Tory vs Whig

July 11, 2015 at 12:35 pm (british royalty, history, people, research) (, , , )


I must admit to an intense boredom over politics. For, in the end, no matter what, nothing ever really seems to change. Translate that boredom to the past and even to another country, and you will easily see that confusion over “labels” is bound to occur.

None more so than the terms TORY and WHIG. At least with Labour and Conservative one feels on surer ground…

But working in the early 19th century rather than the early 20th century, Whiggism and Toryism are two “isms” I have to get my head around. It is not helped by the fact that, while the words remained the same, their meanings did not. How highly entertaining to be told that the word Whig came into English vocabulary from the Scots Gaelic and was “applied to horse thieves and, later, to Scottish Presbyterians”. Tory had as ignominious a beginning: “an Irish term suggesting a papist outlaw”.

Of course _I_ can’t go that far back either. But must concentrate on the pull of the parties as occurred from the late 18th century into the early 19th century.

So why this “dip” into politics – which I can quite easily avoid in research that tends towards the biographical and the social?

Around the turn of the century, I have several gentlemen in the House of Commons: Joshua Smith (Emma’s grandfather), William Chute (Emma’s uncle), Charles Smith (Emma’s papa), and even the two Compton men, Charles and Spencer (Emma’s uncle and cousin, respectively). William Gosling, Mary’s father, is once caught out nearly all night, at a debate in the House.

Sooner or later I have to pay attention to politics!

But my recent question had been to remind myself the years Spencer Compton served. Some early letters describe his year forays into giving speeches, and (since he was a very young man!) give insight into his general personality. It was with great interest, therefore, that I read about his voting patterns in the short summation at the History of Parliament website.

Given that I have rather a soft spot for the ladies of Torloisk, the Clephane family into which Spencer married in summer 1815, I could not help but chuckle over an anecdote in the write-up on Spencer, Lord Compton (later the 2nd Marquess of Northampton): “He voted for the repeal of the Irish window tax, 21 Apr. 1818, opposed extension of the forgery bill, 14 May, and supported Brougham’s amendment to the aliens bill, 22 May. Sir James Mackintosh commented, ‘Lord Compton shows propensities to Whiggery which some ascribe to his lady, though it be a little singular that a Miss Maclean from the Isle of Mull should be a Whig’.

signature_margaret clephane

MargaretCompton

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