was clear to all that William would have the power. The Lords were to have control of civil administration whilst William would control the armed forces. On 29th December William was invited to take over the provisional government and to send out writs to hold elections early the next year.

In Holland, Mary received word of her husband's successes in early Feburary, although she was deeply saddened by her father's plight. Towards the end of the month, she left for England, sorry to leave the country she had come to love, but eager to be reunited with her husband. William met her in Greenwich and both fell into each other's arms, weeping tears of joy, although Mary was disturbed to find him thinner and coughing blood.


The Coronation


William and Mary received the Lords and Commons at the Banqueting House at Whitehall and The Declaration of Rights was read to them. They were both asked to accept the crown, William replying that they both thankfully accepted what had been offered to them, promised to rule according to law and to be guided by Parliament. They were then proclaimed King and Queen.




William and Mary receive The Bill of Rights 1689


The Declaration, later included in the Bill of Rights, dealt with James' abdication, William and Mary's elevation to the throne and succession after their deaths. Their heirs would be Mary's children, if any, followed by Anne and her heirs and then by any children William may have by a second marriage. It declared that no Catholic, or spouse of a Catholic could be King or Queen of England. The Bill also provided for the rights and liberties of both Parliament and subjects. It pronounced that subjects had the right to petition the King, that parliamentary debates and elections should be free and that Parliament should meet regularly.





The Bill of Rights, 1689



The Coronation was set for 11th April in what is Britain's only coronation ceremony for two joint sovereigns.

For Mary, the day started poorly, for as she was dressing, she received a letter from her Father, bringing news of his landing in Ireland, with an army commanded by French officers. James wrote "the curses of an angry father will fall on you, as well as those of a God who commands obedience to parents". It was timed to have the worst possible effect and certainly unsettled Mary at the beginning of what was to be a long and stressful day.

William and Mary left the Palace of Whitehall to travel a few hundred yards to Westminster, where the nobility had assembled in the House of Lords. Three hours later, they emerged from the Palace of Westminster to walk to the West Door of Westminster Abbey, the King wearing a crown topped with a pleated velvet bonnett, to match his robes and the Queen a golden diadem. They were accompanied by the Earl of Grafton, the Duke of Somerset and the Bishops of Winchester and Bristol.





Rt. Rev. Dr. Burnet preached
the Coronation Sermon


William and Mary promised to rule according to "the statutes in Parliament agreed upon and the laws and customs of the same" and promised to uphold the Protestant Reformed religion.
The Rt. Reverend Dr. Burnet preached the Coronation Sermon, bidding them "reign long in your persons and much longer in a glorious posterity".
 Proceedings ended with a banquet in Westminster Hall lasting until 10p.m.


The Glorious Revolution was complete, without a single shot being fired.




William and  Mary - the only joint rulers in British history

Painted Hall Ceiling of Royal Naval College, Greenwich