28th July 1689

28th July 1689

From Captain Ash’s Diary:


“28th of July, 1689! A day to be remembered with thanksgiving by the besieged of Derry as long as they live; for on this day we were delivered from famine and slavery. With the former they were threatened if they staid here: and the latter, if they went away or surrendered the garrison to the enemy.


The wind blew N.W. in the morning, in the evening more northwards. Our flag struck once or twice, to let the fleet see once more our inevitable distress; as much as to say, if they came not now, the wind blowing fair, they might stay away for ever. Beside the flag, eight cannons were fired from the steeple to let them fully into our situation and hasten their relief; then the flag made a wave. The fleet returned us six great guns in answer, which intimated that when the tide answered they would endeavour to relieve us.


About five o’clock in the evening, the wind being fair and the tide serving for the purpose, four ships hoisted sail and came swiftly to Culmore without harm, although they were shot at from the Castle. The first which came by the Castle was a man of war called the Dartmouth frigate, Capt. Leake commander. When she came above it, she drew in her sails and cast her anchor. But the Mountjoy and Phenix came up to the chain or boom, which was made across the lake near Brookhall. The Mountjoy first attempted the Boom, struck upon it, and run aground, which the enemy observing, gave a loud huzzah, thinking she was their own; but the tide coming in fast, she got off, the cannons playing at her briskly from shore. While she was aground, Captain Browning who commanded her, and who had that honour conferred upon him by Major-General Kirk, to be the man who should bring relief to Derry, stood upon the deck with his sword drawn, encouraging his men with great chearfulness; but a fatal bullet from the enemy struck him in the head, and he died on the spot. King William did his widow the honour of tying a diamond chain round her neck, and settled on her a pension.


The way being cleared by the Mountjoy, the Phenix came up to her. They both sailed very slowly by the tide, the wind abating much after they passed Culmore. The shore on both sides was lined with the enemy, who shot continually at them. Those were the cannons which were placed over the bog, which had thrown the fourteen and nineteen pound weight balls into the city. They had been removed near Brookhall to prevent the ships from coming up; but God of his mercy prevented their design. They both arrived at the Ship-quay at ten at night. The Phenix arrived first; her Captain is a Mr. Douglas. O! To hear the loud acclamations of the garrison soldiers round the walls when the ships came to the quay, which were often reiterated. The Lord who has preserved this city from the enemy, I hope, will always keep it to the Protestants.


There were four killed on ship-board besides Captain Browning. Immediately after their arrival, two great guns were fired off the steeple, to let the fleet know the two ships had arrived safe. The fourth vessel called the Jerusalem came near the man of war, but no farther that night. A number of empty casks were carried to the Ship-quay, and filled there to make a kind of defence from the enemy’s shot on both sides the water, while our men were unloading the vessels. The Phenix brought from Scotland 600 boles of meal, and the Mountjoy, which carries 135 tons, has brought from England her cargo of beef, peas, flour, biscuit, &c., &c., all of the best kind.”