During the winter of 1713-14 the tory ministry in England began to disintegrate. Despite a massive tory victory at the 1713 election, the new parliament which met in the following spring did not furnish the court with a reliable majority in either house. The tory party had fallen into complete disarray Queen Anne’s deteriorating health was the root cause, giving rise to panic among tories. It was clear that there was little hope for them at Hanover, where Prince George, angry at thepeaceofutrecht, wascommitted to thewhigs. Some tories actively considered declaring for the Pretender Others, more afraid of a Jacobite restoration than the accession of a whiggish but protestant king, identified themselves as Hanoverians and voted against the ministry in parliament. The vast majority, whether Jacobite or Hanoverian, were agreed on the necessity of taking some decisive measures to crush the whigs and entrench themselves in power against the fateful day when the queen should die. More than ever they were impatient of the leadership of Lord Treasurer Oxford, the former Robert Harley, the essence of whose political management seemed to be duplicity and procrastination.