The Politics of the House
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Scholars have expended a great deal of time and ink in trying to establish and explain the nature of political relationships in this period; more particularly, in analysing the power of presumed ‘party’ allegiances in determining parliamentary behaviour. Contemporary commentators dealt with the same question with much greater clarity and brevity. They seem to have assumed that most, if not all, Members could be characterized as either Whigs or Tories. Certainly, debates on the great issues of the day, both inside and outside the Houses of Parliament, were conducted in these terms, and we can be confident, from the evidence of their correspondence and private papers, of the extent to which the Members themselves assumed that the essence of (English and Welsh) politics was a struggle for power, and over policy, between the two parties. But ever since the publication of Sir Lewis Namier’s studies of the later 18th-century House of Commons, historians have been aware of the danger of reproducing uncritically such contemporary assumptions. In his classic work Namier argued that, by 1761, the words ‘Tory’ and ‘Whig’ had become empty shibboleths, and that the language of party cloaked a more complex reality, a ‘pattern’ or ‘structure’ of politics in which the active units were ‘connexions’, often family-based, rather than parties.
Namier’s analysis was transposed directly into the early 18th-century by the American scholar, R.R. Walcott, whose English Politics in the Early 18th Century (1956) claimed to discover similar patterns of behaviour in the House of Commons in the period 1701-15.1 According to Walcott, a generalized preference for Whiggism or Toryism was less important in indicating Members’ political allegiance than their affiliation to various kinship- and patronage-groups: the ‘Junto connexion’, the ‘Newcastle-Pelham-Townshend-Walpole connexion’, the ‘Marlborough—Godolphin connexion’, the ‘Nottingham-Finch connexion’, the ‘Hyde-Granville-Gower-Seymour connexion’, and the ‘Harley connexion’.2
This thesis proved unsatisfactory in many respects, not least in its tendency to regard Members as chess-pieces, the range and direction of their movement determined by their definition, in terms of kinship or clientage. The weaknesses in Walcott’s deterministic interpretation of conduct and motive were exposed on closer examination, especially when a wide range of new manuscript sources became available to scholars. It became clear that contemporaries would not have recognized many of his elaborate constructions, such as the ‘Newcastle-Pelham-Townshend-Walpole’ or ‘Hyde-Granville-Gower-Seymour’ groups. Moreover, even relatively close-knit political families, like the Finches, were shown to be liable to divergence and division in their parliamentary behaviour.3 The decisive blow came with the collation and analysis of a number of new division- and other parliamentary lists (ironically, an enterprise in which Walcott himself had been a pioneer4) which demonstrated that, at least in Queen Anne’s reign, Members of Parliament had voted with remarkable consistency along party lines; a degree of consistency exceeding even some 20th-century political systems in which the reality of party divisions is not only undisputed, but institutionalized.5
Of course, there are objections to the indiscriminate use of parliamentary lists. In the first place, they are by no means free from error Second, in relation to divisions, they record only the bare fact of a vote, giving no clue to motivation or to the complex process of decision-making which may have preceded it. Third, they cover only a small number of divisions, mostly on major issues—precisely the kind of occasion in which considerations of party allegiance would be to the fore: in Anne’s reign for example, the vote on the Abjuration (1703), the Tack (1704), the Speakership (1705), the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill (1706), the naturalization bill (1709), the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell (1710), ‘No Peace without Spain’ (1711), the French commercial treaty (1713), and the expulsion from the House of Commons of the Whig MP Richard Steele (1714). Even the more recent additions to the canon (many of them fragmentary) often have strong party overtones, covering such issues as disputed election petitions, the solitary exception in this respect being the vote on the South Sea bill in May 1711.
Despite these weaknesses, the evidence of parliamentary lists, supplemented by detailed biographical research, has at least ruled out the notion that personal ‘connexions’ or extended kinship-groups constituted the building-blocks of parliamentary majorities in this period. Historical scholarship since Walcott, most notably Geoffrey Holmes’s classic study, British Politics in the Age of Anne, has reasserted the primacy of party as a determinant of parliamentary behaviour, especially during the period 1701-15. There is little point in rehearsing the debate once again, other than to emphasize that not even the most determined exponent of the ‘two-party’ interpretation would picture the Tory and Whig parties in the Commons as monolithic. That there were sub-groups of various kinds within each party is undeniable. We may even may find the occasional quasi-Namierite ‘connexion’, such as the followers of Lord Anglesey (Arthur Annesley*), Lord Abingdon (Montagu Venables-Bertie*), and (Sir) Thomas Hanmer* among the rebellious Tories in the parliamentary sessions of 1713-14. Also visible from time to time are splinter-groups of Whigs and Tories, usually through-going party men, brought together and inspired to collective activity by an overpowering commitment to the maintenance of traditional ideals, or the zeal to pursue political warfare against their opponents, the Country Whigs of 1705-8, for example, or the Tory October Club of 1710-14. There were also ‘moderate’ men, who might be drawn to support government against the interests of their party, for reasons of principle or self-interest.6 Indeed, the strongest cross-current in early 18th-century parliamentary politics was the traditional opposition between ‘Court’ and ‘Country’, which could easily set Tory against Tory and Whig against Whig.
The terms Court and Country were more fluid than Whig and Tory. They might mean no more than government and its opponents, or rather, since the notion of a formed opposition was still in theory (although evidently not in practice) anathema to early 18th-century parliamentarians, friends and critics of the ministers. Under ‘mixed’ administrations, in 1690-4, for example, or 1704-8, when Whigs and Tories were to be found on both sides of the House, the descriptions ‘Court’ or ‘Country’ party served to conceal the hybrid nature of parliamentary coalitions. But there were some Members who always supported government whichever party was uppermost, who constituted a standing ‘Court’ interest; and on the other side back-benchers who were temperamentally disposed to be critical of all administrations, whatever their party colouring, and may be said to have had the ‘mentality’ or ‘persuasion’ of Country party men, or, as they were coming to be called more frequently towards the end of this period, ‘patriots’. The counter-attractions of Court and Country politics did not always have to extinguish party loyalties. There were those, both Tory and Whig, who occasionally separated from their friends to join Court or Country, either through principle or, in the case of the Court, through material considerations, yet without abandoning their party affiliations, so that ‘Court’ and ‘Country’ might be used in their case as qualifying adjectives; that is to say, they would be Court or Country Tories, Court or Country Whigs.
Some historians, including once again Professor Walcott, have argued that Court and Country may best be understood as an alternative polarity to Whig and Tory. Walcott used to the analogy of a compass, with Whig and Tory representing, say, north and south, and Court and Country representing east and west. In following the configurations of political parties one would thus ‘box the compass’, passing from Tory to Country Tory, to Country, Country Whig, Whig, Court Whig, Court, Court Tory, and back to Tory again.7 This is a seductive analogy, but misleading in so far as it implies that the two axes were at right angles to one another, or, to put it another way, that each quadrant was of equal size. In reality, and certainly after the mid-1690s, the two polarities, or planes, were much more closely aligned. The Whigs, accustomed to power through their long tenure of office in 1693-4-1699 and 1705-1710, became to all intents and purposes a Court party, showing a natural affinity to government, and with their Country wing progressively attenuated; the Tories, embittered by exclusion, took on the prejudices and attitudes of a natural Country opposition. Certainly, as we shall see, there were ‘Court’ and ‘Country’ Members of Parliament in Anne’s reign, most capable of being described in party terms as well, a few not. But the precise relationship of these two different sets of political loyalties, Court and Country and Whig and Tory, each based upon a complex of ideological and personal values, is not easy to define. At the very least it would seem wise to jettison the compass analogy, but a replacement is not obvious—‘another level of political consciousness’ is one suggestion.8
Following the demise of Walcott’s rigidly Namierite interpretation, a consensus prevails among historians as to the broad pattern of parliamentary allegiances in Anne’s reign, endorsing the contemporary perception of a two-party ‘system’ or ‘structure’, even if allowing for complications engendered by the existence of a few connexions and pressure-groups within the party system, and by the persistence long after the Revolution of the terminology, and indeed the underlying principles, of Court and Country, inherited from earlier political debate. There is still some disagreement, however, as to the importance of party in William’s reign. In Court and Country 1688-1702 (1967), Dennis Rubini sought to demonstrate the overriding importance of the struggle between Court and Country parties, and the relative insignificance of Whig and Tory allegiances, in practice, until at least the Parliament of 1701. King William had insisted upon mixed administrations, and divided the parties. For much of his reign the opposition in the House of Commons was made up of an alliance of former Whigs like Paul Foley I and Robert Harley, and Tories like Sir Thomas Clarges, Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt., and Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt. Rubini’s interpretation took encouragement from the evidence of parliamentary debates, in which the opposition often mounted its attacks on a Country platform, but is not supported by analysis of the surviving division-lists, which instead confirm the observations of contemporaries like Charles Davenant*, that from c.1693-4 onwards the bulk of the Whig party, under the leadership of the four (later five) lords of the Junto, came over to support administration, while the vast majority of the Tory party went into opposition. Rubini did seek to use division-list analysis to prove consistency in voting along Court-Country rather than Whig-Tory lines but this attempt was vitiated by his choice of evidence. More or less ignoring the cluster of lists from 1696, relating to divisions over the council of trade, the recoinage, and the attainder of Sir John Fenwick†, which demonstrate an impressive consistency of party voting, he chose to analyse instead two other lists, one dating from the winter of 1694-5, the other from February 1701, neither of which he was himself able to explain.9
These two lists do indeed show a strange mixture of Tories and Whigs. But they also have Court and Country stalwarts lumped together. The answer lies in the nature of the two lists. The first, discovered among the Trumbull papers, we now know to have been compiled by Lord Sunderland’s henchman, Henry Guy*, possibly to indicate those upon whom Guy could rely in the event of some parliamentary attack being launched against him. Since Guy and his master had friends (and enemies) in all quarters it is not surprising to find Country Tories like the Granvilles and Tredenhams listed alongside Court Whigs like the Howards and Powletts. The second list, dating from February 1701, now appears to have been a forecast of those who would support the government on agreeing with the committee of supply on providing for the ‘Great Mortgage’ (and not, as Rubini speculated, of those who supported ‘Harley’s project for the [Hanoverian] succession’). At this point, early on in the 1701 session, elements in both parties were seeking to impress the crown with their willingness to co-operate with the crown in the matter of supply, and thus we find Whigs and Tories alike listed as likely to endorse the motion.
If all the parliamentary lists of the period 1690-1701 are taken together, they certainly reveal a complicated pattern and a degree of cross-voting on Court-Country issues, but also a gradual process of filtering out, with Whigs moving into government, and Tories into opposition. The period of greatest confusion in alignments occurred 1690 and 1694, during the mixed ministry headed by Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†). With the accession to power of the Whig Junto, however, the picture becomes much clearer. It is possible to trace the various changes during the 1690 Parliament by reference to an analysis of this House of Commons in its original incarnation, which survives in Carmarthen’s papers, and which classifies Members by an easily decipherable numerical code (decipherable, that is, by reference to previous voting records), in which ‘1’ equals Whig, ‘2’ equals Tory, and ‘3’ indicates uncertainty or neutrality. According to this list the House at its first meeting consisted of 225 Whigs and 206 Tories, with 14 names marked with a ‘3’, and a further 70 left unmarked altogether, almost all of these, it must be said, consistent supporters of government. Taking Carmarthen’s analysis as a base, we may trace a gradual shift in the political complexion of the Court party from Tory to Whig. Of the 225 Members marked as Whig, 10 were also given an additional signifier in the Carmarthen list, a cross, which was probably intended to record that they were to be counted on by administration. In the lists of placemen or Court supporters drawn up by or for Carmarthen between 1690 and 1693 Whigs are still a small minority, some 37 in all, but in a further list from 1691-2, discovered in the papers of Robert Harley, and annotated in such a way as appears to indicate Court and opposition, the number of Whigs on the government side is significantly higher than in 1690: 79 are Court, and 121 ‘Country’. Subsequently, in the list of Court supporters and placemen drawn up in 1693-5 by the non-juror Samuel Grascome, there are 119 Whigs. A mirror image emerges from an analysis of the evidence relating to the 206 Tories identified on Carmarthen’s original list. Over three-quarters, a total of 159, are marked with a cross, presumably as reliable Courtiers, in the list of 1690; 45 are included in lists of placemen and government supporters 1690-3; 62 are on Court side and 100 on the Country in Harley’s list; and only 34 are noted as Court supporters by Grascome. Ignoring the list compiled by or for Henry Guy in 1694-5, the next significant item is the group of three division-lists from 1696. An analysis of this evidence published in 1968 by I. F. Burton, P. W. J. Riley, and Edward Rowlands demonstrated a clear correlation in the sessions of 1695-7 between the Whig party and the Court, with only a handful of Tories (less than ten) still dividing on the government side.10 Two years later a forecast of opinion in favour of the disbanding bill reveals only 48 out of the 247 Members making up the Country party in the Commons at the beginning of the 1698 Parliament as identifiably Whig.11
The evidence provided by parliamentary lists may of course be analysed in a variety of ways in order to measure consistency of voting, and to test the hypothesis, based on contemporary perceptions, that party loyalties counted for more than anything else in determining a Member’s parliamentary behaviour. Long-term statistical trends may be plotted, although this kind of exercise is vulnerable to the criticisms of determined sceptics, and too much weight should not be placed upon it. First, there is the objection that, while a consistent pattern may indeed appear in the statistical analysis, it is the historian who imposes upon that pattern an interpretation privileging the influence of ‘party’ loyalties. Second, there are the evidential weaknesses in the lists themselves. Most relate to controversial issues, and may thus be exceptional; while others bear no explicit contemporary explanation, and have been identified through internal evidence (involving a circularity of reasoning on the basis of prior assumptions about party allegiance and its relative importance). Yet for what it is worth, the statistical evidence of the lists does bear out the impressions formed by contemporary observers, that more than anything else Members’ parliamentary voting was determined by considerations of ‘party’.
In order to determine consistency of voting on a party basis, we have selected for analysis those lists whose meaning and context is clear, and may fairly be interpreted in party terms. These criteria admit 22 lists, from the period 1696-1714.12 Of the 1,266 Members whose names figure on more than one of these lists, 793 (62.6%) appear as having acted with complete consistency on party lines, 836 (66.0%) score 90% or higher, 958 (75.7%) 80% or higher, and a total of 1,031 (81.4%) 70% or higher. To test the most likely alternative hypothesis, that Members were divided, not between Whigs and Tories so much as between Court and Country, we have similarly selected those lists whose meaning and context is clear and which may be interpreted (although in this case with a significant degree of latitude) in Court against Country terms.13 Since these include not only a number of lists of ‘placemen’, but several division-lists (over the Speakership in 1705, for instance, the naturalization bill of 1709, or the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell) which are even more readily explicable in the language of party, the resulting statistics are likely to be generously inflationary.14 Even so, the process of calculation yields perceptibly lower levels of voting consistency across the board: of the 1,043 Members appearing on more than one of these lists, 568 (54.5%) appear to have acted with absolute consistency for Court or Country, 584 (56.0% record at least 90%, 716 (68.6%) at least 80% and 786 (75.4%) at least 70%. The comparison between the two sets of calculations may perhaps be most easily appreciated when the results are given in tabular form:
|Level of consistency in voting||100%||90%+||80%+||70%+|
|between Whig-Tory on selected lists||62.6%||66.0%||75.7%||81.4%|
|between Court-Country on selected lists||54.5%||56.0%||68.6%||75.4%|
The biographies, assembling as they do a much greater range of evidence, from local as well as national politics, provide an even clearer indication of the party affiliation of individual Members and the importance in general of party divisions. Of the 1,875 English and Welsh Members, only 201 (10.7%) defy classification as Whig or Tory in the context of their electoral or parliamentary behaviour;15 a further 73 (3.8%) appear to have shifted between one party and another (or to a position of neutrality between the parties) in this period;16 leaving 1,602 Members (85.4%) who can be safely be identified in party terms, that is to say who appear consistently as Whigs or Tories throughout their parliamentary careers in this period. Moreover, these calculations are based on the most conservative interpretation of the evidence contained in the biographies and undoubtedly understate the dominance of party ties. Among the `unclassified’ Members are many of whose political sentiments and actions we know little or nothing but from whose background and relationships it would have been all too easy to have inferred a party connexion: the Hon. Richard Newport III, for instance, younger son of the staunchly Whig Earl of Bradford (Richard Newport I*), who came in to his only Parliament at a by-election in March 1714, too late to do very much, stood down at the next general election and died in 1716; or the Hon. Robert Greville, scion of a notable Warwickshire Tory family, who was elected for the first time in 1698, did not attend at all during his first session, and died of smallpox in the following summer. Of others, like Jeremiah Bubb, the governor of Carlisle, or the West Indian William Wheeler, little is known and nothing very interesting can be inferred. There is a strong representation—numbering at least 25—of the kind of permanent or semi-permanent office-holder who may be characterized as an early type of ‘civil servant’;17 and, at the other extreme an element of pure ‘Country’ enthusiasm represented by, among others, the ‘whiffling’ Yorkshire knight, Sir Abstrupus Danby, Sir Thomas Hussey, 2nd Bt., and the veteran lawyer William Thursby. Otherwise, the number of genuinely indeterminate Members is very small: those whose party orientation was a matter of dispute among contemporaries, such as the Irish lawyer Archibald Hutcheson, or the Wiltshire squire Francis Stonhouse, or was simply a mystery, which seems to have been the case with Sir Thomas Alston, 3rd Bt.
There is also a chronological pattern to be observed in the occurrence of such ‘unclassified’ or, in party terms, ‘unclassifiable’, Members in the House. Plotted Parliament by Parliament across the period, the number of ‘unclassified’ members per Parliament shows a steady decline from 11.2% in 1690-5 to a mere 3.7% in 1713-14, though with a slight rise in the 1698 Parliament (when the great issue of the standing army polarized opinion), and again, though at a much lower level, in 1708-10.
Turning to those Members who transferred their allegiance from one party to another (or to none), some further generalizations may be attempted. Where changes can be dated with any accuracy, they seem to arise from two political processes, the alienation of Country Whigs from the Junto ministers, especially in the early years after 1693, and the gradual acceptance by some ministerial Tories that their party allegiance was not easily compatible with service to the Court. Thus in the first three Parliaments of William’s reign some 29 Members seem to have changed their party allegiance. The majority, 19 in all, may probably be characterised as Country Whigs, since they left the Whigs either to move directly to the Tories, or to occupy some indeterminate middle ground in opposition: Andrew Archer, Sir Philip Boteler, 3rd Bt., Hon. William Cheyne, George England I, Sir James Etheridge, Paul Foley I, Philip Foley, and the Thomas Foleys, I and II, Robert Harley, Michael Harvey, John Grobham Howe, John Lewknor, Sir Thomas Trevor, Thomas Turgis, Frederick Tylney, Sir Michael Warton, Sir William Williams, 1st Bt., and Sir Francis Winnington. Archer, Boteler, Cheyne, Harvey, Trevor, Tylney, and Warton reoriented themselves promptly in the Tory interest; Etheridge, Thomas Foley II, Lewknor, and possibly Robert Harley, took up a Tory identity more slowly (if at all, in Harley’s case); while England, the elder Foley brothers (Paul, Philip and Thomas I), Howe, Turgis, Williams, and Winnington, could possibly be described as Tories in the very late stages of their parliamentary career, but on the whole seem most appropriately characterised as Country tout court, albeit with a strong dash of opportunism in the cases of Howe and Williams. In the same period a smaller number of Members were defecting from the Tories, most of them towards the new Court, and eventually to the Whigs: John Brewer, Sir Edward Ernle, 3rd Bt., Hon. James Stanley, Sir John Turner, Henry Vincent I, Sir Francis Wyndham, 3rd Bt., and Lord Wharton’s brother-in-law, Sir Charles Kemys, 3rd Bt. The exception was Sir William Blackett, 1st Bt., who appears to have transmogrified after the Revolution from a Country Tory to a Country Whig.
The haemorrhage of Whig support away from the Junto gathered further momentum as a result of the political crisis in 1701-2, when we find former Whigs like Sir Henry Belasyse, Edward Carteret, William Clayton, Jacob des Bouverie, and Morgan Randyll listed with the Tories, alongside Robert Harley’s brother Edward and kinsman, Alexander Popham, and Sir Francis Winnington’s son, Salwey, and one or two other ‘Country’ Whigs of the calibre of Carew Raleigh, who evidently found it impossible to go over to the Tories but were nevertheless unwilling to stay within the Whig fold. At the same time, there was a continuing consolidation of former Tories into the Court or Whig interest, albeit less significant numerically, the Buckinghamshire lawyer Robert Dormer, and the Robarteses, Hon. Francis and his nephew, Hon. Robert, being the most prominent. This process continued during Anne’s reign, especially after the fall from power of Lord Nottingham and other High Tories in 1704. Among former Tories who could now be counted in the ranks of the Whigs were Lord Willoughby d’Eresby (Robert Bertie), Walter Chetwynd II, Hon. Francis Godolphin, and John, Lord Mordaunt, while others, like Hon. James Brydges, Thomas Coke, Sidney Godolphin, and Anthony Hammond, had abandoned all party loyalties and now identified permanently with the Court.
In general, however, from about 1705 onwards changes of party allegiance seem to have been quite infrequent, and a matter of individual persuasion, indeed idiosyncrasy, rather than symptoms of any broader trend, except, perhaps for the small phalanx of Londoners who abandoned Whiggery when they were recruited by Robert Harley in 1708-10, to provide some financial ballast to the new Tory administration: Samuel Shepheard I and his two sons, Francis and Samuel II, (Sir) Joseph Martin, and John Ward II. Some of these individual conversions reflected local political circumstances: Sir Francis Vincent, 3rd Bt., for example, came to identify much more closely with the Tories following his struggles with the Onslows in Surrey elections, while the Southwark brewer and sometime Jacobite sympathizer, John Lade, reinvented himself as a Whig in time for the 1713 election in order to take the seat in Southwark he had long coveted. Others represented a pragmatic and opportunistic response to changes in the balance of forces in government, which saw, for example, John Aislabie and the Worsleys, Henry and James, gravitate to whichever party was in power. Finally, the occasional political eccentric oscillated between the parties from a combination of personal and ideological preferences: the formidable figure of ‘Governor’ Thomas Pitt (I) would represent one such instance, the enthusiast for moral reform, Hon. Thomas Watson Wentworth, another.
A much more difficult question is what the word party actually meant in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. At the most basic level, of course, parties in Parliament were simply groups of friends, acting together from mutual affection, common interests, and common principles, but this definition would apply equally to other kinds of political grouping, factions, connexions, pressure-groups and so on, and clearly what bound together the Whigs and Tories of William’s and Anne’s reigns was something greater than this. Definitions based on the characteristics of modern political parties are of some use in understanding the concept of ‘party’ in Augustan England (and Wales), provided that one ignores the 20th-century paraphernalia of registration and subscription, formal institutional structures, conferences, and manifestos. To schematize, the modern political party may be said to be defined by the presence of five main elements:18 some form of party organisation to impose discipline, recognized leaders, a clearly defined membership, an underpinning political ideology with mass appeal, and a detailed programme, or at least stated policies. The Whig and Tory parties each had their informal organizational structures, as we shall see, with a relatively clear chain of command, especially on the Whig side. Party membership may not have been rigidly defined, but at least most contemporaries found it relatively easy to attribute individuals to parties, and efforts were made, through the construction of parliamentary lists, to keep a rudimentary account. Through the medium of political clubs, especially at a parliamentary level, party membership could sometimes be more systematically established and enforced. On the other hand, this kind of essentially organizational coherence was also a feature of pressure-groups within parties, such as the Tories’ October Club, and even of some explicitly non-party groupings such as the ‘independent club’ (mostly Country Whigs) which flourished briefly during the 1695 Parliament. The possession of a distinctive ideology and political programme was perhaps the most distinctive characteristic of a political party, however crude the ideology might appear to modern eyes, and, it might be assumed, was less likely to be found in sub-groups or alternative collectivities. However, pressure-groups within parties did often define themselves ideologically, as the ‘real’ or ‘true’ upholders of party principles; while the Court interest and some of its family or individual-based components could also be said to possess an ideological definition, in that they emphasized loyalty to the crown against the unreasonable or impertinent demands that were made of the monarch by the leaders of the parties, or, in another formulation, emphasized the personal virtues and salutary properties of ‘moderation’ against the damaging excesses of faction. Where the crucial difference lay, between the Whig and Tory parties and these other groups, was not in the internal structure and dynamics of the parties so much as in their size, and the extent of their influence, which extended far beyond the chamber of the House of Commons out into the constituencies. Court and Country interests, ginger groups and special-issue pressure-groups, and even some personal connexions may have had an existence and a coherence within the Commons itself, but only Whigs and Tories carried their identity and organization out into the provinces, and were as important in the constituencies as in the Palace of Westminster.
A Political Chronology 1690-1715
The period opens with the general election of February-March 1690. King William was still seeking to maintain a coalition of Whigs and Tories. But in practice it was the Tory leaders who were at the centre of power: the Marquess of Carmarthen as lord president of the Council, and the Earl of Nottingham as secretary of state. Until his resignation as lord privy seal in January 1690, Lord Halifax (William Savile†), had helped to hold the balance, but there was no figure of similar stature to challenge the ascendancy of Carmarthen and Nottingham. Nevertheless, many Whigs survived in the lower reaches of the administration, including Sir John Somers as solicitor-general, and in practice the Court party in the new Parliament was to be an uneasy coalition of mutually suspicious and indeed antagonistic forces.
The election results were not as favourable as the Tories had hoped. Despite canvassing strongly on the issue of maintaining the authority of the Established Church, in the wake of the Toleration Act of the previous summer, Churchmen did not succeed in winning a clear majority for their party in the House of Commons, even though the Whigs suffered significant defeats. Furthermore, the King’s ‘trimming’ had a detrimental effect on management, confusing back-benchers as to the direction in which royal favour was flowing, and creating a powerful opposition alliance of the alienated and disaffected of both parties. Carmarthen’s chief henchmen in the Commons, Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. II, and Sir Henry Goodricke, faced tasks to which their indifferent abilities were inadequate.
The first session of the 1690 Parliament, from March to May, saw a strengthening in the position of the ministry, and of the Tory element within it. Supply passed, albeit not very smoothly, and an opposition attempt to establish a parliamentary commission of accounts was voted down. In party terms, the Whigs failed in their efforts to remodel the City of London corporation, and to impose an oath of abjuration. During the session the Whig secretary of state, Shrewsbury, resigned, leaving Nottingham as sole secretary, and although not every ministerial appointment at this time was to the benefit of Tories, the King’s nominations to the council which would advise Queen Mary during his absence in Ireland on campaign in the summer reflected what was now a clear preference on his part for Court Tories.
The Battle of the Boyne in July 1690, which determined the result of the conflict between the two kings in Ireland, was almost the only military success of 1690. After James’s flight, the Jacobite forces in Ireland re-grouped, retreated to the west, and proved able to withstand a siege at Limerick. In Europe the Allied forces suffered a setback at Fleurus. Worse still, the English fleet was defeated by the French off Beachy Head. Good news just before Parliament met in October, of the capture of Cork by an expeditionary force under the Earl of Marlborough, raised Members’ spirits at the start of the session, but a sense of crisis soon enveloped Parliament again, and for the first time the weight of the financial obligations which the war entailed seemed to be fully appreciated in the Commons. Supply went slowly; a larger proportion than before had to be raised by loan; and this time the Country opposition, headed by the Whigs Paul Foley I and Robert Harley, and the Tories Sir Thomas Clarges and Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt., managed to force through a bill establishing a commission of accounts. Carmarthen survived a threatened parliamentary attack, and strengthened his own position by the exposure of a Jacobite plot involving James II’s former secretary of state Lord Preston. But he had to accept the appointment as secretary of state of a personal enemy, Lord Sidney (Henry†), and the replacement of Lord Torrington (Arthur Herbert†), the admiral disgraced at Beachy Head, by a young and ambitious Whig, Edward Russell*, who was soon at daggers drawn with the lord president.
The campaigns of 1691 again went poorly for William, with the exception of Ireland, where the victory at Aughrim paved the way for the mopping up of Jacobite resistance and a final settlement, in the Treaty of Limerick. Success in Ireland did not save the ministry from embarrassment in Parliament over the winter of 1691-2. The opposition was spearheaded by the commissioners of accounts, who had been active throughout the year in preparing a report on every branch of government expenditure. The commissioners used the evidence they had uncovered not only to embarrass the ministry but to provide a platform for a more critical and less co-operative approach to the great question of supply. Estimates were pruned, and the demands of the Court in respect of future taxes toned down. The difficulties confronting Lowther and Goodricke were compounded by conflicts within the Court party: between Tories and Whigs like Russell, and even among the Court Tories themselves, as Carmarthen was foolishly drawn into an intrigue against Nottingham. Carmarthen’s health was declining, and he was becoming increasingly isolated, as predatory rivals of every political complexion circled his crippled ministry.
The failures of Court management in 1691-2 prompted the King to reshuffle his administration. He turned for advice to the controversial figure of the 2nd Earl of Sunderland, James II’s former minister, who advocated reliance upon the Whigs, more particularly the young Court Whigs like Russell, Somers, Comptroller Thomas Wharton*, and Charles Montagu*. But William continued to trim, perhaps anxious over the possible political fall-out from the dismissal in January 1692 of Marlborough, on suspicion of correspondence with the Jacobites. Marlborough and his wife, Sarah, were great favourites of the Princess Anne, and William may have been concerned lest his sister-in-law’s household become a magnet for a Tory ‘reversionary interest’. So the reshuffle in the early months of 1692 brought more Tories into government, from outside Carmarthen’s circle, notably Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., who was associated with Lord Rochester. In an attempt to please all sides, Nottingham’s position was also strengthened, while Carmarthen himself received a little compensation and there were one or two concessions to the Whigs.
The result was confusion worse confounded, and the beginning of the end of the experiment of a mixed administration. The events of the summer of 1692 did little to help the Court. An early naval success for the Allied fleet of Barfleur was not followed up, because of divisions within the Privy Council over the strategic desirability, and likely cost, of a descent on the French Atlantic coast at Brest, leaving Russell, the victor of Barfleur, full of resentment against his colleagues. On land, the French made considerable gains, taking Namur and inflicting heavy losses on the English army at Steenkerk (Steinkirk). When Parliament met again in November, the Country party alliance of the previous winter was bolstered by the ‘Cockpit’ interest (Princess Anne’s faction) headed by Marlborough, and by some alienated Court Whigs. Russell in particular carried his feud with other ministers into the session, and brought with him his friends Somers, Wharton, and Montagu, the embryonic ‘Whig Junto’. It was this group which caused the most serious problems for administration during the 1692-3 session. The Country party embarrassed the King by its condemnation of the foreign general officers who had led the army at Steenkerk, and by pushing a place bill through the House of Commons (which the Lords stopped). There were also unpleasant scenes in relation to the renewal of the commission of accounts. But in matters of supply Foley and Harley were on the whole co-operative and inventive, Foley bringing in the innovative Million Fund scheme, which introduced the notion of deficit financing. The Court Whig defectors, on the other hand, were much more troublesome, persuading the Commons to censure Nottingham for the naval débâcles of the previous summer, taking the lead in inquiries into maladministration in Ireland, and supporting not only the abortive place bill, but a triennial bill, which passed both Houses and forced William into an uncomfortable use of the royal veto.
Sunderland continued to press the King for a switch in political strategy. Given his own record, he was too vulnerable to be brought into office himself; but he argued strongly for change, and in particular for William to redress the imbalance in the administration and propitiate the younger ex-ministerial Whigs who had proved such a thorn in the side of government in the 1692-3 session. He had some success: William gave the place of a lord keeper to Somers, and, together with some other changes, joined the Whig Sir John Trenchard* with Nottingham in the secretary’s office. The ministry was still in essence a coalition, however, and divisions plagued the Council during another unhappy summer campaign, marked by defeat in the Low Countries, at Landen, and a disaster at sea with the loss of the Smyrna convoy. At one point Sunderland made overtures to Foley and Harley, without result. But the failures of the naval command did have a positive outcome for the Junto: Whig interests in the City demonstrated their loyalty by subscribing to a holding loan, a good augury for future fiscal management; and the Privy Council’s inquiry into the affair of the Smyrna fleet produced its sacrificial victim in the person of Nottingham, who was removed as secretary, and replaced by the Whig Lord Shrewsbury. Carmarthen remained in office as lord president, but was increasingly sidelined.
The effective establishment of the Junto ministry may be dated to the autumn of 1693, although their domination of government was not unchallenged. Nor was the parliamentary session of 1693-4 entirely comfortable for Court. On the whole, the crucial debates on supply went well, and two significant new expedients for raising money were passed by Parliament: the lottery scheme proposed by Thomas Neale*; and the project for a national bank, devised by the Scotsman William Paterson, adopted and endorsed by Charles Montagu (appointed in the spring of 1694 as chancellor of the Exchequer and a lord of Treasury), and embodied in the Tonnage Act as the Bank of England. The Court was also able to limit any damage from the report of the accounts commission, sacrificing the Admiralty official Lord Falkland (Anthony Carey*) as a scapegoat, and even intruded three of its own supporters at the new ballot for the commissioners of accounts. But the ministers did not have everything their own way. Despite Whig exertions, the Commons inquiry into naval mismanagement failed to condemn Nottingham and the Tory admirals Henry Killigrew* and Sir Ralph Delaval*; and Country elements passed the reintroduced place bill, obliging the King to exercise his veto again, to the fury of Commons’ back-benchers, who drew up a formal representation on the subject.
In the spring of 1694 William completed the transfer of power from Court Tories to Whigs. As well as the appointments of Shrewsbury and Montagu, a raft of other changes favoured the friends and dependants of the new ministers. The Treasury and Admiralty commissions in particular were reconstructed, and were now dominated by Montagu and Russell respectively. Sir John Lowther finally left government. Carmarthen (now Duke of Leeds) held his place, along with several of his clients, and a few other Court Tories like Lord Godolphin (Sidney†), who had been first lord of the Treasury since 1690. But such men were now a small minority.
The decisive shift towards the Whigs coincided with an improvement in the fortunes of war. In financial terms the previous two parliamentary sessions had witnessed something akin to a breakthrough in the government’s understanding of the way in which a large-scale continental war had to be managed. Discovery and acceptance of the principle of deficit financing, and in particular the setting up of the Bank of England, provided the foundation on which the Whig Treasury ministers could base the huge effort of expenditure necessary to force the French to a peace. With securer resources, more troops could be sent to the Low Countries. The effect was felt immediately in the recovery of territory taken by the French. At the same time naval operations, especially those in the Mediterranean, took their toll of French private shipping, and even began to have a deterrent effect on the actions of the French fleet. The one exception to this generally happier scene was the fiasco in June at Brest, when a landing force commanded by the Whig General, Thomas Tollemache* was routed and Tollemache fatally wounded.
The parliamentary session of 1694-5 started well for the Junto ministers. They survived an outburst of Tory anger against what was perceived to be the persecution of Catholic and non-juring gentlemen over spurious and malicious allegations of a ‘Lancashire Plot’, and agreed the dimensions of a supply with the Country party leaders. Foley and Harley were encouraged to pursue their own schemes for raising money, and to some observers it appeared as if an understanding had been reached between the ministers and their chief critics. The passage of the triennial bill, which received the Royal Assent in January 1694, looked like a quid pro quo. But it may equally well have been case that Foley and Harley were engaged in an exercise of self-promotion, to try and demonstrate to the King their own superior credentials as financial managers.
The death of Queen Mary in December 1694 brought political affairs in England to a standstill. When William returned in earnest to public life early in the following year he found that the parliamentary situation had deteriorated, as Court and Country offered competing fiscal strategies, the Treasury bench insisting upon the series of excises while Foley in particular advocated a scheme based on hypothecating a land tax and establishing a ‘land bank’ to rival the Bank of England. The general unpopularity of the excise as a method of taxation made life difficult for the ministers, but in January and February 1695 the attention of back-benchers was diverted into a series of inquiries into corruption in government. Beginning with unexpected revelations about regimental agents, the proceedings expanded to include a number of allegations of the corruption of the parliamentary process, by vested interests anxious to secure the passage of favourable legislation. The Speaker, Sir John Trevor, was expelled for having accepted 1,000 guineas for expediting the London orphans’ bill, and was replaced by Paul Foley. The net was then cast wider, to encompass the East India Company, and its former governor, Sir Thomas Cooke*, who was offered an indemnity for his evidence. While these inquiries undoubtedly aroused the virtuous indignation of Country Members, the Whig ministers were not displeased with them. Evidently they had begun the pursuit themselves with Sunderland’s ‘creature’, Henry Guy*, as their principal target, but had changed their focus to Trevor and even Leeds, against whom a process of impeachment was begun but not completed.
