History of England, Part III, William and Mary to 1887

Tout, T. F. --Powell, F. York


CHAPTER III: George I of Brunswick 1714-1727


1. [1] The new king was over fifty years old,

"rather pale, not tall, of an aspect rather good than august."

He was a slow- minded, heavy man, with fixed ways. He never took the trouble to learn English, and still less to study the English constitution or character. He looked on his throne in England as giving him a stronger position in Germany. Too prudent and sensible to offend his new subjects, he did not try to put his friends, Bothmar and Bernstorff, into high place, but was quite satisfied with a fair civil list, freedom to go to Hanover when he chose and English peerages for his German mistresses. He had been so much frightened by the Tories that he put himself altogether into the hands of the Whigs. The Lords Justices, chosen to rule the land until his coming, were all Whigs. The Tory ministers were turned out one by one, and soon after his landing a thorough Whig ministry was appointed. In the Whig Parliament, which met in January , Oxford was impeached and sent to the Tower. fled in despair to France, and became Secretary of State to the Pretender. Ormonde, failing to raise a revolt, followed him into exile. Acts of were passed against both. The Tory party, so proud of being above all things national, was now bound up with the Pretender and his foreign and Catholic allies. The strong Church feeling which had been its great


strength withered under the rising spirit of Rationalism. It was represented in Parliament by a few country squires, led by Sir William Wyndham, a fair speaker, but not a man of first-rate parts. In the country it was hopelessly broken.

2. The triumph of the Whigs was as lasting as it was thorough. From to none but Whigs The Whig Ministry, . held office. The head of the new ministry was the Secretary of State, Lord , a great Norfolk nobleman,

"haughty in his carriage, and with manners coarse and seemingly brutal, but his nature was by no means so."

The other Secretary was the soldier statesman General (after Lord ),

"a handsome black man "


"a man of strong and violent passions,"

but whose

"plain dealing, generosity, and frankness, natural and prevailing eloquence, and heroic courage in the field"

were the admiration of his friends. Next in real weight, though only Paymaster of the Forces, was Robert , of Houghton, in Norfolk, 's brother-in-law and neighbour,-fat, good-tempered, shrewd, coarse, and cynical. In however was made First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer. had to be contented with the Lord-Lieutenancy of Ireland. He was a fanaticalWhig,

"the most intriguing and the most violent man of his time,"

and had

"a fixed and settled sourness on his face that repelled the gaze."

The Secretary at War was William Pulteney, the orator of the party, and a man

" of much lively ready wit,"

but naturally lazy, changeable, and dissatisfied. A satirist describes him as

"Stiff in his popular pride;

His step, his gait, describe the man,

They paint him better than I can-

Waddling from side to side."

was nominally Commander-in-chief, but his influence was gone: he was no longer trusted by his colleagues, his health was failing, and ere long he was smitten with palsy, and, lingering on a while, a sad spectacle of ruin, he died in June .

3. [2] Under the first two Georges the full effects of the Revolution of were finally worked out. The , which the theory of the constitution still gave to the king, was practically While the personal power of the king was much cut down, that of the Crown as exercised by the Cabinet grew greater and greater. The old constitution, unchanged in form, was practically laid aside for the under which England has almost ever since been governed. Many of the legal powers of the Crown fell into complete disuse. No Hanoverian monarch has ever refused his consent to a law passed by the Lords and Commons. The House of Lords was no longer co-ordinate in power to the House of Commons. But its strong Whig sympathies, which had so often brought it into conflict with the other House, when the Tories were uppermost, now brought about more friendly dealings with a Whig House of Commons.

