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Party Turns? Or, Whigs and Tories Get Off Scott Free*

  • Tim Harris


The Restoration period has attracted renewed scholarly interest in recent years, with the result that many of our commonly held assumptions about politics in the reign of Charles II have come under increased critical scrutiny. Nowhere is this more true than for the Exclusion Crisis and the subsequent Tory Reaction. For a long time we thought we had the dynamics of this period worked out: the Exclusion Crisis gave birth to two parties—the Whigs and Tories—with the Whigs being the anti-Catholic, exclusionist, and Parliamentarian party, who carried with them the support of the people out-of-doors, and the Tories being the party of divine-right, absolute monarchy, anti-populist in their outlook, putting their belief in the sanctity of the hereditary principle before the interests of the people. The Whig challenge was essentially defeated with the dissolution of the Oxford Parliament in 1681, and thereafter the 1680s saw a drift towards monarchical absolutism, until this trend was defeated by the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89.



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I should like to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities for the award of a Summer Stipend to help support some of the research undertaken for this article. A version of this article was delivered at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Washington in December 1992.



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1 Harris, Tim, London Crowds in the Reign of Charles II (Cambridge, 1987), chs. 5–7; Harris, Tim, “‘Lives, Liberties and Estates’: Rhetorics of Liberty in the Reign of Charles II,” in The Politics of Religion in Restoration England, ed. Harris, Tim, Seaward, Paul and Goldie, Mark (Oxford, 1990), pp. 217–41.

2 Knights, Mark, “Politics and Opinion during the Exclusion Crisis 1678–81” (D.Phil, thesis, Oxford University, 1989), pp. 413, 416.

3 Scott, Jonathan, “England's Troubles: Exhuming the Popish Plot,” in Politics of Religion, p. 126.

4 Scott, Jonathan, Algernon Sidney and the Restoration Crisis, 1677–1683 (Cambridge, 1991), p. 47. Stress in the original.

5 A Letter from a Gentleman in the City, To One in the Country (London, 1680), p. 8; A Most Serious Expostulation with Several of my Fellow-Citizens [London, 1679], p. 4.

6 Knights, Mark, “London's ‘Monster’ Petition of 1680,” Historical Journal 36 (1993): 3967; Idem, “Petitioning and the Political Theorists: John Locke, Algernon Sidney and London's ‘Monster’ Petition of 1680,” Past and Present 138 (1993): 94–111; Idem, “London Petitions and Parliamentary Politics in 1679,” Parliamentary History 12 (1993): 29–46; Furley, O. W., “The Pope-Burning Processions of the Late Seventeenth Century,” History 44 (1959): 1623; Williams, Sheila, “The Pope-Burning Processions of 1679–81,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 21 (1958): 104–18; Harris, London Crowds, ch. 7; Harris, Tim, Politics under the Later Stuarts: Party Conflict in a Divided Society 1660–1715 (London, 1993), pp. 102–06; The House of Commons 1660–1690, 3 vols., ed. Henning, Basil Duke (London, 1983), 1: 6364.

7 Goldie, Mark, “The Political Thought of the Anglican Revolution,” in The Revolutions of 1688, ed. Beddard, R. (Oxford, 1991), p. 106; Dickinson, H. T., Liberty and Property: Political Ideology in Eighteenth-Century Britain (London, 1977), pp. 14, 26.

8 Cooper, E. and Jahoda, M., “The Evasion of Propaganda: How Prejudiced People Respond to Anti-Prejudice Propaganda,” Journal of Psychology 23 (1947): 1525.

9 B[ritish] Lpbrary], Add. MSS 32,518, fols. 144–52.

10 The argument presented in the next few paragraphs is developed at greater length in my Tories and the Rule of Law in the Reign of Charles II,” The Seventeenth Century 8 (1993): 927.

11 T. L., The True Notion of Government (London, 1681), pp. 2627 (misnumbered pp. 18–19).

12 W. P., The Divine Right of Kings [London, 1679], p. 2.

13 The Parliamentary History of England, 36 vols., ed. Cobbett, William (18061820), 4: cols. 1182, 1188, 1190.

14 Thorogood, B., Captain Thorogood His Opinion of the Point of Succession [1680], p. 9.

15 Fiat Justitia (London, 1679), p. 2.

16 Advice to the Men of Shaftesbury (London, 1681), p. 2.

17 [Womock, Lawrence], A Short Way to a Lasting Settlement (London, 1683), p. 3.