These events produced two main consequences. First, they confirmed William, and Lord Sunderland (who was still acting as a broker or ‘undertaker’ between the King and the parties) in the conviction that the Parliament would have to be dissolved, ahead of time, in order to prevent the inquiries from being resumed. Second, they prompted Sunderland to reopen lines of communication with Foley and Harley, partly from a desire to protect Guy and preserve his own position, partly from a recognition of the continuing political strength of the Country party.
The ensuing general election, in October 1695, was curiously low-key, certainly in comparison with its predecessor. The losers on this occasion appeared to be the mainstream Tories, whose representation in the Commons sunk significantly. On the other hand, the Whigs could not boast of a clear majority either, given that a substantial section of the party had been accustomed to follow the new Speaker and his friends in opposition. The prevailing uncertainty was reflected in Foley’ s re-election to the Chair, without Whig opposition, and the compensating election of a Junto man as chairman of privileges and elections, without Country opposition. Indeed, the opening stages of the 1695-6 session were marked by an uneasy peace between the two main factions in the House. Foley and Harley continued a policy of constructive opposition, seeking to promote their own schemes for public finance, and succeeded, inter alia, in securing parliamentary approval for the establishment of a land bank. The Treasury ministers, meanwhile, were absorbed in contemplating the crisis over the coinage, and the terms on which monetary reform could be accomplished. Their uncertainty was amplified by a further setbacks in the Commons, over the proposal to establish a parliamentary council of trade.
With the council of trade and the plans for the recoinage still in abeyance, and the Court very much on the back foot in both Houses of Parliament, the discovery in February 1696 of a conspiracy to assassinate the King, and a planned French invasion, proved a godsend to the Junto ministers. The adoption by Parliament of a loyal Association proved a means of reuniting the Whigs, and emphasizing the party divisions within the parliamentary opposition. Subsequently it was exploited by the ministry to purge scrupulous Tories from local government. In the aftermath of the announcement of the Assassination Plot, the Junto secured a recoinage on the terms they themselves favoured, and the replacement of the proposed parliamentary council trade with a crown-appointed Board of Trade. Better still, from the ministry’s point of view, was the failure of the land bank during the summer of 1696 to fulfil the expectations of its founders. The ’battle of the banks’; was won handsomely by the Bank of England. Given the acute financial difficulties with which William III was now faced, and the slow progress of the war, he seemed more than ever dependent upon his Whig ministers.
The parliamentary session of 1696-7 marked the apogee of the Junto’s influence. After having smothered the accusations of the Jacobite conspirator Sir John Fenwick†, who threatened to implicate various leading Whigs in treasonable correspondence before his attainder in November and subsequent execution, the Junto, and in particular Charles Montagu, were able to put into effect a wide-ranging programme of financial reconstruction, to build upon the success of the recoinage and set public credit on a sound footing. Among other things, this involved the issuing of the Exchequer bills (on the basis of the capitation, or poll tax), the floating of a new Bank subscription, and the imposition of a variety of new duties and excises. The final demise of the commission of public accounts in 1697 was a bonus as far as the court was concerned. A further round of appointments and promotions at the end of the session reflected the Junto’s success. Somers and Russell were raised to the peerage, the former as Lord Chancellor; Montagu became first lord of the Treasury (replacing Sir Stephen Fox*, who in turn had supplanted Godolphin the previous year).
There were clouds on the horizon, however. The ministry was still not entirely homogeneous. For one thing, Leeds remained in office despite insubordination from individual members of his connexion. At the same time, Sunderland was being pushed by the King into a more public role, taking the post of Lord Chamberlain in April 1697. This ran the risk of attracting popular hostility in the Commons, while inflating Sunderland’s influence at the expense of the Junto, with whom Sunderland was never entirely at ease. Worse still, from the point of view of the Whigs, was Shrewsbury’s decision to resign as secretary. Although not admitted to the Junto’s inner counsels, Shrewsbury added weight and reputation to the administration. But in parliamentary terms the most serious danger stemmed, ironically enough, from the conclusion of the Treaty of Ryswick in September 1697, which in the long run promised to relieve the great burden of the war upon public finance but more immediately raised the controversial issue of the maintenance of a standing army in peacetime. The King was determined to keep as many troops as possible in case of another conflict with France. Public opinion in England regarded a standing army as the most powerful threat conceivable to liberty of the subject.
The question of the army dominated the early stages of parliamentary session of 1697-8. Country Members, of both parties, their passions stoked up by the pre-sessional publication of various radical pamphlets, voted in the committee of the Whole on the King’s Speech to disband all troops raised since 1680. ‘Great endeavours’ were used by the Court party over the Christmas recess to try and retrieve the situation in the committee of supply, which would determine the size of subsidy given to the army and therefore the number of troops that could be maintained. Here again the Country opposition carried the vote, and William was left with only sufficient taxes to sustain an army of 10,000 men (though he was able to hide a much larger number on the Irish establishment).
However irritating and frustrating this decision had been to William himself, it proved to be the only serious setback the Junto sustained during this session. All elements in the House joined in voting a substantial financial settlement to the King, in the form of the civil list, and Charles Montagu made what would prove to be his last great contribution to the ‘Financial Revolution’ of the reign, in securing the necessary statutory foundation for the establishment of the New East India Company, in return for a substantial advance to government from interloping merchants. Even better, as far as the Whigs were concerned, was the resignation of Sunderland in December 1697, under threat of attack from both sides in the Commons. Montagu followed up this political victory by diverting opposition inquiries into financial mismanagements on the part of the Exchequer officials John Knight* and Bartholomew Burton (which Montagu’s enemies hoped would eventually reach the Chancellor himself) towards Burton’s predecessor, Charles Duncombe*, a Tory and an ally of Sunderland. The bills of pains and penalties which the Commons brought in against Duncombe eventually came to nought, but the affair kept Tories on the defensive and the opposition hounds chasing a different quarry. Projects by Country interests to inquire into crown grants, and make a nuisance of themselves in other ways, ran into the sand. By the end of the session the Junto seemed firmly entrenched in power, and no longer required even to share backstairs influence with Sunderland, from whom they were now estranged.
The 1698 election was fought in a number of constituencies between Court and Country interests. The standing army remained at the centre of public debate, and there was also a groundswell of discontent against what was perceived to be the corruption and arrogance of the new Whigs. Montagu’s successes at the end of the previous Parliament temporarily disguised the growing unpopularity of the ministry, which was soon apparent when the House of Commons met. At first the Junto seemed to have held their ground, for the Court candidate for Chair, Sir Thomas Littleton, was chosen instead of Foley, whose parliamentary reputation had suffered through lacklustre performances as Speaker. But the election of Littleton was a false dawn. The Tories had improved their position in the election, while disaffection on the Country wing of the Whig party was still strong. The army was again the first topic of debate, and this time the opposition succeeded in passing a disbanding bill which restricted numbers to 7,000 on the English establishment and further 12,000 in Ireland. Parliament’s refusal to allow the retention of William’s Dutch guards was a particularly bitter blow to the King, which only the earnest advice of his ministers persuaded him to accept. Inserting into the land tax bill a clause appointing a commission of inquiry into the grants of forfeited estates in Ireland added insult to injury.
Under such heavy blows the Junto ministry began to disintegrate. Exhausted from his struggles with Harley and other Country politicians over supply, Montagu retired from the Treasury commission to the less exposed (and more lucrative) post of auditor of the Exchequer. At the same time a sustained investigation into corrupt practices in the administration of the Navy, which centred on the pluralist excesses of Edward Russell (now Lord Orford), as admiral of the fleet, first lord of the Admiralty and treasurer of the Navy, although unsuccessful in parliamentary terms, succeeded in forcing Orford’s resignation from all but his rank as a flag officer. Of the four Junto lords, only Somers was left in high office.
The King was already being pressed by Sunderland, the perennial ‘minister behind the curtain’, to come to terms with the leaders of the opposition, especially Harley, whose mastery of fiscal matters made him formidable. But Harley would have nothing to do with the Whigs, and William was exceedingly suspicious of the Tories, who formed the bulk of Harley’s following in the Commons. In the event, it took one more session to bring the Junto to their knees, and to force William to terms. This result was achieved not by obstructionism in the debates on supply, for Harley’s direction of the committees of supply and ways and means was on the whole constructive, but by pursuing the issue of corruption, and in such a way as to bring the bombardment close to the King himself. The 1699-1700 session opened with an early assault on the patent issued to Captain Kidd, in which Shrewsbury was implicated alongside Somers and Orford. But the heaviest thrust was towards the Irish forfeited estates. When the inquiry commissioners made their report in December 1699 it was at once clear just how extensive were the grants which William had made, in particular to courtiers like Athlone, Portland and Albemarle, and the King’s alleged mistress, Lady Orkney. A bill of resumption was ordered immediately, and, in an effort to forestall interference from the Court majority in the Upper House, was ‘tacked’ to the land tax bill. Tories in the Commons added another poisonous clause, to disqualify excise officers from sitting in Parliament. On 6 April 1700, provoked beyond patience by what they saw as a calculated insult to the royal prerogative, the Lords took the near-fatal step of amending the bill, by the excision of the place clause. This in turn outraged the Lower House, which rejected the amendments and even talked of possible impeachments. A constitutional crisis was only averted when, on 10 April, the Lords suddenly backed down, allowing William to give the bill his Royal Assent and rapidly bring the session to an end.
William regarded the events of the winter of 1699-1700 as ‘the most dismal’ he had ever endured as king of England. After accepting Somers’s resignation, he proceeded, slowly and painfully, to carry out a major reconstruction, guided by Sunderland. There was no alternative but to take in the Tories, and their party leader, Lord Rochester, was given a place in the Cabinet, albeit the somewhat peripheral office of Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. But other prominent Tory figures, especially the old party chieftains in the Commons, Seymour and Musgrave, were not admitted. Instead, the centre of gravity in the new administration resided elsewhere, in an alliance between Godolphin, restored to the Treasury commission, and Harley. After lengthy negotiations, complicated by issues of foreign policy, over which the King and his new ministers held divergent views, agreement was reached in December 1700; the necessary changes were made; and William dissolved his fourth Parliament.
The general election of January 1701 gave the Tories an advantage in the House of Commons but not a clear majority. The Court still had to rely on the adhesion of a substantial number of ‘moderate’ Whigs and placemen. To begin with, things went well. With the King’s prior (and publicly advertised) approval, Harley was chosen Speaker, and substantial progress was made in the three main areas of royal concern: the ratification of the second Partition Treaty and an endorsement of a more bellicose approach in foreign affairs; the granting of the sufficient supply to make good promises to assist allies and enforce treaties; and settlement of the succession in the Protestant, Hanoverian, line. Tories agreed in February 1701 to support the King in his efforts to maintain the peace of Europe, and accepted the principle of the Hanoverian succession, as enshrined in the bill of settlement.
But the war-weariness of rank-and-file Tories, their accumulated resentments under years of Junto domination, and the particular grievances of party leaders and former opposition politicians like ‘Jack’ Howe, meant that the Tory element in the House was unlikely to remain docile for long. Country activists and disaffected back-benchers combined to add to the bill of settlement a string of qualifying clauses, some of which were implicitly directed at King William (for example, making parliamentary consent necessary for royal journeys abroad, and for waging war defence of dominions not attached to the crown). Worse was to follow. Criticism of the second Partition Treaty culminated in the vote in the Commons to begin impeachment proceedings against William’s favourite, Lord Portland, and in probing for evidence Members stumbled upon the previous, secret, partition treaty of 1698. Potentially this discovery left William himself exposed, but Harley redirected Tory anger against the Whigs, perhaps as a diversionary tactic, in order to protect the King, or, more straightforwardly, to revenge himself upon the Junto. Further impeachments were voted against Somers, Montagu and Russell. Naturally, the Whig majority in the Lords acted to protect their party chieftains. The controversy over the impeachments, which involved a bitter procedural wrangle between the two Houses, transfixed the country. Pamphleteers debated the issues and the Whigs organized a campaign of addresses on behalf of the defendants from county grand juries, one of which, the address from Kent, provoked the fury of the House of Commons, so that the imprisonment of the ‘Kentish petitioners’ became a cause célêbre in its turn.
As the parliamentary session dragged to its end the Speaker and some of the leading Tories did what they could to retrieve the situation. Seymour initiated a reconsideration of the civil list settlement for the further benefit of the crown, and the business of supply was brought to a satisfactory conclusion. But the main business of both houses remained the impeachments, until eventually the accused were cleared by their peers. The prorogation in June was followed by a lengthy period of competition between the two parties, each courting the favour of both public and monarchy, in the press and in the closet respectively. The Tories emphasised their dominance over the existing House of Commons, as manifest in the passage of the impeachments; the Whigs argued both from their entrenched majority in the Lords, and their claim to a greater popularity in the country large (demonstrated by a co-ordinated campaign of county and borough addresses). Advised by Sunderland, William was predisposed to favour the Whigs, since Tories were at best divided on the succession issue, and ill-disposed to assist England’s European allies. Somers was readmitted to the closet and joined Sunderland in pressing for a further ministerial reconstruction and a snap dissolution of Parliament. William agreed on the necessity for new elections, though reserving his judgement on how far he should change his servants. The dissolution, however, proved the vital step. Godolphin promptly resigned from the Treasury, to be replaced by the Whig Lord Carlisle, and the King let it be known in advance that he would prefer to see Sir Thomas Littleton chosen instead of Harley as the Speaker of the new House of Commons.
The second general election of 1701, which took place in November and December, was preceded by bitter exchanges in the press. Especially damaging to the Tories was the publication of a ’black list’ of Members who had, it was claimed, opposed making preparations for war. The chance discovery of three outgoing Tory Members ensconced in a Westminster tavern with the French chargé d’affaires, Poussin, enabled the Whigs to smear their opponents as Jacobites, resulting in some spectacular defeats for the Tory party at the polls. But although the Whigs improved their position, the returns gave no clear majority.
In fact, when Parliament met on 30 December 1701 Harley was re-elected to the Chair, albeit by only four votes. The closeness of this division presaged a session marked by continual squabbling between the parties. Both sides sought to justify in retrospect their conduct over the impeachments. But there was no real division over supply and foreign policy. Events in Europe were moving inevitably towards war, with a revived Grand Alliance presented to Parliament in January 1702. Tories saw the political dangers in isolationism, and most Members. Tory as well as Whig, resented Louis XIV’s recognition of the Pretender as ‘James III’ on the death of his father.
William’s death in March 1702, following a fall from his horse, transformed the political landscape. The sympathies of the new Queen were with the ‘Church party’, as she made clear in her first speech from the throne, when she claimed a heart that was ‘entirely English. Besides the snide reference to her Dutch predecessor, this was an echo of Tory propaganda, which likewise emphasised ‘English’ interests. Her political confidence reposed in the formidable ‘duumvirate’ of Godolphin and the Earl (later Duke) of Marlborough, who, if they can be given any party label at this time, must be described as Court Tories. Godolphin was installed at the Treasury, Marlborough at the head of army. The ministry as a whole was solidly Tory: Rochester was still viceroy of Ireland; Nottingham back in harness as secretary of state; Seymour comptroller of the household; even Howe was brought into office as paymaster of guards and garrisons. The Cabinet contained nine Tories and only three moderate Whigs. While these ministerial changes were taking place William’s last Parliament continued for two more months. Factional enmities rumbled on, but essential business was done, and before the Parliament was prorogued Queen Anne’s Tory ministry had proclaimed the long expected renewal of hostilities with the French.
The general election of 1702 gave a decisive result: a comfortable majority for the Tories in the House of Commons. But this majority did not necessarily make life easy for Godolphin and Marlborough. Just as in 1701, the mulishness of Tory back-benchers and the indiscretions of their leaders produced gratuitous political controversy, and in particular an unresolved tension between the two Houses of Parliament, with the result that damage was done abroad, to the confidence of the allies, and at home, to the public credit. The revived commission of accounts sought out Whig victims: the greatest prize of all, Charles Montagu (now Lord Halifax), evaded capture, but the commission did bring down the former paymaster Richard Jones*, Lord Ranelagh, found ‘guilty of a high crime and misdemeanour, in misapplying several sums of the public money’ and expelled the House. High Churchmen also insisted on introducing a bill to outlaw the increasingly notorious practice of ‘occasional conformity’, by which Dissenting members of borough corporations evaded the provisions of the Test and Corporation Acts by receiving communion in the Established Church once a year. The first occasional conformity bill passed the Commons easily enough but was thwarted by the Whig majority in the Lords. As if this was not bad enough, Tory malcontents in the Commons, led by Seymour and Musgrave, opposed the Queen’s suggestion of a grant of public funds, from the revenues of the post office, to Marlborough, whom Anne had already raised to a dukedom. Behind the scenes a power-struggle was in progress between the Lord Treasurer, Godolphin, and Rochester, which ended in February 1703 with Rochester’s resignation.
With the exclusion of Rochester and his followers, the moderate or Court-centred element within the administration was predominant, but there were still powerful High Churchmen within the Cabinet, notably Lord Nottingham, and government still relied for the most part on Tories in the House of Commons. The ‘duumvirs’, and their principal ally, Harley, faced very considerable difficulties. The Lower House of Commons was loudly Tory; the Upper House unshakeably Whig; and the ministry could easily find itself ground between these two stones. Furthermore, the war was going badly; and Anglo-Scottish relations had reached a nadir after the latest failure of negotiations for an incorporating union and the collapse of Godolphin’s first attempts at Scottish management. Thus the English parliamentary session in the winter of 1703-4 proved a miserable experience for the Court. Another occasional conformity bill was introduced in the Commons and blocked in the Lords. Relations between the two Houses degenerated still further with the Lords’ entrenchment on the Commons’ privilege of adjudicating on their own Membership, by hearing an appeal in the case of Ashby v. White. The frustration engendered among Tories by the failure of the occasional conformity bill, aggravated in the case of Lord Nottingham by a clumsy Whig attempt to implicate him in the so-called ‘Scotch plot’, in which the Scottish ministry were also making mischief, rendered the party even less amenable. Nottingham, Seymour, and others seemed to be doing all they could to block essential measures to forward the continental war. Indeed, Nottingham had openly differed from Godolphin and Marlborough on questions of grand strategy, favouring a limited involvement in land warfare, while the major effort was made at sea. He envisaged the continental army conducting a mere holding operation in the Low Countries, supported by direct amphibious assaults on the French coastline, whereas for Marlborough the war was to be waged, and won, in Europe.
In April 1704 the break came. Seymour was dismissed, and Nottingham resigned. Godolphin replaced Nottingham with Harley, and at the same time advanced a number of other moderate Tories, such as Henry St. John II*, and Thomas Mansell I*. Together with the solicitor-general, Simon Harcourt I*, and other personal followers of the Speaker, they formed the core of the new administration. Rather than rely upon party, Godolphin was seeking to build a coalition of moderates: his own dependants, and Marlborough’s; the Harleyites; and the larger, though less reliable, body of ‘Queen’s servants’, that is to say placemen and pensioners. He was also putting out feelers to the Whigs, hoping to recruit some moderate or Court Whigs, and also to maintain amicable relations with the Junto, who controlled proceedings in the Lords.
Marlborough’s astounding victory at Blenheim in August 1704 gave the ministry just the boost it needed and Godolphin and Harley went into the parliamentary session of 1704-5 in good heart. They were further encouraged by the outcome of a trial of strength in the Commons between the High Tories and the Court, engineered by the ousted Nottingham and his followers, who introduced yet another occasional conformity bill and in November 1704 attempted to ‘tack’ it to the land tax bill. The vote on the Tack was the crucial moment in the session. The Tories’ defeat ended their hopes of forcing themselves back into government. It also marked a break between the Harleyites and the rest of the party, and a rapprochement between Godolphin and the Whigs, who divided with the ministry on this occasion, and subsequently, in both Commons and Lords, came to the assistance of the Treasurer when his administration was in trouble. Despite the large majority against the Tack (251-134) there were more rocks ahead, particularly in regard to Scotland. In August 1704 the Scottish parliament had passed an act of security, which preserved its own right to decide the succession to the Scottish crown, irrespective of the descent of the crown of England. Tories in the House of Lords tried to exploit this embarrassment, only for Godolphin to be saved from censure by the votes of the Whigs. Meanwhile, the case of Ashby v. White continued to cause problems between the Houses; so that, although the ministry had improved its position by the dissolution in April 1705, it was still by no means at ease.
The general election of May 1705 was fought by the Tories on the slogan, ‘The Church in Danger’, hoping to capitalise on the High Church sympathies of the majority of the political nation. However, with the resources of government mobilized against them, and the war still relatively popular, they suffered a sharp reverse in their fortunes. Significant Whig gains left the parties broadly equal in the House of Commons, and the Court interest, including Harley’s moderate Tories, holding the balance. In October Godolphin made his most important concession to the Junto, with the appointment of William Cowper* as lord keeper. The Treasurer had in fact concluded an informal alliance with the Whigs, in order to keep his ministry afloat. The Court supported a Whig candidate for the Chair, John Smith I, who defeated the Tory William Bromley II in the first and most significant division of the 1705-6 session. Tory efforts in the Commons focused upon their ill-judged ‘Hanover motion’ of November 1705, which only succeeded in alienating Queen Anne, for whom the prospect of the presence of the heir apparent in England was simply repulsive. Indeed, the only real difficulties faced by the ministry in this session arose from the activities of a squadron of unmanageable Country or ‘whimsical’ Whigs, who made use of the opportunity of the introduction of the regency bill (to provide the necessary administrative and constitutional machinery to tide over government between the death of the Queen and the arrival of the Hanoverian heir) to insert a clause which would make more effective the provisions of the Act of Settlement against placemen. In more general terms, the security of Godolphin’s administration was reinforced by the progress of Scottish political management, leading eventually to the appointment in April 1706 of union commissioners. Marlborough’s second great victory in Europe, at Ramillies in May, only underlined the strength of the ‘duumvirs’’ position.
Godolphin’s problem now lay in resisting the demands of the Junto for an ever greater share in government. In December 1706 the 3rd Earl Sunderland, who, unlike his father, was a staunch Whig and had been recruited as the fifth member of the Junto, was advanced into the Cabinet as secretary of state. Sunderland also happened to be Marlborough’s son-in-law, a fact that made his promotion slightly more palatable to the ‘duumvirs’ and to the Queen. But Harley, Sunderland’s colleague in the secretary’s office, was not to be won over. Beyond his personal detestation of the Junto, he feared for his own position, and that of his friends, in a Whig-dominated ministry. He began what was to be a long rearguard action against capitulation to Whig demands, arguing with the Lord Treasurer over every new appointment, and when Godolphin seemed to lack sufficient moral fibre to respond positively, going behind his back to the Queen. For their own part the Junto pursued a subtle strategy in relation to the ministry, which emphasized both how useful they could be if gratified, and how troublesome they could be if not. Co-operation on the great issues of state, like the Anglo-Scottish union of 1707, was interspersed with an occasional flourish of dissatisfaction, and during the winter of 1707-8 a sustained campaign of criticism, in which Whig interests in both Houses joined the High Tories to keep up a withering crossfire upon a beleaguered administration. Three issues in particular sustained the opposition in that session: the alleged mismanagements in the Admiralty (which threatened the reputation of the Queen’s consort, Prince George); the collapse of the Allied cause in the Peninsula after the defeat at Almanza in April 1707, which revealed a remarkable disparity between the number of troops paid for by parliamentary subsidy, and the number actually available, suggesting further incompetence, or corruption; and the additional constitutional reforms necessitated by the Union, which provided an opportunity for the Junto to meddle in the tangled politics of Scotland.
The parliamentary session of 1707-8 brought these simmering animosities to the boil. The inevitable consequence was open conflict between Godolphin and Harley, over the direction the ministry’s political management was to take. The secretary proposed a ‘moderating scheme’, under which a number of younger Tories might be readmitted to government to bolster the existing Court interests. When Godolphin would not endorse the necessary changes, Harley began to intrigue on his own behalf against the Treasurer, even to the extent of trying to detach Marlborough from his long-time friend. The exposure of this backstairs conspiracy at last shattered Godolphin’s trust, and in February 1708 Harley was forced to resign, probably against the wishes of the Queen. He took with him St. John, Mansell, Simon Harcourt I, and almost all the moderate Tories in office.
The Junto, who had been witnesses to this drama, expected to be the greatest beneficiaries. But it took some time for them to reap full advantage. Godolphin could still rely upon the backing of a substantial number of Whig placemen, the so-called ‘Lord Treasurer’s Whigs’, who included Lord Coningsby (Thomas*), Hon. Henry Boyle*, and John Smith I*, some of whom entertained extravagant ambitions of their own. Thus, although the Junto bailed out the ministry over the Admiralty accusations and the scandal over ‘Spanish troops’, no return was forthcoming immediately. The failure of the Jacobite invasion attempt in March 1708, and Marlborough’s latest military success, at Oudenarde in July, maintained the ministry’s popularity during the summer. Ultimately Godolphin could not sustain an entirely independent political course; especially after the general election of May 1708 had returned a clear Whig majority to the Commons. In November the Treasurer bowed to the inevitable, and Somers and Wharton were given Cabinet office, as Lord Chancellor and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland respectively. But even then the Junto did not have everything their own way. The Lord Treasurer’s Whigs retained a separate existence in the parliamentary session of 1708-9, and Godolphin seems to have pursued, at least intermittently, a policy of seeking to divide the Junto. Halifax and Orford chafed at their exclusion from office, and there were strains in the relationships between Wharton, Somers and Sunderland. Godolphin also took an independent line in Scottish politics, where the old Court party headed by the Duke of Queensberry jostled for influence with the Junto’s allies, the Squadrone.
Godolphin’s rearguard action ended in November 1709 with the appointment of Orford as first lord of the Admiralty. Court and Junto were united. But at the same time the ministry itself was coming under increasing pressure. The disappointing breakdown in the peace negotiations at The Hague the previous winter had borne in upon Englishmen the heavy price of waging a continental war, and Marlborough’s costly victory at Malplaquet in August 1709 only increased the desire for peace. Moreover, on 5 November 1709 a commemoration sermon preached in St. Paul’s, by the High Church firebrand, Dr Henry Sacheverell, inflamed political opinion by appearing to question the validity of ‘Revolution principles’. At the instigation of the Junto lords (and with Godolphin’s consent), the Cabinet resolved to impeach Sacheverell: in retrospect, a disastrous decision, which precipitated the decline and fall of the ministry. Although Sacheverell was found guilty by the House of Lords in March 1710, he received only a derisory sentence. In the meantime public opinion had been incensed. Discontent with the progress of the war became fused with concern for the Church of England. In London the mob rioted against Dissenting meeting houses, and in many provincial towns there were exuberant manifestations of Tory sentiment. Sacheverell’s journey to take up a country living in Shropshire became a triumphal progress across the English midlands. It was obvious to all political commentators that the Tories’ popularity was enough to guarantee a sweeping victory at the polls whenever the Queen should decide to dissolve Parliament.
The Sacheverell affair acted as a catalyst for ministerial changes in a ‘palace revolution’ orchestrated by Harley. Ever since his resignation in February 1708 the former secretary had been intriguing against Godolphin and the Junto, making use of the influence at court of his kinswoman Abigail Masham (née Hill), who had supplanted the Duchess of Marlborough in the Queen’s favour. Abigail’s influence over the Queen was common knowledge: in the winter of 1709-10 Whigs in House of Commons had even contemplated addressing for her removal. In January 1710 Marlborough had been provoked into threatening resignation when her brother was given a vacant regiment against the Duke’s wishes. This was first trial of strength between Harley and the duumvirs. The outcome of Sacheverell’s impeachment permitted the second step: the appointment of Shrewsbury, one of several Whig nobleman whom Harley had recruited, in place of the Duke of Kent as lord chamberlain. In June Sunderland was dismissed as secretary. Fear of a dissolution of Parliament deterred the Junto from active resistance. In August Godolphin was dismissed and replaced by a Treasury commission dominated by Harley himself, and the following month many of the remaining Whigs, including Somers, Wharton, and Orford, followed him out of office.
Harley had never intended to take office at the head of an extreme Tory administration. Such a strategy ran against his deepest instincts and his own experiences of the ‘rage of party’, and moreover endangered the public credit, which the new ministry only just succeeded in maintaining through the political crisis of 1710. Indeed, Harley did his best to keep in office as many Whigs as he could, and it became a standing complaint against him on the part of Tory back-benchers that he had denied them the full enjoyment of their triumph in 1710. But, whatever his own preferences, the tide of public opinion, as expressed in the general election of October 1710, determined the complexion of his ministry. Sacheverellite fever had not abated since the spring, and the Tories won a landslide victory. No ‘mixed’ administration was feasible.
The High Church majority in the new House of Commons soon showed its colours. Not only was there a vigorous campaign to expose the corruption of the outgoing Whig ministers, but back-benchers imbued with Country prejudices brought in a raft of pet projects, including place and landed qualification bills, and the repeal of the General Naturalization Act of 1709 (which they thought had encouraged the immigration of foreign Protestant refugees). Harley’s unwillingness to countenance this enthusiasm, and his evident preference for moderate ministers, aroused enormous ill-feeling. As early as Christmas 1710 a Tory ginger group, the October Club, had been established to press for a more thorough application of Tory principles. Harley’s Treasury team found it difficult to push through the Commons their programme for the supply. Fate intervened in the form of the suspected French spy, Guiscard, who in March 1711 narrowly failed in an attempt to assassinate Harley during interrogation by the Privy Council. Riding the wave of public sympathy, Harley saw out the parliamentary session, after which he not only secured a peerage for himself, but adjusted his ministry to admit to junior office a number of the more vocal Tories.
Harley had succeeded in fending off the October Club, and his ministry’s preliminary peace negotiations with the French, concluded in September 1711, answered other Tory needs. For a time his command of the House of Commons was relatively secure. But the peace process put the ministry at risk in the Upper House, especially when Nottingham, the last surviving High Tory leader, whom Harley had kept out of office in 1710, declared against it. Nottingham had concluded a pact with the Whigs, by which he would oppose the peace while they agreed to support his bill against occasional conformity. Harley, himself ennobled as Earl of Oxford, was obliged to resort to the disreputable expedient of a block creation of peers to restore the ministry’s majority in the Upper House. In the Commons his peace policy attracted support, and he gave Tory extremists their head in censuring the recently dismissed Duke of Marlborough, and the former Whig paymaster, Robert Walpole II*, for peculation. But it was still not easy for him to control the rank-and-file Tories, and unacceptable proposals for place and land grant resumption bills were still appearing. Not only was the October Club active, but a new pressure group had also emerged, the March Club. In the summer of 1712 Oxford embarked upon a further weeding out of Whig office-holders, in order to placate his critics. But it was not enough. Opposition had spread to the Cabinet itself, with Oxford’s former loyal lieutenant, Henry St. John II, now Lord Bolingbroke, nursing private grievances against his master.
The signing of the Treaty of Utrecht in March 1713, although it enraged the allies, among them the Elector of Hanover, both delighted the Tory party and appeased a public opinion by now heartily sick of the war. None the less, Oxford’s position was to deteriorate sharply during the parliamentary session of April-July. He faced three main problems: the alienation of many Scottish Members, because of mistakes in political management and a growing awareness among the Scots of the economic and political disadvantages of the Union; the emergence of the issue of the succession as a source of division within the Tory party; and the continued restlessness of many High Tories, who resented Oxford’s moderation, especially if it resulted in their own exclusion from office. The alienation of the Scots issued in an abortive proposal to repeal the Union, which some malicious English Whigs were willing to encourage, but not in the last resort to vote for. More serious was the outbreak of Tory disaffection over the French commercial treaty in June. A back-bench rebellion in the Commons, led by the Suffolk knight of the shire (Sir) Thomas Hanmer, succeeded in rejecting the bill which would have put into effect the terms of the treaty. These ‘whimsicals’ may have been motivated in part by anxieties over the succession, since they included some noted pro-Hanoverians, not least Hanmer himself, but contemporaries also saw in their actions as the latest in a long line of backwoods protests against moderation, and Bolingbroke, for one, sought to exploit this opportunity, not merely to embarrass the Lord Treasurer but to make a bid for the leadership of the administration.
Oxford responded to this shattering and unexpected blow by attempting to suborn the leaders of the revolt, and by renovating his ministry in a way that would satisfy Tory extremists and thwart Bolingbroke’s ambitions. A series of new appointments in August and September 1713, the most important of which was the advancement of the former Speaker William Bromley II to the secretaryship of state, and an agreement that Bromley should be replaced in the Chair by the incorruptible Hanmer, temporarily restored Oxford’s ascendancy. The result of the general election in the autumn offered no further relief, however, since the Tory majority in the Commons increased.
In fact, the Treasurer’s victory was short-lived. In September 1713 he quarrelled with Queen Anne over the grant of a title to his son, a fatal error of judgement which destroyed one of his most important props. The Queen’s worsening health, which during the winter gave rise to feverish speculation about the succession, was also damaging to Tory unity, and improved the morale of their opponents. Thus, despite the huge Tory majority in the Commons, the parliamentary session of 1714 proved a very difficult one for the ministry; not so much over supply but through a series of set-piece debates, on the expulsion of Richard Steele*, on the peace, and on the succession itself, in which Tory divisions reduced sharply the size of the Court majority, and in which the scruples of many Tory Members over the Revolution and succession settlements were exposed to public view. The Hanoverian Tories, notably Hanmer and the Irishman Lord Anglesey, could not be silenced. Meanwhile, Oxford’s health declined and his grip on affairs slackened. His rivalry with Bolingbroke turned into open conflict. But the ambitious secretary was unable to supplant the Treasurer until almost too late. Oxford was finally dismissed on 27 July. Even then it was the Duke of Shrewsbury and not Bolingbroke who was appointed in his place; and a few days later, on 1 August 1714, the Queen died, leaving in ruins any hopes Bolingbroke might have entertained, for strengthening the bargaining position of the Tories with the new King, and possibly even bringing over the Jacobite Pretender ahead of the Elector.
The commission of regency previously nominated by the Hanoverians, which was dominated by Whigs and Hanoverian Tories, presided over a peaceful transition to the new dynasty. Once arrived, King George I dismissed Bolingbroke and the other High Tory officials he had inherited, and appointed instead an almost entirely Whig administration, leavened a little by the presence of Nottingham and Anglesey. Attempts to persuade Bromley and Hanmer to lead other fragments of the Tory party into a coalition were in vain, and in any case neither Nottingham nor Anglesey was destined to remain in office for very long. In the general election of January-February 1715 the Whigs entirely reversed their catastrophic defeats of 1710 and 1713, and in the most remarkable political transformation even in this period secured a strong majority in the first Hanoverian House of Commons.
Whigs and Tories were distinguished from one another by different views on the nature of the monarchy and its relationship with Parliament, on the political position of the Established Church and the constitutional rights of Protestant Dissenters, and on the most appropriate means of defending England’s national interests on the continent and overseas. Some of these differences were inherited from their predecessors. Under Charles II the first Tories had been the party of ‘Church and crown’, distinguished by loyalty to the monarchy in the hereditary line, and a determination to uphold the privileges of the Church of England and the Anglican ascendancy in politics and government. Whigs had been the defenders of the liberty of the subject, keen to restrict the powers of the monarchy, and indeed to remodel the succession through parliamentary statute in order to keep out a Catholic king. To the same general purpose, they strove for the political emancipation of Protestant Dissenters, as a step towards unity among Protestants against the threat of popery and ‘arbitrary government’ at home and abroad.