Now that Parliament had got the upper hand, and the final authority in the country itself really rested with the Commons, the question how the House of Commons was chosen became for the first time an important one. Few members were really elected by the people. The counties, which returned two members apiece, were looked on as the freest electing bodies, but here only landowners could vote. There were many

"rotten boroughs"

with hardly any inhabitants, and some great towns had no members. Many were the nominees of great landowners, or of rich merchants, or were returned by so poor or so narrow a constituency that the government of the day could force the election of almost any man it chose upon it. Thus became a regular system. Quite as important was the , by which the ministry sought to keep its hold over the members already elected. Influence, intrigue, as well as direct and unscrupulous bribery, were freely used. Skill in such arts gradually threw real power into the hands of a ring of great land-owning families. What the king lost the great Whig houses gained. They owned the smaller boroughs, and could control the elections in the counties. Their favour was the road to power and place, both in Church and State. But, now the Whigs had the upper hand, they forgot their old popular cries, and got out of touch with the people. Thinking they had got all the country wanted by the Revolution settlement, they became conservative and opposed all new and sweeping changes. But they gave England fifty years of sound administration and of practical


reforms; and their calm and uneventful rule was the best thing for the country.

4. The failure of the Jacobite Rebellions in showed both the strength and the wisdom of the new The Jacobite government. An elaborate plot had been rising of . formed; parts of England and Scotland were to rise on the same day. French help was confidently looked for by the Tories who had carried the Treaty of Utrecht, but the death of deprived the Pretender of his best friend, as Philip, Duke of Orleans, the Regent for the infant Louis XV., who now became king, was forced by the weakness of his position to court the favour of England. All hope of French help was thus lost. But besides their bad luck the Jacobite leaders were very ignorant and foolish. was their one strong head, but was powerless to contend against the intriguers and blunderers in whom alone the Pretender believed. The English Government found out their most secret plans. Early in the had been strengthened by the passing of the .

This made it felony for twelve or more persons, assembled against the king's peace, not to disperse within an hour of being ordered to do so by a justice of the peace or other lawful authority, and enacted that if any were killed in resisting such a dispersion, their slaying should not be looked upon as murder.

Prompt vigour now nipped in the bud the movement in England. Six Tory members of Parliament, among whom was Sir W. Wyndham, were arrested. Oxford, where the University was strongly Jacobite, was occupied by troops. Ormonde landed in Devonshire, but failed to raise the country, and retreated to France. South of the Tweed the only actual revolt was in Northumberland, where a few hundred insurgents gathered together under the incompetent leadership of Thomas , member for the county. Being a Protestant, he was chosen as general rather than Catholic peers like Lord Widdrington, or even 's grandson, the chivalrous Earl of Derwentwater,

"a man formed by nature to be generally beloved."

5. [3] In Scotland the revolt took a deeper root. The Highlanders, whose fathers Montrose and Dundee had led to victory, were still zealous for the Stewarts, and the Government in Edinburgh and London could not disarm the 30,000 clansmen ever eager to follow their chiefs to battle. Beyond the Grampians and the Firth of Clyde the old picturesque, disorderly Celtic tribe-system


still lived on. There, moor and mountain kept apart from each other and from Saxon law the little tribal communities that swarmed in every strath and glen. The people were poor and rude; their houses turf-walled cots; their only wealth cattle ; their only language Gaelic. Their national garb was a linen shirt and tartan plaid, often varying in colour or pattern with the clan, and buckled tight round the body so that the lower part came over the knees, and the other was drawn up to the left shoulder. The better off would wear over this a waistcoat and jacket or short coat; a large skin purse hanging before the plaid; a bonnet, in which a feather marked the gentleman, and, on horseback, the gentry wore trews, or close-fitting breeches and stockings, woven in one piece. Their bards and pipers were the chroniclers of their fame, their mourners, their encouragers to valour. They had little book-learning, and believed in ghosts, wizards, and the evil eye, but they cared little for the contests of Prelatists and Presbyterians, and in some cases were professed Catholics. A French education and loyalty to the exiled Stewarts made many of the gentry fervent in the old faith. Politeness, good taste, devotion to old poetry and stories, simplicity, bravery, contentment, self-sacrificing devotion to their chief, and passionate love for their native glens and moors were their highest virtues. But they were idle, untruthful, sullen, revengeful, and quick to shed blood. Rival clans waged hereditary feuds with each other, but would sometimes join in plundering the Saxons. They saw no wrong in a creach (foray), or in lifting the cattle which cropped the grass of their enemy. A chosen class of marauders, the Cearnachs (Kerns), consisting mostly of the sons of the tacksmen (lower gentry), levied systematic blackmail on Lowland farmers and graziers, who paid the money to save their lands from attack when the wild Highlanders came down from the hills. The famous swordsman, Rob Roy [Red Robert] Macgregor, was one of these. For thirty years he waged open war against the Duke of Montrose, and at last died in his bed at the age of eighty, and was followed to his grave by the whole country-side. Thirty miles off were the garrison of Stirling and the great city of Glasgow. Yet no law could ever reach the valiant outlaw.

