The Peel Web
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A political designation, the meaning of which is complex and ambivalent. Originally applied to Catholic bandits in Ireland, it was used derisively in the seventeenth century to characterise defenders of the principals of hereditary succession to the crown and non-resistance to the monarch.
During the eighteenth century it was applied to conservatives who insisted upon
Less well organised as a political party than their opponents the Whigs, the Tories fell into disarray after the Glorious Revolution in 1688. They remained a significant power in parliament through the reigns of William and Mary and Queen Anne, a sizeable block of members bound together by mutual adherence to
The Tories came to power briefly during Anne's reign, but were undone in 1714 by their manifestly Jacobite tendencies.
The Tory power base was the conservative rural squirearchy, which was violently opposed to the taxation required to pay for the wars with France. The Whigs stood to profit by these wars since their main support came from the growing middle classes. It was not until 1784 that the followers of Pitt returned the Tories to power - although Pitt always called himself a Whig. After the French Revolution the Tories increasingly came to be seen as a party of reaction, and eventually lost power in 1830 after passing the Catholic Emancipation Act (terms of the Act are here) and following the Duke of Wellington's speech in November 1830 in which he opposed parliamentary reform. In the 1830s Peel attempted to modernise the Tory party based on some new principles. He called it the Conservative Party; although that remained the Party's official title, its members are still popularly known as Tories.
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Last modified 6 January, 2011
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