The events of the Revolution had confused these simple certainties. Tories had been obliged to acquiesce, however grudgingly, in a constitutional settlement, made by Parliament, which broke the hereditary line of kingship; and for all that some Whigs urged a straightforward acceptance of an elective parliamentary monarchy, the mainstream of the party preferred to fudge the central question of whether James II had abdicated or had been deposed. Of course, Whigs and Tories still differed over what had happened at the Revolution, whether resistance to the monarch could ever be justified, and whether monarchical government was based on divine right, some form of ‘original contract’, or even simply the will of the people. The clearer thinkers and more forceful, or less discreet, speakers on either side were willing to put these differences into words, but on the whole most Members preferred not to discuss them openly. The one great opportunity for a set-piece debates on the fundamental constitutional issues arising from the Revolution came with Dr Sacheverell’s impeachment in 1710, which was managed by Whig MPs and defended by a team of Tory lawyers, including several former MPs, and led by the future Lord Chancellor Simon Harcourt I. Even then the Whig managers, who included Robert Eyre, Nicholas Lechmere, Robert Walpole II, and James Stanhope, were careful to avoid any admission that resistance had been used in 1688, though Lechmere did bring in the notion of an original contract.19 For his part, Harcourt admitted that his client’s view supported a theory of non-resistance, but denied that ‘any such resistance’ had been ‘used at the Revolution’.20 Harcourt also echoed an argument put forward by some Whigs, that subjects owed a ‘passive obedience’, not to the monarch alone, but to King (or Queen), Lords and Commons), indicating just how close the two parties had come in their determination to smooth over the difficult questions thrown up by the transfer of the crown.
Not only did mainstream Whigs retreat on the issues of contractarianism and the right of resistance. The defence of the Williamite regime now took precedence over all other concerns, bringing about the transmutation in the Whigs from a natural party of opposition to a party of government. It would be too much to say that after 1693 the Whigs exchanged libertarianism for authoritarianism in all things, since they continued to support religious toleration, but in the name of defending the King and the Revolution settlement the Junto in particular forsook some of their former principles. They not only voted to restrict the liberty of the subject, in reforming the procedure in treason trials, but repeatedly opposed place and triennial bills, which would have strengthened the independence of Parliament. Conversely, the Tories, through the experience of opposition, came to appreciate more keenly the dangers of an over-powerful executive, and increasingly took up causes the Junto had dropped.21 It was as much as anything else a shift in attitude. The Whigs now identified whole-heartedly with government, since they had a vested interest in its upkeep, while Tories were inclined to be critical and suspicious. There was a similar story in the localities, and especially in municipal corporations: the Whigs, once the party of populist resistance to oligarchy, gradually became oligarchs themselves, while the Tories picked up the populist mantle, though again the explanation should probably sought in the dynamics of practical politics than in any profound ideological shift. Tories in the towns found themselves excluded from power by wealthy Whig aldermen, and responded by broadening their electoral appeal.
What did remain intact was the traditional division between the parties over religion. Undoubtedly, the Whigs preferred to concentrate on the threat from ‘popery’, positioning themselves as staunch defenders of the Protestant interest in order to smear their opponents as crypto-Jacobites and crypto-papists. But in fact there was something approaching consensus on this point, and anti-Catholic penal legislation could expect support from every corner of the House. The real focus of debate was the relationship of Church and Dissent, expressed most often on the political question of whether Nonconformists could be admitted into government, particularly local government, in defiance of the terms of the Test and Corporation Acts. Since there was electoral capital to be made, both parties were closely concerned. Some English Dissenters, particularly Presbyterians, were prepared to circumvent the law by taking communion in the Church of England once a year. A series of provocative election cases convinced Tories that such ‘occasional conformity’ was widespread. An abortive attempt was made to tackle the abuse in 1701,22 and three further bills were introduced between 1702 and 1704, all of which foundered on the Whig majority in the Lords. However, in 1711, an Occasional Conformity Act was passed as one element in a bargain between the Junto, then in opposition, and Tory dissidents.
But there were wider issues involved than the question of admitting Dissenters to full participation in politics and government. To those who cried up ‘the Church in danger’ what was at stake was nothing less than the defence of the Anglican establishment. The Tories were in essence ‘the Church party’. They drew their strength in the constituencies from their popular appeal to anti-Dissenter prejudice. Many Tory squires in Parliament shared the concerns of the High Church clergy that the position of the Church of England was being eroded. The process seemed to have begun with the Toleration Act of 1689, which brought a rapid increase in the numbers of Nonconformist meeting-houses, and the Dissenting interest continued to draw strength from the protection afforded them by Whig politicians. Worse still, the expiry of the Licensing Act in 1695 had released a spate of sceptical and heterodox literature, challenging the basic tenets of the Christian faith. Again, Whig freethinkers seemed to offer encouragement to those who wished to mock the Church. For their part, the Whigs were complacent about this perceived ‘crisis’ in the Church of England. There was a strong vein of anticlericalism in the party, which identified ‘priestcraft’ as the chief threat to liberty, and Anglican ‘priestcraft’ in particular as an ally of popery and Jacobitism. Some Whigs still hankered after a comprehensive church, others for a more widespread toleration, but most were agreed on the need to subordinate the institutions of the Church, and the clerical estate, to the lay power. On occasion this difference in attitude to the position of the Church itself was embodied in parliamentary divisions, most obviously on the schism bill of 1714, which Tories introduced in order to suppress Nonconformist academies and restore the Anglican monopoly over education. It also underlay some of the debates on the Anglo-Scottish Union of 1707. One of the arguments advanced by Whigs in favour of the Union was that it created an alliance between Anglicans and Presbyterians in defence of the Hanoverian succession and against popery. Conversely, High Tories were outraged that the treaty admitted the Presbyterian Kirk as the established church in Scotland, and made permanent the exclusion of episcopalians.
The Whig commitment to defend the ‘Protestant interest’, broadly defined, was also manifest in the foreign policy of Whig and Whig-supported ministries in 1694-7 and 1705-10. A wholehearted commitment to continental warfare, whatever the cost, was an ideological bedrock of post-Revolution Whiggery. It was seen as essential to restrain the ambitions of Louis XIV towards ‘universal monarchy’, and to protect the smaller Protestant states of northern Europe, and the Protestant minorities in Catholic Europe, from French aggression and popish persecution. Naturally enough, this policy also suited the Whigs’ immediate political interests, helping to consolidate their grip on power, since it accommodated first the anxieties of King William III, and then the ambitions of the Duke of Marlborough. The Tories, by contrast, soon developed after 1689 a scepticism about the wisdom of continental warfare. This may have originated simply with the need to find grounds to oppose government, encouraged by a xenophobic distrust of foreign allies, foreign generals and favourites, and even a foreign king. It was certainly sharpened by the impact of massive wartime taxation in the mid-1690s, and by the precarious health of the English economy at the time of the recoinage. There was also the suspicion that, while the gentlemen of England were paying for the war, others were benefiting from it: the Dutch of course, and also the ‘moneyed men’ who had helped to float the new institutions of public credit. These concerns were crystallized in the writings of Charles Davenant*, whose True Picture of a Modern Whig (1701), constructed the stereotype of the selfish, corrupt, war-profiteering ministerialist which was to form of leitmotiv of subsequent Tory rhetoric and reach its fullest expression in Swift’s Conduct of the Allies (1711). Something more positive than simply a desire for peace and a reduction in taxation was available in the ‘blue-water’ strategy favoured by many Tories, which would have concentrated resources on the war at sea, and the advancement of trading and colonial interests. This also reflected the traditional English admiration for naval power and the fear of a professional army. The contrast should not be overplayed. It would be wrong to say that Whig ministers were uninterested in the war at sea, or in trade and colonies. Moreover, the rather chequered performance of the Royal Navy under Tory ministerial direction at the beginning of the Nine Years’ War, and again at the beginning of the war of the Spanish Succession, and the fact that the more successful actions tended on the whole to be commanded by Whig admirals, inhibited Tory enthusiasm. None the less, by 1710 Tory politicians and writers were professing their preference for naval warfare. ‘It was the kingdom’s misfortune’, Swift snidely remarked, ‘that the sea was not the Duke of Marlborough’s element; otherwise the whole force of the war would infallibly have been bestowed there, infinitely to the advantage of his country, which would have gone hand in hand with his own.’23 Significantly, the only positive strategic initiative undertaken by the Tory ministry after 1710 was the abortive expedition to Quebec.
Thus, despite the difficulties most, if not all, politicians faced after 1689 in talking about the Revolution and the issues it had raised, and despite the movement that had taken place in each party’s attitude towards government, and the confusions all this shifting about of ideological furniture had induced in the public mind, there were still clear and basic differences in principle and policy between Whigs and Tories, differences which the political nation at large, beyond the confines of the Palace of Westminster, could readily appreciate. It was not so much a detailed political programme that each party brought before the electorate, as a set of prejudices. Whigs and Tories may not have known exactly what they liked, and might not have been able to agree among themselves exactly which policy they wished to adopt, but they knew what they did not like. Papists, Jacobites, overbearing tantivy clergymen, on the one side; Dissenters, republicans, war-profiteers and foreigners, on the other. These prejudices were articulated in political pamphlets, broadsides, engravings, even in public spectacles in the constituencies, to reinforce each party’s mass appeal. They also informed parliamentary debates, and played a major part in keeping partisans together within the House of Commons.
The leadership of the Whig party was settled by 1695-6 in the hands of the four men who made up the Junto: Charles Montagu*, Edward Russell*, Sir John Somers*, and Hon. Thomas Wharton*, all of whom were in due course advanced to the Upper House, as Lords Halifax, Orford, Somers, and Wharton respectively. After c.1702 they were joined by the 2nd Earl of Sunderland’s son and heir Charles, Lord Spencer*. In seizing the leadership of their party from the older generation of Whigs, already in the Lords, the Junto had few rivals. The most serious were the Country party leaders Paul Foley I and Robert Harley, but, by throwing in their lot with Tory oppositionists in 1692-5, Foley and Harley had effectively abandoned the Whig interest to their enemies. Potential rivals remaining within the Whig party, men like the secretary of state, Sir John Trenchard*, solicitor-general (Sir) John Hawles, and aristocratic grandees like the Powletts and Cavendishes, were soon settled in a subordinate capacity, though in the case of William Cavendish, Lord Hartington (later 2nd Duke of Devonshire) not entirely without some stirrings of independence, which were to mature once Hartington had succeeded to the dukedom. After 1702, when all five Junto lords were sitting in the Upper House, they chiefly relied on a small group of kinsmen and dependants to ensure their wishes were carried out in the Commons: the ‘Summerians’ (Sir) Joseph Jekyll (Somers’s brother-in-law), Edward Clarke I, Stephen Hervey, and William Walsh; Halifax’s brother James Montagu I, and a troop of Wharton’s followers, representing every outpost of his far-flung electoral empire, chief among them Robert Dormer, Richard Hampden II, Hon. Harry Mordaunt, (Sir) William St. Quintin, and Sir Richard Temple, 4th Bt. None of these men, however, could expect to enjoy the same authority of their masters, which left opportunities for other young Whigs, rather more independent in mind and character. A few, like Hon. Henry Boyle I or Robert Walpole II, aligned themselves with the Court and for a time switched their loyalty to Lord Treasurer Godolphin; others, like Peter King or James Stanhope, bravely (or calculatingly, perhaps) preferred principle to party on several traditional issues. In opposition after 1710, this newer generation began to emancipate itself from the slowly weakening authority of the Junto, with the result that the forlorn hope of Whig resistance to the overwhelming Tory majority in the Commons was led not only by former Junto henchmen of the calibre of Hampden and the lawyer Nicholas Lechmere but also by Walpole and Stanhope, with Walpole as perhaps the foremost Whig debater in the 1714 session.
The history of the parliamentary leadership of the Tory party is much less clear. In 1690 the three dominant figures in the party were Lords Carmarthen, Nottingham, and Rochester. Carmarthen stayed on too long in government after the Whig takeover, lost his credit with the Tory rank and file, and was finished as a major political force by 1700. Nottingham and Rochester were equals in the Lords, but Rochester enjoyed a greater following in the Commons, and was popularly regarded as the leader of the party when the Tories returned to power in 1701, though his own role in this ministry was as viceroy of Ireland. But within the Commons there was an array of political talent that did not regard itself as necessarily subservient to either of these two lords. Nottingham was represented by his brother Hon. Heneage Finch I, and Rochester by his protégé, Francis Gwyn, but greater influence was wielded by men like Sir Thomas Clarges, Sir John Leveson Gower, Hon. John Granville, Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt., the renegade Whig ‘Jack’ (John Grobham) Howe, and above all the former Speaker, Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt. There was a further complication in the presence of those former Whigs who had come over to join the Tories in opposition, led by Foley and Harley. A unifying force was provided by Harley: his friendship with Clarges and Musgrave forged the ‘new Country party’ alliance in the early 1690s, and through Gwyn he was able to build bridges to Rochester. He even enjoyed good personal relations with the proud and prickly Seymour. Only Nottingham remained distant from him. At the same time Harley attracted a number of younger Tories, among them Simon Harcourt I, Henry St John II, Thomas Mansel I, Hon. James Brydges, and Hon. Henry Paget, who saw him as the coming man.
The political events of 1702-4 divided the Tories and set Harley and his adherents against the bulk of the party, and particularly Rochester and Nottingham. But during the same period a generational change was taking place among Tory politicians in the Commons: Seymour, Musgrave, Granville and Leveson Gower were being replaced by a new wave of younger High Churchmen, most prominent among whom were Hon. Arthur Annesley, William Bromley II, and (Sir) Thomas Hanmer II. These younger Tories gravitated towards Nottingham, attracted by his devout Anglicanism. When Harley left office in 1708, he was obliged to turn to Nottingham in order to rehabilitate himself with the Tory party, and to this end made use of the good offices of Annesley, Bromley, and Hanmer. However, with Rochester increasingly superannuated, Nottingham represented Harley’s main rival for the leadership of the party, and was therefore excluded from government when Harley returned to power in 1710. Nottingham might still have been able to put himself at the head of the High Church malcontents in the ensuing Parliament, had it not been for his pact with the Junto in the autumn of 1711, to oppose the peace in return for an Occasional Conformity Act, a blatant piece of opportunism which destroyed his credibility. Meanwhile, Harley’s elevation to the peerage in 1711 briefly left the leadership of the Commons in the hands of Henry St. John II, the Secretary of State, St. John’s close friend Sir William Wyndham, 3rd Bt., and Bromley. Annesley and Hanmer remained semi-detached from government, and increasingly critical of it. With St. John’s ennoblement in 1712, and his estrangement from Harley, the chief minister came to rely in the Commons on an ever narrowing circle of family and friends, all of them lightweights with the exception of Bromley, leaving the more important figures in the party either intriguing on Bolingbroke’s behalf, like Wyndham, or sniping from the sidelines, as, in their very different ways, did Hanmer and Annesley.
The parliamentary organization of the two parties was remarkably sophisticated. The efficiency of the Junto in this respect has long been known to historians.24 In recent years, however, further evidence has come to light which reveals just how elaborate were their lines of communication. The discovery of the social diary of a minor Whig peer, Lord Ossulston, and of a household account book of Lord Wharton, has enabled Clyve Jones to reconstruct a timetable of social gatherings during the first half of Anne’s reign, at which important decisions were disseminated to the Whig rank and file.25 Jones has postulated a hierarchy of meetings at which political affairs were discussed. The summit conferences, so to speak, were held at country houses like Althorp (Sunderland’s country seat), Chippenham (Orford’s) and Wooburn (Wharton’s), at the Newmarket races, or in London. Here the broad outlines of political strategy were decided. These were imparted to a select group of parliamentary followers, at meetings in London with at least two Junto lords present; then to a wider circle, at gatherings to which a lower level of parliamentary follower would be admitted, again attended by one or two Junto lords; and lastly to the parliamentary hoi polloi, at dinners hosted not by the Junto themselves but by their parliamentary henchmen, principally the Dukes of Bolton (Charles Powlett I*), Devonshire, and Kingston (Evelyn Pierrepont*). In this way not only were ordinary Whigs kept fully informed of the party’s strategy and tactics, but the authority of the party leaders was regularly confirmed.
Less is known of the dining habits of the Tory party, but glimpses afforded by contemporary correspondence suggest a relatively well developed system of whipping in votes, particularly (though by no means exclusively) at the beginning of a session. Individuals were responsible for informing Members of their acquaintance of the need to ensure their attendance. There were even regional responsibilities for party ‘whips’, with William Bromley II and Sir George Beaumont, 4th Bt. taking responsibility for Members from the English midlands, Peter Shakerley Lancashire and Cheshire, James Grahme the far north, Sir Roger Mostyn, 3rd Bt., and Sir Richard Myddelton, 3rd Bt., the north Walians and Thomas Mansell I the Members from south Wales. This regional focus, which seems to have been a feature of the parliamentary organization of both parties, was fostered by a local patriotism that manifested itself in the existence of dining-clubs in London, where, for example, men from Cornwall, Cumberland, Herefordshire or Suffolk, regularly foregathered.26 A supra-county loyalty was also apparent, as in 1702 when the Whig James Lowther reported attending
a meeting of the North Country Members of our side today; 34 of us dined together, five of Cumberland, four of Northumberland, two of Westmorland, six of Lancashire, one of Durham, 16 of Yorkshire, and we have as many more out of those counties as will make up 50 in all.27
The west country Members, especially the Tory majority among them, had a long history of acting collectively, so much so that there was a recognizably ‘Saxon corner’ in the House where they would congregate.28 Until the decline in his influence, after 1704, Sir Edward Seymour was effectively the head of this ‘western empire’, though another Devonian, Francis Gwyn, also enjoyed considerable influence, partly through his attachment to Rochester. More specifically, the Cornish Members often looked for parliamentary direction to one of their own. Notable Cornish Tories like John Manley and Francis Scobell may have entertained ambitions in this regard, but the Granville family had inherited from the 1st Earl of Bath a claim to command the Tory interest in the duchy, a claim that after some interval was reasserted by George Granville on behalf of the Harley ministry after 1710.
Much of the necessary work of organization and co-ordination was achieved through political clubs.29 The club was an extension of coffee-house and tavern society, where men of similar principles and a common political allegiance could promote fellowship and conviviality, safe in the assurance that differences of opinion were unlikely to run too deep or be asserted too vigorously. It was in such places that most of the larger clubs met. In London many taverns and coffee-houses were colonized by partisans. A Tory who made the mistake of stepping into a Whig coffee-house in May 1705 was soon made aware of his error when he ‘heard the Tories censured with as much violence and malice as Whiggish principles could furnish ’em with’.30 Until about 1701 Whigs met at the Rose Tavern in Russell Street. The Tories for their part favoured the Vine Tavern in Long Acre, though they also resorted to the Blue Posts, where the ‘Poussineers’ were detected in 1701, and the Goat. The Fountain Tavern, in the Strand, enjoyed something of an ecumenical history, attracting Tories in the late 1690s, the Whig Kit-Cat Club from 1700 until 1703, and the High Tory October Club after 1710. The identification of particular premises with one party or the other created a natural environment for the kind of ad hoc club which political leaders found most useful to communicate strategic decisions quickly to large numbers of their supporters. Thus under the Junto administration of 1694-1700 Whig MPs would throng the Rose Tavern to be briefed by the party’s leading spokesmen in the Commons, and occasionally, as in February 1701 over the forthcoming Speakership election, to agree on the approach the party was to take on a particular issue. Contemporaries referred to these gatherings as meetings of the ‘Rose Club’, and there was enough institutional coherence for convenors to be appointed (the Mint officials Charles Mason and Thomas Molyneux in 1697) and even a chairman (in 1697 the customs commissioner Sir Henry Hobart, 4th Bt., and subsequently Samuel Ogle). The Tories seem to have availed themselves of a similar ‘club’, eventually settled at the Vine Tavern in c. 1700-1 after a peripatetic earlier existence, which again comprised the parliamentary party en masse.
How long the Rose and Vine Tavern clubs survived into Anne’s reign is impossible to say, but in due course they gave way to a rather different form of political club, altogether more exclusive. The Kit-Cat Club, founded in 1700, came to replace ‘the Rose’ as the nerve-centre of Whig parliamentary organization: its closely defined membership made it more like the exclusive dining- and drinking-clubs which flourished elsewhere in the capital. The Junto themselves belonged; there they could relax and plot parliamentary tactics. But as the personal influence of the five lords began to decline, and a new generation of Whigs pushed forward to prominence in the Commons, the influence of the Kit-Cat waned, and in 1712 it was necessary for Whig MPs to found an alternative, the Hanover Club, somewhat larger than the Kit-Cat but designed for essentially the same purposes.
The Kit-Cat spawned imitations on the Tory side, but because of the less cohesive or monolithic nature of the Tory party, these rivals never achieved the same influence and notoriety. The 2nd Duke of Beaufort and two other High Tory peers, Lords Denbigh and Scarsdale, founded their ‘Board of Brothers’ in 1709. The minutes show a group that was decisively Tory in complexion, but which seems to have taken as its main purpose the promotion of conviviality. Its original title, ‘the Uncaptious Brothers’ gives the tone. In any case, neither Beaufort nor his friends were in the front rank of their party. An altogether more promising enterprise was the similarly named ‘Society of Brothers’, created by Henry St. John II in 1711, as a dining-club for ministers and their friends. Designed to provide a support service for Court politicians, and perhaps also a means of drawing in some of the ministry’s critics, it quickly degenerated into a rather snobbish coterie of St. John’s cronies. But while the Tory leaders failed to replicate the success of the Kit-Cat, back-benchers produced their own alternatives. The October Club (1711) and March Club (1712), both in essence anti-ministerial pressure-groups within the party, focused discontent effectively and made a highly effective contribution to the organization of the High Tory interest in the Commons, preparing debating tactics, packing committees and organizing slates for elections to parliamentary commissions.
In general the organization of the Whig party was more developed than that of the Tories, and parliamentary discipline more rigorously enforced. The conventional wisdom among historians is that, certainly from 1695 onwards, the leadership of the Whig party was solidly united and in firm control of the party, in a way that not only contrasted with their Tory rivals but would be the envy of a modern political party. Unity among the Junto lords themselves was certainly a feature of their first administration, but cracks began to appear as the Whigs came into office as partners of Godolphin and Marlborough after 1705. Jealousies naturally arose when the most junior of the five lords, Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer†) took office on his own in 1706 It took two more years for Somers and Wharton to join him, and another lengthy struggle before Orford re-entered the Admiralty in 1709. The fifth lord, Halifax, never achieved high office in Godolphin’s administration. By early 1709 rivalries between the Junto lords themselves were clearly apparent, with Somers and Sunderland at odds with Wharton, and Halifax fuming on the sidelines.31 Relegated to opposition again by the 1710 general election, the Junto re-established unity in adversity, but the experience of their alliance with Godolphin had discovered an unexpected capacity for division.
From time to time, despite the control exerted by the Junto, splinter groups broke off from the main body of the parliamentary party. The independent or ‘whimsical’ Whigs who were willing to defy their leaders were either placemen putting office before party loyalty, or traditionalists adhering to ‘old Whig’ principles, who would not sacrifice constitutional liberties to strong government. The Country Whigs of the mid-1690s, who would not follow Foley and Harley into full-time opposition but still resisted being made lobby-fodder, set up an ‘Independent Club’ to co-ordinate their displays of assertiveness. Their principal ideologues, including MPs like Robert Molesworth and Walter Moyle, frequented the Grecian Tavern, perpetuating a literary circle once presided over by the republican Henry Neville† (d.1694). The next generation of Country Whigs, who first appeared in the 1704-5 session, and continued promoting place bills and other Country measures until the fall of Harley and the moderate Tories in 1708, enjoyed no semblance of a formal organization. Nevertheless, they were more than an aggregate of concerned individuals, and enjoyed a certain operational coherence. There was continuity of leadership in the persons of Peter King, Sir Richard Onslow, 3rd Bt., James Stanhope, and others; and behind them stood the figure of the 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, who as Anthony, Lord Ashley* had been one of the most prominent of the ‘Independents’ in the 1695 Parliament. Shaftesbury acted as a patron to the younger ‘whimsicals’, with whom he maintained contact through his client Sir John Cropley, 2nd Bt. What is not clear, however, is the degree of independence from their party leaders that these Country Whigs were able to maintain. One, the Wiltshire lawyer Robert Eyre, was effectively suborned by the Junto at the height of the crisis over the ‘place clause’ of the 1706 regency bill, the ‘whimsicals’’ finest hour; another, Onslow, was actually the Junto’s candidate for the Chair in 1708. Furthermore their parliamentary initiatives often worked to the advantage of the Whig party as a whole. Far from being embarrassed by the behaviour of their Country wing in the 1707-8 session, for example, the Whig leaders seem to have relished the difficulties the ‘whimsicals’ were causing for administration. Even in 1705-6 there were tactical gains for the party in the Country Whigs’ pursuit of the ‘place clause’.32 King, Onslow and their friends were illustrating the danger to Godolphin of the loss of Whig support for the ministry , without the Junto themselves having to do anything which would have left them open to charges of cynicism or bad faith.
Just as historians have emphasized the unity and uniformity of parliamentary Whiggism, so they have dwelt on the fissile nature of the Tory party.33 This interpretation rests principally on the defection of the ‘moderate Tories’ in 1704-8, and on the subsequent history of the Harley administration of 1710-14, during which the Tory party suffered a series of splits and back-bench rebellions. Prior to 1704 there had been tensions between various Tory politicians and rivalry for the leadership of the party in each House of Parliament, but no very serious division. The Tories left in office after the fall of Nottingham in 1693, most of them followers of Lord Carmarthen (Sir Thomas Osborne†) were only a small minority. Some hints of the more serious rifts to come, between ‘moderates’ and extremists, were given in the Parliament of 1701, after some, but not all, of the leading Tory MPs were taken into government. Those older Tories who were still excluded, headed by Seymour and the venomous ‘Jack’ Howe, proved much less tractable than the young careerists surrounding Speaker Harley, and they sometimes divided from the Court interest which Harley was seeking to sustain.34 But this was not a permanent schism. On many issues the ‘angry party’ was happy to join forces with the Speaker, and there were also some prominent Tories, like the veteran Sir Christopher Musgrave, a friend to both Harley and Seymour, who shuttled between the two.
With Anne’s accession, the Tory party came into office as a body, including Seymour, Musgrave, and even Howe, alongside Harley and his friends. But it was not long before a serious divergence began to be visible. The occasional conformity bills were the most obvious source of dispute between extremists and moderates, or, as the High Churchmen would have put it, between principle and pragmatism, and the attempt in November 1704 to ‘tack’ the third occasional conformity bill to supply brought everything to a head. By this time most High Tories, including Nottingham, Rochester, and Seymour, had left the ministry. Those who stayed in were already being depicted as time-servers, and their failure to support the Tack, defined in Tory propaganda as ‘sneaking’, placed them temporarily outside the bounds of the party. The division had widened the rift between the main body of the Tories and this minority of moderates, or Harleyites as they may with equal justice be called. It was only in 1708, when Harley and his followers were dismissed, that the party was (slowly) reunited.
In essence, the divisions that plagued the Tories after 1710 originated from the same basic cause, a conflict between extremism and ‘moderation’. The first back-bench revolt was provoked in part by Harley’s unwillingness to uproot every Whig or Whiggish office-holder, and follow every whiff of scandal emanating from the previous government; in part by the usual ministerial aversion to the Country measures which appealed to back-benchers. As early as December 1710 a large gathering of predominantly young and inexperienced Tories, though with a leavening of older Members ‘who are not yet provided’,35 and all bitterly angry at Harley’s lack of enthusiasm for their place bill, formed themselves into a ‘Loyal Club’.36 This soon became the October Club, a back-bench pressure group whose purpose was to push the administration into thoroughly Tory measures, and which enjoyed a continuous existence throughout this and the succeeding Parliament, though itself subject to periodic purges and secessions.37 Several times the ministers sought to draw its sharpest teeth by offering places to the most vociferous October men, or by infiltrating the club with its own supporters, as happened in 1712 under the direction of Secretary of State Henry St. John II. But Members who were adjudged to have steered too close to the Court could well find themselves expelled, as happened to (Sir) Thomas Hanmer II in May 1711, and in this way the club did manage to keep its momentum. The most serious blow, however, was sustained in March 1712, when a substantial element of ‘primitive’ October men defected to form the ‘Old England Club’ or, as it became known, the March Club. Originally the primary motivation of the defectors was to pursue ‘Country’ measures, such as the resumption of crown grants, free of any taint of Court dependence. Subsequently, the March Club seems to have taken on a rather different slant, in defence of the Hanoverian succession, and once the issue of the succession had arisen further fragmentation occurred in Tory ranks. The October Club included at least some outspoken Jacobites, and their presence may have accelerated the Club’s decline. Whereas at its height there had been as many as 150 Octobrists, a meeting in 1714 attracted fewer than 60.38
Differences between Tories over the succession to the crown are in any case difficult to define, and divisions impossible to calculate. From the first, there had been a substantial constituency within the party which was uneasy about the constitutional implications of the Revolution, and the refusal of 89 Tories to subscribe the Association when it was first tendered in February 1696 shows the extent to which these scruples had been maintained, and even enhanced, by the alienating experience of opposition to the Williamite regime. By 1701, however, few Tories seem to have been concerned enough about the hereditary line of kingship to wish to obstruct the settlement of the succession in the house of Hanover. For all that some back-bench Whigs assumed the existence of a strong Jacobite element within the Tory party in 1701, hard evidence of Jacobite sympathies among Tories at this time is scarce. Indeed, it might be argued that loyalty to the exiled Stuarts had declined since 1696, the occasion of the last serious Jacobite conspiracy against King William. Former Jacobites were now prepared to take the oaths, and in the debates over the bill of settlement only one Member, Hon. John Granville, mentioned the Pretender’s name, and he was quickly repudiated and reproved by Speaker Harley.39 There is even some evidence to suggest that of the two parties it was the Whigs who at this time entertained reservations about the Hanoverians, which may have made the Tories all the more willing to display zeal.40 Once Queen Anne had succeeded, distaste for foreign monarchs, whether Dutch Calvinists or German Lutherans, could be subsumed in devotion to the staunchly Anglican Queen, who was also a granddaughter of Charles I. It was only when the Queen’s health began to fail, in 1713, that concerns about the succession began to harden, and even then many Tories may have been unsure, unhappy, and even undecided, torn between constitutional principles, fear of the incoming Hanoverian family, and devotion to Protestantism and the Church of England. A clear pro-Hanoverian lobby emerged in the 1714 Parliament, growing out of earlier back-bench discontent with Harley’s administration. These self-proclaimed ‘Hanoverian Tories’ were few in number, probably no more than 50, but readily identifiable. There were also some vocal Jacobite Members, but the precise contours of the Jacobite interest cannot be drawn. All we know is that committed Jacobites were still a minority. A meeting in April 1714 to discuss a proposal by two Jacobite MPs to launch a campaign against the Hanoverian succession by investigating the list of regents nominated by the Electress was attended by only 50-60 Members, out of a total of some 350 Tories in the House, and even then the majority of those present opposed the idea. Between the two extremes, however, sat the bulk of the party, headed by the ministers themselves and their supporters, who probably intended no more than to wait and see.
Those who marked themselves out as actively pro-Hanoverian Tories, are not so easy to identify as might be thought, since what is required is something more than the conventional expressions of loyalty which prudence, and occasionally the law, required. Some historians have seen a continuity between the establishment of the March Club in 1712, the back-bench rebellion over the French commercial treaty of 1713, and the emergence of a clearly defined body of ‘Hanoverian’ Tories in the 1714 session. However, membership of the March Club cannot be used as a proof of Hanoverianism, since the purpose of the club, at least when originally formed, was to press for Country and Tory measures, not the defence of the Protestant succession. Moreover, at various times quasi-Jacobite, or at least not obviously Hanoverian Tory MPs, like John Hynde Cotton and Dr Sacheverell’s Shropshire patron, Robert Lloyd II, appear to have been March Club men. Similarly, the division over the French Commerce Treaty, although it involved some who were later to be leading Hanoverian Tories, is not easy to see in a long perspective. At the time various different explanations were offered for the rebels having voted against the ministry: concern for the succession, resentment at ‘moderation’, personal ambition, or pique.41 There were also very specific economic interests at work. To define Hanoverian Tories, therefore, it is essential to concentrate on the session of 1714.
What we then find is a mixture of Members with a genuine concern to maintain the Hanoverian succession, others who seem to have been following a kinsman, patron or friend, or a politician (like Hanmer, for instance) whom they admired, and one or two mavericks who operated in the frontier zone between the two parties. Deep-seated pro-Hanoverian sentiment was most obviously to be found in Country Tories whose pronounced Anglican piety made them suspicious of popery and whose wealth made them independent. Besides Hanmer, probably the leading Hanoverian Tory in the House in 1713-14, these would have included George Pitt, Charles Cholmondeley, Ralph Freman II, (Sir) William Pole, (Sir) William Courtenay, Peter Shakerley, Richard Shuttleworth and Sir Arthur Kaye, 3rd Bt. Among the rest, Lord Nottingham was probably responsible for the Hanoverianism of his son Lord Finch (Daniel), nephew Hon. Heneage Finch II, his son-in-law Sir Roger Mostyn, and his client John Ward III; Lord Anglesey, the former Arthur Annesley*, whose own attitude to the succession appears in retrospect to have been ambivalent, but whose political interest at this point lay in espousing Hanoverianism, could influence Lord Barrymore, his close associate in the Irish parliament and privy council, the three Windsors, Hon. Andrews, Hon. Dixie, and Thomas, Lord Windsor, and his Cambridge protégé Thomas Paske; while Anglesey’s friend Lord Abingdon, the former Montagu Venables-Bertie*, enjoyed a following among his own family which could provide four votes (his uncle Hon. Henry Bertie I, brothers hon. Henry II and Hon. James, and cousin Charles Bertie), together with his lawyer and constituency nominee (and Anglesey’s cousin), Francis Annesley. Besides his Scottish followers Argyll could bring in the Irishman Lord Orrery (Hon. Charles Boyle II), while Hanmer’s following certainly began with his brother-in-law Sir Henry Bunbury, 3rd Bt. Finally there were the truly independent-minded like Thomas Pitt I, and the truly pragmatic like John Aislabie, who shifted from one party to another, and back again, but who in 1714 could still be described as Tories. As to the total number of Hanoverian Tories in the House in this Parliament, contemporary assessments varied. One of the tellers on the government side in the key division on 15 Apr. 1714, to adjourn the debate on the motion that succession was not in danger under Harley’s administration, put the number of Tory defectors on that occasion at 40-50.42 Another estimate, that of the young Irishman Sir John Perceval, 5th Bt.†, went as high as 80, though this included a number of followers of the Duke of Argyll.43 The most detailed modern calculation, which is heavily dependent on the summaries of voting behaviour recorded in the so-called ‘Worsley list’ prepared for the incoming Hanoverians, produced a total of 53.44
Any assessment of the strength of Jacobitism within the Tory party must be even more problematic. The first difficulty lies in the definition of the term. There were many Tories, especially at the beginning of this period, in the immediate aftermath of the Glorious Revolution, and at the end, when the prospect of implementing the Act of Settlement became imminent, who were unhappy at the displacement of the hereditary line of monarchy, uneasy about reneging on a previous oath of allegiance or about swearing allegiance to a monarch established by Act of Parliament, and who retained a residual, and sometimes very active sympathy for the excluded Stuart line. Some refused to take the oaths, some even became involved in plots to restore James II and his son; others did nothing but drink toasts or purchase engraved glass with subversive emblems, or did nothing at all. It is by no means clear whether one should regard as Jacobites only those Members who acted on their beliefs, or should extend the description to include those who confined themselves to expressions of loyalty to the Jacobite cause in the privacy of their own homes. A second obstacle lies in the scarcity of available evidence for Jacobite intentions or actions. The relative value of different types of evidence will depend of course on the way Jacobite and Jacobitism have been defined. Practical involvement in conspiracy or invasion obviously gives the clearest proof. Entering into a correspondence with the exiled court, or its local agents, may well indicate the same degree of commitment, but this will have varied according to the discretion, and indeed the underlying motives, of the Member in question. During the early 1690s, and again after 1710, a number of prominent political figures, including Marlborough, Godolphin, Orford, Shrewsbury, Robert Harley and Henry St. John II, made contact with the Jacobites, but generally as a political ‘insurance policy’ suggested, in the first instance, by the weakness of the Williamite regime at the beginning of the Nine Years’ War, and later on by the prospect of a disputed succession to Queen Anne. Undoubtedly, Harley and St. John were also influenced by the unconcealed hostility of the Hanoverians towards them, as authors of the Treaty of Utrecht. More public statements of Jacobitism are, naturally enough, hard to come by. John Granville was the only Member to mention the Pretender in the debates on the bill of settlement, and set in the perspective of his entire political career this seems to have been a temporary (and inexplicable) aberration on Granville’s part. Other Members were reported as having given expression to Jacobite sentiments, though the evidence in this respect is always hearsay, and from hostile witnesses Just as feeble is the testimony given by Jacobite agents in correspondence with their employers, since they were often driven to exaggeration, either from optimism or expediency. When their opinions were presented in a general and systematic way, in the form of lists of supporters, or likely sympathizers, communicated to the exiled court as encouragement for schemes of invasion, it was perhaps at its most exaggerated, and is therefore from an historian’s point of view least valuable (a point already made by several scholars in debates over the degree of Tory involvement in the Forty-Five). The two such lists surviving from the early 18th century offer little help to the identification of Jacobites in this period. A paper published by the pro-government hack Richard Kingston in 1698, as having been found in the possession of the Jacobite agent William Crosby in January 1694, purports to name those men upon James II could rely in the event of a landing in England. Some idea of its reliability may be deduced from the fact that the second name given is that of Sir William Portman, 6th Bt.*, who had died in 1690.45 The second list dates from 1721. In the relevant section of the History this list has been identified as ‘probable supporters of a rising, for England Wales’46 In fact, neither the provenance nor the purpose of the list is known, although it would seem fair to assume that some level of sympathy for the Jacobite cause is intended.47 Not surprisingly, it is also prone to both error and sometimes quite cock-eyed optimism.48
To make use of the 1721 list, and any other evidence from outside the period, involves a further difficulty. For those historians who wish to characterize Jacobitism as a cast of mind rather than a tactical option, some degree of consistency, approaching to permanence, must be assumed, though not even the most enthusiastic Jacobite-collectors among modern scholars (and there are many) would try to make the case that once a Jacobite, always a Jacobite. Indeed, on this very subject, we have been warned against treating 18th-century politicians ‘like butterflies in an album’, and urged to remember that dramatic conversions could sometimes occur. Two of the loudest Jacobite voices in the House of Commons towards the end of Anne’s reign belonged to Members who had once been Whigs, Edward Harvey and Sir William Whitelocke, while the list of Hanoverian Tories includes the former Jacobite James Grahme.49 For those who regard Jacobitism as optional rather than innate, assuming and discarding a Jacobite identity seems entirely natural. A record of Jacobite activity after 1715 would not necessarily mean, therefore, that the Member concerned had been a Jacobite in this period. Some of the most active Jacobites in the 1720s and 40s had been either uncommitted over the succession before the death of Anne, as seems to have been the case with (Sir) John Hynde Cotton, or had been strong supporters of the Hanoverian cause, which was certainly the case with the Irishmen Lords Barrymore and Orrery.