The old Scottish kings had long been so weak that they had given up nearly all royal powers over the Highlands by grants of regality and hereditary jurisdictions which enabled the great lords that received them to govern like


kings the districts intrusted to their care, and hand on their power to their sons. Some of these were also the chiefs of the clans, who, if they also held hereditary jurisdiction of the king, were in a strong legal position. But most deference was paid to the clan chieftains' vague patriarchal authority which no Saxon law, but time-hallowed and strongly-binding custom, allowed them to exercise over their dependants and kinsfolk. It was despotic, yet limited by another custom, which gave each tenant a right to his little holding, while the elders of the tribe held in check weak or violent chiefs. Even when the Highlander held his land and attended the courts of an alien landlord, he still looked up to the chief of his clan, and followed him as of old to battle and the chase. Yet though no clan family, the Drummonds were, in the early years of the eighteenth century, still proud of the dexterity of their executioner; and the Duke ofAtholl, another border lord, condemned to death and pardoned a criminal when entertaining Duncan Forbes of Culloden, the famous President of the Court of Session and the great enemy of these feudal and tribal rights. Nevertheless those Macphersons, who were tenants on the Atholl estates in Badenoch, followed their chief Cluny, and not the Duke, and Atholl's Cameron tenants from Lochaber clave in the same way to Lochiel. But of his own clan, a thousand Stewarts of Atholl would follow him to the field. Other great nobles at the head of clans were the cunning Lord Lovat, the despot of the Frasers of Inverness-shire, Lord Seaforth, the chief of the Mackenzies of Ross-shire, Lord Reay, the head of the Mackays, and the Earl of Sutherland, who could muster 2000 swordsmen of his clan. But the most powerful Highland noble was the Duke of . Called in the Highlands the Maccallum More, and the head of the Campbells, and his kinsfolk could bring 5000 men into the field to defend Whig principles, the Protestant succession, and the Presbyterian Church. The other western clans, such as the Macdougalls of Lorn, the Macleans of Douart, and the Stewarts of Appin, were hard pressed by the cunning and aggressive Campbells. The Campbells' most powerful rival was the great north-western clan of the Macdonalds, whose head was once Lord of the Isles, and who, even in their decline, could muster 2350 men under their five chiefs, Slate, Clanranald, Glengarry, Keppoch, and Glencoe. Macdonald of Keppoch, says President Forbes,

"was not proprietor of a single ridge of land, but only a tacksman of


the laird of Mackintosh and the Duke of Gordon, yet he can raise 300 followers."

" The name of the clan Macgregor (Rob Roy's clan) was called down by Act of Parliament, and they now live dispersed under different names [such as Campbell]. They have no present chief, that being elective, and continuing no longer than the current expedition; they can raise 700 men."

The Highlander was armed

"with a gun, a strong handsome target, with a sharp-pointed steel spike, on his arm, a sturdy claymore [broadsword] by his side, and a pistol or two, with a dirk [short, broad-bladed dagger], and knife in his belt."

The gentry still wore armour sometimes, and they had only just given up bows and arrows. Each clan made a regiment. Their invariable tactics were to advance swiftly till within a few yards of the enemy, when they stopped a moment, poured in a brisk volley of musketry, and then, throwing down their guns, dashed forward, claymore in hand, receiving and turning the enemies' bayonets on their targets, and dealing tremendous strokes on their hampered foes; if they were at too close quarters to wield the broadsword, they would do deadly work with dirk and pistol. Few of the stiff, formally-drilled troops of this time could withstand their swift and reckless charge.

