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1720–23 and All That: A Reply to Eveline Cruickshanks*

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 July 2014

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Article Commentary
Albion , Volume 26 , Issue 1 , Spring 1994 , pp. 41 - 53
Copyright © North American Conference on British Studies 1994

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I would like to thank David Hayton and Stephen Taylor for their comments on this reply, and Dr. Hayton for supplying me with copies of transcripts from the Cottrell-Dormer, Dalhousie, Ormond and Stuart Papers, and the Wodrow Letters.


1 Whigs, Jacobites, and Charles Spencer, Third Earl of Sunderland,” English Historical Review 109 (1994): 5273Google Scholar.

2 This is being researched by David Hayton and Stephen Taylor (see ante, 23: 688, note 28), whose qualifications to deal with Jacobitism are patronisingly dismissed by Dr. Cruickshanks (see note 18), as are those of Edward Gregg (see note 7), and O. V. Bennett (p. 28), while the qualifications of those historians who support her point of view remain unquestioned. Using the same criterion one could argue that before Dr. Cruickshanks published anything on Jacobitism, her qualifications were equally open to question.

3 Again this is the prime purpose of my article on Lord Sunderland (above note 1), which casts considerable doubt on the evidence (and the methodology) used by Romney Sedgwick in his volumes on The House of Commons, 1715–1754, 2 vols. (London, 1970)Google Scholar to “prove” that the Tory party was largely a Jacobite party. The work of Hayton and Taylor will go further. I do not doubt the sincerity of Sedgwick's beliefs in the Jacobitism of the Tory party, nor of his road to Damascus conversion as outlined by Dr. Cruickshanks (p. 29). However, I believe he was wrong, as did Linda Colley. It is true that we should not, as Dr. Cruickshanks asks, “promulgate a large Hanoverian Tory party out of Tories we know little about” (p. 29), but we should equally not make the Tory party largely Jacobite on such flimsy evidence as is sometimes used in Sedgwick. Dr. Cruickshanks's question concerning the Jacobite evidence that has survived — “Were they [contemporaries] not more likely to know the views of the rank and file than twentieth-century historians?” (p. 29) — is surely naive in the context of a highly complex, dangerous, and treasonable phenomenon such as Jacobitism, with the attendant paranoia, government suppression, smears, and character assassination. Modem historical writing is full of reassessments of contemporary views in the light of evidence that contemporaries knew nothing of.

4 There is not the space to examine the careers of each of the eight M.P.s listed by Dr. Cruickshanks (for whom see Sedgwick, , House of Commons, 2: 25–26, 66–67, 81–82, 114–15, 121–22, 163–64, 327, 535Google Scholar; Henning, B. D., The House of Commons, 1660–1690, 3 vols. (London, 1983), 3: 208–09)Google Scholar, but, one may serve as an example of the possibly biased picture given in the Sedgwick volumes. Dr. Cruickshanks states that Hutcheson “became a Jacobite after 1715 when he was entrusted with the administration of the exiled [Jacobite] Duke of Ormonde's estates” (p. 30). In fact, Hutcheson had been a trustee as early as 1710, appointed to administer the sale of Ormond's property to meet his debts. Hutcheson stated that he had “entered into his grace's affairs upon the pure motives of good nature and compassion,” not for any political reason, and he desired not to be involved in the duke's affairs beyond that required by being a trustee (National Library of Ireland, Dublin, Ormond MS. 2474, pp. 349–69, [Hutcheson] to, Sir Richard Cox, 11 Aug. 1711). Further correspondence shows that Hutcheson's continued participation was because of the emergency measures needed to cope with Ormond's debt and over-expenditure and that he was only one of many agents and advisers employed by Ormond at this time (e.g., Ormond MS. 2477, pp. 37–38, Hugh Henry to Hutcheson, 2 Sept., 1714). Hutcheson was also involved in a trust (along with Whigs such as Devonshire and Orantham) for the receipt of rents for Ormond's wife, and seems to have been working for Lord Arran, Ormond's brother, rather than Ormond in the early 1720s (e.g., ibid., pp. 103–07,399–400, Hutcheson to Joseph Henry, 25 April 1717, and to John Cotton, 6 Jan. 1723[-24?].