Weakest of all is circumstantial evidence: Jacobite connexions, usually family connexions, Jacobite friendships, or even membership of societies, like the October Club or the Duke of Beaufort’s Board of Brothers which are assumed by some historians to have been ‘Jacobite’ bodies through a circular thought-process (Beaufort was a Jacobite, therefore his club is a Jacobite club, therefore its Members are Jacobites, and the fact that they are Jacobites in turn reinforces the conviction of Beaufort’s own Jacobitism). But relationships, by blood or marriage, even quite close family relationships, do not by themselves prove anything. The Junto Lord Wharton (Hon. Thomas*) had a son, the 2nd Marquess, who eventually became a Jacobite, and a nephew, the Scotsman George Lockhart*, who was a Jacobite before 1714. Wharton’s party colleague Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*) was the son of one of King James II’s chief ministers; his father-in-law, Marlborough, corresponded with St. Germain in the 1690s; and his wife’s uncle was Lord Tyrconnel, James’s lord deputy in Ireland. The general point does not need labouring.50 But it may be worth citing one or two more examples, which are less absurd and in which the potential for misdirection is therefore greater. The 5th Earl of Exeter was a Jacobite who visited the exiled King James in France, but of his three sons, all of whom were MPs, only one followed suit, and even then the visit to St. Germain is all we know of his possible Jacobite connexions. The 2nd Earl of Ailesbury was a Jacobite exile himself, but of his three relations in the Commons in this period only his brother Robert may have shown a similar tendency, the other brother and his son and heir, Charles, Lord Bruce, keeping well clear of treason. Lastly, the Barlow brothers, Sir George, 2nd Bt., and John, were nephews of a notorious Pembrokeshire Jacobite, but no evidence of Jacobitism had been discovered against either, and John in particular was regarded as unreliable on the Jacobite list of 1721.
Accepting these serious limitations, in relation to the definition of Jacobitism and the evidence for it, an attempt may be made to enumerate the Members whose biographies suggest a pronounced and explicit Jacobite sentiment at some stage in their careers. The totals, only 21 definite, or at least very probable, Jacobites and a further 18 possibles, most of whom were to be Jacobites in the next reign, probably understate the numbers in the House, either in 1690-6 or in 1711-14, the two high tides of Jacobite support in England and Wales in this period. They also differ from the only published estimate, covering the Parliaments of 1710 and 1713, which lists 35 ‘probable’ Jacobites among the Members for England and Wales, and 10 ‘possibles’.51
The first flush of parliamentary Jacobitism after 1689 was represented by several Members whose association with King James II predated the Revolution, and who remained loyal to him thereafter: James Grahme, the former keeper of the privy purse, who participated in Jacobite intrigues after the Revolution but whose commitment began to wane before the Assassination Plot and who took the oaths to William III in 1701; Charles Somerset, Lord Worcester, son and heir of the 1st Duke of Beaufort, and the Durham gentleman William Tempest, both of whom were also involved in the plots of the early 1690s; the soldier Sir Theophilus Oglethorpe, who, after a spell in prison in England, went to St. Germain in 1692 and remained there some years; the admiral Sir Ralph Delaval, whose communication with the Pretender, via Lord Ailesbury, eventually came to light in the naval inquiries of 1693; Ailesbury’s own brother, Hon. Robert Bruce, implicated by one witness in the Assassination Plot; and the Catholic draper Richard Harnage, whose close links with Ailesbury brought him under suspicion but who went on to make a fortune as army contractor in the wars against France, thus creating a vested interest which drove out any Jacobite sympathies.
Of the remainder, we can be quite certain of the political orientation of Sir Charles Carteret, who after leaving Parliament in 1700 went to St. Germain and took a post in the Pretender’s household; the Bulkeleys of Baron Hill on Anglesey; the former Whig Edward Harvey of Combe, and Robert Harley’s Cornish political manager, George Granville, each of whom was engaged in treasonable correspondence towards the end of Anne’s reign, Harvey with the French ambassador and Granville with his kinsman Sir Thomas Higgons, another Jacobite émigré. Sir John Pakington, 4th Bt., and Sir William Whitelocke, both strong High Churchmen, moved into a position of public Jacobitism after c. 1712, and by the parliamentary session of 1714 were effectively leading the Jacobite wing of the Tory party in the Commons. A few other Members were so zealous, or indiscreet, as to declare openly their sentiments over the succession. The roaring Bristol High Churchman Sir John Knight did not bother to hide his loathing of foreigners, in the army, at court, and even on the throne, as did the Southwark brewer John Lade, though he afterwards underwent a political conversion and ended up a Whig. Lewis Pryse was one of several Welsh squires who over-indulged themselves in drink and political enthusiasm in 1710 and drank the Pretender’s health on their knees. John Pugh was also present and presumably approved. Richard Cresswell did much the same at Bath, suffering a temporary legal confinement in consequence (he may later have taken part in the Fifteen), and Charles Aldworth, who as a youth had spent several years at the court at St. Germain, made a habit of toasting James III, a fatal habit as it turned out, for it was this which helped precipitate the tavern quarrel which resulted in his death.
Of the ‘possibles’, two are suggested on thin evidence: Knight’s parliamentary colleague in the Bristol constituency, Sir Richard Hart, whom contemporaries seem to have assumed was a Jacobite, though without providing chapter and verse; and the Devonian Samuel Rolle I, on the grounds that he once described as neighbour as a ‘Hanover rat’. The rest could be classified as Jacobites on the basis of their personal histories after 1715, though not before. Henry Campion, Robert Echlin, and Thomas Forster I, who all took part in the Fifteen; John Anstis, Sir Coplestone Warwick Bampfylde, 3rd Bt., John Bland, Sir William Carew, 5th Bt., who were arrested before they could decide to participate; and Corbet Kynaston, also subject to a precautionary arrest, who carried on conspiring once he had been released. Jacob Banks, Charles Caesar, and Henry Goring were all involved in subsequent Jacobite plots, the first two in the Swedish Plot of 1717, and Goring in what became known as the Atterbury Plot in 1720-2, while Theophilus Oglethorpe remained on the continent after 1714 and belatedly took up the family tradition in search of employment from the Old Pretender, receiving only a peerage despite his best efforts. Back home William Shippen eventually became the quintessential parliamentary Jacobite, while Percival Hart, Sir Charles Kemys, 4th Bt., and Sir Thomas Mackworth, 4th Bt., all contented themselves with the kind of sentimental and safe Jacobitism that issued in country house decoration, obscure dining rituals, and occasional visits to the Jacobite court.
Contemporaries acknowledged the existence of a ‘Court’ interest in the House of Commons, comprising those Members whose first loyalty was to the monarch and his or her ministers, and not to a party or faction. In the autumn of 1705, for example, both Lord Treasurer Godolphin (Sidney†) and Secretary of State Robert Harley* calculated that ‘the Queen’s servants’ constituted a parliamentary squadron of sufficient substance to hold the balance between the Whigs and the Tories in the newly elected House.52 Equally convinced were those critics of government who feared the corruption of the political system through the bribing of Members with places and pensions. As many as 12 lists of ‘placemen’ survive from this period.53 Four of them date from the lifetime of the so-called ‘Officers’ Parliament’ of 1690, during which anxiety over the purchasing of votes intensified into an obsession. Others were compiled at times of political crisis, when oppositionists feared that ministers would thwart the popular will by means of their creatures and dependants. For example, prior to the 1705 election disgruntled High Church Tories, smarting over the defeat in the previous parliamentary session of their efforts to ‘tack’ the third occasional conformity bill to a money bill, a defeat they ascribed in part to the illegitimate use of government influence, had published a black list of ‘gentlemen that are in office, employments, etc.’ in the hope of dissuading the voters from choosing such reprobates again.
If we were to follow contemporary assumptions, and calculate the size of the Court interest simply by counting the number of placemen in the Commons at any time, the proportion would probably be between a fifth and a third. Precise figures are difficult, if not impossible, to come by, as in many individual cases we do not have accurate dates of appointment to or removal from office. Contemporary assessments ranged between c. 80 and c.140 (out of 513 in the pre-Union House of Commons): 94 and 103 in 1692; 97 and 137 in 1693; 85 in 1694; 95 and 110 in 1698; 126 in 1705. W. A. Speck has suggested that the 100 or so ‘Queen’s servants’ on whose support Godolphin intended to rely during the 1705-6 parliamentary session in reality numbered 118, of whom 98 attended and voted in the division on the Speaker. But all these figures undoubtedly underestimate the number of MPs in office, particularly those holding commissions in the armed forces.
On the whole modern historians have been less firmly convinced than the contemporary jeremiahs of the presence of a substantial and permanent Court interest in the Commons. ‘The chief reason for this’, as Geoffrey Holmes observed, ‘was simply that at all times the so-called “Court party” included a great many ... whose first obligation on most controversial issues was to their own party, be it Whig or Tory, and not to the Court.’54 Much might depend upon the terms under which a particular office was held, whether at the Crown’s pleasure, or during ‘good behaviour’, or for life. Ministers knew how futile it was to attempt to discipline a life patentee. Thus R.R. Walcott calculated the strength of the ‘government interest’ in the 1701 Parliament at only 38 Members, although, by his reckoning, there were at this time some 113 office-holders and pensioners in the House. The division on the Speaker on 25 October 1705 is the most widely cited demonstration of just how limited the gravitational pull of the Court might be when set against the countervailing force of party loyalty. Of the 39 Tories who remained in office after the fall of Lord Nottingham, only 19 voted for Court candidate, the Whig John Smith I, against the High Tory William Bromley II.55 Almost as interesting in this respect are the 26 placemen included among the 247 members of the Country party opposition listed at the beginning of the 1698 Parliament, of whom only seven were subsequently to be blacklisted as opponents of the disbanding bill in January 1699, the rest presumably voting for the bill.56 Of course many individual examples could be given of offices and other perquisites which, when granted, failed to secure the loyalty of the recipient. To cite only one: the acquisition of a secret pension on the Irish establishment in 1712 was not enough to separate Sir John Pakington from his friends in the October Club; indeed, it is difficult to believe that Robert Harley, who authorized this additional expenditure, ever seriously thought that it would.
Any definition of ‘the King’s’ or ‘the Queen’s servants’ in the House must, therefore include more than simply a reference to office-holding or any other form of material dependence. It is necessary to have some proof of consistent support for administration in all political circumstances. Parliamentary lists provide one set of clues, although the evidence they provide is neither very satisfactory nor in the last resort particularly useful. Only 10 of the division lists available for this period could conceivably be interpreted in Court against Country terms: the lists on the proposed council of trade and the price of guineas in 1696; the disbanding bill in 1699; the forecast for agreeing with the committee of supply in February 1701 on continuing the Great Mortgage; preparations for war with France in 1701 (the most notorious ‘black list’); the Speakership in 1705; the ‘place clause’ in the regency bill in 1706; the naturalization of the Palatines in 1709; and the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell in 1710. (Even here one might reasonably entertain doubts about the usefulness of the two divisions of 1696, the ‘black list’ of 1701, and the divisions in the 1708 Parliament, which were just as much party issues.) To these 10 divisions, unevenly spread across the period, it is possible to add a further 12 lists, which classify Members as supporters or opponents of government, or as ‘placemen’ (a pejorative term which may well imply more than just possession of office, but a record of consistent voting on the Court side). However, 10 of these additional 12 lists date from the Parliament of 1690. An analysis of the 10 divisions and 12 additional lists reveals only 167 Members with a 100% pro-Court voting-assessment record across more than one Parliament, and of these 66 confined their appearances to in the Parliaments of 1705 and 1708, which results in a pattern of voting that might be equally well represented in party terms, and denote a Whig just as much as a Courtier. Subtracting the 66 leaves 101 (or a little over 5% of the Membership as a whole in the period 1690-1715) classifiable as ‘courtiers’ from the evidence of the lists. What is most striking is the substantial overlap between this group and the followers of the Whig Junto, as indeed one might expect from the general tendency of Whigs after c. 1692 to align themselves with government: as many as 87 of the 101 Court Members identified from the lists appear from other evidence as consistently Whig in their party orientation. The exceptions were four Court Tories, Lord Falkland (Anthony Carey), Lord Cornbury (Edward Hyde), Charles Osborne, and General John Richmond Webb; three Members who crossed from one party to the other during this period, Sir Charles Hedges, Hon. James Stanley, and (Sir) Thomas Trevor,; and seven ‘neutrals’, William Blathwayt, Edmund Dummer, Jonathan Jennings, Lord Ranelagh (Richard Jones), William Lowndes, George Sayer, and Sir John Williams, 2nd Bt., to whom no party label may be applied, sometimes for lack of information but in other cases because the Member concerned genuinely stood above, or outside, a party affiliation.57
Where parliamentary lists fail, the biographies help to define a little more clearly the dimensions of the Court interest in the Commons in this period, revealing a contingent of Members for whom loyalty to the Court was the determining factor in their political behaviour, probably less than 70 all told, and within this group only a minority whose political allegiance could be defined simply as ‘Court’’ without any qualifying party denomination.
The core of the Court interest was composed of those professional administrators whose careers were made in government service, and who may be regarded as ‘civil servants’ avant la lettre. They included a few representatives of an older generation, those who had served King Charles II, like the former under-secretary and Secretary of State Sir Joseph Williamson, and that ‘noble and learned gentleman’ Sir Cyril Wyche, whose first appointment had been as one of the six clerks in Chancery, and who had risen to become a lord justice of Ireland under William III. Among the more important of the newer breed of post-Revolution bureaucrats were the permanent secretary to the Treasury, William Lowndes, the almost permanent secretary at war, William Blathwayt, and his predecessor George Clarke, and the surveyor-general, Samuel Travers. The secretary of the Admiralty, Josiah Burchett, headed a significant of group of naval officials, many of whom were returned to Parliament on a government interest in coastal boroughs, including the clerk of the acts, Charles Sergison, the second chief clerk at the Navy Board, Kenrick Edisbury, the comptroller of treasurer’s accounts, Dennis Lyddell, and the unsuccessful surveyor of the navy, and sometime packet-boat operator, Edmund Dummer; while from the ranks of the clerks and under-secretaries in the Secretary of State’s office emerged such further examples as John Ellis, John Pulteney, Robert Yard, and John Povey. Philip Meadowes and Henry Worsley may be described as professional diplomats, the former coming from an administrative background, the latter an ex-soldier, while Henry Watkins served as clerk and secretary in several military and diplomatic postings before securing a place as a private (military) secretary to the Duke of Ormond, and entering Parliament through Ormond’s influence as warden of the Cinque Ports. An example of a minor bureaucratic dynasty is provided by the Pauncefort family, represented in this period by Edward Pauncefort, deputy to Charles Fox* in the 1690s as paymaster in Ireland, and his nephew Tracy (the son of a regimental agent) who was employed in an inferior capacity in the secretary’s office. Some ‘civil servants’ of this type suffered the occasional interruption in their official employment: William Bridges, who hailed from another office-holding family, and who had made his fortune prior to 1689 in government service in Ireland, was unemployed after the Revolution, but found his way into Parliament in 1695 for the Cornish borough of Liskeard, quickly gravitated to the court, and was eventually rewarded for his service in the Commons with appointment as clerk to the surveyor-general. However, not all career bureaucrats were as compliant, or insipid in their political prejudices, as Bridges, or indeed such better-known figures as Blathwayt and Lowndes. Among the secretaries and under-secretaries who found their way into Parliament were several with quite strong party associations, or at least with a dependence upon, and identification with, prominent party politicians: the Whig Thomas Hopkins, Lord Wharton’s protégé, and among the Tories Edward Southwell (who served Ormond as chief secretary in Ireland 1703-7 and 1710-13), Erasmus Lewis (Harley’s clerk) and the poet Matthew Prior.
In a similar position to the career bureaucrats were those Members who held office for so long that they came to identify, and be identified, first and foremost, with government; men like Hon. James Saunderson, commissioner of alienations from 1689 to 1714. In the various royal households, of King, Queen, Princess, and Queen dowager, we find Charles II’s favourite (and pander) ‘Bab’ (Baptist) May, the 4th Viscount Fitzhardinge (John Berkeley), Lord Derby’s brother, Hon. James Stanley, the Shropshire Whig Sir William Forester, and George Sayer; in the victualling office the Papillons, Thomas and his son Philip, and Simon Mayne; and among the many professional soldiers in the Commons a number who were reliable supporters of administration by virtue of their office—Thomas Crawford, Richard Sutton and Thomas Stanwix, governors of Sheerness, Hull, and Carlisle respectively; and John, Lord Cutts, the ‘salamander’, whose politics were flexible enough to enable him to serve the Junto ministry in the mid-1690s and bring in Whigs for boroughs he controlled as governor of the Isle of Wight, but ten years later to act as a loyal second-in-command to Ormond on the Irish military establishment. Two fine specimens were the Cornishmen Henry Vincent I and II, father and son, successively commissioners for victualling from 1699 to 1718, who first deserted the Tory, Granville interest in Cornwall for the Whigs shortly after the Revolution, and then deserted the Whigs and returned to the Granvilles after the Tory landslide in 1710. And beyond the strict definition of government employment, we find those business- and ‘moneyed’ men, some lending to the crown, others contracting their services, who naturally drifted towards the government of the day, the Duncombes, Furneses, Hernes, and Shepheards, who were willing to assist Whig and Tory Lord Treasurers alike, for mutual benefit.
A few Members were in such dire financial straits that they came to depend upon government for their daily bread. One such would be the disreputable, and personally repulsive, Monmouthshire baronet, Sir John Williams, 2nd Bt., of Llangibby, whose over-spending brought near-ruin upon his family; another the penurious Lancashire squire Roger Kirkby. In a similar position was Anthony Hammond, a literary poseur with a wide range of cultural and economic pretensions, who was saved from effective poverty by being made a commissioner of the navy in 1702, and at a stroke transformed from a storming High Tory into a submissive placeman. He promptly re-invented himself as ‘Harmonious Hammond’, a man for whom ‘moderation’ was a guiding star: ‘in a public affairs he is naturally moderate, something uncertain in his opinions, from which two causes he has been thought to be of both sides, or sometimes of one and sometimes of the other’. (Precisely the opposite process can be observed in the career of the young James Lowther, who followed his father’s example and voted for any and every administration until emancipated by his inheritance into an ‘independent country gentleman’.) But perhaps the best documented ‘political beggar’ is another Lancastrian, Sir Roger Bradshaigh, 3rd Bt., forced by debts to trim his sails so closely to the prevailing political wind, in the hope of receiving patronage from the ministry, that he was said to have ‘upheld the ministry of the day through all the fluctuations of party fortunes, supporting the Court whether it leaned to the Whigs or the Tories’. After 1710 Bradshaigh repeatedly begged Lord Treasurer Oxford (Robert Harley*) for a job. What he received was a succession of cash handouts, but only enough to tide him over, so that he was kept in a position of abject dependence.
Bradshaigh’s desperation was far from unique; but this particular method of alleviation was unusual. As Geoffrey Holmes has amply demonstrated, there are were so few ‘pensioners’ in the Commons that they can have constituted no more than a fragment of the Court party at any time, and a number, possibly the majority, were in possession of pensions for life (such as George Rodney Brydges, Anthony Henley, William Palmes, and John Richmond Webb).58 Although the Treasury could bring pressure to bear even on lifetime pensioners by slowing down payment, the evidence does not suggest that this was an effective way of maintaining political discipline. William Cotesworth, who enjoyed £500 a year on the secret service account in England, did not alter his Whig allegiance after 1710 despite the change of ministry.
Then there were those who adhered to the Court not from necessity, or from the (implicit) terms of their employment, so much as from personal preference and inclination. A significant, if small, percentage of the Members of Parliament in this period who may be characterised as ‘professional’ politicians, in the sense that much of their time was spent in, and their income derived from, public administration, gravitated naturally to the Court party in the House of Commons. The plutocrat Sir Stephen Fox, originally a minor household official, but in William’s reign first Lord of the Treasury; Richard Jones, Lord Ranelagh, the former Irish tax farmer, a competent, complacent, and at least mildly corrupt paymaster-general; Ranelagh’s successor, the egregious James Brydges, who scandalized even Charles Montagu by brazenly offering himself for hire even before he had been elected; Thomas Neale, the great ‘projector’; James Craggs I, who made a fortune in regimental agencies before embarking on his public career; Lord Coningsby (Thomas*), who, although a Whig in local politics, had little difficulty in co-operating with his political enemies in government; and the two Robartes, Francis and Russell, the former an office-holder from 1692 to 1712, including two long spells as an absentee Irish revenue commissioner, the latter, Francis’s nephew, admittedly prompted by the incentive of relief from debt, who was able to boast after the conclusion of the 1704-5 parliamentary session that he had ‘all along showed my zeal for the Queen’s service equal to any’. In a few cases an early aversion to the Court and courtiers was replaced on closer acquaintance by entirely opposite sentiments. In 1700 Thomas Coke, a roaring Derbyshire Tory, exploded with frustration at those in the Country opposition who had betrayed the campaign to expose crown grants. Four years later Coke became a teller of the Exchequer, then vice-chamberlain of the household, and eventually so perfect a courtier that all his party colouring disappeared. A similar process may be observed with other former party men whose experience of office accustomed them to think first of the government interest: (Sir) Thomas Trevor, Whig solicitor-general in 1692, and eventually lord chief justice, lord privy seal and lord president of the Council; Shrewsbury’s protégé James Vernon I, who followed his patron as secretary of a state; the cousins Henry and James Worsley, whose loyalty to the Court outlasted the ministerial revolution of 1710, through the incentive of minor preferments and the enjoyment of the government interest in their Isle of Wight constituency; and even perhaps Sir Thomas Littleton, 3rd Bt., the Junto’s nominee for the Speakership in 1698, who parted from his quondam friends towards the end of his career to support Lord Treasurer Godolphin.
Some of these courtiers by principle were men whose party loyalties had become so attenuated that, although they might be regarded in some quarters as Whigs or Tories, they themselves gave little or no indication of partisan sympathies. Sir William Trumbull was evidently a Tory in so far as he was passionately concerned for the interests of the Church of England, but he was able to co-operate in government not only with Whigs but with men like Hon. Thomas Wharton, whose freethinking, anti-clericalism, and loose morals made him the antitype of Trumbull’s heavy Anglican piety. A similar devotion to moderation might be found on the Tory side in the persons of Secretary of State Sir Charles Hedges, and the two law officers appointed by Robert Harley in 1710, Attorney-General Sir Edward Northey, and Solicitor-General Sir Robert Raymond; and among the Whigs in the long-serving post-master general, Thomas Frankland I, and the commissioner of wine licences, John Machell. Frankland was said to be ‘a gentleman of a very sweet, easy, affable disposition; of good sense, extreme zealous for the constitution of his country, yet does not seem over forward’, perhaps a classic description of a ‘moderate’ man. He himself gave a clear voice to his political principles when complaining in 1711 to Robert Harley, in anticipation of his own replacement by the Tory Francis Gwyn*:
I have ... been told by so many persons that Mr Gwyn was to come into my place in the Post Office ... I hope you will pardon my giving you this trouble to beg your friendship to me, that after so long and faithful services, as well as successful endeavours in improving this branch of Her Majesty’s revenue, I may be considered as one who has made it his business to perform the duty of his place, but never to engage himself in those heats and violence which have created these unhappy divisions amongst us. I am sure I need not acquaint you, how dissatisfied some persons were with me, for the unwillingness I frequently showed to comply with the pressing instances I have met with to put in or turn out purely for the sake of party, and I doubt not but you may now have many complaints that we keep in and support ill men.
Within the Court party in Commons it is also possible to detect from time to time sub-groups or ‘connexions’’, attached to individual politicians: the ‘Leeds Tories’, and the ‘friends of Lord Sunderland’ during the ministry of the Whig Junto in 1693-4-9; the ‘Harleyites’, the ‘Lord Treasurer’s Whigs’, and the personal followers of Godolphin and Marlborough (formerly the ‘Cockpit interest’) in 1702-9, during the prolonged ascendancy of the ‘duumvirs’; and the Harleyites again when their leader was chief minister after 1710 .
The fact that the Tory Duke of Leeds (Thomas Osborne†) stayed on as lord president of the Council in uneasy co-operation with the Whig Junto from 1693-4 till 1699 meant that Leeds’s personal followers continued to be counted among supporters of administration, though the more determined Tories among them had begun to show signs of restlessness by 1696, and drifted into opposition thereafter.59 His ‘connexion’ was essentially a kinship group. At its centre were Leeds’s brother, Charles Osborne, and son-in-law James Herbert I. A little further away were the various members of the extended Bertie clan, linked to the Duke through his marriage connexion with Hon. Charles Bertie I: Charles’s brother, Hon. Peregrine I, and nephews Hon. Philip and Hon. Peregrine II, the last-named vice-chamberlain of the Household to King William and Queen Anne successively from 1694 to 1706, and probably the most adept courtier in the family. Finally there were Leeds’s Yorkshire clients the Jenningses: the brothers Sir Edmund and Sir Jonathan, and Sir Edmund’s son Jonathan, who between them effectively colonized the commission of prizes after the Revolution, the two knights sitting on the board and the young Jonathan serving as its secretary.
Also giving support to the Junto ministry in the 1690s, though again somewhat erratically, were the friends and followers of the 2nd Earl of Sunderland, the ‘minister behind the curtain’ for much of William’s reign. Sunderland’s connexion was much smaller than Leeds’s, centring on Henry Guy, the Earl’s mouthpiece in the Commons. Guy brought in one or two others, notably his kinsman and business partner Sir William Pulteney, and William Palmes. Other Members who seem to have taken their cue from Sunderland were the dubious financier (Sir) Charles Duncombe and his brother Anthony, and King William’s master of the Household (Sir) Thomas Felton, an old associate of Sunderland in the Restoration court, and a man who undertook various business affairs for the Spencer family, including preliminary negotiations in 1694 for the marriage of Sunderland’s son and heir.
The most substantial connexions to be found in the Court interest in this period, however, were those which Queen Anne’s ‘duumvirate’ of Godolphin and Marlborough variously used at different times to provide loyal, non-party, support for their long ministry. Both men had their own personal followers. Godolphin’s son Francis (Lord Rialton) and brother Charles both sat in the Commons, though Charles was not particularly tractable, once being described as ‘more fantastic and ungovernable than a mule’. Marlborough’s two brothers, Charles and George, were also Members, and again one was more reliable than the other: both were Tories, and uneasy at Marlborough’s turn to the Whigs in 1705, but George combined this partisanship with arrogance and a hot temper. Marlborough, however, could make up for this fraternal truculence with a platoon of loyal followers: his brother-in-law Charles Godfrey, the master of the jewel office, and nephew Francis Godfrey; military men of the calibre of his trusted second-in-command William Cadogan, his aide-de-camp Lord Tunbridge (William Nassau de Zuylestein), and regimental captain, Henry Withers; the Huguenot army administrator Adam de Cardonnel; Admiral Henry Killigrew, whom the Marlboroughs returned for their borough of St. Albans; the Duchess’s cousin, John Berkeley, 4th Viscount Fitzhardinge (another Household official); and James Craggs I, whose wife had been a maidservant of Duchess, and who made his parliamentary debut as a member of the Marlborough connexion, before acquiring the maturity and wealth that enabled him to achieve independence. Finally, there were the Trelawnys, the family of Sir Jonathan Trelawny, Godolphin’s friend and Bishop of Winchester: Sir Jonathan’s two sons, Charles and Henry, both of them generals, and Henry’s son Harry, another of Marlborough’s aides-de-camp (though too much of a Tory to continue supporting the ministry once it had decided to impeach Dr Sacheverell).
From February 1704 until their final capitulation to the Whig Junto in 1709, Godolphin and Marlborough sought to maintain themselves in office with the assistance not merely of ‘the Queen’s servants’ and their own personal followers, but ‘moderate’ men of either party. On the Tory side, until February 1708, this meant in practice the followers of Robert Harley. They too were grouped around a strong family nucleus: Robert’s brother Edward Harley and cousin Thomas, the various Foleys, connected through Robert’s first marriage, and through this Foley link both Henry Paget (heir to the Paget barony) and the lawyer Salwey Winnington. Outside Harley’s extended family, his most prominent disciples were Henry St. John II, the future Lord Bolingbroke, who served as secretary at war under Godolphin; the urbane Welshman, Thomas Mansel (I) of Margam, comptroller of the Household; Vice-Chamberlain Coke; and the solicitor- and attorney-general (and later lord chancellor) Simon Harcourt I, a more senior figure but inclined to defer to Harley’s judgment. Less closely attached were several disreputable opportunists, chief among them Hon. James Brydges, the crooked paymaster who outlasted Harley in the Godolphin ministry, and Arthur Moore, a shady Irish lawyer who was more St. John’s friend than Harley’s.
The moderate Whigs who formed the other flying buttress of the Godolphin-Marlborough administration, and after 1708 stood between the ‘duumvirs’ and surrender to the Junto, were a more heterogeneous selection. They included only one family member, in the shape of Godolphin’s brother Sidney, and few if any who might be described as clients or dependants of the Treasurer. Instead, these ‘Lord Treasurer’s Whigs’ comprised for the most part political pragmatists like the young Spencer Compton and (for a time) Robert Walpole II, who saw the likelihood of more immediate advancement at the hands of Godolphin than in waiting for the ultimate triumph of their party chieftains; politicians of a somewhat older vintage, like Henry Boyle, Lord Coningsby, John Smith I, and even perhaps the former Speaker, Sir Thomas Littleton, 3rd Bt., who did not regard themselves as junior to the Junto lords and may even have resented their patronage; and one or two Whigs of the calibre of Sir Thomas Felton and Peregrine Bertie II (as the vice-chamberlain should probably now be designated), who had become accustomed to support administrations of all kinds and to that extent had become alienated from their party. Godolphin attempted to detach other independent-minded Whigs, and had a solitary success in an unexpected quarter. Robert Molesworth, the ‘old Whig’ who had previously been a noted critic of government, was drawn over to the ministry by the promise of advancement for himself and his children, and by his abiding hatred of the Junto.
Last we come to those upon whom Harley relied after 1710 to preserve his freedom of manoeuvre from the rampaging Tory majority in the newly elected Parliament. Many of his former supporters retained their personal loyalty, and to the previous list of Harleyites were added some new recruits: his son Lord Edward Harley, and son-in-law, Lord Dupplin (George Hay); that ‘watery Tory’ Robert Benson, described as ‘cipher in office, and a dependant on his principal [i.e. Harley]’; Abigail Masham’s brother Jack (John Hill), the poet and politician George Granville, Harley’s Cornish manager; and another Worcestershire connexion of the Foleys, Samuel Pytts. There were also a handful of Whigs, ‘half a score, half crown Whigs’ as Lord Poulett described them,60 including the ambitious former Country stalwart John Aislabie, whom Harley had successfully courted while in opposition, and who duly remodelled his political allegiance in order to take office, and two clients of the great Duke of Newcastle, the independent Whig magnate whose support had been vital in facilitating Harley’s ministerial revolution, the army officer Richard Sutton and Newcastle’s man-of-business, Robert Monckton, who was in his own way almost a stereotype of the pliable, non-partisan, and personally ambitious MP to whom the Court always looked for loyal (if not necessarily disinterested) service.
While the concept of political ‘parties’, in the form of Whigs and Tories, is (deceptively) familiar to modern readers, the opposition of ‘Court and Country’ is more difficult to explain. In their efforts to make ‘Country’ politics intelligible historians have written variously of a Country ‘tradition’, ‘mentality’, or ‘persuasion’ in this period, as well as of a ‘Country party’ or ‘interest’.61 Contemporaries frequently used the term ‘Country’ in simple contradistinction to ‘the Court’, to denote what later generations would understand as parliamentary opposition (an idea yet to acquire respectability in the early 18th century). In 1698, for example, James Vernon I* observed at the general election ‘a strange spirit of distinguishing between the Court and the Country party’; in 1702 the writer James Drake commented that ‘Court and Country are as opposite as ever heretofore’; in 1708 another source reported ‘the notion of extinguishing the names of Whig and Tory, and assuming the distinctions of Court and Country party’; while in February 1710 James Lowther* wrote that the then place bill was ‘a plain question between Court and Country in the House of Commons’.62 In the same way, the opposition alliance of Tories and discontented Whigs presided over by Robert Harley* and Paul Foley I* in the Parliaments of 1695 and 1698 was described as, and indeed may have gloried in, the title of the ‘new Country party’, in direct opposition to the ministry of the Whig Junto. But it was also possible for ‘Country’ to be used adjectivally, to describe a particular set of attitudes or principles, and to qualify a party designation. Thus the description Country Whig might occasionally be applied to a Member who placed principle above party. Since the Tories were effectively in opposition for much of this period, and not required to compromise their beliefs in the interests of good government, the term Country Tory was used much more rarely.