6. [4] The few garrisons planted by in the Highlands were powerless to hold such a people in check, and were prevented from working together to put down disorder by the complete want of roads. The task of raising the clans in favour of the Stewarts was now intrusted to John Erskine, Earl of Mar, sometime Scotch Secretary to the Tory Government, but a man of weak and unscrupulous character, who had changed his front so often that he had won the nickname of On 1st August he attended King George's levee. Next day he hurried secretly to the Highlands, where, on 6th September, he raised the standard of James VIII. in Braemar. The clans of the Eastern and Central Highlands soon gathered together under his command, and, though an attempt to seize Edinburgh Castle failed, the whole country north of the Tay recognised the Stewart king. In the south, disgust at the Union made even Whigs careless of King George. Both there and in his Western Highlands John Campbell, second Duke of ,

"haughty, passionate, peremptory, gallant, and a good officer,"

vigorously upheld the fortunes of the House of Hanover.


In the hills of southern Scotland, on 12th October, Lord Kenmure proclaimed the Stewart king at Moffat, in Dumfriesshire, and gathered a force of 200 horsemen, including the Earls of Nithisdale, Wintoun, and Carnwath. On 19th October they joined the Northumbrian insurgents at Rothbury. Mar had lingered aimlessly at Perth, while the Duke of 's army was collecting; but he now sent Brigadier with nearly 2000 men to make a diversion in the south. 's troops were ferried over the Forth in open boats, and their approach filled Edinburgh with terror. But the arrival of frightened them from attacking the city; and crossed Lammermoor, and soon joined Kenmure and at Kelso. But the united forces marched purposelessly along the Cheviots, instead of turning to take in flank, or advancing boldly into England to attack the army that General Carpenter was gathering at Newcastle. At last it was resolved to invade . The of Cumberland fled in panic before them, and on 9th November they reached Preston, where many of the neighbouring Catholic gentry joined them. But Carpenter was coming up in their rear, and General Wills, with another army, was advancing from . The bridge over the Ribble, which might have been defended, was abandoned by the folly of , and, after a show of resistance, the helpless chief, and his mob of bad soldiers, surrendered at discretion on 13th November.

Meanwhile Mar had been waiting idly at Perth, and had got together a fair-sized army at Stirling, while the Earl of Sutherland had secured the extreme north for the Government. At last, 10th November, Mar moved southward, and on the very day of the disaster at Preston the armies met on the (near Dunblane). The Highland right, stung to madness by the death of Clanranald, charged with such fury that the left wing of the enemy was completely routed. Meanwhile , with his right wing, had driven the Jacobite left across the river Allan, but in the pursuit he abandoned his own defeated troops. Mar's sluggish lack of heart saved the Hanoverian army from complete defeat. held the field; the Stewarts of Appin, the Camerous of Lochiel, and many other Highland clans went home for a while. The landing of the Pretender at Peterhead, on 22d December, kept the rest together for a short time longer; but his followers lost all heart when they found that the tall,


meagre, silent, melancholy prince had neither courage to lead them nor faith in his own cause. was now reinforced by 6000 good and faithful Dutch troops, and on 30th January the prince was compelled to give up Perth, Mar's old headquarters. On 4th February James and his general ran away from their followers at Montrose, and went back to France, where was made the scapegoat of his failure. The Highland host melted away amidst the wilderness of Badenoch and Lochaber. Many prisoners had been taken at Preston, and seven noblemen were condemned as traitors; but of these only Derwentwater and Kenmure were executed. Nairn, Carnwath, Widdrington were let off. Nithisdale (through the devotion of his wife) and Wintoun escaped from prison. and Brigadier were also captured and condemned, but managed to break out of gaol. Twenty-six of less note were hanged.

