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The Age of Oligarchy

  • 1714 George I nominates only 4 Tories to new administration, all Hanoverian supporters; Louis XIV rejects claims of Pretender who issues manifesto reasserting his right to Crown and Roman Catholicism; Bolingbroke dismissed; spasmodic Jacobite opposition leads to 3 proclamations - suppressing riots, enforcing laws against Papists and forbidding clergy discussing political matters from their pulpits; general election, Tories lose 141 seats
  • 1715 Bolingbroke flees to France; Ormonde incites Jacobite riots and later joins Bolingbroke in France; both with Oxford and Strafford impeached; Acts of Attainder passed against them confiscating their estates; Jacobite rebellion, led by Earl of Mar in Scotland soon repressed leads to Tories banishment to wilderness; Tory Jps purged; cabinet becomes solely Whig
  • 1716 Septennial Act passed with immediate effect
  • 1717 Walpole and Townshend leave ministry, Sinking Fund established
  • 1718 Occasional Conformity and Schism Acts repealed
  • 1719 Peerage bill abandoned
  • 1720 South Sea Bubble
  • 1721 Stanhope-Sunderland ministry brought down replaced by Walpole - the Robinocracy begins
  • 1722 General Election, Whigs have majority of over 200; 'Atterbury Plot' made public; Irish opposition to 'Wood's half-pence'
  • 1723 Bill of Pains and Penalties passes Commons and Lords; Bolingbroke pardoned; Atterbury exiled; Workhouse Test Act passed; Cato's letters against Anglican charity school movement
  • 1725 Macclesfield impeached for corruption; City of London election bill disenfranchises 3,000 freemen; Malt Tax riots in Scotland; government back down in Ireland; Pultney heads opposition
  • 1726 war with Spain
  • 1727 Land tax doubled, raid Sinking Fund to balance budget; Walpole escapes censure; death of George I; attempt to replace Walpole with Spencer Compton rebuffed; general election - Tories at lowest strength since 1679
  • 1729 Treaty of Seville signed with Spain
  • 1732 Salt bill passed, reimposing salt tax
  • 1733 Excise scheme to introduce tax on tobacco and wine fails; rebel peers dismissed from government
  • 1734 General election, government lose ground to Tories and opposition Whigs
  • 1736 Church issue revived, opposition Whigs propose to repeal Test Acts; Quaker Tithe bill supported by Walpole fails in Lords; Mortmain bill passes Commons; Porteous riots in Edinburgh; Gin Act passed
  • 1737 Prince of Wales expelled from St James's Palace sets up opposition court at Leicester House
  • 1739 Convention of El Pardo signed with Spain, narrowly accepted by Commons leads to secession of opposition MPs led by Wyndham, Pultney and Sandys; war of 'Jenkin's ear' declared against Spain; opposition secession abandoned
  • 1741 Place bill passes Commons, lost in Lords; Heavy Irish mortality due to famine; general election, ministry loses further support; government candidate loses chair of Committee of Elections; George II in Hanover witholds aid to Maria Theresa of Spain and commits himself to supporting a Franco-Bavarian candidate to succeed her without consulting Britain
  • 1742 Pultney calls for investigation into negotiations with foreign powers, rejected by only 3 votes; Walpole resigns; idea of 'broad-bottomed' ministry scuppered by Newcastle; new ministry headed by Wilmington (formerly Compton) and Carteret
  • 1743 Wilmington dies, replaced by Pelham as first lord of the Treasury
  • 1744 'Broad-bottom' administration constructed with Tories and former opposition Whigs after Carteret's dismissal
  • 1745 Young Pretender lands at Erisky, Western Isles - Highlanders army reaches Derby but starts to retreat north; Cumberland recalled from Netherlands
  • 1746 Ministerial crisis, Newcastle, Pelham and others resign as George II tries to form new ministry round the figures of Granville and Bath, this collapses and they are returned to office with William Pitt; Jacobites routed at Culloden
  • 1747 Prince of Wales' Carlton House Declaration; General election produces large Tory losses
  • 1751 Prince of Wales dies, his son, George, declared new Prince of Wales and his mother Regent in Regency bill; Parliamentary opposition is in disarray; Act abolishes 'Julian' style calendar
  • 1753 Jewish Naturalisation Act and Hardwicke's Marriage Act passed
  • 1754 Death of Pelham, Newcastle becomes first lord of the Treasury; general election
  • 1755 Pitt dismissed from ministry
  • 1756 Newcastle and Fox resign; Devonshire and Pitt form coalition government
  • 1757 Newcastle retakes first lord of the Treasury
  • 1760 Death of George II
General Election Results, 1715-54 (Source: Holmes, Age of Oligarchy)
  • 1715 Whigs: 341 Tories: 217
  • 1722 Whigs: 389 Tories: 169
  • 1727 Court Whigs: 415 Opposition Whigs: 15 Tories: 128
  • 1734 Court Whigs: 330 Opposition Whigs: 83 Tories: 145
  • 1741 Court Whigs: 286 Opposition Whigs: 131 Tories: 136
  • 1747 Court Whigs: 338 Opposition Whigs: 97 Tories: 117
  • 1754 Court Whigs: 368 Opposition Whigs: 42 Tories: 106 Uncertain: 26
The Pattern of Politics under the Age of Oligarchy

The Monarchs: George I and II actively promoted the development of the Whig oligrachy, despite Linda Colley's view that they were keen to incorporate Tories into the administration

Political parties: the fate of political parties is under intense and not yet resolved debate. Namierite view is that Whigs and Tories no longer existed as separate entities, stress a 3-fold division of politics - country, court and factions. Cruickshanks and Colley have argued for the continuation of the Tory party despite the orthodoxy that puts them in the political wilderness after the Atterbury plot. The former equates Jacobitism with Toryism, the latter talks of a continuation of leadership, ideology and organisation. Hill also argues for the survival of the two competing ideologies of Whig and Tory. Speck uses division lists to compare parties in the Age of Anne with parties in the reigns of the first two Georges and notes that there is a court-country rather than a Whig-Tory split after 1715. It is notable at the electoral level, however that Whig-Tory splits remained and that the voters viewed candidates as Whigs or Tories and voted accordingly.