The word ‘Country’ can, therefore, suggest not only opposition to administration, but also the principles and ideas on which that opposition was grounded. Naturally enough, Members did not wish to present themselves as embarking upon opposition simply for its own sake. Rather, they were defending the true interests of the kingdom against the self-interested machinations of corrupt courtiers. It was in this way, of course, that the nickname ‘Country party’ had arisen in the early 17th century. But there was also a particular inheritance, from the parliamentary opposition of the 1670s and ‘80s; a particular set of ideological positions which included an overriding concern for the maintenance of the liberty of the subject, in the face of royal interference with the judicial system and the rise of a powerful standing army; abhorrence of ‘corruption’ in government and the political system, manifested particularly in a resolve to prevent elections from being manipulated and Members of Parliament from being bought; and a commitment to ‘good husbandry’ in the expenditure of public money, preventing waste through enforcing a scrutiny of government accounts. In the reigns of Charles II and James II, this Country party programme had come to be associated with the Whigs, and in the immediate aftermath of the Glorious Revolution it was still among the more radical Whigs, men like Richard Hampden I, John Lewknor, Henry Powle, William Sacheverell, and John Wildman, that enthusiasm for the implementation of a ‘Country’ programme was greatest. But ‘Country’ principles were not solely the preserve of the Whig party, even in 1689. A strain of ‘Country’ politics had been apparent in the High Church opposition to James II in the Parliament of 1685. Sir Thomas Clarges, Sir Christopher Musgrave, 4th Bt., and Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., had been among the Tory Members who had expressed their opposition to a standing army long before the Glorious Revolution had effected a transformation in their party’s relationship with the crown.
In several important respects the concerns of ‘Country’ Members changed in the period 1690-1715. This process did not involve a reconstruction of basic principles so much as a shift in focus. There remained a commitment to the maintenance of the liberties of the subject, and to the freedom and authority of Parliaments. Standing armies were still a major issue, for example, especially during the parliamentary sessions of 1697-9. The Act of Settlement of 1701 reiterated concern for the independence of the judiciary, insisting that after the death of Queen Anne judges were to be appointed ‘during good behaviour’ and not at pleasure; insisted on parliamentary consent to any declaration of war, and prohibited the exercise of the royal pardon in impeachments. The concern expressed in the Declaration of Rights for frequent and freely elected Parliaments was only partly satisfied by the Triennial Act of 1694, which provided for a meeting of Parliament, and a new election, every three years. Electoral malpractice continued, and was the subject of a number of further legislative initiatives. Moreover, the Crown still interfered in parliamentary proceedings, both directly, through the use of the royal veto to stifle unacceptable bills, and indirectly, through the influence it exerted on individual Members, who were bribed and suborned with places and pensions. Constitutional ‘corruption’ of this kind had agitated Country Members in Charles II’s reign, and several place bills had been introduced before 1689 (though no mention of this grievance had been made in the Declaration of Rights). They not only reappeared after the Glorious Revolution but became a settled feature of the Country agenda.
It is in the development of place legislation that one can detect the first important refocusing of Country ideology in this period. ‘Corruption’ was still the great bugbear, but it had came to be understood somewhat differently. Formerly the emphasis had been on preserving the independence and integrity of Parliament from the attentions of ministers who set out to bribe honest Members with offices and pensions. The first place bills had decreed that no one could take office after his election. The people were to be the judge of the moral rectitude of their representatives, and their verdict should not be undermined subsequently. This approach continued in the so-called ‘Officers’ Parliament’ of 1690. The compilation (and publication) of so many lists of placemen and pensioners is evidence of a continued obsession with ministerial bribery. Three place bills were introduced in the sessions of 1692-4, all to the same effect as before, and none successful (one passed the two Houses but suffered King William’s veto), though the Triennial Act went some way to reinforcing the power of the electorate in this regard. After 1695, however, the emphasis of place legislation changed, perhaps in response to the expansion in government bureaucracy, or in acknowledgment of the inadequacy of frequent elections by themselves in ridding Parliament of corruption. Country Members now sought the permanent exclusion of office-holders from the Commons; if not all (and there were those who hankered after a total exclusion), then at least the host of lesser placemen who provided administration with its majority. This was certainly a more effective answer to the problem; it also represented a modernization of Country ideology, which now saw the danger to liberty less in the ‘corruption’ of individual Members so much as in the broader ‘corruption’ of the constitutional balance through the unchecked growth in the power of the state. The impracticability of a complete separation of executive and legislature dictated that any reforms in this regard would have to be piecemeal, but this did not dampen the ardour of Country activists. Even after the victorious struggle for the ‘place clause’ in the Regency Act of 1706, which excluded a number of specified office-holders but permitted the Members concerned to apply for re-election, place bills continued to be introduced, almost on a sessional basis, and to provide the most important litmus test of Country opinion.63
A second important element in Country ideology was concern over taxation and public spending. Here too there were important changes in emphasis, which tended to push Country Members into rather more extreme positions and ultimately into destructive rather than constructive criticism of government. In the early 1690s an overriding concern for frugality and honesty in government drew Country party politicians into a close involvement in the working of public finance. To begin with, the emphasis was on reining in expenditure: estimates were closely examined in the House itself and in committee, while the commission of public accounts, established in the winter of 1690-1, engaged in a detailed audit of every department of government. But the leaders of the ‘Country’ opposition, particularly Paul Foley I and Robert Harley, also offered their own expedients for raising revenue. Their competition with the emerging Whig Junto culminated in the ill-fated land bank project of 1695-6, the collapse of which signalled the triumph of the Court Whigs. Harley was to take up the challenge again in 1698-1700, this time with much greater success, when, as the foremost parliamentary opponent of the ministry, he succeeded in wresting control of fiscal policy away from the Treasury. His management of government finances at that time and subsequently, in the period of his own administration, from 1710 to 1714, have been interpreted by some historians as a working out, from inside the government, of the traditional Country obsession with ‘good husbandry’.64 This is certainly how Harley himself presented his own case. Whether or not it is accepted will depend very much on one’s view of Harley as an individual. What can be said with confidence, however, is that for the bulk of Country Members, especially those on the back benches, this constructive approach to public finance began to take second place, from at least 1695 onwards, to the simpler imperative of exposing ‘corrupt’ officials and hounding them from office. The commission of accounts became more factious and less effective after 1694 and lapsed altogether in 1697. As Geoffrey Holmes has argued, when the idea of an accounts commission was revived after 1700, the purpose was narrower, essentially a witch-hunt. The paymaster-general, Lord Ranelagh (Richard Jones*) was the first victim, in 1702, and after the general election of 1710 Country Tory MPs began a full-scale excavation, looking for corruption in every branch of government.65
The political and social consequences of England’s involvement in large-scale continental warfare after 1689 also served to shift the direction of the Country critique of government. The professionalization of the armed forces (on land and sea), and above all the ‘financial revolution’ of the 1690s—the establishment of a system of deficit financing and the flotation of great institutions of public credit—which created a speculative market in government stock, brought into existence two new political ‘interests’: the army and the City. In the eyes of Country Members these military and moneyed men, who flourished while the rest of the kingdom was suffering, depended for their prosperity and indeed their very existence on the maintenance of the high wartime taxation. The pamphlets of Charles Davenant* and Jonathan Swift developed the theme of a conflict between land and money, between overtaxed country gentlemen and bloated war profiteers. In consequence, even greater emphasis came to be placed on the necessity of preserving, or indeed recovering, the landed ascendancy over politics and government. It was already an essential part of the programme for restoring the purity of elections. The idea that Membership of the House of Commons should be restricted to landed proprietors was embodied in the failed elections bill of 1696, and eventually reached the statute book in the Landed Qualification Act of 1712. Although usually justified as the only sure means of eradicating electoral malpractice,66 these bills owed as much to the country gentlemen’s visceral loathing of the ‘moneyed interest’.
These changes in the focus and direction of Country ideology in this period also reflected a fundamental shift in the centre of gravity of Country politics from Whig to Tory. It is a commonplace of the political history of King William’s reign that from the establishment of the Junto ministry in 1693-4 the Whig party cast off old habits and accustomed itself to government. In the passage from Country to Court these ‘new Whigs’ jettisoned such inconvenient baggage as place bills, electoral reform, and even suspicion of a standing army. To complete the reversal of roles, the Tories, condemned to opposition, took up the clothes their opponents had left them. It was Tories who advocated disbandment in 1697-9, who denounced crown grants in 1699-1700, who promoted the revival of the commission of accounts in 1700, and henceforth provided the majority of supporters of place bills and certainly originated the more sweeping attempts to exclude office-holders from Parliament. By 1701 Tories had become so identified with Country attitudes and measures that many of them found it difficult to adjust to life under a sympathetic administration. Unco-operative Tory politicians exasperated Harley and the Court managers in 1701; made themselves impossible allies of Godolphin in 1702-4; and after 1710, when the Tory party had won a landslide victory at the general election, went on the rampage, resurrecting the commission of accounts, passing the Landed Qualification Act, and attempting a resumption of crown grants and several place bills. The vehemence and unanimity with which the Tories now pursued Country ideals may have reflected their fundamental discontent with the Glorious Revolution itself and the regime that had followed it, which had brought a toleration for Dissenters, involvement in expensive continental warfare, and consequently high taxation. Tories blamed Williamite authoritarianism for all the political evils that beset them, and dreamt of returning to a (pre-Revolutionary) golden age defined for many in the vague but significant phrase, ‘old England’.
Of course the process by which Whigs became courtiers, and Tories Country grumblers, was not by any means neat or precise. They were a number of loose ends. A substantial number of Whigs, just under 40, transferred their party allegiance during this period and became recognizably Tories; in many cases, one may assume, because they could not abide the Court flavour of new Whiggism. At their core were the Foley and Harley families, and their connexions and allies: William Joliffe, Alexander Popham, Sir Francis Winnington and his son Salwey.67 Others remained in the ranks of the Whig party, but retained their attachment to Country principles. These Country Whigs have been intensively studied by historians.68 From the evidence of the biographies they seem to have been at their most active and effective during the 1695 Parliament, when an older generation of stiff-necked Shaftesburians, like Sir Samuel Barnardiston, 1st Bt., Sir Eliab Harvey, Sir Thomas Hussey, 2nd Bt., Sir Richard Onslow, 3rd Bt., and Sir William Williams, 1st Bt., were joined in the Commons by a new wave of philosophical ‘commonwealthmen’, of whom the most intellectually impressive were Shaftesbury’s grandson, Hon. Anthony Ashley (the future 3rd Earl), the Anglo-Irish author of the best-selling Account of Denmark ..., Robert Molesworth, and the young Cornishman Walter Moyle. Ashley’s ’’independent club’ was presumably made up of men of this kidney.69 The strength of the Junto’s position in the Commons at this time may have fostered some irresponsible notions of independence. But by the time the great crisis over the standing army had arisen in the winter of 1698-9, which gave Country Members an opportunity to declare their principles on an issue of fundamental importance, the high-water mark of Country Whiggery had passed. Onslow and other maverick Whigs, among them Thomas Pelham I and Hon. Henry Boyle, had already returned to administration. A list of the new Parliament, apparently intended as a forecast for the disbanding bill, identified at most only 48 Whigs out of 234 Members on the Country side.70 The next point in time at which the size of the Country element within the Whig party may be quantified is in February 1706, when the ‘whimsical’ squadron pushing forward the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill was estimated by one of its members at about 30.71 Individual Country Whigs were once more highly visible during the agitated parliamentary session of 1707-8, when they joined High Tories in a marriage of convenience in opposition to the Godolphin administration, and subsequently when discontented Junto supporters brought forward a place bill in 1710, but no indication of their numbers survives in the sources.
Clearly some Country measures involved political principles that were characteristic of a certain type of Whig, whether Exclusionist radicals like Wildman, or the younger exponents of ‘classical republicanism’ like Molesworth and Moyle. Such men called themselves ‘old’ or ‘true’ Whigs. But the appeal of the Country message across the political spectrum seems also to show a broad consensus in favour of the simple slogans to which this programme could be reduced: the preservation of liberty, and the establishment of frugal and honest government. Naturally no one would try to argue in favour of tyranny, corruption, high taxation and waste, but the debates on disbandment also show a broad agreement on the basic fact that a standing army constituted a threat to liberty. In the same way government-inspired opposition to place bills or inquiries into corruption argued not from theory so much as on pragmatic grounds. Prior to 1715 (and the arguments over a standing army changed significantly thereafter) we may find a consensus on broad issues of principle, which may well represent the ‘Country persuasion’ or cast of mind identified by Colin Brooks.72 If the majority of MPs did indeed share the same fundamental beliefs (or at least pay lip-service to them), the Country stalwarts were those who took them more seriously, or gave them a higher priority. In 1699 the Junto ministers and their dependants pressed the immediate necessity of keeping soldiers in readiness to defend the Revolution settlement from the machinations of King Louis XIV and the Jacobites but Country Whigs continued to oppose a standing army whatever the circumstances.73 During the War of the Spanish Succession fear of the French, and of the Pretender, seems to have infected even ‘old Whigs’ like Shaftesbury and Molesworth, who were prepared to temper their Country enthusiasm for the greater good represented by the continued presence of the Duke of Marlborough at the head of the allied armies.
Molesworth is a particularly interesting case: a ‘commonwealthman’ with a highly developed ideological edge, and a hatred of the Junto, which he expressed most vehemently to his Tory friend Sir Godfrey Copley, 2nd Bt., in 1701 on hearing of the peerage given to Charles Montagu, the wording of whose patent, he claimed, made him sick to the stomach.74 Yet from 1705 onwards Molesworth sedulously plied his contacts (including Shaftesbury) in the hope of obtaining an office from the Godolphin-Marlborough administration which would rescue his ailing finances. It is examples like this (only partly explained by Molesworth’s admiration for Marlborough and his professed belief that ‘old Whig’ principles were best secured under the ‘duumvirs’) that have encouraged some historians to question the integrity of many self-proclaimed ‘Country’ Members, and the reality of their well advertised principles.75 As some contemporaries observed, the adoption of a ‘Country’ stance in politics - to ‘play the patriot’ - was a recognized avenue to government employment.76 The ‘patriot’ gained popularity, and made himself a nuisance to the ministers, who would then go to some lengths to buy him off. The ‘whimsical’ Whigs of the regency bill episode included several who, as Geoffrey Holmes has put it, ‘donned a “Country” mantle largely for the sake of political convenience:77 the Wiltshire lawyer Robert Eyre, who eventually appeared to have sold himself to the ministers ‘and in the most audacious as well as infamous manner that ever was seen in the House, gave up his cause, his friends, and himself’;78 and two comrades-in-arms who did not give up the fight on this occasion but subsequently became pillars of the establishment, Peter King, the future Lord Chancellor, and James Stanhope, future Secretary of State and First Lord of the Treasury.79 Many other similar stories could be told of Country Whig politicians: of Edward Wortley Montagu, progenitor of many a place bill under Queen Anne, who became a Treasury commissioner in 1714; Richard Edgcumbe, who in 1710 was a teller for a Country motion to reintroduce into the House voting by ballot, and who also ended up a Treasury lord; and the Welshman Richard Vaughan, who accepted a place as a judge in his native principality. ‘Country’ Tories were no better. Lord Bolingbroke (Henry St., John II*) recalled with disgust the speed with which in 1710 the back-bench prophets of public virtue rushed to get their snouts into the trough of government patronage.80 Even Sir John Pakington, 4th Bt., and (Sir) Thomas Hanmer II, were privately willing, and in Pakington’s case eager, for official remuneration, and both accepted the rather dishonourable expedient of a secret pension on the Irish establishment.
Of course, Country principles were not incompatible with office, and of Robert Harley, for one, it might be said (by a sympathetic observer) that he took office precisely in order to put his principles into practice. But Country rhetoric assumed that the effect of office was to corrupt, and the hireling placeman became such a figure of contempt that Thomas Pitt I could write in warning to his son Robert*, in case temptation arose, that ‘I had rather see any child of mine want than have him get his bread by voting in the House of Commons’.81 Moreover, if a Member had made his reputation by exclaiming against the corrupting influence of office, to brave this corruption voluntarily retrospectively cast a pall over his fine words. It was presumably for this reason that Hanmer in particular was reluctant to yield to the importunities of the Tory administration from 1711 to 1713, insisting upon the Speakership as the only ‘office of profit’ that would not compromise his integrity; and that in retirement he carefully weeded his private papers to leave only those letters which showed him disdaining ministerial designs on his virtue. Even his Irish pension was really intended for his friend and amanuensis, the Irish playwright William Philips.
If financial independence was one important element in the mythology of the Country Member, another was his essentially rural, or at least provincial, location. There was an ambiguity inherent in the very word ‘country’ (which might relate to England itself or to the countryside), and traditionally virtue and patriotism had been identified with the ethos of the ‘country gentleman’. Towards the end of this period ‘patriot’ began to replace ‘Country’ as the more popular adjective to denote self-denial and public spirit, but it was still possible in 1711 for James Grahme, in a Commons’ debate, to appeal on patriotic grounds to ‘all country gentlemen (if there was any such thing left among them)’, and for back-bench Tory rebels two years later to be described by one contemporary commentator as ‘the country gentlemen’.82 The identification of honesty and virtue with the countryside, and dishonesty and vice with the city, was of course a literary trope, which had naturally made its way into political discourse, modified so as to focus less on the urban environment as such, than on the particular ambience of court and metropolis. Retirement to the country, where morality might be pursued in tranquillity, was the standard response of any frustrated ‘patriot’. The 2nd Duke of Beaufort, for example, wrote in November 1711,
my late usage from some of the ministry ... has quite extinguished my ambition of being a courtier; insomuch that a call to London, would be the most unwelcome news I could hear. I thank God I have, though a young man, in some measure arrived to the character I proposed to myself: that of being esteemed an honest man, and think I cannot retire at a better time...83
To the Country Whig Sir Richard Cocks, 2nd Bt., the existence of a provincial squire was on every account to be envied. Cocks wrote that he would rather be plain Sir Richard, content with ‘doing service to his country’ and ‘doing good in his generation’ than Alexander the Great, furious that there were no more worlds to conquer.84 Electoral propaganda echoed this theme; as one broadsheet asked the electors of Okehampton:
Will you choose a man whose want may probably lead him into temptation? Or a gentleman whose large estate carries him beyond the power of pensions ... a gentleman who, free as air, has the command of himself without any to hinder him from doing all the good that head and information can affect?85
In some cases, though not all, the reality fully matched the rhetoric. The Commons in this period boasted a small but significant number of gentlemen with ‘very large estates’, whose free ‘command of themselves’ issued in a strong commitment to ‘Country’ measures: the Lincolnshire baronets Sir John Brownlow, Sir William Ellys, and Sir Edward Hussey; the Durham coal-owner Sir William Bowes; the Morgans of Tredegar; Thomas Watson Wentworth, the heir to the Rockingham and Strafford estates; and on the Tory side George Pitt of Strathfieldsaye in Hampshire, and Sir Michael Warton, with an income of £15,000 a year from his Yorkshire estates.
However, the identification of Country politics with country life did not necessarily exclude merchants or businessmen (except perhaps in the promotion of the idea of a landed qualification for service in Parliament). Indeed, Country zealots like Cocks did not set themselves up to oppose trade as such; far from it, they were as much concerned with the fortunes of the honest merchant, especially perhaps the honest provincial merchant, as the honest country gentleman. Their objection was against overweening power of high finance.86 A local merchant like the Liverpudlian (Sir) Thomas Johnson might well appear as ‘a typical Country Member’.87 Yet so broad was the appeal of Country ideology, and so socially pervasive were the effects of the ‘financial revolution’, that the Country party and the ‘moneyed interest’ could not remain entirely separate: Robert Eyre, Peter King, and Edward Wortley Montagu, for example, all owned Bank stock, while Shaftesbury’s friend Sir John Cropley was an inveterate speculator in City funds.88
Thus despite the presence of a strong stereotype of ‘Country’ Member throughout the political discourse of the period, to wit the ‘independent country gentleman’, the changing orientation of the parliamentary parties, new developments in political ideology, and underlying economic and social changes meant that in reality the ‘Country interest’ was remarkably diverse . Side by side in the Commons were the ‘old Whigs’, who maintained the party’s traditional suspicion of, and hostility to, government: genuine survivals like Francis St. John, John Swinfen, or Thomas Turgis; those of a younger generation who harked back to the past in a self-conscious manner, such as Sir Richard Cocks, Sir Edward Hussey, Sir Richard Onslow, and Richard Neville; and the ‘commonwealthmen’, whose adherence to ‘true Whig’ principles was still more calculated and ideological, and who were given to rumination and even publication on questions of political theory. On the Tory side ancient country squires, some of whose political views were in many respects akin to those of the veteran Whigs, coexisted with a younger generation of nostalgic quasi-Jacobites, like Pakington and the pamphleteer William Shippen, who ascribed all the misfortunes of the ‘Country’ interest to the malign consequences of the Glorious Revolution. Straddling the party divide were the ‘moral reformers’, evangelical enthusiasts obsessed with the moral dereliction of society who supported projects for religious revival and social reformation, and who saw political corruption as an issue of personal morality.89 They included back-bench Country Whigs of the calibre of Maynard Colchester and Thomas Watson Wentworth, as well as Tories like Lord Digby (William) and Sir Humphrey Mackworth, although perhaps this outlook was most frequently found among former Exclusionists from ‘Puritan’ backgrounds, many of who turned in William’s reign towards the Tories: the Harleys, Foleys, Papillons, and Barnardistons. However, we should not assume that Country Members can be neatly pigeon-holed into one or another of these categories, or that the categories themselves were necessarily discrete. The diarist Sir Richard Cocks and his fellow Country Whig Peter King, though representatives of quite different social groups, respectively the greater gentry and the provincial bourgeoisie, had certain other characteristics in common: both were adherents of the ideology of ‘classical republicanism’ associated with the Commonwealth Whigs, and, in a mild way, were also ‘moral reformers’.
In addition, it should be no surprise to learn that enthusiasm for Country causes was often most pronounced among the young and politically inexperienced. This was a recognized phenomenon. In 1705 Peter King and James Stanhope, were said to have been ‘like novices of Whigs... very zealous and forward in procuring a bill ... for disabling men in office’.90 After the general election of 1710 the Tory hunt for evidence of Whig maladministration was led by newly elected Members: ‘the young people in Parliament are very eager to have some inquiries made into past mismanagements’.91 In part, this was innocence; but in the case of those apprentice politicians who wished to make a mark quickly in the House opposition to government on Country principles was a means not only of making oneself in nuisance to ministers, but of securing a reputation among fellow Members as a man of public spirit.
The Welsh Members and Welsh Issues
Defining the Welsh Members in this period is not entirely straightforward. Besides the members who represented constituencies in Wales, a small but significant number of Welshmen were returned for counties and boroughs in England. Eight Members sat for both English and Welsh constituencies: Sir John Aubrey, 2nd Bt., Sir Rowland Gwynne, (Sir) Thomas Hanmer II, John Jeffreys, Sir Humphrey Mackworth, Sir Roger Mostyn and Sir Thomas Powell. A further three had long left the principality to make careers in England: Francis Gwyn, from Llansannor in Glamorgan, represented Christchurch, Callington, and Totnes in this period; Thomas Owen, from Cymeog in Pembrokeshire, was returned for Bramber in the two general elections of 1701; and Sir John Trevor, from Pulford in Denbighshire, sat for Yarmouth, Isle of Wight, until his expulsion in 1695. There was also a degree of overlap between county communities in the marches, which resulted in a blurring of national distinctions. Some landowners had estates, and political influence, in counties on either side of the border: the Harleys and Prices in Radnorshire and Herefordshire; the Kemyses in Glamorgan and Monmouthshire; and the Whitleys in Flintshire and Cheshire. The Welshness of these families, and indeed of the gentry of Monmouthshire, which in constitutional terms was incorporated into England but historically may be regarded as part of Wales, was debatable and uncertain, and depended very much on the individual concerned. Most could claim Welsh estates or antecedents, but not all vaunted their Cambrian patriotism as heartily as the Welsh-speaking lawyer Robert Price*.
However the subject is defined, this was a ‘golden age’ of Welsh parliamentary talent: two Speakers, Robert Harley and (Sir) Thomas Hanmer II; a third, if one allows for the Welsh origins of Sir John Trevor, who in addition boasts the dubious distinction of having resigned the Chair, and been removed from the House, for corruption; and a gallery of notable parliamentarians. The lawyers Sir William Williams, 1st Bt., and Sir William Wogan may have left their best days behind them in 1690, and Wales can scarcely lay claim to the brilliance of (Sir) Simon Harcourt II on the strength of half a session as a Cardiganshire Member, but there were still a number of second-rank party politicians of the calibre of Rowland Gwynne, a busy and vociferous Court Whig in his heyday, who moved the Association in 1696 and seconded the nomination of the house of Hanover to the succession in 1701. On the Tory side we can find the Harleyites Thomas Mansel I and Robert Price; Francis, ‘Lord Rochester’s’, Gwyn, self-styled heir apparent to Sir Edward Seymour’s (4th Bt.)* ‘western empire’ and a figure of great political significance in the 1690s, whether or not one accepts a modern historian’s depiction of him as effectively the midwife of the ‘new Country party’;92 and Lord Nottingham’s son-in-law Sir Roger Mostyn*. Prominent on the back benches were the independent-minded Whig brothers Thomas and John Morgan of Tredegar; the Country Whig Richard Vaughan I; the ‘Welsh owl’ (Sir) John Philipps, guardian of public morals and promoter of Christian virtue; and his fellow philanthropist Sir Humphrey Mackworth, whose career as a financier brought him a reputation of a less savoury kind. Such was the contribution of Welsh Members to William III’s Parliaments that in 1702 Sir Richard Cocks, 2nd Bt.,* could pointedly remark, apropos of the Anglo-Welsh union, that the Welsh ‘princes were proud of being senators, and so[me] of them had deservedly been princes of our senate’.93
The changing political complexion of the Welsh parliamentary representation, is evident from the following table. Figures refer to the numbers of Tory, Whig, and ‘unclassified’ Members chosen for Welsh constituencies at each general election, taking into account the adjudication of double returns but not the judgments of the House on election petitions. The numbers remaining in each category at the dissolution of the Parliament are given in parentheses. The methods used to classify Members by party are explained, and the difficulties discussed, above, p 000.
The pattern of political allegiance in Wales 1677-1715
Whiggism had been strong in Wales prior to the Revolution but it had never been dominant. Even in the days of Exclusion there had always been a substantial Tory element, based on the Cavalier loyalism of the North Wales gentry, and in the south on the influence of the 1st Duke of Beaufort (Henry Somerset†) as Lord President of the council in the marches. In 1690 the two parties were well balanced. But by 1701 Whig support had weakened considerably, as a result of the conversion to Toryism of such notable families as the Harleys (in Radnorshire), Mansels (in Glamorgan) and Williamses of Vaynol (in Caernarvonshire). The significance of the Harley-Mansel axis in particular is emphasized by the number of Welsh Tories adhering to the Court in 1704, when only nine out of 20 Welsh Tories were recorded as voting for the ‘Tack’, and again in 1710-12, when seven out of 22 were members of the October Club. That this was the effect of personal connexion rather than a widespread preference for ‘moderation’ among Welsh Tories is clear from the weakness of the Hanoverian wing of the party in the principality. Despite the prominent role played by (Sir) Thomas Hanmer II and Sir Roger Mostyn, 3rd Bt., in the revolt over the French commerce treaty in 1713, and in pro-Hanoverian agitation in 1714, only one other Welsh Tory (Hon. Henry Bertie II) could be described as a ‘whimsical’ in these last two Parliaments. At the same time, there was a substantial, and vocal, High Tory element in Wales, exemplified by Lewis Pryse of Gogerrddan, who in a much-publicized incident in Aberystwyth in 1710 drank to the Pretender on his knees, and by others with non-juring backgrounds or Jacobite futures, like the Barlows, Bulkeleys and (at least as an electoral patron in Wales) the 2nd Duke of Beaufort. The later importance of Wales as a nursery of Jacobitism was prefigured in the foundation in Denbighshire in 1710 of the most famous of the Jacobite clubs, the Cycle of the White Rose.94
In general, dynastic forces seem to have operated in Wales very much to the benefit of the Tory cause and to the detriment of the Whig. Families which had served as pillars of Whiggery in their respective counties, such as the Gwynnes of Llanelwedd in Breconshire and Radnorshire, the Herberts of Montgomery Castle in Montgomeryshire or the Herberts, earls of Pembroke, in Glamorgan suffered recession or decline, so that by 1710 Welsh Whiggery came to depend largely on the Owens of Orielton in Pembrokeshire and the Vaughans of Golden Grove in Carmarthenshire. At the same time Tory landed interests either maintained their local influence intact, which was the case with the Bulkeleys of Baron Hill in Anglesey and Caernarvonshire and the Myddeltons of Chirk in Denbighshire, or recovered effectively from brief spells of weakness, as did the Somersets, Dukes of Beaufort in Breconshire and Glamorgan, and the Pryses in Cardiganshire.
While underlying social and economic developments may be adduced to explain the growth of a ‘popular’ Toryism among some electorates, notably in the larger boroughs of Glamorgan, and the prejudices of traditional Anglicanism are to be observed in some constituencies in the general elections of 1705 and 1710,95 the character of Welsh politics determined that the relative strength of rival magnates was almost always the deciding factor in elections. The small recovery enjoyed by the Whigs in the election of 1713 was due to a splitting of the Tory interest in three counties for reasons of personality rather than principle: in Caernarvonshire, where William Griffith’s* amour propre led him to join with Whigs to oppose Sir Roger Mostyn; in Cardiganshire, where Lewis Pryse quarrelled with his close ally Thomas Powell; and in Denbigh Boroughs, where Sir Richard Myddelton was betrayed by a former lieutenant, John Wynne*.
The Welsh Members did not act together as a parliamentary pressure-group. Indeed, it has been argued that in the late 17th and early 18th centuries the gentry in Wales as a whole were losing their sense of national identity and were becoming quite Anglicized, partly as a result of the pejorative stereotyping of Welshmen in English popular literature, which was sufficient to taint the image of native culture while yet not so relentless as to provoke a patriotic reaction.96 In the normal course of events Welsh parliamentarians seem to have thought of themselves as belonging to the greater English body politic. In their addresses of congratulation on the accession of Queen Anne, various Welsh county communities were happy to echo their new sovereign’s ‘entirely English’ sentiments, while the Earl of Mar (a Scotsman) found no awkwardness in discussing a projected Jacobite landing in 1717 with Lewis Pryse in terms of ‘the restoration of old England’.97 The process of Anglicization, however, was far from complete. Squires like Hugh Nanney* and Sir Edward Stradling* still employed household bards; many others, of whom Thomas Mansel I and Sir Roger Mostyn were the most prominent, were interested enough in the history of their native land to patronize the work of the noted antiquary Edward Lhuyd; and in 1714 a group of expatriate Welshmen in London founded a charitable society to help their less fortunate compatriots, entitling it ‘the most loyal and honourable society of ancient Britons’.98
In the Commons distinctively Welsh issues seldom arose; that is to say grievances or proposals which affected the principality as a whole and not just a particular individual, group or locality. Personal or parochial matters could of course divide Welshmen from each other: on the bill of 1693 to reverse a judgment in a dispute between Lords Jeffreys and Pembroke (Thomas Herbert†), Welsh MPs spoke, and voted, on opposite sides.99 Those items of legislation which did affect Wales as a whole were the bills to repeal the Henrician Act limiting the number of j.p.s in Welsh counties (1692-3, 1693); for the better execution of justice in Wales (1694); to take away the ‘custom of Wales’ (1696); to regulate the court of great sessions (1696-7); to execute judgments and decrees saved in the Act of 1689 abolishing the council in the marches (1698); to prevent vexatious suits in Wales and the counties palatine (1700); and to compound fines to be levied on lands in Wales (1713). The majority concerned the administration of justice, and none gave rise to a clash of interest with English Members. The bills of 1698 and 1700 benefited some English counties as well, and were sponsored by Englishmen: Charles Baldwyn, who sat for Ludlow, formerly the home of the court of the council in the marches, brought in the bill to execute judgments from that court; and Sir Robert Eden, a knight of the shire for Durham, was an equally comprehensible choice to introduce the bill preventing vexatious suits.100
Unique as a political issue of national significance was the proposed grant to the Earl of Portland in 1695-6 of the lordships of Denbigh, Bromfield and Yale, formerly ‘an inseparable part of the inheritance of the Prince of Wales’ and allegedly comprising ‘about five parts in six’ of Denbighshire. A hastily organized deputation from leading landowners in the county, headed by Sir William Williams, 1st Bt., Edward Brereton, Sir Robert Cotton, 1st Bt.*, Robert Price and Sir Roger Puleston*, protested at the Treasury in May 1695. Amid the detailed practical objections offered, two speakers struck a patriotic note. Williams commented that ‘since the Creation we have had no lord, but the Lord of Heaven and the King’. Price, whose own notes furnish a lengthy version of his contribution, claimed that the grant was tantamount to placing the Welsh, or ‘Britons’ as he also called his fellow countrymen, ‘under a foreign subject’, a poor reward for a century and a half of loyalty to the Crown, and in effect to the ‘vassalage’ of the Anglo-Norman era.101 After further representations the Lord Privy Seal, which delayed the passage of Portland’s warrant but did not defeat it, the protesters took their case to Parliament, where they were joined by other Members from Denbighshire and the surrounding counties: Sir John Conway, Sir Thomas Grosvenor, Sir Richard Myddelton and Edward Vaughan. Their petition, presented on 14 Jan. 1696, alleged that royal revenues would be diminished, the inhabitants ‘oppressed’, and also that ‘the right and principality of the Prince of Wales’ would be prejudiced. A sympathetic House of Commons ordered an address requesting the revocation of the grant, and the King promptly acquiesced.102 The speech of the debate was undoubtedly that of Robert Price, who exposed the dangers to liberty and property from excessive grants to court favourites and ‘foreigners’, but gave his otherwise familiar exposition of Country party patriotism a distinctively Welsh slant, in arguing that this development threatened to make Portland ‘quasi Prince of Wales’ and recalling ‘the Welsh original contract [by which] we were brought to entertain a prince of Wales... as one who did not understand the English tongue; and our forefathers thence inferred, that he must be our countryman, and no foreigner’. Price himself had always viewed the grievance as a national one, describing the original petitioners as ‘the Cambro-Brittons’, and he thus gave a short-lived national significance to an issue that the Commons appear to have regarded either as a more general question of royal policy or in rather more localized terms, since they added to the committee on the address the ‘Members for North Wales’ only. The speech was printed as Gloria Cambria: Or, the Speech of a Bold Briton in Parliament, against a Dutch Prince of Wales, and was cited by another Denbighshire man as evidence that ‘our British [i.e. Welsh] courage is not quite lost ... some of the first rank in town was pleased to compliment us with the title of an honest, stout people’. However, Price’s conception of nationality was not entirely clear: he spoke of his ‘countrymen’ the Welsh, used the phrase ‘British nation’ to mean both English and Welsh, referred in his remarks to ‘our English trade’ and finally reminded the House that ‘we are Englishmen, and must, like patriarchs, stand by our country, and not suffer it to be tributary to strangers’.103
The debate on Portland’s grant was an isolated episode, deriving its notoriety less from the expressions of Welsh patriotism it evoked than from the vehemence of these attacks on the court and their closeness to the King. Indeed, for much of this period it would seem more reasonable to think of Wales not as a single political entity, but as several entities, groups of neighbouring counties whose landed élites felt a wider community of interest, Anglesey and Caernarvonshire, for instance, or Cardiganshire and Pembrokeshire. Some of these blocs had strong cross-border connexions: Glamorgan-Monmouthshire-Breconshire, Breconshire-Radnorshire-Herefordshire; Denbighshire-Flintshire-Cheshire. Significantly, what we know of parliamentary party organization, best documented in the case of the Tories in 1708, reveals a ‘whipping’ arrangement for Welsh Members that divided the country in half, Thomas Mansel I having responsibility for south Wales and (Sir) Thomas Hanmer II, Sir Roger Mostyn and Sir Richard Myddelton the north, extending as far as Merioneth, and including Shropshire.104
Scottish Members and Scottish Issues
In Scotland divisions over the issues of church establishment and royal succession ran deep, and men were not slow to take up arms in order to resolve their political differences. Yet, paradoxically, the Presbyterian triumph in 1689-90, far from stimulating the growth of ‘parties’ on English lines by focusing attention on the ecclesiastical question, seems to have delayed any such development, and in the first place to have ushered in a political system characterized by personal and factional rivalry, opportunism and instability.105 The explanation lies in the fact that the great nobles who dominated the Scottish parliament seem for the most part to have been motivated by pragmatism and self-interest.106 The bitterness of religious warfare in Scotland in the 1680s can mislead, for despite the violence of the Covenanting rebellion and of the government repression which had followed it, Scottish Protestants had not in truth been polarized along sectarian lines. Until Queen Anne’s reign, and the introduction into Scotland of the English prayer book and liturgy, episcopalianism does not seem to have meant much more than commitment to a particular form of church government,107 and in the wide space between zealous Presbyterians and committed episcopalians lay a substantial body of opinion which, if not entirely indifferent to changing ecclesiastical structures, was at least able to accommodate itself without too much difficulty. Thus the re-establishment of Presbyterianism in 1689 did not necessarily exclude or alienate more than a minority of ultra-episcopalian clergy and lairds. In political terms, too, the pragmatic were able to come to terms with a political settlement which ‘took a more aggressive form … than its equivalent in England’, in enunciating clearly the principles of resistance, and indeed, of ‘limited monarchy’.108 A rump of Jacobite ‘cavaliers’ survived in the Scottish parliaments of William III and Anne, yearning for the restoration of the hereditary, Stewart line of kingship, and holding to episcopalian preferences in religion. Where once they had been led by magnates of the calibre of Montrose or Queensberry, they now followed less exalted figure of the Earl of Home. The success of the Revolution had obliged ambitious former Jacobites to reinvent themselves quickly as Williamites, an enterprise in which all could take profitable instruction from James Douglas, Earl of Drumlanrig, the future 2nd Duke of Queensberry, who had deserted King James VII with exemplary speed. Even the Murrays, Marquesses and Dukes of Atholl, who as a family retained episcopalian sympathies and connexions throughout this period, and supplied some recruits to the Jacobite rising in 1715-16, were prompt to embrace the Revolution, and even dabbled briefly in radical Whiggism.