Dr. Cruickshanks's biography of Hutcheson for the History of Parliament is heavily based on the Stuart Papers, and thus may well give a distorted impression of Hutcheson's real politics. At the same time as she states that Hutcheson “remained on close terms with the Jacobites,” Ormond's correspondence (not used by the History of Parliament) shows that he was approached by Walpole for assistance in the House of Commons and that he responded “that if ever it should be in my power to repay my debt of gratitude, it would give me much greater pleasure than the contracting of it did.…As to public matters, I do not remember that we ever differed in one vote during the Parliament of the late queen, nor in the present reign when he happened to be only a country gentleman, altho' I have not had the same good [-?] with him in power.…I cannot at present recollect that there is any other person who now is or at any time has been in power to whose favour I stand indebted” (ibid., pp. 407–08, Hutcheson to Cotton, 13 Jan. 1723[24?]). In 1714 Hutcheson was on the Speaker's list for the ballot for the commissioners of accounts, in opposition to a list put forward by the ultra-high Tory October Club, which included such Jacobites as George Lockhart (National Library of Scotland, Wodrow Letters Quarto VJU. f.138, Robert Alexander to [Wodrow?], 26 June 1714).

5 See my forthcoming essay William, 1st Earl Cowper, Country Whiggery, and the Leadership of the Opposition in the House of Lords, 1720–23,” in Lords of Parliament, ed, Davis, R. W. (Stanford, 1994)Google Scholar.

6 A term I dismissed (see my article, The New Opposition in the House of Lords, 1720–3,” Historical Journal 36 [1993]: 309, note 1CrossRefGoogle Scholar) as confusing to a modem reader, with its overlay of conspiracy and secrecy—precisely the opposite to the way Cowper and his colleagues operated. Dr. Cruickshanks's erudite explanation of what Destouches may have meant by the term (note 15), makes it even less useful.

7 See ante, 24: 686–90. Dr. Cruickshanks writes that “Layer further testified that ‘Lord Cowper had told him that two hundred Tories and ninety Orumbletonian Whigs, who are in the House of Commons’ would try to effect a restoration” (p. 32), thus directly linking Layer and Cowper to strengthen her case of Cowper's supposed contacts with the plotters. Even a cursory examination of Layer's evidence (for the source see ante, 23: 689, note 30) shows that he was not reporting a direct conversation with Cowper, but a supposed talk between Orrery and Cowper, in which the latter was claimed to have made this assessment of strength in the Commons. Nowhere in the mass of sources on the plot have I found any evidence of contact, direct or otherwise, between Layer (or any of the other minor plotters) and Cowper.

8 After stating that Cowper was the only Whig member of the (nonexistent) “Burford's Club,” Dr. Cruickshanks goes on to say that “Cowper socialized with political opponents as well as with political allies,” listing his closest associates as active Jacobites, the implicit assumption being that these associations make Cowper a Jacobite (p. 31). In a recently published article (An Anglo-Scottish Westminster Dining Group, 1710–12: The Evidence of Lord Ossulton's Diary,” Scottish Historical Review 71 [1992]: 110–28Google Scholar) I show that it was not unknown for Whigs and Jacobites to socialize (with each group maintaining its own political integrity), and that such meetings could have a political context. Because a Whig dines with a Jacobite it does not make the Whig a Jacobite, and vice versa.

