Padlock & Key


“…snatcht up the keys, and immediately shut up all the Four Gates…”

This padlock and key is one in a collection of four that secured the original wooden gates. At the time of the Siege there were only four gates, Bishop’s Gate, Butcher’s Gate, Shipquay Gate and Ferryquay Gate.

As the mainly Catholic Earl of Antrim’s troops gathered on the waterside, two of his officers were negotiating entry to the town. The citizens feared that Antrim’s troops were sent to massacre them whilst the official reason was they were sent to replace the garrison that moved out the previous month.

A debate raged within the walls whether to let them in or not.

From Walker’s Diary: “…the rest of the graver citizens were under great Disorder and Consternation and knew not what to resolve upon. One of the Companies was already in view of the Town, and two of the Officers within it, but the younger sort who are seldom so dilatory in their Resolutions, got together, run up in all hast to the Main-Guard, snatcht up the Keys, and immediately shut up all the Four Gates and the Magazine”

A Declaration published two days later by “The Gentlemen of Derry” states: …when they were ready to enter the City, a great number of the younger and some of the meaner sort of the Inhabitants, run happily to the Gates and shut them, loudly denying entrance to such Guests”

From Mackenzie’s Diary: “The Irish soldiers…made all the haste they could over, and came to the landing place, about three hundred yards from Ferry Gate. The youth observing this, about eight or nine of them  (viz: -Mr Henry Campsie, Mr William Crookshanks, Mr Robert Sherrard, Mr Dan Sherrard, Mr Alexander Irwin, Mr James Steward, Mr Robert Morrisson, Mr Alexander Cunningham, Mr Samuel Hunt, with whom soon joined Mr James Spike, Mr John Cunningham, Mr William Cairns, Mr Samuel Harvey and several others) drew their swords, ran to the main guard, seized the keys without any great opposition, and came with them to the Ferry Gate, drew up the bridge, and locked the gate…”

St Columb’s Cathedral