After 1689, with the Scottish estates meeting regularly, and under no constitutional constraints (such as had operated under the system of lords of the articles), parliamentary politics took shape in Edinburgh, and that shape was determined by the power of the great magnates. Scottish politics, as contemporary critics declared, was magnate-ridden,109 and the unicameral structure of the Scottish parliament made it easier for the nobility to influence, even to control, proceedings. On the first rank of Scottish magnates stood the Dukes of Argyll, Atholl, Hamilton, and Queensberry, the Marquess of Annandale, and eventually, once he came of age, the Marquess (later Duke) of Montrose. Less powerful in their own right, though still influential and often to be found in government, were secondary families like the Dalrymples, Earls of Stair, Erskines, Earls of Mar, Hays, Marquesses of Tweeddale, Humes, Earls of Marchmont, Kerrs, Earls (later Dukes) of Roxburghe, and Leslies, Dukes of Rothes.
Fearing ‘overmighty’ Scottish subjects, King William and his advisers preferred to employ the lesser nobles as instruments to govern Scotland:110 at first the Melvilles and Dalrymples, and, when the mutual hostility of these implacable rivals finally rendered management impossible, the ambitious secretary James Johnston*, alongside the more passive and complacent 1st Marquess of Tweeddale. But for all the secretary’s shrewdness and energy, the magnates could not be kept at bay for long, and in 1696 Johnston and Tweeddale were themselves replaced by a triumvirate, comprising the 1st Duke of Argyll, the 2nd Duke of Queensberry, who had recently succeeded his father, and Lord John Murray, soon to be created Marquess of Tullibardine and then Duke of Atholl. Unfortunately for the King, it was a natural law of Scottish politics that magnates would only co-operate in opposition. Harnessed together in power, they soon quarrelled. Queensberry and Argyll lined up against Murray, who within two years was forced out of office. The opposition alliance he then joined was truly formidable, not only in terms of numbers and influence, including as it did Johnston and Tweeddale’s party, together with the cavaliers, and such major figures as the Duke of Hamilton, but also in its popular appeal, being able to attack Queensberry (and Argyll) on such emotive issues as the standing army, and the catastrophic collapse of the Scottish colonial venture at Darien. Queensberry, who by 1700 had acquired an ascendancy over his colleagues in the Scottish ministry, and was now indisputably chief minister, was only barely able to survive the parliamentary session of 1700-1, his position further distressed by the almost inevitable alienation of Argyll and the remnants of the old Court party he had inherited.
The accession of Queen Anne, and the shift to a Tory ministry in England, brought about a fundamental reconsideration of Scottish management. The Country party, headed by Hamilton, seceded from Parliament en masse in 1702 in protest at the failure to call a new election, and forced, not only a new parliament, but the beginning of a series of short-lived ministerial initiatives. The first in 1703, was an alliance between Queensberry and the cavalier element in the Country party, brokered by Godolphin’s Scottish adviser, James Ogilvy, Earl of Seafield, though with Hamilton excluded. When the cavalier experiment failed Seafield tried to replace Queensberry with the ‘Presbyterian’ elements of the Country party, in effect the remnants of the old Tweeddale-Johnston group, forever hereafter to be known as the ‘new party’ or ‘Squadrone Volante’ (flying squadron), ‘Squadrone’ for short. The new ministers would be boosted, Seafield hoped, by the addition of Hamilton and the emerging interest of the Marquess of Montrose. But Hamilton would not play, and with Atholl, and above all Queensberry, also outside the ministerial circle, opposition once again proved too powerful. In 1705 Seafield therefore reverted to a magnate alliance, this time a partnership of the 2nd Duke of Argyll (who had recently succeeded to the title), with Lord Annandale. But this left Queensberry, the Squadrone and Hamilton all in opposition, and again too much for the Court alliance. Eventually, with the prospect of Union drawing ever closer, Queensberry was brought back in place of Annandale, and in uneasy co-operation with Argyll, to carry the Union on behalf of Godolphin. By now the Squadrone had contracted a working alliance with the Junto in England, who themselves favoured Union, for their own selfish interests as well as from principle, so that, although still excluded from power in Scotland, the Squadrone leaders were brought in this way to support the ratification of the treaty in hopes of acquiring some factional advantage in the united Parliament.
The cumulative result of these kaleidoscopic changes was to leave Queensberry as the most powerful political figure in Scotland, and his ‘Court party’ as the largest political interest. Prolonged and almost continuous occupancy of high office had enhanced Queensberry’s personal influence, as more clients and followers were purchased with the currency of government patronage. In the mid-1690s he had absorbed the Dalrymple family and their connexions, and others recruits had gradually been added, among them the Erskines, the Earl of Morton, John Pringle* of Haining, and the Clerks of Penicuik. The outstanding parliamentarian among the Court contingent was undoubtedly the solicitor-general, Hon. Sir David Dalrymple, 1st Bt., who was described as the Duke’s ‘mouth … at least he is said to be wholly his creature and therefore speaks his mind’.
Hamilton had a claim to be Queensberry’s main rival in 1707, on the strength of his leadership of the Country party from 1699 to 1702. Despite coming of firm Presbyterian stock, he had tried to place himself at the head of the ‘cavaliers’. He was certainly willing to postpone any settlement of the succession in 1704, and in any case, his own remote claim to the crown of Scotland invested him with a certain ambivalence on the issue. Consequently those who observed him from a distance often thought of him as a Jacobite, as the London mob did.111 Scots on the whole knew better. As late as 1702 was regarded as a Whig in Scotland,112 and it was clear from the parliamentary session of 1703 that the cavaliers as a group did not recognize him as their leader, most preferring to accompany Home and his ‘Mitchell’s Club’ into active alliance with Queensberry rather than remaining with Hamilton, semi-detached from government. An important exception was the young George Lockhart of Carnwath, soon to be the busiest and most eloquent of the ‘cavaliers’ in the House of Commons, who was attached to Hamilton through ties of family and locality, though by the time he had reached his parliamentary prime in the session of 1710-11, he had emancipated himself from the Duke’s tutelage and struck out on his own. Otherwise, Hamilton’s closest supporter among the Scottish MPs was William Cochrane of Kilmaronock, an able man, whose performances in the House met with approval from some English critics, but who was induced by personal ambition to serve more than one master, and, having for some time simultaneously cultivated the patronage of both Hamilton and Montrose, eventually succumbed to the blandishments of Robert Harley’s English ministry.
Of the other magnates, Argyll was potentially the strongest. The hereditary chieftain of clan Campbell, he could expect to influence the votes of his several kinsmen in the House of Commons, and enjoyed a controlling electoral interest in several counties and burgh districts, with which to provide for other clients and dependants (in particular his own county of Argyllshire, and its burghs, and neighbouring Dunbartonshire). At the time of the Union Argyll’s political fortunes had fallen to a nadir, many of his natural followers alienated by his opportunism and arrogance, to such an extent that in the last session of the Scottish parliament he could rely on only one member of his own clan to support him,113 but after 1707, with his political interest massaged skilfully for him by his brother, Islay, there was a steady improvement. In any case, his resources compared favourably with his rivals. Neither Annandale and Atholl were entirely secure in their own counties, Annandale having to compete with Queensberry in Dumfriesshire, Atholl with Montrose in Perthshire.114 Moreover, Argyll’s high rank in the army gave him an additional advantage, in ready access to regimental patronage. From time to time he became a focus of attention for junior officers disgruntled at lack of advancement under Marlborough. Thus among the Scottish Members he could command a small detachment of military men, which increased in number towards the end of Queen Anne’s reign as new converts were recruited, and which included John Middleton II (who received his first commission in Argyll’s own regiment), Hon. George Douglas, Hon Charles Rosse, and possibly also George Hamilton and James Scott II. In addition, despite the fact that in this period Argyll acted consistently in his own interest and entirely inconsistently in relation to party politics, the traditions of his family enabled him to draw upon the reservoir of Presbyterian and Whiggish sentiment in Scotland whenever he wished.
The Squadrone represented a political interest of a rather different nature, a tightly knit combination of lesser nobles, whose co-operation was informed by a general commitment to political principles (in their case Whig principles) but who were held together chiefly by family relationships and friendship. Collectivities of this kind were not entirely a new phenomenon in Scottish politics—the ‘Club’ of 1689-90 was an obvious precedent, and indeed there were resemblances in the political behaviour of the cavaliers in 1703. But the members of the Squadrone attracted more attention because their connexion with the Whig Junto made them serious competitors for power after the Union. The Squadrone had originated in the coalescence of the Tweeddale interest, under the ineffectual 2nd Marquess, and including Tweeddale’s brother-in-law Lord Rothes and the 1st Duke of Roxburghe, with that of the Whig elder statesman Lord Marchmont. Montrose did not belong to this ‘new party’ at its formation, and indeed voted against the Squadrone ministry’s attempt to settle the succession in 1704, but was soon brought on board by Roxburghe. The precise timing is unclear. As late as the winter of 1707-8 the Montrose ‘interest’ was spoken of as something distinct from the Squadrone proper,115 but in practice the two were hard to separate, and as far as this History is concerned unity of purpose is assumed to have existed from the Union. There were, however, tensions within the Squadrone, as Tweeddale and Marchmont found themselves superseded by Roxburghe and Montrose. Since Marchmont in particular was a poor attender at Westminster, these tensions were more apparent in the Commons, where Marchmont was represented by the formidable George Baillie of Jerviswood, the former Williamite exile and plotter who evidently saw himself as the leader of the Squadrone Members; Tweeddale for a time by the able and outspoken John Cockburn of Ormiston, who later drifted into Roxburghe’s orbit; Roxburghe himself by William Bennet of Grubbet, and then by Cockburn; and Montrose by his factor Mungo Graham, and the more experienced but less trustworthy John Haldane of Gleneagles.
Although Scottish politics in 1707 was still in essence a struggle between the magnates, either acting singly, or, in the case of the Squadrone, as a group, there were signs that some form of ’party’ conflict might develop, given the underlying sectarian tensions between Presbyterians and episcopalians. Indeed, after 1702 relations between the Kirk and episcopalian dissenters seem to have deteriorated sharply. Perhaps encouraged by talk of Union, and then by the Union itself, episcopalian ministers and congregations became more assertive, adopting the Church of England prayer book and introducing liturgical innovations to bring themselves into conformity with their English neighbours. In return, the Established church took a tougher line in imposing uniformity of worship, and in the north-east, in Fife, and in the capital itself, episcopalian ministers were subject to prosecution and ejection.116 The uniting of the two Parliaments gave Scottish episcopalians powerful allies, and English Tories did not shrink from interfering in support of what they saw as the ‘Church interest’ north of the Tweed. Moreover, the very fact that after 1707 Scottish Members found themselves operating at Westminster in a political atmosphere heavy with ‘party’ rhetoric, where issues and allegiances were defined in party terms, inevitably resulted in the absorption of English ideas and prejudices. Already by the time of the Union Whig and Tory interests existed in Scotland: on the one hand lay the Squadrone, who could claim the mantle of Scottish Whiggery, through the stiff Presbyterian principles of men like Marchmont and Baillie, though Argyll lurked in the background as a potential rival; on the other were the ‘cavaliers’, who had always maintained the traditions of Stewart loyalism, and now seemed reinvigorated, both by the new prominence of the episcopalian issue, and by the popularity of their opposition to the Union among those whose prime concern may not have been with church or succession, but whose patriotic indignation had been aroused by what Lockhart and others decried as a betrayal of Scotland’s heritage and national interests.
The 45 Members who took their seats in the first Parliament of Great Britain, in November 1707, had been chosen by the estates of the Scottish parliament in the preceding February, according to the terms of an act of the Scottish parliament, passed only a short time before, for settling the representation of Scotland in the united Parliament.117 The three estates, peers, lesser barons (the equivalent of the English knights of the shire) and burgh commissioners, withdrew and made separate elections of their own representatives, in the exact proportions which were to obtain at each general election thereafter: 16 peers, 30 lesser barons, and 15 burgh commissioners. Little is known of the election process itself, but the end result reflected the political equation in the Edinburgh parliament. Except for a phalanx of 11 Squadrone supporters, every Member elected had some determining connexion with the Court: 13 were followers of Queensberry himself, or of his close associates (principally Murray of Philiphaugh, and the Earls of Leven, Mar, and Stair), two were influenced by the Earl of Cromartie, while seven were courtiers by virtue of holding office. In addition, at least four, and possibly as many as six, may be assigned to the interest of Lord Seafield, who was co-operating closely with Queensberry even though he had for some time regarded himself as entirely above Scottish faction, and had fixed his allegiance to Lord Treasurer Godolphin; and five more (four of them Campbells) to the vain and unpredictable Argyll. Among the Squadrone group, all but three Members can be assigned specifically to individual peers: three to Marchmont (either directly or through a connexion with Baillie), two to Roxburghe, and three to Montrose, if Montrose’s faction can be regarded as an integral part of the Squadrone at this point.118
The newcomers were given a cordial welcome at Westminster, so much so that for a time they were disproportionately prominent in the business of the House. One of their number, the courtier Francis Montgomerie, seconded the nomination of the Speaker, John Smith I, and helped escort Smith to the Chair. A dozen Scottish MPs were included in the 52-strong committee appointed to prepare the loyal Address, and this healthy representation on major committees continued throughout the session. ‘The English are extremely courteous and civil’, reported William Bennet, ‘and caress us on all occasions’. Several of the more important, or self-important, of the Scottish Members found that their reputations had preceded them. The late arrival of the solicitor-general, Sir David Dalrymple, whose journey to Westminster had been delayed because of illness, was welcomed by English ministerialists like James Vernon I*, in the expectation that the assistance of such an ‘eminent pleader’ would enable the Court party to overcome its difficulties in Scottish affairs, and ‘open things clearer as to their constitution than we understand of it at present’. Others whose appearance was eagerly awaited included the veteran Baillie, also prevented by poor health from attending on the opening day. Neither was to disappoint. Dalrymple duly took his place as the Court’s chief spokesman on Scottish affairs,119 while Baillie overcame increasing deafness to take the lead for the Squadrone, alongside the younger and almost equally effective John Cockburn. But not all Scots lived up to their billing, perhaps because of a difference in debating styles between the Scottish and English parliament. The serious, not to say ponderous, orations which had swayed opinion in Edinburgh may have seemed out of place in the cut-and-thrust of the House of Commons, where a freer, more familiar, atmosphere prevailed. Bishop Burnet’s kinsman Sir Thomas Burnett, 3rd Bt, the advocate John Murray, and the pamphleteer William Seton, were among the not inconsiderable personalities of the Scottish parliament who failed to impress at Westminster. The initial prominence accorded to Francis Montgomerie, which had conferred on him a brief reputation as ‘a fine speaker’, was dispelled by his subsequent contributions to debate. Oratory, however, was only one of many talents expected in a Member, and the parliamentary career of the Duke of Montrose’s client, John Haldane, shows how it was possible for a Scotsman to adapt successfully to this new environment. As far as we know, Haldane made only one speech in this session, but was named frequently to committees, and not always on Scottish business, though this was naturally his prime concern.
The Scots themselves may have been disappointed with their first experience of Westminster. The ambience was different from the parliament they had left, and from the Parliament they had expected: Bennet, for one, had believed he would be entering ‘an august assembly’, and was sadly disillusioned. Furthermore, the capacity of the Scottish Members to achieve the legislative ambitions of their constituents, or, more generally, to protect national interests, was not clearly demonstrated in this first session, even in what was in some respects a ‘honeymoon’ period. Political circumstances in the winter of 1707-8 were peculiarly fluid, with Godolphin, Harley, the Whig Junto and the Tories all pursuing different agendas, and hoping to involve the Scots in their intrigues. To some, this opened up prospects. Bennet was only one among many optimists, when he observed, ‘if the devil of division don’t possess us, we have it in our hands to cast the balance’. But a great deal depended on the Scots Members (or at least a majority of them) acting together, so that they might negotiate as a body with English parties or interest-groups. There were moments when it seemed as if this truth had been appreciated. Bennet wrote of a possibility of the Scots acting ‘in conjunction with the northern counties which seem heartily to court our friendship as bound by the same interests’; and in December 1707 the conservators of the River Tone in Somerset thanked Hugh Montgomerie* for the support ‘the North Britains’ had given in their navigation bill, presumably as a prospective quid pro quo.120 Unfortunately, the conflict between Court and Squadrone could not be suppressed for long. In December 1707 Baillie, Haldane, and other Squadrone spokesmen moved in the Commons for the abolition of the Scottish Privy Council, following up with further proposals for the introduction of circuit courts into Scotland, the enhancement of the powers of justices of the peace, and the reorganization of the militia. All this was in line with the professed commitment of the Squadrone to the full integration of North and South Britain, to complete the Union, but it was also a blow designed against the power of Queensberry’s Scottish Court party, since the abolition of the Privy Council, and with it the Scottish secretaryship, would remove a major instrument of Queensberry’s rule in Scotland.121 In moving for a bill to abolish the Council, the Squadrone acquired the support of Argyll, who could not rest content for long to play second fiddle, but who could only carry one of his Commons connexion with him on this issue. More to the point, they were able to acquire significant backing from English political interests, both the Junto and the Tories joining in with a view to making mischief for the ministry. This alliance of opposites proved strong enough to carry the day, even after Argyll had backtracked over the issue of the commission of the peace, which he realized, somewhat belatedly, would involve a diminution in the power of his own heritable jurisdiction.122 But the narrow, factional triumph of the Squadrone seems to have cost the Scottish Members dear as a lobbying group for national interests, depriving them of the coherence they had seemed to enjoy at the start of the session, and it was probably no coincidence that two significant legislative measures designed to benefit Scottish interests were lost in February 1708, during the struggle over the abolition of the Privy Council: bills to regulate the linen manufacture, and to encourage the salmon fishery.
After the fall of Harley, and towards the end of the parliamentary session, Godolphin made some adjustments to ministerial positions in Scotland, in order to strengthen the hand of Queensberry and his ‘friends’, the most prominent among whom (though, as far as the Duke was concerned, not the most loyal) was Seafield. The Treasurer’s immediate intention was to prevent the Squadrone from making too many gains in the forthcoming general election. The Scottish Court interest suffered, however, first from the disappearance of the Scottish secretaryship, which left business in the hands of the Secretary of State for the Northern Department, the Junto Lord Sunderland (Charles, Lord Spencer*), who allegedly intervened in the elections against Queensberry; and second, from an extraordinary convergence of interests between the Squadrone and the Duke of Hamilton, precipitated by Hamilton’s arrest, together with other, supposedly disaffected, persons at the time of the Jacobite invasion scare in March 1708. Hamilton, who had been denied bail by Scottish ministers fearful that they might be branded as Jacobites themselves, had contacted the Junto and the Squadrone and concluded an electoral alliance in return for his release.123
The divisions within the English ministry, and the swirling cross-currents of Scottish politics, exemplified in Hamilton’s ‘grotesque’ volte-face,124 combined to obscure the outcome of the general election of 1708. There were also other complicating factors: Argyll’s continuing unpredictability; Queensberry’s weakening position within the Court alliance, the splintering off from the Squadrone of a small fraction headed by Lord Sutherland;125 and the re-emergence of ‘party’ divisions within the Scottish political nation, perhaps an effect of the gravitational force exerted by English politics. After the election, the Court party was still had the largest single group, but Queensberry was only able to command 21 votes, and three of these belonged to followers of Argyll. Within the core of the Court, Queensberry’s own connexion had shrunk to seven Members, now only one more than Seafield. Court men like Lord Mar and his brother gloated at the weakness of the Squadrone, reduced to three Members (leaving aside Sutherland’s two votes),126 but to this trio were to be added Hamilton’s single vote, another commanded by Lord Annandale, Queensberry’s sworn enemy in the south-west, who had also thrown in his lot with the Junto, and four ‘cavaliers’, who should now perhaps be described in English terms as Tories (as they were indeed beginning to describe themselves).127 The remainder were either ‘Whigs’ (like the merchant MPs of Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Perth), independents, or unclassifiable. The Commons’ vote on 3 December to exclude the eldest sons of Scottish peers resulted in a minor adjustment of these figures: the loss of Sutherland’s son (Lord Strathnaver), Annandale’s (Lord Johnstone), a Tory (Lord Haddo), and the Master of Sinclair, whose political affiliations at this time remain obscure. By the spring of 1709 Strathnaver, Johnstone and Haddo had been replaced by the Queensberryites Robert Douglas and William Grierson, and the Argathelian Sir Alexander Cumming: a welcome reinforcement for the Court, and Queensberry in particular.128
The effect of this fragmentation in the Scottish representation was soon evident in the confused reactions of the English ministers to the new political situation. Neither Godolphin nor the Junto seemed clear at first as to their choice of Scottish allies. Godolphin does not appear to have been entirely happy with Queensberry, and may have thought of replacing him with Seafield, a scheme which would have required supplementary support from Argyll, and possibly also Hamilton, and for this reason was not to be entered into easily or lightly. The Junto for their part were not impressed with the weak showing of their Squadrone allies in the general election and yet could not bring themselves to trust Queensberry. Thus at the beginning of the 1708-9 session neither of the principal Scottish factions felt that they were being treated properly. In particular, relations between the Squadrone and the Junto became so strained that in December 1708, after complaints from the Squadrone at the ‘reserve’ of their erstwhile Whig allies, a great conference had been held between the Junto and the Squadrone leaders, at which various vague reassurances had been given to the Scots in an attempt to ensure that their representatives in the Upper House would vote against the admission of Queensberry as a member of the Lords in respect of his British title.129
This general uncertainty may help to account for a remarkable instance of co-ordination and cohesion among the Scottish Members in December 1708, when almost all those who were present voted against the petition of the Whig Sir Henry Dutton Colt* in the Westminster election.130 Colt was a bête noire of the Scots, having made ‘impertinent speeches reflecting on the Scots nation’ in previous Parliaments, and this personal antipathy was regarded by many as a sufficient explanation of the block vote against him. But the fact that it occurred at a time of ministerial indecision and general Scottish discontent is suggestive.
Some Scots drew what they saw as an overdue lesson from the Westminster case. When the Earl of Mar told his brother, the lord of session Lord Grange (Hon. James Erskine†), that the affair ‘makes a great noise … and shows of what weight and consequence we would be if we always went one way’, Grange replied:131
The instance you write shows beyond contradiction how considerable the few Scots representatives might be in Parliament were they united. But the late pamphlets make it a crime to desire they should be united. If these writers mean no more than that they ought not to be united by way of a private faction, I agree with them. But it would be a strange conceit (which yet these pamphlets insinuate) that they ought not [to] be united for the common and visible welfare of the country; and why not for the welfare of North Britain? Do not the members of York, or any other county, join for the common advantage of that county without being suspected to divide from the rest of Britain? And since Scotland has particular trades to pursue and advance, such as linen, fishing, cattle, etc., as well as the clothing or tin counties of England have theirs, why should Scots Members wishing to advance these be reckoned a setting up a separate interest inconsistent with the Union, more than theirs? I confess these new notions are so unaccountable to me, that I am astonished at them. And, after all, our small representation can hardly become ever so considerable as to give the South Britains [sic] any great ground of jealousy.
There were other issues, too, over which the Scots felt a sense of national grievance. Some (the Squadrone in particular) complained at the exclusion from the House of the eldest sons of peers as an infringement on the spirit of the Union (though the blame for this insult was fastened on two Scottish Members, George Lockhart and Alexander Grant, who had raised the issue, and against whom the Earl of Rothes fulminated as ‘the fools of the House’132). Then there was the bill introduced in January 1709 to bring the treason laws in Scotland into line with those in England, which Scottish Members opposed unanimously, even the Squadrone, with whose principles it was ostensibly in accord. When Rothes and other Squadrone leaders protested to the Junto at the passage of this measure, they were upbraided with having themselves obstructed ‘all the good things that are done to make the Union entire and complete’.133
But what was really at issue for the principals was not so much the ill-treatment of Scotland under the Union by an arrogant English majority in Parliament, as the uncertain direction of English policy and what was perceived as the ill-treatment of the rival factions by Godolphin and the Junto. In February 1709 Godolphin at last acted to confirm Queensberry’s position, by reviving the Scottish secretaryship for him. As a sop to the Squadrone Montrose was made keeper of the Scottish privy seal, and Roxburghe was advanced to the British Privy Council.134 This was not enough to satisfy the Squadrone. George Baillie was suspicious from the outset, and very soon ‘civil war’ resumed between the Squadrone and the Court, over the militia bill, which the Squadrone claimed favoured Queensberry’s faction, and which they were able to defeat at its first reading.135 Nor was it only Godolphin and the Court party against whom the Squadrone were infuriated. The Junto had done little to prove their friendship, other than in the preferment of Montrose. It may be that the Squadrone themselves were divided, with Montrose and Roxburghe more favourable to the Whigs than colleagues who were not provided for. Thus Rothes complained to Tweeddale in the spring of 1709 that matters were getting ‘worse and worse’, while Baillie’s jaundiced view was that ‘those called the Scottish ministry did in Scots business what they pleased’.136 The result was a Scottish Membership divided, distracted, and unable to concentrate on the passage of a single item of legislation in this Parliament which was perceived to be for the promotion of Scottish national interests.137
During the summer the Junto lords seem to have made efforts to repair relations. They focused on George Baillie, who was assured that if he would ‘freely and heartily enter into measures [sic] ... care should be taken to show that greater equality was meant for the future by doing something to distinguish him [sic]’ Although Montrose and Roxburghe both urged him to accept, principle or self-regard proved a stumbling-block. However, at the beginning of the 1709-10 session Baillie found both ‘the Court and Junto more favourably disposed to the Squadrone than last year’. There ensued some complex, and ultimately fruitless negotiations, in which Godolphin held out the possibility of replacing Queensberry with Seafield, the Squadrone to receive inferior posts in Scotland and Hamilton ‘either a place of name and show, or by calling him to the House [of Lords] and putting him in the [Privy] Council’. What Godolphin had in mind was a ‘scheme’ to bring the Squadrone, Hamilton and Argyll together in support of Seafield, who would scarcely have been able to withstand Queensberry on his own. The Junto for their part were keen to remove Queensberry but loath to install Seafield, of whom they were equally suspicious. There were also concerns that Godolphin, who had not entirely resigned his ministry to the control of the Junto, may secretly have been intriguing to leave the Squadrone out of these new arrangements altogether. In the event, all that happened was the final seduction of Baillie, who with Roxburghe’s assistance obtained from the Treasurer a place on commission of trade early in 1710. Whatever Godolphin’s sincerity, or that of the Junto, these efforts did reap some rewards, when in December 1709 a dozen Scots MPs ensured the passage of the window tax, against their own inclinations, and, they themselves suspected, the inclinations of their constituents.138
The drawback to this strategy was the gradual alienation of both Hamilton and Argyll. Hamilton’s relations with the Squadrone had deteriorated by the spring of 1709, since the Duke had failed to gain anything tangible from the alliance,139 and by the following winter he was probably entirely lost to them. Hamilton’s agent wrote: ‘I am convinced those set of people have no sense of gratitude, and sure I am it is not what your grace deserves at their hands’.140 As far as Godolphin was concerned, Hamilton could not be attached directly to the Court as long as Queensberry remained principal Scottish minister. Argyll, ‘whose personal and family pride made it difficult for him to accept any form of subordination’, had been on poor terms with Marlborough ever since the Union, envying the Captain-General’s rank and influence, and by 1710 had entirely broken with the ‘duumvirs’.141 Neither he and Hamilton, nor other perennial enemies of Queensberry, such as Annandale, who had long since become disillusioned with the Junto, needed much persuading to enter into Harley’s scheme for a ministerial revolution. As Godolphin’s authority crumbled, they were joined by discontented elements of the Court party: Mar, resentful at the loss of his office as keeper of the signet in the reshuffle of January-February 1709; the Earl of Morton; and in due course even Seafield. By the time of the dissolution (and taking into account the various changes that had occurred in the Scottish representation as a result of petitions and by-elections), Queensberry’s Court party could now muster 19 votes (seven of them Queensberry’s own followers, and six of them Seafield’s); the Squadrone probably four (including a nominee of Lord Sutherland) with four Whigs trailing along behind them; and the alliance of Tories and discontented magnates which could be expected to fall in behind the new ministry standing at 17 (four Tories, five Argyllites, three of Morton’s followers, two each for Hamilton and Mar, and one for Annandale).
The general election of 1710 took place with the direction of Scottish management still undecided. Argyll clearly intended that he or his brother Islay would be ‘the premier Scots minister’, and some observers saw this as inevitable.142 But Harley found the Campbells difficult allies; there was also Hamilton to be considered; and in any case Queensberry was showing a limpet-like determination to cling to power. The Duke was still the most powerful Scottish magnate in terms of the number of seats he controlled in the Commons, and besides was man of considerable political flexibility, possessed of important connexions within the Tory party in England. For the time being Harley kept Queensberry in office, and worked behind his back to influence Scottish elections through an informal coalition of Argyll, Atholl, and Hamilton (bought off with the lord lieutenancy of Lancashire), under the supervision of the Earl of Mar, who co-ordinated and directed operations. Ranged against this motley coalition were two other blocs: Queensberry’s ‘Court interest’, comprising his own followers, remaining cronies like the Earls of Leven and Glasgow, and office-holders; and the Squadrone, who now effectively the headed the ‘Whig’ interest in Scotland, and who were supported temporarily by Seafield (still acting in the interests of Godolphin).
The break-up of the Court party which had carried the Union, the incomplete political changes of 1710, and the increasing momentum towards a ‘party’ system in Scotland was reflected in the outcome of the 1710 election. Fewer Members than ever could be ascribed to individual magnates, the most substantial connexions belonging to Argyll and the Squadrone, each with five Members returned. Seafield could command three votes, Queensberry now only two, as could the Earl of Morton; Hamilton, Mar, Atholl and Cromartie one each. Indeed, it must be a moot point whether Sir Kenneth Mackenzie would more properly described at this point in terms of his relationship to Cromartie, the Douglases as clients of their kinsman Morton, or Lord James Murray as Atholl’s brother, rather than simply as Tories, which seems to be the way that contemporaries described them and they described themselves. Outside the network of magnates, there were a score of straightforward party men, 13 Tories, and 6 Whigs; two permanent Courtiers (the ‘civil servant’ John Pringle and the soldier John Stewart), and three others about whose political allegiance clarity is unattainable, Henry Cunningham (who was in the process of deserting Lord Mar for Whiggery), John Montgomerie II, and Patrick Vanse. Harley could therefore look to the support of some 10 Members from his pre-election alliance, bolstered by the 13 Tories; the Squadrone-Whig opposition mustered 11 votes, 14 with Seafield added in; and Queensberry at best four.143
Harley’s penchant for procrastination was nowhere more pronounced than in his direction of Scottish policy after 1710.144 A politically crippled Queensberry hung on as secretary until dying suddenly in July 1711, after which Harley to all intents and purposes retained authority in his own hands, assisted by Mar and, after 1712, Seafield (now Earl of Findlater), who had redefined his political loyalties and reattached himself to administration. Not until the summer of 1713 was Mar designated as the ministry’s Scottish manager, when the secretaryship was revived for him. In part Harley’s decision to take personal responsibility for Scottish business from 1710 to 1713 reflected his own unwillingness to share power; in part, the difficulties of maintaining the coalition of magnate interests he had constructed (it was not easy to restrain such self-willed magnates as Argyll, Hamilton and Annandale by tossing them scraps of patronage); and also his unwillingness to trust the Tory interest in Scotland, customarily assumed to be Jacobite in its inclination. But the lack of ministerial leadership meant that this Tory interest was left to do much as it liked.
Few of the Scottish Tories elected to the House of Commons in 1710 had much connexion with, let alone dependence upon, noble patrons; nor did they look towards magnate leadership, as the cavaliers had done prior to the Union. As many as eight of them were complete newcomers to Parliament. Hamilton could no longer hope to be even their figurehead, and was an isolated and diminished figure long before his death in a duel in November 1712. Neither Annandale nor Atholl was capable of replacing him at the head of the Tory interest, the former exaggeratedly self-centred, even for a Scottish magnate, the latter over-cautious; while Argyll was entirely out of the question, as too obviously a Whig in his principles. In any case none of the ‘great men’ possessed a political lieutenant in the lower House blessed with a talent for organization and leadership, not even Hamilton’s client Cochrane of Kilmaronock, probably the ablest of the older generation of Scottish Members, but suspected of dependence on the Court after his appointment in 1711 as joint keeper of the signet, and on particularly bad terms with Lockhart.145
Instead, the leading figures among the Tories in the Commons were Lockhart himself, no longer the ‘fool’ that Rothes had taken him to be but one of the first Scotsmen to come to terms with the debating style of the Commons, and to give as good as he received in exchanges with English wits; the young advocate John Carnegie; and two new Members, the Lord Lyon, Sir Alexander Areskine, 2nd Bt., and Lord Stormont’s son, Hon. James Murray. Together with the Argyllite Sir Alexander Cumming, who shared their commitment to the cause of episcopalianism, they formed what one historian has described as ‘secret steering committee’ to direct the efforts of the Scottish Tories.146 As Lockhart put it, the five Members established ‘a close and intimate friendship and correspondence’: ‘we engaged to stand firm to one another, to concert measures and to prosecute them together’, and among other things ‘to shake off that servile dependence which the Scots peers expected and had too much enjoyed from the Commons’.147 There is certainly much evidence of consultation and co-operation. Tories in Scotland were pleased to hear how well their representatives stuck together in the Commons.148 At one point George Baillie referred disparagingly to those who acted as ‘the managers’ of the Scots MPs in the House, and in May 1713, when Harley was seeking a resolution of the parliamentary crisis over the motion to repeal the Union, ‘Mr Carnegie, Mr Lockhart, Mr James Murray and Sir Alexander Cumming were sent for to a great man, where they got many fair words and promises of a right regulation of affairs in Scotland’.149 But whether these five Members functioned as a permanent ‘steering committee’ is unclear. For one thing, they did not share every political aspiration, Cumming’s relationship with Argyll setting him apart from the rest, and even Lockhart and Murray differing on occasion.150 Second, they were not equals in terms of standing or abilities. Only Murray could rival Lockhart as a star performer in debate,151 but even then it was Lockhart who enjoyed the greater reputation among English MPs, being the only Scottish Tory adopted as a candidate in ballots for the revived commission of accounts in 1711 and 1714 (and being elected both times). Lockhart and Murray seem also to have integrated themselves into the English political scene in a way that their colleagues did not, both being members of the October Club,152 although it is worth noting that Areskine was named on 18 Feb. 1712 to the committee of inquiry into abuses in the administration of the army, an October Club initiative.