9 In note 18 Dr. Cruickshanks dismisses the contention that John Hay was the author of the 1721 list of Jacobite supporters (see ante, 23: 685, note 18) on the grounds that the source I cite is a letter of January 1723. Dr. Cruickshanks has implied that Layer may have been responsible for this list (Lord North, Christopher Layer and the Atterbury Plot: 1720–23,” in The Jacobite Challenge, ed. Cruickshanks, E. and Black, J. [Edinburgh, 1988, pp. 94, 105 note 10Google Scholar). I know of no direct evidence for the provenance of the 1721 list. However, Hay's statement “That except L[aye]r had been trusted on t'other side, he never would have known any particular of Peters [the Pretender's] affair…and the truth Is he could not write what he did not know.…It was entirely out of my head a paper with names of persons that was delivered to Peter as persons that wished him well, and the delivery of that paper was what brought Mr. L[aye]r here, his journey might have been saved” points, in my opinion, to the 1721 list, as no other list (except Layer's list of Norfolk gentry) is known for this period (Royal Archives, Windsor Castle, Stuart Papers [hereafter cited as R.A., S.P.] 64/134, Hay to Martel, 5 Jan. 1723). Dr. Cruickshanks points the reader for evidence on the list to ibid. 55/143, James Hamilton to the Pretender, 2 May 1722. No such document, exists: 55/143 is a draft of a letter from the Pretender to Morgan William, 23 Nov. 1721. Ibid. 59/126 and 143 are Hamilton letters to the Pretender, 21 and 29 May 1722, but neither refer to the 1721 list. The use of and quotation from the Stuart papers is by the gracious permission of Her Majesty the Queen.

10 See ante, 23: 691. Dr. Cruickshanks tries to draw a clear distinction between parliamentary and insurrectional Jacobitism and then claims that Cowper adhered to the former but not the latter. How does she square this with her further claim that Cowper was indeed a member of (the spurious) “Burford's Club”—an insurrectionary group?

11 R.A., S.P., 55/58, 152, Balmerino to the Pretender, 23 Oct. [1721], James Hamilton to the Pretender. 27 Nov. 1721 n.s.; Scottish Record Office, OD45/14/846 (Dalhousie Papers), Stafford and others to [Hamilton]. 3 Mar. 1721/2 (I would like to thank the Earl of Dalhousie for allowing me to quote from his papers). For the 1722 election see my forthcoming edition of the letters of Lord Balmerino from the Scottish History Society.

12 Sandon Hall, Harrowby Papers, transcripts vol. 1195A, p. 376 (Document 21, p, 3), Sir Dudley Ryder's Political and Parliamentary Notes (I would like to thank the Earl of Harrowby for allowing me access to his papers).

13 See ante, 23: 683, 689, for a brief discussion of the value of this evidence, and Jones, , “Whigs, Jacobites and…the Jiarl of Sunderland,” pp. 5758Google Scholar, for a full refutation. The fact that Walpole may have provided accurate information about the Duchess of Buckingham does not necessarily make the rest of his comments true. Dr. Cruickshanks's statement that I hold the “notion that statements made by ministers to Parliament are more accurate historical sources than private conversations” is her own gloss on my work and not one that I would support. The former, however, can be independently verified more easily. It is not without irony that there is evidence to show that Walpole himself had been contacted by the Pretender (R.A, S.P. 59/126, Hamilton to the Pretender, 21 May 1722).

14 See ante, 23: 691.

15 See ibid., p, 696. Significantly, even the staunch Jacobite Charles Caesar was able to make a distinction between various plotters in 1723 on whether some deserved imprisonment or not (Rousham Hall, Oxfordshire, Cottrell-Dormer Papers, Caesar Letterbook D, Charles to Mary Caesar, 8 May 1723).

16 It is Mrs. Caesar's poor grasp of punctuation, not her poor spelling, that makes her book difficult to use; but even so, far from being patronizing, I said that the poor syntax “should not lead to its dismissal as a product of a simple mind.” I do feel, however, that Mrs. Caesar's political judgments were clouded by her excessive Jacobite zeal, a point conceded in the work of Dr. Rumbold (see ibid., pp. 683-84, 686). Dr. Cruickshanks does not seem to have taken on board the full implications of Dr. Rumbold's literary analysis of Mrs. Caesar's book.

17 See ibid., pp. 685–86. Dr. Cruickshanks implies that I said that the episode at Benington did not happen. I said no such thing.

18 On p. 32 Dr. Cruickshanks writes that, besides Cowper, Atterbury, Strafford and Hutcheson all published declarations denying Layer's statement. A Declaration Signed by Archibald Hutcheson Esq.…was published in 1723, but a search of the British Library's Eighteenth Century Short Title Catalogue computer database reveals no similar publications by Atterbury and Strafford. Atterbury's denial of involvement in the plot was made at his trial, the proceedings of which were published (see ante, 23: 686 and note 21).