7. [5] The country was still excited, and the Government, knowing that the unpopularity of the Stewarts rather than the popularity of the new dynasty had caused the collapse of the rebellion, feared to risk a general election in . They accordingly repealed the of , and passed instead the , increasing the length of Parliament to seven years, which is still the law of the land. The sitting Parliament continued its own existence under the terms of the new Act. This was denounced as highly unconstitutional by the Tories, but an Act of Parliament can do what it likes, and it would have been foolish to have had a new election when the country was so disturbed. The result of the Act was to make the House of Commons more independent of its constituents, and so render it easier for the Whig houses to manage Parliament, and keep power in their own hands.

8. [6]  Personal disputes between the different sections of the Whigs kept up some show of party government. And before long differences of policy made the quarrels of rivals for office look respectable. In George went to Hanover, and took with him. In they concluded a with Holland and France. and denounced this as Hanoverian, resigned office, and joined George, Prince of Wales (who hated his father), in a furious opposition. now became First Lord of the Treasury, with and (the famous essayist) as Secretaries of State, and as


Chancellor of the Exchequer. In retired and was succeeded by James , the younger,

"a showy vapouring man,"

the son of James , Postmaster- General since . and now exchanged their offices.

The policy of the new ministers, both at home and abroad, was more energetic than that of . In they repealed the and the , which still remained as memorials of the High Church ascendency; but, fearful of offending the Church party, they refused to give more liberty to the Non- conformists, though himself was willing to abolish the Test and Corporation Acts. But after an annual , relieving from all penalties those who had broken the law, gave the dissenters practical liberty, while avoiding an outcry. In the Government brought forward a .

This provided that only six peerages beyond the existing number of peers should be created, except that a new peerage might be established when an old one became extinct; it also changed the sixteen Scotch elective peers into twenty-five hereditary peers named by the Crown.

The object of the Bill was to secure the independence of the existing peers, and to prevent their being swamped by lavish creations, such as those of the Tories under Queen . It was therefore on the same lines as the Septennial Act, which aimed at giving greater freedom to the Commons. Its effect would have been to hand over the Government of England to a close ring of nobles and great landlords from which there would have been no escape but revolution. Fortunately the opposition of and the Tories ended in the bill being thrown out in the Commons, after it had easily passed the House of Lords.

9. [7] The foreign policy of the ministry was fixed by the , to which it owed its origin. This was a union of England, Holland, and France to maintain the peace of Europe on the basis of the Treaty of Utrecht. Spain had got strength from the wise government of the Italian adventurer, Cardinal Alberoni, and was now bent upon winning back its old position in Europe. The personal rivalry of Philip V., King of Spain, and the Duke of Orleans, Regent of France for sickly little Louis XV., for the succession to the French throne had resulted in a coolness between the two kingdoms which had hoped


to unite for ever. Alberoni, eager to upset the Treaty of Utrecht, and to restore the Spanish power in Italy, sought for allies in the old enemies, Sweden and Russia, both of which powers were coming to terms, and had interests in Germany clashing with those of Hanover. War soon broke out. A Spanish force rapidly conquered and Sicily from the Emperor and the new King of Sicily, but the defeat of the Spanish fleet by Admiral off in (11th Aug. ) put an end to Alberoni's Italian plans. An attempt to get up a new Jacobite rising in Scotland was a complete failure. Up to now Austria had been quarrelling with the Dutch about the (by which the fortresses of the Austrian Netherlands were garrisoned by Dutch troops), but she was frightened by the danger of her Italian possessions into joining the Triple Alliance, which thus became the In the death of , the last great Swedish king, an ambitious, energetic, and fearless soldier, destroyed the power of Sweden in Europe, and broke up the northern combination against England. In Alberoni fell through a Court intrigue. Next year peace was restored. The chief result of the movement was that Sicily went to Austria in exchange for . Henceforth the Duke of Savoy (King of Sicily since the Treaty of Utrecht) is called King of .

