Pembrokeshire: Land of Legends

Now a major ferry port and gateway to Pembrokeshire, Fishguard was the site of the ‘Last Invasion of Britain’ more than 200 years ago.​

​The Last Invasion

A story of how one local woman armed with a pitchfork single-handedly saved Fishguard from French invaders.

More than 200 years ago, at the time of the French Revolution, while Napoleon Bonaparte was busy conquering in central Europe, the French government decided they could also do some conquering somewhat nearer to home. So they came up with a cunning plan!

Without knowing too much about British feelings at the time, they thought the poor country folk of Britain would be pleased to welcome their French liberators.

However things didn’t quite go according to plan. In the February of 1797, four warships set sail from France. Their ultimate aim was to land in Bristol. Instead, the Welsh winds blew them to the sheltered waters of Fishguard Bay where, frightened by cannon fire, they landed at nearby Llanwnda.

Men, arms and gunpowder were unloaded, and the last invasion of Britain began. The men, however, were a ragtag bunch, with many newly released prisoners amongst them. Hardly had they begun on their mission than they forgot it and instead started to plunder the local farms, gorging themselves on the local food and getting drunk on beer and wine.

Meanwhile, in nearby Fishguard, a large, tough woman called Jemima Nicholas, the wife of the local cobbler, heard news of the invasion and was outraged

At once, she decided to take matters in to her own hands and she marched out to Llanwnda armed with nothing but a pitchfork.  Single-handedly, she rounded up 12 French soldiers, marched them back to Fishguard and had them locked up inside St Mary’s church before marching back to look for more!

Jemima Nicholas, or Jemima Fawr  (Jemima the great) as she was also known, has won her place in history.

Look for the memorial stone erected in 1897 near the entrance of St Mary’s churchyard in Fishguard, and the wooden sculpture in Scolton Manor woods.