19 B.L., Add. MS. 62558, f. 12. Dr. Cruickshanks (note 31) gives Sedgwick, , House of Commons, 1: 493–94Google Scholar, as the source for her statement that William Bromley was not only a Jacobite but gave money for the Swedish plot. An examination of the sources for this statement cited by Sedgwick (H.M.C., Stuart. MSS, 4: 453, 482Google Scholar), do not refer to money being raised for the plot, merely that the Pretender is advised to thank Bromley for some undisclosed favor; indeed in one letter the identification of Bromley is tentative.

20 B.L., Add. MS. 62558, f. 12 (I have taken the opportunity of correcting Dr. Cruickshanks's version in respect to one error and the restoration of the original capitalization).

21 See ante, 23: 686, 696. The fact that at the time of his death a eulogy of Cowper appeared in a Jacobite newspaper is no proof of his Jacobitism (p. 35). Cowper had worked with the Jacobites in Parliament and had defended Atterbury at his trial; they were grateful. Wharton (whom Dr. Cruickshanks states financed the paper) may well have turned (returned) to Jacobitism by this stage, but previously he had been a political “pupil” of Cowper's (Jones, “New Opposition,” p. 313), and as such the eulogy again can be seen as an act of gratitude.

22 See Jones, , “New Opposition,” pp. 309–29Google Scholar. It is worth noting that nowhere in her response does Dr. Cruickshanks acknowledge the use of this article in which I deal in detail with the workings of Cowper's group.

23 See ante, 23: 688, note 28.

24 See R.A., S.P. 46/118, Arran to the Pretender, 10 May 1720; 47/35, Orrery to same, 31 May 1722 (misbound); 48/19, the Pretender to Dillon, 6 July 1720; 53/83. Dillon to the Pretender, 5 May 1721; 57/111, the Pretender to Orrery, 31 Jan. 1722; 58/127, same to same, Mar. 1722. I await with interest Lawrence Smith's thesis on Orrery, which is also likely to disagree with Dr. Hayton and myself on this point.

25 See my “Whigs, Jacobites and…the Third Earl of Sunderland,” and “Jacobites under the Beds: Bishop Francis Atterbury, the Earl of Sunderland and the Case of the Westminster School Dormitory of 1721,” British Library Journal (forthcoming, 1995).

26 R.A., S.P. 52/100, C. Newland [Mrs. Oglethorpe] to the Pretender, 9 Mar. 1720/1 (the words in <> originally in cipher).

27 See Jones, “Whigs, Jacobites and…the Third Earl of Sunderland,” p. 56, note 6 (Dr. Cruickshanks has substituted the word “undertaken” for “ingaged”).

28 My italics. The words in <> are in a cipher that has been deciphered by the recipient.

29 R.A, S.P. 49/40, Dillon to the Pretender, 7 Oct. 1720 (words in <> originally in cipher), For Dillon's description of the meeting between Orrery and the Regent, see ibid. 48/71, to the Pretender, 29 July 1720.

30 Melville, (The Life and Writings of Philip, Duke of Wharton [London, 1913], p. 29Google Scholar) gives the source as H.M.C., Stuart. MSS, 4: 5859Google Scholar.

31 See ante, p. 687, note 22.

32 Ibid., pp. 689, 692.

33 Melville, , Wharton, pp. 100–11Google Scholar.

34 See Jones, , “New Opposition,” p. 315Google Scholar; Jones, C., “Opposition in the House of Lords, Public Opinion, Newspapers and Periodicals, 1720–23: Lord Cowper's Campaign of Protests,” Journal of Newspaper and Periodical History 8, 1 (1992): 5155Google Scholar.

35 In contrast, there is evidence of possible contacts between the Pretender and Sunderland (see above note 1) and Walpole (see above note 13), which does not mean that either of these two were Jacobites.

36 It may be significant for Orrery's true opinion of Layer's evidence that at this point he started to write the word “unintelligible,” which he then crossed out.

37 B.L., Add. MS. 61830, f.50, Orrery to -?-, 20 Jan. [1723].

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