18 L. S., A Letter to a Noble Peer of the Realm (London, 1681), p. 2.

19 [Charles, II], His Majesties Declaration To All His Loving Subjects, Touching the Causes and Reasons that Moved Him to Dissolve the Two Last Parliaments (London, 1681), p. 9.

20 Harris, , London Crowds, pp. 140–44.

21 [Nalson, John], The Character of a Rebellion, And what England May expect from one (London, 1681), pp. 45.

22 [Nalson, John], The Complaint of Liberty and Property against Arbitrary Government (London, 1681), p. 3; [Womock, ], Short Way, p. 30; Johnston, Nathaniel, The Excellency of Monarchical Government, Especially of the English Monarchy (London, 1686), p. 51.

23 Parliamentary History, 4: col. 1186.

24 Harris, Politics under the Later Stuarts, ch. 4.

25 Harris, London Crowds, ch. 7; Harris, , Politics under the Later Stuarts, pp. 106–07.

26 Loyal Protestant Intelligence, no. 19, May 10, 1681; Northleigh, John, The Triumph of our Monarchy (London, 1685), p. 393; The Misleading of the Common People by False Notions (London, 1685), pp. 7, 25.

27 Loyal Protestant Intelligence, no. 61, Oct. 4, 1681.

28 The Address of above 20,000 of the Loyal Protestant Apprentices (London, 1681).

29 Loyal Protestant Intelligence, no. 12, Apr. 16, 1681.

30 Clifton, Robin, The Last Popular Rebellion: The Western Rising of 1685 (London, 1984), pp. 135–37.

31 Loyal Protestant Intelligence, no. 85, Dec. 3, 1681.

32 HMC, Ormond, NS VI, 91; Vox Juvenilis: Or, The Loyal Apprentices' Vindication (London, 1681); The Address of above 20,000…; Just and Modest Vindication of the Many Thousand Loyal Apprentices that Presented an Humble Address to the Lord Mayor of London (London, 1681); Harris, , London Crowds, pp. 174–80, 186–87.

33 Loyal Protestant Intelligence, no. 30, Jun. 18, 1681.

34 Ibid., no. 39, Jul. 19, 1681.

35 BL, Add MSS 41,804, fols. 296–307; S[omerset] R[ecord] O[ffice], Q/SR/169, nos. 1–12; SRO, Q/SP/315, recognizances 49–61; SRO, Q/SI/210, indictment 6.

36 Victoria County History, Chester, II (Oxford, 1979): 115; Child, Margaret Smillie, “Prelude to Revolution: The Structure of Politics in County Durham, 1678–88” (Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland, 1972), pp. 7280.

37 Key, Newton, “Politics beyond Parliament: Unity and Party in the Herefordshire Region during the Restoration Period” (Ph.D. diss., Cornell University, 1989), ch. 8.

38 Barry, Jonathan, “The Politics of Religion in Restoration Bristol,” in Politics of Religion, pp. 163–89; Evans, John T., Seventeenth-Century Norwich: Politics, Religion and Government, 1620–1690 (Oxford, 1979), ch. 7.

39 Leeds Record Office, Mexborough MSS 18/85, Thomas Yarburgh to Sir John Reresby, Mar. 22, 1682.

40 Huntington Library, Stowe Collection, Temple Correspondence Box 24, William Chaplyn to Sir Richard Temple, Nov. 19, 1682.

41 See Harris, Politics under the Later Stuarts.

42 Loyal Impartial Mercury, no. 12, Jul. 14–18, 1682; Ibid., no. 40, Oct. 24–27, 1682.

43 An Astrological Diary of the Seventeenth Century: Samuel Jeake of Rye 1652–1699, ed. Hunter, Michael and Gregory, Annabel (Oxford, 1988), pp. 156–57; House of Commons 1660–1690, I: 500.

44 Loyal Protestant Intelligence, no. 95, Dec. 27, 1681.

45 Ibid., no. 211, Sep. 23, 1682.

46 Bodleian Library, MS Carte 232, fol. 99.

* I should like to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities for the award of a Summer Stipend to help support some of the research undertaken for this article. A version of this article was delivered at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in Washington in December 1992.


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