Where the five Members certainly did work closely together, assisted by such other committed individuals as the Dundee merchant M.P. George Yeaman, was in the promotion of the episcopalian cause.153 On this issue we know that MPs and peers met in conference to prepare their tactics in advance.154 In the first session of the 1710 Parliament, provoked by the prosecution of the episcopalian minister James Greenshields, and encouraged by the sympathy of English Tories, Lockhart and Areskine secured leave to bring in a toleration bill for Scotland, only for Harley’s emissaries to dissuade them from pursuing the matter, with a promise of future ministerial support. At the beginning of the following session the five Members renewed their ‘correspondence’, and agreed on a wide-ranging programme of ecclesiastical reforms, adding to the toleration bill further measures to restore rights of patronage to church livings, and episcopal property usurped by the Kirk (the so-called ‘bishops’ rents’). Unable to renege on his promise entirely, Harley none the less did little to forward either the toleration or the patronages bill, both of which were passed despite rather than because of the ministry, and in the former case vitiated by a debilitating abjuration clause. The Scots Members present in fact divided 14-13 against the bill, with one recognizable Tory, John Houstoun, voting against, and two others, Lockhart and Sir Hugh Paterson, 2nd Bt., both absent. With the exception of Cumming the Argyllites either opposed the bill, or stayed away from the House.155 The episcopalian lobby then added a further bill, to repeal the Scottish act of 1689 ‘for discharging the Yule vacance’ (abolishing Christmas), but the measure to resume the bishops’ rents perished through lack of time.
How far these Scottish Tories may be identified as Jacobites is a matter of dispute. Whig opponents may have insisted on the fact, but the charge is hard to prove.156 According to one modern calculation, the Scottish Members for the Parliaments of 1710 and 1713 contained no less than 14 ‘probable’ Jacobite MPs, and five more ’possibles’.157 However, this list omits some undoubted Jacobites, and at the same time includes several extremely unlikely candidates, such as the Argathelians Sir Alexander Cumming, Dr Charles Oliphant, Charles Ross, and Colonel John Stewart of Sorbie, and other loyal army officers James Scott II and Colonel George Douglas (the latter proposed on a basis of mistaken identity).158 For most Scottish Tories we can do no more than speculate that their strong episcopalian convictions, and perhaps also in some cases a powerful patriotic aversion to the Union and its consequences, may well have made them sympathetic to the Jacobite cause. The correspondence of George Mackenzie of Inchcoulter, for example, suggests this as a possibility without furnishing proof.159 So too does the absence of Lord James Murray from his brother Atholl’s muster of government forces in Perthshire in 1715. In a few cases the evidence of active Jacobitism is undeniable. George Lockhart’s well documented career as an unsuccessful Jacobite plotter began soon after the death of Queen Anne and continued for more than a decade. Also out in the Fifteen were Lord Mar’s kinsman and client, Sir John Erskine, 3rd Bt., young William Grierson of Lag (Queensberry’s nominee for Dumfriesshire 1709-11), and George Baillie’s former son-in-law, the mentally unbalanced (Sir) Alexander Murray of Stanhope. Interestingly, none of these three had been identifiable as Tories at the outset of their parliamentary careers, though they may be described as such by 1714. In addition, Sir Hugh Paterson and Hon. James Murray were both already abroad, having fled to join the Pretender before the rebellion. Murray had been appointed as Jacobite secretary of state for Scotland, and was captured returning to Britain in secret in advance of the landing.
On the other side of the House, through co-operation in opposing the ministry, and in resisting the episcopalian lobby, the Squadrone and other Presbyterian Members seem to have been consolidated into a recognizably Whig interest. For example, it was aversion to the Toleration and Patronages Acts that turned John Montgomerie II of Giffen away from his family’s traditional loyalty to the Court. Several of Queensberry’s former supporters also drifted into opposition, and Whiggery, after their patron’s death in 1711, headed by the pious and determinedly orthodox Presbyterian, Sir David Dalrymple. Mar and Seafield tried to hold the old Court party together, but could not prevent the recall of Mar’s former protégé Henry Cunningham to the standard of his Covenanting forbears, the alienation of the half-pay officer Colonel John Stewart of Stewartfield, and above all the loss of Dalrymple, inevitable after his dismissal from the office of lord advocate, in 1711.
By itself this Whig opposition would not have been able to disturb government had it not been for Harley’s flaccid political management, which not only failed to give a clear lead on Scottish affairs, but, in seeking to be all things to as many men as possible, succeeded only in alienating a large number of Scots peers and Members by promising them jobs, pensions and favours without being able to deliver. Of critical importance was the alienation of those magnates whom Harley had formerly been at pains to conciliate. Annandale, declining to serve on the commission of chamberlainry and trade, and disappointed of the ‘settled and fixed post’ he felt was his due, deserted administration;160 and so too, inevitably, did Argyll. It is difficult to imagine the gratification that would have satisfied Argyll’s vanity, but, whatever it was, Harley signally failed to supply it. As early as February 1711 the Duke was reported to be discontented, and appointment as commander-in-chief in Spain, which he came to view as a disagreeable exile, did not improve his temper. His brother Islay was also resentful, regarding himself as a better candidate than Mar or Seafield to be Harley’s Scottish manager. By 1713 both brothers were openly critical of the ministry, and Argyll in particular was talking darkly of Jacobitism in high places, paving the way for his return to the Whig fold.161
Harley’s difficulties came to a head in the parliamentary session of 1713, when Scotsmen of all parties and denominations, in both Houses of Parliament, joined together in an abortive motion for the repeal of the Union. In part this was the natural consequence of failures in management, which had frustrated not only Annandale and Argyll but also many individual Tory Members on all sides. It was also the culmination of a process of national alienation, as Scottish representatives finally reacted to a succession of parliamentary insults. Sectional interests in Scotland might be indulged through the operation of party politics but national grievances were harder to remedy against the combined weight of English opinion. With the benefit of English Tory support, Scottish Tories had been able to push through partisan measures to benefit episcopalianism, but on economic and constitutional questions the Scottish Members as a group had proved an ineffective lobby. A foretaste of things to come was their failure in January 1711 to prevent the ministry from imposing a further duty on Scottish linen exports. On this occasion Lockhart had enjoyed the personal satisfaction of scoring debating points with a much applauded witticism at Harley’s expense, but the resolution had still passed, in the face of the concerted opposition of all Scots Members present.162 In order to retrieve the situation, a bill had then been presented (by George Yeaman, whose constituents in Perth included linen manufacturers and merchants) to prohibit the export of flax and linen yarn to Ireland, only for the Scots to find themselves outmanoeuvred by the Irish lobby, well marshalled on behalf of the lord lieutenant, Ormond, which not only prevented the prohibition, but guaranteed the continuance of Irish linen exports to the plantations.163 If this was a test of the advantages of Union, the results should have been deeply worrying. They were confirmed a year later when the combined efforts of the so-called ‘steering committee’ and Scottish merchant MPs were insufficient to persuade the ministers to modify the Scottish staple at Campvere (Veere) in Holland to allow Scots a greater freedom of trade with the continent; and more spectacularly, when orchestrated Scottish protests in both Commons and Lords failed (as with Queensberry in 1709) to secure the Duke of Hamilton’s admission to the Lords as a peer of Great Britain, an issue over which George Baillie was at his most ominous: ‘if he lose it the Union must break’.164 Towards the end of the 1711-12 session Sir David Dalrymple observed that ‘the sourness of our unhappy country increases towards out southern brethren, who do too visibly despise us’. He blamed the feebleness of his parliamentary colleagues in supporting national interests:
If they are honoured with a whisper and a smile when a party measure is to be wrought, they are transported to forget themselves. When they are once in, on they dance, and to keep them in countenance they can whip one another and never want assistance. They have interest to set Church against Kirk till both bleed, and they have wisdom to think it fine service and good politics.165
Eventually the Scots turned. The final provocation was the passage of the malt bill through the Commons on 22 May 1713. Extending the duty to Scotland was a clear breach in the Union treaty, which had specifically exempted Scots from the malt duty for the duration of the war. It was a deliberate insult, engineered by disaffected English Tory back-benchers with the intention of embarrassing the ministry.166 The Scots were unable to prevent the vote, but were quick to respond. Within a week Scottish representatives in both Houses had endorsed a proposal from Lockhart and Sir Alexander Areskine to move for a bill to dissolve the Union, the only real opposition coming from George Baillie on behalf of himself and his patron Marchmont. There was a good deal of disingenuousness in the attitude of all parties, however. Few really believed the motion stood any chance of success, but at the same time it was not politic to oppose, and thereby make oneself vulnerable to the charge of being insufficiently patriotic, especially with a general election in the offing. Even Baillie was playing a tactical game, for when Argyll and his creatures suggested a policy of non-co-operation with any English party that would not vote for repeal, Baillie deliberately raised the issue of the French Commercial Treaty, declaring that he would at least have to vote against the implementation of the treaty, as tending to the destruction of Scottish trade. By doing so he was able to provoke some Court party men to declare in turn that they would vote for the commerce bill, thus affording the Squadrone, as he put it, ‘the means to ruin their credit at the next election by laying the blame upon them for the failure of the dissolution [of the Union]’.167 The crisis enfolded in the Lords, where the motion for repeal was raised, and defeated, and the malt bill finally passed. But Lockhart and the other disappointed Scots still had an opportunity to make their presence felt before the session ended, which they did over the commerce bill. In the division on the 2nd reading, on 4 June, the Scots divided 15-10 against the bill, with a further 14 Members absent from the House and six more in attendance that day but abstaining on the vote.168 Those in favour of the bill included three of the ‘steering committee’, Carnegie, Cumming and Murray, while among the six abstainers were Areskine, Lockhart, and three other Tories.169 The Argyll interest was split. In the crucial division, however, at the engrossment on 18 June, the abstaining Tories all returned to support the ministry, some perhaps in response to instructions from the Pretender,170 so that the Scottish Members now divided equally for and against, 16-16, and, allowing for the Argyllites (who were mostly but not exclusively in favour), very much on ‘Whig’ and ‘Tory’ party lines.171
In the general election of 1713 the political balance in Scotland swung sharply. More Whigs than Tories were returned for Scottish constituencies: 14 in fact (including a quartet of Squadrone men, headed once more by Baillie), as opposed to 12 Tories (among whom were four of the ‘steering committee’, Lockhart, Areskine, Carnegie and Murray). But the real story of the election was the recrudescence of the Argyll interest. The Duke and his brother had come out strongly against the ministry, and no less than 13 of the new Members may be identified as their followers, though this number includes Sir Alexander Cumming, whose concern for the episcopalian cause could sometimes get the better of other considerations. The combination of Whigs and Argyllites gave a clear opposition majority, even allowing for the fact that two more Members, Sir John Erskine, 3rd Bt., and John Pringle, could be relied upon to follow the lead of the Court at all times. Thus in March 1714 19 votes were cast by Scottish Members against the expulsion of Steele (five of them from Argyllites), and a large contingent of Scots then helped the Whigs record two surprising victories in the committee of elections on the Brackley case, which the Presbyterian Member for Glasgow, Thomas Smith II ‘took to be owing to the Duke of Argyll, who was at some pains in this affair’.172
The divisions within the ministry only served to weaken the Tory interest further. Although Lockhart and Sir John Erskine were both prominent on the government side in the succession debate in April (with Baillie and two Argathelians, (Sir) James Campbell (2nd Bt.) and Charles Oliphant on the other),173 it was not long before doubts about ministerial integrity, presumably on the issue of the succession, drove Lockhart to take a more independent line, in which he may have been followed by his friend Sir James Hamilton, 2nd Bt.174 With the interesting exception of George Yeaman, Scottish Tories clung together for the last time in support of the Schism Bill in May 1714.175 But Lockhart had already gone out of his way to attack the commissioners of the equivalent, who included Sir John Erskine, joining with Whigs in a malicious attempt to insert a clause into the bill discharging the commissioners’ accounts, to force an explanation of the fate of the moneys already appropriated ‘for the wool’. Lockhart had in fact broken away like a loose cannon. Deeply suspicious not only of Lord Treasurer Oxford, but also of Secretary Bolingbroke, he was unhappy at the reintroduction in June of the bill to resume the bishops’ rents, which had been brought forward by Murray, Carnegie and Cumming at Bolingbroke’s prompting, or so Lockhart claimed. The three men, he wrote, had become Bolingbroke’s ‘favourites’, having attached themselves to the secretary as ‘the rising sun’. Lockhart and the Lord Lyon were allegedly more sceptical of the project of resumption, and justifiably so, since the outcry which resulted in Scotland led to the invocation of the royal veto as a deterrent to further proceedings, and the replacement of the bill by a more limited measure designed only to set up a commission of inquiry into the value of the property involved. The incident divided the ‘steering committee’, so much so that soon afterwards Lockhart was to be found supporting the Whigs in opposing John Carnegie’s bill to settle the Scottish militia.
Ironically, in the most overwhelmingly Tory of all Parliaments in this period, Scottish Toryism had failed to profit. Of course, the greater immediacy of the succession issue for Scotsmen had already made a damaging impact upon the popularity of Toryism in Scotland, prefiguring the disastrous consequences of the Fifteen, which would result in a return to a Whig or Presbyterian consensus and the eventual renewal of conflict between magnate interests, this time Argyll and the Squadrone. But what the 1714 session had amply demonstrated was the truism that divisions between Scottish Members seriously weakened their capacity to pursue collective aims in Parliament. This was obviously the case with the Tories, who were frustrated in their hopes for further measures for the advancement of episcopalianism, as their leaders in the House of Commons became entangled in the high-political intrigues of English ministers. However, national, as distinct from sectional interests, did receive some parliamentary encouragement in this session. A more positive message could be drawn from the way in which Scottish Members of all shades of opinion were able to combine their forces in support of the linen industry. Having first harassed and delayed the stamp duty bill, which included a discriminatory clause lifting the duty on soap used in the manufacture of English, but not Scottish, cloth, the Scottish Members then pushed through the House a further bill to regulate the Scottish linen trade. The explanation for this unusual success was, however, to be sought as much in the temporary confusions and conflicts within English politics, and especially in the ministry and the English Tory party, as in the equally temporary unanimity of the Scots. Indeed, the degree of Scottish unity is not entirely clear, for the linen bill was in many respects a Whig affair, piloted through the House principally by Henry Cunningham (who chaired the 2nd-reading committee) and Sir Gilbert Eliott. The single Tory on the drafting committee was George Yeaman, whose constituents were particularly concerned on this subject, and who had recently shown, over the schism bill, a tendency to forget some of his party principles, or at least to put economic issues before religion.176
Irish Members and Irish Issues
Defining the word ‘Irish’ in its narrowest sense, to include only those who had been born or brought up in Ireland, or who came from families principally resident there, makes the ‘Irish interest’ in the House of Commons in this period appear minuscule, comprising little more than a score of the 1,982 Members returned between 1690 and 1715, to wit the Annesleys (Hon. Arthur Annesley and his cousin Francis), Matthew Aylmer, James Barry (Lord Barrymore), Richard, Lord Bellew, the various Boyles (Charles I and II, Henry, Lionel and Richard), Thomas Brodrick, John Burgh, William Cadogan, Robert Echlin, John Fitzgerald (Earl of Kildare), Archibald Hutcheson, Thomas Meredyth, Robert Molesworth, Arthur Moore, Henry O’Brien (Earl of Thomond), Francis Palmes, James Sloane, Edward Southwell, Christopher Wandesford (Lord Castlecomer), and possibly Admiral Sir John Norris (who may have been connected with Ireland by birth, before marrying into the Aylmers). Moreover, this contingent would include several who effectively abandoned Ireland to settle in England, most notably perhaps the chancellor of the Exchequer Hon. Henry Boyle, the future Lord Carleton, but also several working lawyers (Francis Annesley, Burgh, Hutcheson, Moore, and Sloane), professional soldiers (Cadogan, Echlin, Meredyth and Palmes), and sailors (Aylmer and Norris), some of whom, especially the military men, had risen from humble beginnings. Francis Annesley, Molesworth and Sloane had each begun their careers in Ireland, and made a small mark in public life in Dublin, before seeking fame, fortune, and government office, in England. Of the three, only Molesworth was eventually to return and make himself a figure of importance in Irish politics once more. Arthur Annesley, the Boyle Earls of Burlington, Orrery and Shannon, Lords Bellew, Castlecomer and Thomond, Edward Southwell and Thomas Brodrick, may all be described as ‘Anglo-Irish’, as T.C. Barnard has redefined that rather contentious term,177 in that their possessions and interests straddled the Irish Sea, and they were equally at home in the political worlds of Westminster and Dublin.
How such men, and the few who remained firmly anchored in Ireland, would have described themselves is of course another matter; some as ‘Irish’ perhaps, others as ‘English’, others still as the Crown’s ‘English subjects of Ireland’. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries Irish Protestants’ sense of national identity was still in the process of formation, and a certain flexibility prevailed, with many capable of adjusting their self-definition according to circumstance.178 But, however fragile their attachment to the history and traditions of their native land, they were anxious to protect their vested interests as Irish landowners; acutely sensitive to any detrimental effects produced by English legislation on the Irish economy, or the maintenance of the 16th- and 17th-century land settlements, upon which proprietorship often (though not invariably) rested. Certainly the Annesley, Boyle, Brodrick, Molesworth and Wandesford families owed their stake in Ireland to participation in the Elizabethan and Jacobean plantations, or to the rewards of the Cromwellian conquest (while the Aylmers, Bellews, Fitzgeralds and O’Briens were of considerably older stock).
Given their natural dependence on the Revolution settlement and the maintenance of the Protestant establishment, it is not surprising to find that most were Whiggish in their politics, even recent converts from Roman Catholicism like Lord Bellew, and this despite the presence in the north of Ireland of large numbers of Scottish Presbyterian immigrants, which aroused the fears of Anglicans and inspired some with High Church sentiments. Of the few Irish Tories in the House of Commons at Westminster, Burgh, Echlin and Moore appear to have retained no material connexion with their native soil: Burgh followed the politics of his employer, the Duke of Beaufort, Echlin hitched his career to that of his army patron, the Duke of Ormond, while Moore, a shadier figure, made his way in the world through his connexions with Tory merchants in the City and rising politicians like Hon. James Brydges*, and Henry St. John II*. Edward Southwell, although a Tory by inclination and principle, came from a family which owed much of its worldly success to the patronage of the Dukes of Ormond, and himself adhered closely to the Duke as his patron. Arthur Annesley, Lord Anglesey, his cousin Francis, and their friend Lord Barrymore were all strong Tories from conviction—Anglesey’s High Churchmanship was particularly passionate and deep-seated—but they can all be described as Hanoverian Tories in 1713-14 (whatever Barrymore may have become subsequently). Although Anglesey’s wayward political conduct in 1714 is not easily explained, contemporaries were certainly prepared to account for it by the reference to his fear for the security of his co. Wexford estates in the event of a Jacobite restoration.179
There were also a number of English landowners with substantial Irish estates, inherited, acquired by marriage, purchased during a period of service in the Irish administration, or in a few cases granted by King William from the property forfeited by Jacobites after 1688. The largest inherited estates belonged to Hon. Thomas Watson Wentworth, the beneficiary of Lord Strafford’s depredations in Wicklow, Lord Digby of Geashill in King’s co., Robert Pigott in neighbouring Queen’s co., the Courtenays and Wallops in co. Limerick, and the Thynnes and Shirleys, who had divided between them the Essex estates at Carrickmacross in co. Monaghan. The most successful entrant in the marriage stakes was the young Francis Seymour Conway, whose wife brought him a major property at Lisburn in co. Antrim, while other significant gains were made by Hon. Thomas Wharton (including Rathfarnham castle, just outside Dublin) and Sir Joseph Williamson, both of whom took a keen interest in the Irish political scene as a consequence of their matrimonial acquisitions. John Asgill, famous in England for publishing his eccentric views on death and the after-life, was better known in Ireland as the English adventurer who acquired by purchase control of the Kenmare estates in County Kerry during the lifetime of the 2nd Earl, and became embroiled in litigation with the trustees of the 3rd Earl; while Hon. Charles Cornwallis was married into the Ormonds by his wily grandfather (and guardian) Sir Stephen Fox* and found almost comparable difficulties in realizing his assets.180 Among the incoming English officials who bought Irish estates were Richard Levinge, Solicitor-General and Speaker of the Irish house of commons in 1692; the judge Sir Richard Reynell, 1st Bt.; the former tax-farmers John Hayes and Lord Ranelagh (Richard Jones); and the barrister Thomas Medlycott, whose first job was in the service of the Duke of Ormond, and who joined Ormond’s other employees in purchasing lands at discounted prices in the extensive sales which the Duke’s financial exigencies dictated. Finally, there were the recipients of King William’s grants, most notoriously the Junto Lords Halifax (Charles Montagu), Orford (Hon. Edward Russell), and Somers (Sir John), whose interest in Irish land expired with the Resumption Act of 1700.
Not all the Members who held property in Ireland participated in Irish politics. Most Englishmen with Irish estates were permanent absentees, and while some made an attempt to exercise their proprietorial interest in Irish parliamentary elections (in 1692, 1695, 1703 and 1713) this was not always easily done at a distance, even for such great magnates as the Boyles.181 Only ten obtained seats for themselves in the Irish house of commons at some point in this period: the two Annesleys, Asgill, Hon. Charles Boyle II, Brodrick, John Hayes, Levinge, Medlycott, and Molesworth. Levinge, Medlycott and Southwell all sat in parliament in Ireland while holding office there. They were joined by number of English officials temporarily posted to the Irish establishment, the chief secretaries Joseph Addison, George Dodington, and Sir Cyril Wyche, under-secretary Alexander Denton II, revenue commissioner Francis Robartes, and the army officers Sir Henry Belasyse, Thomas Erle, and Thomas Pearce. Samuel Ogle’s Nonconformist connexions helped secure his return for the Presbyterian-dominated borough of Belfast, and Robert Echlin, John Hayes, and William Nassau de Zuylestein, Viscount Tunbridge were all found seats at one time or another on the Ormond interest. In addition, Lord Barrymore, Bellew, Castlecomer, Kildare, Shannon, Ranelagh, and Thomond attended sittings of the Irish house of lords.
Those who took an active part in Irish parliamentary politics made up the core of the ‘Irish lobby’ at Westminster; and would have included, besides members of the Dublin parliament, men like Wharton and Williamson, who were both said to have been busy behind the scenes in orchestrating opposition to the lord deputyship of Lord Capell (Sir Henry*) in Dublin in 1695-6. 182 They might be assisted in supporting Irish interests by some of the great absentee landlords, though this was not always certain, and indeed Francis Seymour Conway’s father, Sir Edward Seymour, 4th Bt., was in the late 1690s a prominent advocate of bills which Irish Protestants found obnoxious, relating to the woollen trade and the forfeited estates. Rather more reliable as spokesmen for Ireland’s cause in the House of Commons, were the key figures in the Irish administration—the chief secretary, law officers, vice-treasurer or revenue commissioners—who had of course a particular interest, on behalf of the viceroy of the day, in securing the passage of legislation which would be of benefit to Ireland, or frustrating measures against which the Irish parliament would be certain to object. Thus Edward Southwell, chief secretary from 1703 to 1707 and again from 1710 to 1713, managed several important Irish bills at Westminster, for example the linen bill of 1705, in which enterprise he was aided and abetted by the Irish vice-treasurer, Lord Coningsby (Thomas*), another frequent promoter of Irish legislative interests. This ‘Dublin Castle interest’ might also draw recruits from former holders of Irish offices, who, even without the stimulus of having acquired property in Ireland, continued to take a benevolent interest in Irish affairs: Francis Gwyn, for example, who involved himself in the drafting of Irish bills long after relinquishing the chief secretaryship in 1703; and especially Sir Thomas Clarges, who seems to have regarded the time he spent on the Privy Council in Dublin in the 1660s as having afforded him almost oracular powers in matters Irish. Perhaps such men saw themselves as ‘old hands’, whose experience gave them a privileged right to comment on Irish questions and whose vanity was appeased by the deference accorded to their views; or perhaps they were simply hoping to work their way back into employment by demonstrating their expertise. At any rate, the Commons was able to draw on a considerable reservoir of knowledge and interest accumulated in this way. There were 26 Members who at some time had held office in Ireland without being possessed of Irish property in Ireland or belonging to either house of the Irish parliament.183
Finally came the Members who may not themselves have held any Irish land, or any experience in the Irish administration, but had some other connexion with the kingdom and interested themselves in its affairs at Westminster (though this consequence did not extend to families like the Verneys, Lords Fermanagh, with Irish titles but not an acre of Irish land). A number married into Irish families: William Coward I, Sir Basill Dixwell, 2nd Bt., Sir Matthew Dudley, 2nd Bt., Hon. Richard Montagu, and Robert Pitt. John Ellis and Henry Watkins were both employed by the 2nd Duke of Ormond (albeit in Watkins’s case only in England or on the continent and never in Ireland). Ellis enjoyed further Irish associations through his brother, Welbore, who was made Bishop of Kildare, and a similar connexion had engaged the three Foley brothers (Paul I, Philip, and Thomas I), namely the appointment of their other sibling Samuel as bishop of Down and Connor.
Thus when matters relating to Ireland appeared on the parliamentary agenda at Westminster interest might spread far beyond those Members whose ancestry, birth, or residence qualified them to be labelled ‘Irish’. Sometimes such issues were raised by Irishmen themselves, attempting the introduction of legislative measures designed to benefit Ireland as a whole, to accommodate separate interest groups, or supply the needs of individuals; at other times they would be raised by English or Scottish Members, often in order to advance the concerns of their own fellow countrymen or their particular constituents at the expense of the Irish; and from time to time factional conflict within the Irish parliament, or within Irish politics more generally, would overflow and embroil the neighbouring island in its troubles.
Most of the bills introduced into the Westminster Parliament relating to Ireland were private bills; and many derived from the land settlement, and more particularly the Forfeitures Resumption Act of 1700, which not only prompted a number of explanatory and amending measures, but seems more generally to have opened the eyes of Irishmen to the possibility of using the powers of the English Parliament to pass legislation binding in Ireland. The Parliament of 1701 saw a flood of private bills on behalf of Irishmen and women, as many as 42 in a single session, and with one exception all of them relating to forfeited estates. Thereafter, a significant minority of the private bills introduced in every session dealt with specifically Irish problems, necessitating a new set of standing orders in 1708 to require that prior notice for all such bills be given in Dublin, and that 30 days elapse between the 1st and 2nd reading, to permit adequate representations.184 It was in fact more convenient, and cheaper, for Irish petitioners to apply to Westminster for legislation than to use their own parliament; even after 1703, when sessions of parliament in Dublin became more frequent. For an Irish bill would still have to be solicited in England, the constitutional arrangements prevailing in this period requiring that legislation drafted in Dublin had to be dispatched to the Privy Council in Whitehall for approval. This more elaborate procedure, and the fact that there were fewer opportunities for petitioners to obtain appropriate acts from the Irish parliament (which met less often and for shorter sessions), meant that to use their own parliamentary system could actually be more cumbersome and expensive for Irishmen; and even committed Irish ‘patriots’ like Archbishop William King of Dublin, who denounced with vigour any English usurpation of Irish constitutional privileges, were quite prepared to make use of the Westminster Parliament for their own private purposes. Taken session by session, the number of private Acts passed in favour of Irish petitioners was as follows:
Private Acts (Irish)
Of the public bills affecting Ireland, those brought into Parliament at the behest of the Irish themselves were often designed to benefit individuals or special interest-groups, and were thus essentially ‘private bills’ by another name. They included several measures relating to forfeited estates, and a bill to ‘make effectual’ a royal grant of property to the Church of Ireland diocese of Dublin. Otherwise the favourite subject for the Irish lobby was the encouragement of the nascent Irish linen industry, for which bills were prepared in 1696, 1699, and 1705. Since this encouragement was always effected through a promotion of trade it was natural that it should be done at Westminster rather than by the Dublin parliament, since the easiest method was by altering the scope or scale of English customs duties. Moreover, the subject of the legislation was not exclusively Irish, involving English and Scottish interests as well, so that it might be regarded as more properly dealt with in the imperial legislature, and as not involving any infringement of the constitutional rights of the Irish parliament.
Conscious of the need to manage the Irish parliament, and unwilling to provoke the anger of Irish Protestants or to give their English opponents any chance to make mischief by alleging the neglect of the ‘Protestant interest’ in Ireland, English ministers were wary of using the powers of the Westminster Parliament to make laws for the Irish. Left to their own devices, however, back-bench MPs demonstrated no such sensitivity. Of course, the security of both realms demanded prompt action in certain areas, a fact appreciated both by ministers and by the Irish themselves, Thus before the first Irish parliament had met after the Revolution (in the autumn of 1692) Westminster had already declared William and Mary King and Queen of Ireland as well as England, appointed new oaths of allegiance and supremacy in Ireland to take account of the change of sovereign, and introduced several bills to attaint Irish Jacobites as rebels and permit the forfeiture of their estates. The Irish oaths were further amended in an English statute of 1696, and both the Act of Settlement in 1701 and the Abjuration Act of 1703, again passed while the Irish parliament was out of session, applied directly to Ireland. So too did the Act of 1714 ‘to prevent the listing of her Majesty’s subjects to serve as soldiers, without ... licence’, a hasty back-bench response to reports of the arrest of Jacobite recruiting agents in Dublin, and a measure originally intended to for Ireland alone, which Parliament subsequently extended to Britain.185 None of these statutes were protested in Dublin. But there was a crucial difference between such necessary measures to secure Protestant power in Ireland, and other intrusive statutes which threatened economic harm on the Irish, in the interests of England and, in due course, Scotland), and in their own defence many Irish Protestants (even comparatively recent arrivals) were prepared to argue for a substantial degree of legislative independence.
The issue of the disposal of property forfeited by Jacobite rebels was a case in point. In establishing the treason of Irish Jacobites and seizing their property the English Parliament was upholding the ‘Protestant interest’ in Ireland. The difficulty came when Country MPs wished to go further and seize the profits of this sequestration, to recompense the English public purse for the cost of recovering Ireland from James II. After a series of failures, the Country party at last succeeded in forcing through Acts in 1699 and 1700 which first established a parliamentary commission of inquiry into the forfeitures, and then imposed a blanket resumption of all royal grants, to be sold off again for the benefit of the English Treasury. The Resumption Act of 1700 provoked an outcry in Ireland.186 Any interference with the land settlements would have been resented, since it touched the Protestant élite at its most tender point, but in this case many vested interests were directly threatened. The major beneficiaries of King William’s grants, courtiers and English ministers, had already eased out, or even sold off, their property to Irishmen, who thus stood to incur the most serious losses. The Irish parliament was not in session, but a campaign of protest was launched by the ‘poor Protestant purchasers’, culminating in a ‘national remonstrance’, a series of addresses to the King which the English Parliament condemned as entrenching upon their own privileges. Some attempts were also made in the 1701 and 1701-2 Parliaments to palliate the worst effects of the resumption, resulting in the passage of Acts in 1701 ‘to relieve the Protestant purchasers’ (by reserving to them a share of the profits of the lands sold), and to assist the Church of Ireland (by applying some of the proceeds to the recovery of lay impropriations).
The outcry in Ireland against the Resumption Act was all the louder for the fact that it followed hard upon two other episodes which seemed to show an arrogant disregard at Westminster for the interests, and indeed the historic rights, of the kingdom of Ireland.. The issue first arose in 1697-8, in the form of a jurisdictional dispute between the English and Irish House of Lords, in the case of the Irish Society of London v. the Bishop of Derry, the point of contention being the claim of the English Lords to act as a final court of appeal in lawsuits begun in Ireland. Efforts by the English woollen manufacturing lobby, especially in the west of England, to restrict Irish competition by legislative means exacerbated the tensions between the two kingdoms, and in 1698 Irish constitutional claims were forcibly restated in William Molyneux’s famous pamphlet, The Case of Ireland ..., which the English House of Commons investigated and condemned (though without ordering it to be burnt, as later Irish ‘patriots’ were to claim).187 In the following session, 1698-9, west country manufacturers did succeed in pushing through the Woollen Act, which excluded Irish cloth from English domestic and colonial markets. So great was the fury aroused in Ireland by the Woollen and Forfeiture Resumption Acts that English ministers did not call an Irish parliament between 1699 and 1703 for fear of an open quarrel between the two legislatures.188
In the assertion of English constitutional authority over Ireland, English Members were united, but as this crisis in Anglo-Irish relations unfolded some divisions opened up, and a partisan alignment began to be visible. Whigs were always susceptible to a call to defend the ‘Protestant interest’ in Ireland, and in 1692-4 both Court and Country Whigs had taken up the cause of the frustrated Irish parliamentary opposition, in its pursuit of Lord Lieutenant Sidney (Henry†) and several of his underlings for corruption and an alleged underhand favouring of the Catholic interest. There was a strong English dimension in that the offending officials included three Westminster MPs, the former lords justices Sir Charles Porter* and Thomas Coningsby*, and revenue commissioner William Culliford*. Furthermore any condemnation of government in Ireland as corrupt or pro-Catholic would naturally have undermined the ministry of Lord Carmarthen. None the less, the prominent part played by men like the Harleys and Foleys on the one hand, and the Whartons on the other, in the inquiry of February 1693 into ‘mismanagements’ in Ireland, and the combined Whig efforts in the following session to impeach Coningsby and Porter at Westminster, indicate more than mere political opportunism, but a general sympathy among Whigs of all kinds for the exponents of ‘Revolution politics’ in Ireland. The appointment of the Whig Lord Capell as lord deputy in 1694 was quickly followed by a rapprochement between the Dublin castle administration and the parliamentary opposition in Ireland, another indication of a fundamental conformity of outlook between English Whigs and the more politically forward Irish Protestants.189 However, any sense of solidarity evaporated once suspicions were aroused of any desire on the part of the Irish for ‘independence’. Molyneux’s pamphlet was condemned by both parties in England, and the hue and cry in the Commons was led by Lord Somers protégé, Edward Clarke I, even though Molyneux’s constitutional claims had been developed as an extension of Whig principles and rigged out in the rhetoric of classic Whiggism, and both Molyneux and Clarke belonged to the intellectual circle surrounding John Locke. At this time, of course, the Junto held power in England, and were anxious both to avoid unnecessary political controversy and accusations of insufficient English patriotism. Things began to change during the following session. Responsibility for the Woollen Act of 1699 could be laid directly at the door of west country Tories, led by Sir Edward Seymour, while the campaign over crown grants of forfeitures in Ireland had even clearer party overtones, since the first targets (or victims) were the Whig grantees. Although some Country Whigs (like John Trenchard†) were involved as commissioners of inquiry and subsequently trustees for the sale of the estates, the resumption as it progressed became more and more obviously a Tory political ‘job’. The trustees were overwhelmingly Tory, as were their employees; and in the 1701 Parliament the debates over the ‘remonstrance’; and the bills to preserve the rights of the Irish ‘purchasers’ showed a clear party division, Whigs taking up the cudgels on behalf of aggrieved Irish Protestants, and Tories refusing to permit the original scheme to be diluted.190 This crisis ended peacefully, as Irish anger petered out in the Dublin parliamentary session of 1703-4 with a token protest, and retribution against Francis Annesley*, who was expelled from the Irish house of commons for having taken part in the trust. The speed with which tensions subsided may perhaps be taken to show the limits of Irish Protestant ‘patriotism’, although, by way of qualification, the point might also be made that thereafter the Westminster Parliament largely refrained from any further exercise of its authority. The linen bill of 1705 was intended to benefit Irish manufacture, not penalize it, in part as compensation for the perceived damage done by the Woollen Act, and efforts by Scottish Members in 1711 to impose new limitations on the export of flax and yarn to Ireland in order to protect their own linen weavers, encountered English hostility and a better-organized Irish lobby, with Tory back-benchers lining up behind the Tory lord lieutenant of Ireland, Ormond, in sufficient numbers to outvote the Scots. Even when parliamentary management in Dublin failed horribly in the winter of 1713-14, English ministers resisted any suggestion that the legislative powers of Westminster be employed to impose taxation on the Queen’s Irish subjects.191
At the same time, the emergence after 1703 of Whig and Tory parties in Ireland on the English model served to integrate Irish and English politics and draw attention away from Anglo-Irish differences to common issues of religious policy. The Church of Ireland ascendancy was menaced on both sides, by a defeated but potentially dangerous Catholic population, whose inveterate enmity was taken for granted, and by an expanding and equally hostile Presbyterian community in Ulster. Party differences in Ireland revolved around the religious question. Whigs regarded Catholics as the greater danger, and advocated Protestant unity and further penal laws; Tories professed to see the Catholics as a spent force and insisted on the retention of the ‘Sacramental Test clause’ imposed in the 1704 Popery Act and, if possible, an elaboration of the machinery of the ‘confessional state’. On the issue of the Test Tories were assured of a majority in the Irish parliament, but they were correspondingly vulnerable on the issue of the succession. When the indiscretions of the Tory ministry of 1711-13 in Dublin raised the spectre of Jacobitism, Irish public opinion reacted predictably. The Irish general election of 1713 saw a swing to the Whigs, and a pro-Hanoverian and anti-ministerial majority in the Irish house of commons. The failure of this short-lived parliament brought Irish affairs once more to the centre of attention in England, as Whigs sought to capitalize on the embarrassments of the ministry in Ireland and in debate used Irish evidence to help make their case that the Hanoverian succession was in danger. At the same time Irish Tories, led by Anglesey, saw a chance to use the Westminster Parliament to push through new legislative restrictions on Protestant Dissenters, and added to the schism bill a clause extending its provisions to Ireland. As in 1701, this issue produced a division between the parties on an Irish issue, but it was an issue debated in party terms, Church against Dissent, not in terms of Irish constitutional privileges, and it was an issue on which Irishmen themselves were divided.192
Ref Volumes: 1690-1715
Author: D. W. Hayton
- 1. See Sources.