10. [8] The year was marked by a great wave of speculation and risky ventures in trade. Peace had restored public confidence, and people were looking out for good profits for the money they were willing to lay out. At London the South Sea scheme, and in Paris the Mississippi scheme, started by a scheming Scotchman named Law, were thought to be the quickest ways to get rich. The had been formed by in , and had been given all the rights of trade with Spanish America that were allowed to England by the Treaty of Utrecht. It had been very successful as a trading company, and its shares were much sought for. It now tried to widen its business by bribing the Government to give it the management of the which had hitherto belonged to the Bank of England. Now the Government wanted to profit by the peace to lessen the rate of interest on the debt, as it could get money cheaper now that peace and the Protestant succession were safe. So it gladly took the seven and a half millions that the South Sea Company offered for this privilege. The way the


Company hoped to get its money back was by persuading everybody to exchange their Government funds for South Sea stock. The inducement held out was the wonderful profits to be won by the South Sea trade. The plan was successful. People got so eager to buy up South Sea stock that its price went up from £100 to £1000. Side by side with this grew up an extraordinary madness for speculation. A contemporary ballad thus describes the scramble for wealth in 'Change Alley (near St. Paul's) :-

"In London stands a famous pile,

And near that pile an alley,

Where merry crowds for riches toil,

And wisdom stoops to folly.

Here stars and garters do appear,

Among our lords the rabble,

To buy and sell, to see and hear

The Jews and Gentiles squabble.

Here crafty courtiers are too wise

For those who trust to fortune;

They see the cheat with clearer eyes

Who peep behind the curtain.

Our greatest ladies hither come

And ply in chariots daily,

Oft pawn their jewels for a sum

To venture 't in the alley.

The lucky rogues, like spaniel dogs,

Leap into South Sea water,

And there they fish for golden frogs

Not caring what comes after."

Cunning projectors now started silly bubble companies, such as companies for importing jackasses from Spain, for a wheel of perpetual motion, for making salt water fresh, and even

"for an undertaking which should in due time be revealed."

Foolish people were found to invest their money in the most foolish of them. But before long the reaction came. The South Sea Company was so afraid of the effect of these bubble companies on its own shares that it began to attack some of them as illegal. This was enough to show the folly of the whole thing. The bubble companies collapsed at once. The South Sea shares tumbled down from £1000 to £ 135, and those who bought them at the high price found their property shrunk up to one-eighth of its former amount. Many rogues had made money, and many honest but silly people had lost all they had. Great distress followed. The blame was thrown on the Government, and it was found out that many members of it had made large sums out of the public ruin. They were fiercely attacked.


, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was turned out of Parliament as guilty of

the most notorious, dangerous, and infamous corruption.

, the Postmaster-General, committed suicide. His son, the Secretary, luckily died of the small-pox. fell down in a fit in the House of Lords, and died the next day. withdrew from office after being acquitted on the charges of corruption brought against him. The leaders of the schism of profited by the fall of their rivals. Already restored to office in , became in First Lord of the Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer. , his brother-in-law, succeeded as Secretary of State. The death of in healed the last traces of the schism. Public credit was soon restored by 's judicious measures. The directors of the South Sea Company were disgraced and ruined, to satisfy popular indignation. The state forgave nearly all the seven millions due to it from the Company, and this, along with the forfeited estates of the directors, enabled it to pay its debts. A long calm succeeded the storm.

11. [9] In another attempt at a Jacobite rising in the Highlands was put down at Glenshiel. In a Jacobite plot failed, and led to the exile of its prime mover, , the turbulent High Church Bishop of Rochester. In died when on a visit to his German dominions. He had married in his cousin, Sophia Dorothea of Celle, but she had been divorced on a charge of unfaithfulness in , and had been shut up in the Castle of Ahlden until her death in . He was succeeded by his son, George, Prince of Wales.


[1] Accession of George I. Fall of the Tories, 1714.

[2] Cabinet Government and the Whig aristocracy, 1714-60.

[3] State of the Highlands.

[1] [1715.

[1] 1715.]

[4] The Scotch risings, 1715-16.

[5] The Septennial Act, 1716.

[6] Whig schism of 1717 and Stanhope's Ministry, 1717-20.

[1] [1720.

[7] The Triple Alliance and Alberoni, 1717-20.

[8] The South Sea Bubble, 1720.

[1] [1727.

[9] Death of George I., 1727.

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