- 2. R.R. Walcott, Eng. Pols. in Early 18th Cent. App. III.
- 3. Jnl. Brit. Stud. vi. 49-52; Britain after the Glorious Revolution ed. Holmes, 101.
- 4. Bull. IHR, xiv.
- 5. Britain after the Glorious Revolution ed. Holmes, 103; Bull. IHR, xlv. 38-72; Parlty Lists of Early 18th Cent. ed. Newman, 55-83.
- 6. See G. Holmes, Pols. in Age of Anne, chs. 7-12.
- 7. Essays in Mod. Hist. in Honor of Wilbur Cortez Abbott, 131.
- 8. F. O’Gorman, Rise of Party in Eng. 495.
- 9. D. Rubini, Court and Country, App. A.
- 10. Bull. IHR, Sp. Supp. 7.
- 11. Parlty. Hist. vi. 141-63.
- 12. The division on the council of trade and the price of guineas, and the Fenwick attainder (1696), the 'black list' of 1701, the 3rd Earl of Sunderland's (Charles, Lord Spencer*) analyses of election returns (1701-8), Robert Harley's* analysis of the Parliament of 1701-2, the votes on vindication of the Commons in the impeachments (1702) and the Abjuration (1703), a forecast over the Scottish Plot (1704), the divisions of the Tack (1704), and the Speakership (1705) a marked list of the 1708 Parliament, the divisions on the naturalization bill (1709) and the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell (1710), the 'Hanover list' of the 1710 Parliament, the 'white lists' of 'Tory patriots' and 'worthy patriots' (1711), the South Sea bill (1711), the Scottish toleration bill (1712), the French commercial treaty (1713), and the expulsion of Steele (1714).
- 13. Eight lists of placemen or Court supporters drawn up by or for Lord Carmarthen between 1690 and 1693, Robert Harley’s analysis of the House, c. 1691, Grascome’s list of 1693-5, the divisions on the council of trade (1696), and the price of guineas (1696), two lists of placemen in 1698, comparative analyses of the old and new Houses of Commons after the general election of 1698, a list of the ‘Country party’ in the 1698-9 session; the black lists on the division on the disbanding bill (1699), the forecast for the division on continuing the ‘Great Mortgage’ (1701), the ‘black list’ on preparing for war, 1701, and the divisions on the Speaker (1705), the ‘place clause’ of the regency bill (1706), the naturalization bill (1709), and the impeachment of Dr Sacheverell (1710).
- 14. See below and Appendix 16.
- 15. William Adderley, Sir Thomas Alston, 3rd Bt., Matthew Appleyard, John Archdale, Thomas Archdale, Samuel Atkinson, Sir Walter Bagot, 3rd Bt., Robert Balch, Nicholas Barbon, Samuel Barnardiston, Benjamin Bathurst, Peter Battiscombe, Ralph Bell, John Bennet, Thomas Bennet, Hon. Peregrine Bertie II, Michael Biddulph, John Birch II, Sir Edward Blackett, 2nd Bt., William Blathwayt, John Blencowe, Hugh Bokenham, John Borlase, Sir William Bowes, Henry Bradshaigh, John Bridgeman, Robert Bristow I, William Bromley III, Jeremiah Bubb, Ralph Bucknall, John Buller I, John Buller II, Edward Bullock, John Bullock, Josiah Burchett, John Burton, Adam de Cardonnel, William Carr, Francis Chamberlayne, Hon. George Cholmondeley, Sir George Cooke, 3rd Bt., Jonathan Cope II, John Courthope, Humphrey Courtney, Thomas Cowper, Robert Crawford, William Culliford, Sir John Cutler, 1st Bt., Sir Abstrupus Danby, Henry Darnell, Sir John Darnell, Sir Francis Dashwood, 1st Bt., John Deane, George Downing, Sir William Drake, Joseph Dudley, Edward Dummer, Thomas Duncombe (formerly Browne), William Duncombe, Charles Dymoke, Kenrick Edisbury, Hon. Charles Egerton, John Ellis, Sir John Ernle, John Evelyn II, Robert Flagg II, Hon. Henry Fairfax, Thomas, Ld. Fairfax, Sir Adam Fenton, 3rd Bt., John Fitzgerald 1, Thomas Frankland II, Sir John Garrard, 3rd Bt., Sir Orlando Gee, Henry Goring, Henry Greenhill, Sir Edward Gresham, 3rd Bt., Hon. Robert Greville, Hon. John Grey, Sir Samuel Grimston, 3rd Bt., Henry Guy, Hon. Hugh Hare, Charles Herbert, Sir Robert Hildyard, 2nd Bt., Michael Hill, Sir Robert Holmes, William Hooker, Sir James Houblon, Henry Howard, Ld. Walden, Emanuel Scrope Howe, Sir Edward Hungerford, Sir George Hungerford, Walter Hungerford, Sir Thomas Hussey, 2nd Bt., Archibald Hutcheson, Sir George Hutchins, Sir Matthew Jenison, Jonathan Jennings, James Johnston, William Joliffe, Richard Jones, Earl of Ranelagh, Roger Jones, Samuel Kekewich, James Kendall, Walter Kendall, Thomas King, Joseph Langton, Sir William Lawson, 2nd Bt., John Leigh, Sir William Leman, 2nd Bt., Richard Leveson, Sir Charles Lloyd, Walter Long, William Lowndes, Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. I, William Lowther I, Narcissus Luttrell, Denis Lyddell, Thomas Baptist Manners, Sir George Markham, 3rd Bt., Sir Robert Marsham, 4th Bt., Sir George Matthews, Baptist May, Hon. Richard Montagu, Hon. William Montagu, James Morgan, Sir John Morgan, 2nd Bt., John Morice, Charles Morley, John Mounsher, John Moyser, Hugh Nanney, Sir Benjamin Newland, Sir Richard Newman, 1st Bt., Hon. Richard Newport II, George Nicholas, Humphrey Nicholl, William Oakeley, Sir Samuel Ongley, Paul Orchard, Hon. Henry Paget, Thomas Pemberton, Francis Pengelly, John Pepys, John Phelips, Sir Henry Pickering, 2nd Bt., William Pierrepont, Edward Pleydell, John Pollexfen, Roger Pope, Aubrey Porter, John Proby, Thomas Ravencroft, Sir James Rushout, 2nd Bt., Francis St. John, Edwain Sandys, Hon. Nicholas Saunderson, William Savile, Ld. Eland, George Sayer, Robert Shafto, Simon Smith, Sir Robert Smyth, 3rd Bt., Sir Thomas Stanley, 4th Bt., Christopher Stokes, Francis Stonehouse, Francis Stratford, Henry Thompson, Robert Throckmorton, William Thursby, John Tregagle, Henry Trelawny, John Trelawny I, Lionel Vane, George Vernon I, Thomas Vivian, William Walmisley, John Ward I, Walter Waring, William Wentworth, William Wheeler, Thomas White I, Walter Whitfield, Michael Wicks, Coningsby Williams, Sir John Williams, 2nd Bt., Sir Joseph Williamson, Sir Cyril Wyche, Sir Charles Wyndham, William Wyndham, and Robert Yard.
- 16. John Aislabie, Andrew Archer, Sir Richard Atkins, 2nd Bt., Sir Henry Belasyse, Robert Bertie, Ld. Willoughby d'Eresby, Sir William Blackett, 1st Bt., Sir Philip Boteler, 3rd Bt., Jacob des Bouverie, Sir Roger Bradshaigh, 3rd Bt., John Brewer, Hon. James Brydes, Reynolds Calthorpe I, Edward Carteret, Walter Chetwynd II, Hon. William Cheyne, William Clayton, Thomas Coke, Robert Dormer, John Dryden, George England I, Sir Edward Ernle, 3rd Bt., Sir James Etheridge, Richard Farington, Paul Foley I, Philip Foley, Thomas Foley I, Thomas Foley II, Thomas Foley III, Hon. Francis Godolphin, Sidney Godolphin, Anthony Hammond, Edward Harley, Robert Harley, Michael Harvey, Sir Charles Hedges, John Grobham Howe, Sir Charles Kemys, 3rd Bt., John Lade, John Lewknor, Joseph Martin, John, Ld. Mordaunt, Thomas Pitt I, Alexander Popham, Ambrose Pudsay, Carew Raleigh, Morgan Randyll, Hon. Francis Robartes, Hon. Russell Robartes, Francis Shepheard, Samuel Shepheard I, Samuel Shepheard II, Hon. James Stanley, Thomas Stanwix, Sir Thomas Trevor, Sir William Trumbull, Thomas Turgis, Sir John Turner, Frederick Tylney, Sir Francis Vincent, 5th Bt., Henry Vincent I, Henry Vincent II, John Ward II, Sir Michael Warton, Hon. Thomas Watson Wentworth, Sir William Williams, 1st Bt., Sir Francis Winnington, Salwey Winnington, Henry Worsley, James Worsley, Sir Christopher Wren, and Sir Francis Wyndham, 3rd Bt.
- 17. Atkinson, Bathurst, Bertie, Blathwayt, Bridges, Burchett, de Cardonnel, Crawford, Culliford, Dummer, Edisbury, Ellis, Fox, the Franklands, Emanuel Scrope Howe, Ld. Ranelagh, King, Lowndes, Lyddell, Mounsher, Povey, Prior, Williamson, and Wyche. See below.
- 18. Here I am adapting and extending a set of definitions first suggested in J. Carswell, The Old Cause, 1-2. For other useful discussions of this subject, see J.R. Jones, 1st Whigs, 2, 212; idem, Revolution of 1688, pp. 38-39; B.W. Hill, Growth of Parlty. Parties 1689-1742, pp. 23-25; T. Harris, Pols. under Later Stuarts, 5-6.
- 19. G. Holmes, Trial of Dr Sacheverell, chs. 6, 8; J.P. Kenyon, Revolution Principles, 134-6.
- 20. Tryal of Dr Sacheverell (1710), p. 126.
- 21. On this point, see the fuller discussion below, p. 000.
- 22. Cocks Diary, 81; see also Jnl. Brit. Stud. xvii. 38-62.
- 23. Swift Works ed. Davis, vi. 23.
- 24. Holmes, Pols, in Age of Anne, 235-41, 288-91, 304-6.
- 25. Parlty Hist. x. 164-82; xvi. 205-12.
- 26. Holmes, Pols. in Age of Anne, 301; Huntington Lib. Stowe mss 26 (1-2 ), Brydges’s diary, 14, 28 Feb. 1699, 18 Mar. 1702.
- 27. Cumbria RO, Lonsdale mss D/Lons/W2/2/5, Lowther to Sir John Lowther, 2nd Bt. I, 6 Jan. 1701[-2].
- 28. Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 344-5.
- 29. See below, Appendix 21.
- 30. G.S. Holmes and W.A. Speck, Divided Soc. 42.
- 31. Bull. IHR, lv. 206-14; Add. 57862, f. 48.
- 32. Party and Management in Parl. ed. C. Jones, 51-52.
- 33. Holmes, Pols. in Age of Anne, ch. 8; Britain after the Glorious Revolution ed. Holmes, 228-31.
- 34. See, for example, Cocks Diary, 122.
- 35. SRO, Montrose mss GD220/5/808/15, Mungo Graham* to Montrose, 6 Feb. 1711. The older Members mentioned in this letter were Robert Byerley and Francis Scobell. One might add the names of Sir John Pakington and Sir William Whitelocke.
- 36. See below, Appendix 21, p. 000. Peter Wentworth described it as a ‘loyal Country club’ (Wentworth Pprs. 180).
- 37. Huntington Lib. Q. xxxiii. 155-73.
- 38. DZA, Bonet’s despatch, 7 May 1714.
- 39. Add. 30000 E f. 63; Archives Nationales, K 1301, no. 42.
- 40. H. Horwitz, Parl. and Pols. Wm. III, 277. For another interpretation, see Hist. Jnl. xxx. 306-7.
- 41. See, for example, Bodl. Ballard 31, f. 104; Macpherson, Orig. Pprs. ii. 417-18.
- 42. Bodl. Rawl. Letters 92, ff. 626-9.
- 43. Add. 47087, f. 69; G. Holmes, Pols. in Age of Anne, 502.
- 44. By Eveline Cruickshanks: Bull. IHR, lvi. 184-5.
- 45. R. Kingston, A True History of the Several Designs and Conspiracies against His Majesty’s Sacred Person and Government … (1698).
- 46. The Commons 1715-54, i. 109.
- 47. RA, Stuart mss 64-134, John Hay to ‘Martel’, 5 Jan.1723, may point to Hay as having compiled the list, ‘entirely out of my head a paper with names of persons that was delivered to Peter [the Pretender] as persons that wished him well’. For an entertaining debate on rival interpretations of this fragment of evidence, see Albion, xxvi. 32, 45.
- 48. L. Colley, In Defiance of Oligarchy, 35.
- 49. Ideology and Conspiracy ed. Cruickshanks, 7; Jacobite Challenge ed. Cruickshanks and Black, 29; Bull. IHR, lvi. 184-5.
- 50. But see in general Albion,.xxiii. 681-96; xxiii. 27-40; EHR, cix. 52-73; cxiii. 65-90.
- 51. D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pols. 200-2. Cf. P.K. Monod, Jacobitism and Eng. People, 270-1.
- 52. HMC Portland, iv. 291; HMC Bath, i. 74.
- 53. British Parlty. Lists 1660-1800: A Reg. ed. Ditchfield, Hayton and Jones, 114-23.
- 54. G. Holmes, Pols. in Age of Anne, 354.
- 55. Bull. IHR, xxxvii. 17. The calculation is that of W.A. Speck.
- 56. Parlty. Hist. vi. 140-63. The placemen concerned were Sir William Ashurst, John Backwell, Sir Henry Belasyse, Hon. Charles Bertie I, William Bridges, James Chase, Sir Robert Cotton, 1st Bt., Anthony Duncombe, William Ettrick, Charles Godolphin, Sidney Godolphin, James Herbert I, Thomas Hopson, Thomas King, John Methuen, Alexander Pitfield, Carew Raleigh, Hon. Francis Robartes, James Sloane, Thomas Stringer, William Thursby, Sir Joseph Tredenham, John Tregagle, Charles Trelawny, Thomas Vivian, and Sir William Wogan. Ashurst, Belasyse, Chase, Charles and Sidney Godolphin, Sloane, Stringer, and Tregagle were all blacklisted in 1699.
- 57. Those who can be identified as Whigs are: Sir Edward Ayscough, Henry Blaake, Hon. George Booth, William Campion, Charles Cocks, Sir Henry Dutton Colt, 1st Bt., Hon. Spencer Compton, Lord Conigsby (Thomas), Sir Rushout Cullen, 3rd Bt., Edmund Denton, Josiah Diston, Thomas Dore, Richard Duke, Sir Gervase Elwes, 1st Bt., Sir Thomas Felton, William Fleming, Sir George Fletcher, 2nd Bt., Sir William Forester, Thomas Freke II, Sir Henry Furnese, Charles Godfrey, Thomas Guy, Sir Rowland Gwynne, Stephen Harvey, (Sir) John Hawles, (Sir) Gilbert Heathcote, Robert Henley, Henry Heveningham, Richard Hopkins, Thomas Howard, Henry Ireton, James Isaacson, Tobias Jenkins, Roger Kirkby, John Lawton, Sir Thomas Littleton, 3rd Bt., James Lowther, John Machell, Charles Mason, Jasper Maudit, Simon Mayne, (Sir) Philip Meadowes, Sir Francis Molyneux, Thomas Molyneux, Charles Mompesson, William Monson, Charles Montagu, Hon. Charles Montagu, Irby Montagu, Hon. Harry Mordaunt, Anthony Morgan, Philip Papillon, Sir Henry Pickering, 2nd Bt., John Pocklington, Lord Russell, Hon. Robert Russell, (Sir) William St. Quintin, Sir Richard Sandford, 3rd Bt., Hon. James Saunderson, Sir William Scawen, Sir Charles Sedley, 5th Bt., Sir Clowdesley Shovell, John Smith I, Charles, Lord Spencer, Hon. James Stanley, Christopher Stocklade, Sir William Strickland, Sir Richard Temple, 4th Bt., Maurice Thompson, Thomas Tipping, Hon. Roger Townshend, Sir Thomas Travell, Samuel Travers, James Vernon I, Robert Walpole II, William Walsh, Hon. Goodwin Wharton, Thomas Wheate, Richard Wollaston, Sir John Wolstenholme, and Henry Yates.
- 58. Holmes, 360-1.
- 59. Bull IHR, Sp. Supp. vii. 11.
- 60. Quoted in Holmes, Pols. in Age of Anne, 356.
- 61. Ibid. (2nd edn. 1987), xxxviii-xli, and ch. 4; Rubini; H.T. Dickinson, Liberty and Property: Pol. Ideology in 18th-Cent. Britain, ch. 3; Parls. Estates and Rep. iv. 135-46; Party and Management in Parl. 1660-1784 ed. C. Jones, 37-85.
- 62. Vernon-Shrewsbury Letters, ii. 142-3; J, Drake, Hist. of Last Parl. (1702), preface; HMC Portland, iv. 490; Cumbria RO (Carlisle), D/Lons/W2/1/43, Lowther to William Gilpin, 2 Feb. 1709[-10].
- 63. Parls., Estates and Rep. v. 103-8.
- 64. A. McInnes, Robert Harley, Puritan Politician, 171-2; Parls., Estates and Rep. iv. 141-6.
- 65. Holmes, Pols. in Age of Anne, 138-42.
- 66. See, for example, Yorks. Arch. Soc. Copley mss DD38, box B-C, Molesworth to Sir Godfrey Copley, 6 Feb. 1702.
- 67. The list also includes George England I, Michael Harvey, John Lewknor, Morgan Randyll, Sir John Thompson, Thomas Turgis, Sir Michael Warton, and Sir William Williams, 1st Bt.
- 68. See esp. Holmes, Pols in Age of Anne, 221-4; Party and Management in Parl. ed. C. Jones, 46-8.
- 69. See below; and also, in general, J.B. Duke-Evans, ‘Pol. Theory and Practice of Eng. Commonwealthmen’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1980); C.J. Cunliffe, ‘3rd Earl of Shaftesbury ’ (Oxf. Univ. D. Phil. thesis, 1981); and R. Voitle, 3rd Earl of Shaftesbury, ch. 2.
- 70. Parlty. Hist. vi. 144. The calculation in this article has been amended in the light of the biography of Edward Bullock, which redefines him as a Tory.
- 71. PRO 30-24-20-282.
- 72. Parls. Estates and Rep. iv. 135-46. Cf. Holmes, Pols in the Age of Anne (1987), xxxix.
- 73. Cam. Misc. xxix, 364-7, 383.
- 74. Yorks. Arch. Soc. DD38, box B-C, Molesworth to Copley, 19 Apr. 1701.
- 75. In general, see Party and Management in Parl. ed. C. Jones, 49-51; and for Molesworth in particular, E.L. Ellis, ‘The Whig Junto …’ (Oxf. Univ. D. Phil. thesis, 1961), App. C.
- 76. HMC Portland, iv. 657; Priv. Corr. DM, ii. 11; Cunningham, Hist. GB, i. 461.
- 77. Holmes, Pols. in Age of Anne, 223.
- 78. Centre Kentish Studies, Stanhope mss U1590/C9/31, Sir John Cropley to James Stanhope, 19 Feb. 1706.
- 79. Party and Management in Parl. ed. C. Jones, 50-52.
- 80. Bolingbroke Corresp. i. 245.
- 81. HMC Fortescue, i. 18.
- 82. Add. 61461, ff. 149-50; BL, Trumbull mss Alphab. 51, T. B[ateman] to Sir William Trumbull*, 19 June 1713. See also Holmes, Pols. in Age of Anne, 124.
- 83. Beaufort mss at Badminton, 2nd Duke’s letterbk., Beaufort to Leeds, 11 Nov. 1711.
- 84. Cocks Diary, p. xiv.
- 85. NLW, Coedymaen mss 53, ‘Six modest queries to the electors for Okehampton’. Interestingly, another query asked: ‘Will you choose a man who can do no greater good to the borough than send the weekly news? Or gentlemen whose value at court will not only maintain the liberties of the town, but make comfortable additions, by which means your markets will be always thronged, and your poor no burden?’
- 86. Cocks Diary, pp. xxxii-xxxiii.
- 87. Holmes, Pols. in Age of Anne, 119, 222.
- 88. Ibid. 120, 222-3; Party and Management in Parl. ed. C. Jones, 42-43.
- 89. Past and Present, no. 128, pp. 48-91.
- 90. Univ. of Kansas, Spencer Research Lib. MS C163, Sir William Simpson to John Methuen, 13 Feb. 1705.
- 91. Swift. Corresp. ed. Williams, i. 424.
- 92. Welsh Hist. Rev. xi. 283-301.
- 93. Cocks Diary, 251.
- 94. Trans. Cymmro. Soc. (1948), p. 469; Welsh Hist. Rev. i. 280-8.
- 95. P. Jenkins, Making of a Ruling Class, 142-6; Welsh Hist. Rev. xii. 180-96; Hist. Jnl. xxviii. 103-23.
- 96. Jenkins, 213-14; W.J. Hughes, Wales and Welsh in Eng. Lit. 43-45, 48-50, 53-55; J.O. Bartley, Teague, Shenkin and Sawney, 136, 142-3; M. Spufford, Small Bks. and Pleasant Hists. 182-3.
- 97. Trans. Cymmro. Soc. (1920-1), 21-22; Welsh Hist. Rev. i. 285.
- 98. Jenkins, 231-2, 234-7; Welsh Hist. Rev. x. 470-1; Old Wales, i. 17-19.
- 99. Luttrell Diary, 465-9.
- 100. CJ, x. 768, 776; xi. 15-16, 18, 25, 48, 511, 515, 517, 531, 647, 661; xii. 37, 43, 69, 128; xiii. 142, 168, 182; xvii. 306-7, 316, 355.
- 101. Cal. Treas. Pprs. 1557-1696, pp.436-8; Cal. Treas. Bks. x. 1046-52, 1374-5; Bodl. Carte 130, ff.355-7 (Price’s account of the meeting, which tallies closely with that printed in Gloria Cambria , and reprinted in Somers’ Tracts, xi. 391-3).
- 102. CJ, xi. 390-1, 395, 409; Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. v. 978-86.
- 103. Somers’ Tracts, xi. 387-91; HMC Kenyon, 396; Carte 130, f. 355; CJ, xi. 391; A.L. Cust, Chrons. of Erthig, i. 47.
- 104. Holmes, Pols. in Age of Anne, 301; NLW, Chirk Castle mss E994, Hanmer to Peter Shakerley*, 21 Oct. 1708, Peter to George Shakerley, 27 Oct. 1708; E993, Myddelton to Mostyn, 26 Oct. 1708.
- 105. It will be obvious from what follows that I have drawn heavily on the interpretation of Scottish politics developed by the late P.W.J. Riley, principally in King Wm. and Scot. Politicians (1979), and Union of Eng. and Scotland (1978). Riley has been criticized for his dismissive attitude to the importance of political ideas (by, for example, T.C. Smout, in Britain after the Glorious Revolution ed. Holmes, 177; Rosalind Mitchison, Lordship to Patronage (1983), p. 184; and Mark Goldie, in Brit. Problem, c. 1534-1707 ed. Morrill and Bradshaw (1996), p. 230) , but his reconstruction of Scottish parliamentary and political history between 1689 and 1707 remains unsurpassed.
- 106. For a different view, see Revolutions of 1688 ed. Beddard (1991), pp. 137-62.
- 107. Here I follow the argument in T.N. Clarke, `Scot. episcopalians, 1688-1720’ (Edinburgh Univ. Ph.D. thesis, 1987). See also Ideology and Conspiracy ed. Cruickshanks (1982), pp. 36-48; and A Union for Empire ed. Robertson (1995), pp. 145-68.
- 108. Brit. Problem ed. Morrill and Bradshaw, 232.
- 109. Spottiswoode Misc. i. 233; SRO, Cromartie mss GD305/1/165/87, speech against ‘luxury’, 1705; Defoe, Hist. Union, 312-16; Riley, Union, 233-4.
- 110. For what follows, see Riley, K. Wm. and Scot. Politicians; and idem, Union.
- 111. SRO, Clerk of Penicuik mss GD18/3140/14, John Clerk* to Sir John Clerk, 13 Apr. 1708.
- 112. SRO, Hamilton mss GD406/1/7441, Ld. Orkney to Hamilton, 8 Jan. 1701-2.
- 113. SRO, Breadalbane mss GD112/39/204/8, 9, James Campbell of Auchinbreck to [Ld. Breadalbane], 10, 14 Feb. 1707; GD112/39/210/13, Hon. John Campbell* to [same], 1707.
- 114. Nor indeed in their own immediate families, Annandale quarrelling ferociously with his son and heir, James Lord Johnston (SRO. GD406/1/5561, Annandale to Hamilton, 22 Nov. 1709), and Atholl with his brother, Lord James Murray*, who went so far as to stand for Parliament against Atholl’s son in 1713.
- 115. Roxburghe mss at Floors Castle, bdle. 739, William Bennet to [Countess of Roxburghe], 16 Dec. 1707; Atholl mss at Blair Atholl, 45/7/206, John Flemyng to [Atholl], 20 Dec. 1707.
- 116. Clarke, thesis, passim; Parlty Hist. xv. 87-88.
- 117. APS, xi. 425-7, 431.
- 118. P.W.J. Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 87.
- 119. SRO, GD112/39/211/78, Colin Campbell of Carwhin to Ld. Breadalbane, 27 Jan. 17808.
- 120. SRO, Eglinton mss GD3/5/861, conservators of River Tone to Montgomerie, 24 Dec. 1707.
- 121. Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 90-95.
- 122. Atholl mss 45/7/206, John Flemyng to [Atholl], 20 Dec. 1707; SRO, GD112/39/211/27, Hon. John Campbell to Breadalbane, 27 Jan. 1708.
- 123. Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 99-110; Buccleuch mss at Drumlanrig, bdle. 1202, Queensberry to [Godolphin], 14 June 1708.
- 124. Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 105.
- 125. Lincs. AO, Yarborough mss 16/7/1, Defoe to Godolphin, 26 June 1708.
- 126. SRO, Mar and Kellie mss GD124/15/868/1, Mar to Stair, 20 June 1708; 124/15/754/40, Mar to Ld. Grange (James Erskine†), 21 Dec. 1708.
- 127. Parlty Hist. xv. 89.
- 128. Cf. Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 110, who (on the basis of a contemporary observation in Add. 28055, ff. 424-30) estimates the numbers (after the exclusion of the eldest sons of peers and the adjudication of election petitions) at 27 for the Court (including Argyll’s followers), nine to the Squadrone and nine as ‘Jacobites of one complexion or another’.
- 129. NLS, ms 14415, ff. 167-8; SRO, GD220/5/804/2a, Mungo Graham to [Montrose], 5 Jan. 1709; SHR, lviii. 163-4..
- 130. Lockhart Pprs. i. 297.
- 131. SRO, GD124/15/754/40, Mar to Ld. Grange (James Erskine†), 21 Dec. 1708; GD124/15/768/32, Grange to Mar, 28 Dec. 1708.
- 132. NLS, ms 14415, f. 163.
- 133. Burnet, Own Time, v. 402-9; NLS, ms 7022, f. 172.
- 134. Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 117-18.
- 135. SRO, GD158/1117/4, Baillie to Marchmont, 6 Feb. 1709; GD112/39/228/15, Leven to [Breadalbane], 5 May 1709; NLS, ms 14415, f. 186.
- 136. NLS ms 7022, f. 172.
- 137. For the effect of this failure on the selection of burgh representatives in the 1710 Parliament, see Constituencies and Elections.
- 138. SRO, GD406/1/5578. John Hamilton to Duke of Hamilton, 2 Aug. 1709; SRO, Hume of Marchmont mss GD 158/117/3, Baillie to Marchmont, 24 Dec. 1709; GD158/1117/5, same to same, 19 Feb. 1709-10.
- 139. SRO, GD406/1/5554, John Hamilton to Duke of Hamilton, 16 Aug. 1709; GD406/1/5572, [Ld. Orkney] to Duchess of Hamilton, 5 Feb. 1708-9.
- 140. SRO, GD406/1/5558, John Hamilton to Duke of Hamilton, 1 Dec. 1709.
- 141. Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 146.
- 142. SRO, Seafield mss GD248/560/45/45, John Philp to [?Seafield], 16 Dec. 1710.
- 143. Cf. the analysis by the episcopalian clergyman, Richard Dongworth, who separated Members into three categories: Episcopal Tories, Court Tories (including Queensberry’s followers, Argyll’s and Morton’s, essentially the outgoing Court party) and Whigs (including Squadrone), and whose figures were 22, 13, and 6 respectively: Christ Church, Oxf. Wake mss 17, f. 269, printed, with some errors, in SHR, lx. 61-75.
- 144. For what follows, see in general Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, chs. 11-15.
- 145. Lockhart Letters (Scot. Hist. Soc. ser. 5, ii), 58.
- 146. D. Szechi, in Lockhart Letters p. xxii. Cf. Holmes, Pols. in Age of Anne, 338.
- 147. Lockhart Pprs. i. 338.
- 148. Scottish Cath. Archs. Blairs Coll. mss BL2/168/4, James Carnegy to Scots Coll. 4 Feb. 1711.
- 149. SRO, GD220/5/268/12, [Baillie] to [Montrose], 22 Apr. 1712; Lockhart Letters, 75.
- 150. For example, SRO, GD248/566/84/50, Alexander Reid* to [Findlater], ‘Monday 12 o’clock, 27th’.
- 151. Buccleuch mss vol. 101, Bp. Nicolson of Carlisle to [—], 5 June 1712.
- 152. SRO, GD18/527/4/1, John Clerk to Sir John Clerk, 29 Mar. 1711.
- 153. For what follows, see in general D. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pols. 86-88, 110-12, 158; and Studies in Church Hist. xxi. 275-87.
- 154. SRO, GD124/15/1020/14, Sir James Dunbar to Grange, 6 Mar. 1711.
- 155. NLS, Advocates’ mss Wodrow letters, Quarto VI, f. 96.
- 156. NLS, Wodrow letters, Quarto 7, f. 123.
- 157. Szechi, 200-2.
- 158. D. Szechi, ‘Parlty. Jacobitism and Its Influence in the Tory Party, 1710-14’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1982), Appendix.
- 159. See NLS, Lauriston castle mss Delvine pprs. ms 1345, ff. 5-284.
- 160. SRO, GD406/1/5729, John Hamilton to Duke of Hamilton, 26 July 1711; Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 180.
- 161. SRO, GD406/1/5707, John Hamilton to Duke of Hamilton, 13 Feb. 1711; Riley, Eng. Ministers and Scotland, 236-40.
- 162. Scot. Hist. Soc. Misc. xii. 125; Blairs Coll. mss BL2/168/4, James Carnegy to Scots Coll. 4 Feb. 1711
- 163. Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pols. 85; EHR, lxxxi. 543-57; SRO, GD124/15/1024/11, Mar to Ld. Grange, 23 June 1711.
- 164. EHR, lxxxvii. 257-82; SRO, GD 158/117/6, Baillie to Marchmont, 13 Nov. 1711.
- 165. SRO, GD 220/5/278, Dalrymple to Montrose, 27 Mar. 1712.
- 166. For what follows, see Parlty. Hist. i. 47-77.
- 167. Haddington mss at Mellerstain, Letters 5, Baillie to his wife, 28 May 1713, quoted in Parlty. Hist. i. 55.
- 168. Parlty. Hist. i. 69-70.
- 169. Sir James Hamilton, 2nd Bt., John Houstoun, and Sir Hugh Paterson, 2nd Bt.
- 170. Parlty. Hist. i. 65.
- 171. Ibid. 69-70, the single exception being James Oswald, a Tory who voted against the bill.
- 172. Cobbett, Parlty. Hist. vi. 1282-3 (the Argyllites were (Sir) James Campbell (2nd Bt.), John Campbell, John Middleton, Charles Oliphant, and William Steuart); NLS, Wodrow letters, Quarto 8, f. 70.
- 173. Ibid. ff. 95-6.
- 174. For what follows, see Szechi, Jacobitism and Tory Pols. 158-9.
- 175. NLS, Wodrow letters, Quarto 8, f. 118.
- 176. CJ, xvii. 650, 673, 679, 686, 714.
- 177. Past and Present. no. 127, pp. 40-83.
- 178. There is an extensive (and ramifying) literature on this subject: see in particular Studies in 18th-Cent. Culture, xvii. 145-57; Revolutions of 1688 ed. Beddard, 163-90; Hist. Jnl. xxxvi. 785-98 ; Protestantism and Nat. Identity: Britain and Ire. c. 1650-1850 ed. Claydon and McBride, 206-35; C. Kidd, Brit. Identities before Nationalism (1999).
- 179. Holmes, Pol.in Age of Anne, 278-9; Irish Hist. Studies, xxii. 200, 202-3, 212-14; BL, Evelyn mss Duchess of Marlborough to Mrs Boscawen, 17 Jan. 1714.
- 180. C. Clay, Public Finance and Priv. Wealth, 177-8. 193-4, 287-9, 322-3.
- 181. D.W. Hayton, ‘Ire. and Eng. Ministers 1707-16’ (Oxf. Univ. D.Phil. thesis, 1975), pp. 114-18; Ld. Burlington ed. Barnard and Clark, 167-99.
- 182. Surr. RO (Guildford), Midleton mss 1248-1, f. 278, Alan to St. John Brodrick, 17 Dec. 1695.
- 183. Sir John Bland, 4th Bt., William Bridges, Ralph Bucknall, Sir Henry Capell, George Clarke, Thomas Coningsby, William Culliford, Gilbert Dolben, William Duncombe, Sir Henry Fane, Charles Fox, Francis Gwyn, James Hayes, Henry, Lord Hyde, Richard Lloyd, Edward Pauncefort, Sir Charles Porter, Charles Powlett, Marquess of Winchester I, John Pulteney, John Sharp, William Strickland, Charles Trelawny, Horatio Walpole I, Jermyn Wyche, and George Weld I.
- 184. CJ, xv. 530.
- 185. I am grateful to Dr Neal Garnham for bringing this Act to my attention.
- 186. For what follows, see J.G. Simms, Williamite Confiscation in Ire, 124-5; Party and Management in Parl. ed. C. Jones, 60-63.
- 187. J.G. Simms, William Molyneux of Dublin, 111-13
- 188. Econ. Hist. Rev. (ser. 2), xi. 484-96; Irish Econ. and Soc. Hist. vii. 22-44.
- 189. Penal Era and Golden Age ed. Bartlett and Hayton, 40-41; W. Troost, Wm. III and Treaty of Limerick, chs. 3-4.
- 190. Party and Management ed. C. Jones, 63; Cocks Diary, 264, 269.
- 191. Bolingbroke Corresp. iv. 404, 430; HMC Bath, i. 245.
- 192. Irish Hist. Studies, xxii. 207-8, 212-13.