OREALD.COM - An Old Electronic Library
eng: a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Reign of William and Mary


Accession of William and Mary conjointly to the Crown - Disaffection of the Tories - Appointment of Privy Council - Claims of the Dutch for the late Expedition - Repeal of the Hearth Tax - James II. descends on Ireland - The Mutiny Bill - Relief of Dissenters - War declared against Trance - Rebellion in Scotland - Battle of Killiecrankie - Death of Dundee - Reception of James II. in Dublin - Siege of Londonderry - Party Spirit of the Whigs and Tories - The Indemnity Bill - Revival of the Tory Interest - Bill brought in to declare William and Mary rightful and lawful Sovereigns of the Realm - William sets out for Ireland - Schomberg's Successes - The Irish Campaign - Battle of the Boyne - Rejoicing amongst the Protestants - Conclusion of the Irish Campaign - Resume of Affairs in England - Return of William - Marlborough and the War with France - Jacobite Plots.
Pages: <1> 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

William of Orange had now fully succeeded in his enterprise. By the resolution of the two houses of parliament on the 12th of February, 1689, lie was admitted to hold the crown for his life in conjunction with his wife, who was not merely queen consort but queen regnant. They were declared to be elected to that office and dignity by the free choice of the nation. They could neither of them claim the crown by direct succession, for James was living, and protesting against the idea of his abdication. Mary could not claim by succession, even if James had abdicated; for, although there had been much endeavour to prove the infant son of James a supposititious child, it had not succeeded. There was no sufficient proof of the fact, but much evidence against it; and nobody now doubts that the infant who afterwards acquired the name of the pretender was the real son of James and the queen. Had the right of succession been admitted, neither William nor Mary could have succeeded; but this right was now, in fact, denied. The right for the subjects to elect their own monarchs was proclaimed by the bill of rights; and by that right and no other William and Mary sate on the English throne.

But splendid as was the position which William had achieved - that of the monarch of one of the very first kingdoms of the world, his throne was no bed of roses. The catholics and the tories still retained their old leaning towards James. True, many of the tories had been greatly embittered against James by his later measures, but now that he was deposed, and a monarch sate on the throne who had been notoriously brought in by the whigs, a strong reaction took place in them. They professed surprise at William assuming the sceptre; they pretended that they had expected from his declaration that he intended only to assist them in bringing James to reason, and in putting him under proper constitutional restraints. Numbers of them were already in full correspondence with the banished prince. The clergy were equally disaffected. They had resisted the attempts of James to bring in popery, but they had now got a presbyterian king, and were not very sanguine of his support of the hierarchy, Moreover, they had been compelled to swallow their loud and long-continued vaunts of passive obedience, and now saw a monarch sitting on the throne who was placed there by the direct defeat of their grand principle, and who was therefore a standing monument of their humiliation.

The same feeling prevailed in the army. It had been powerful in numbers, but had done nothing to withstand a foreign prince at the head of foreign troops marching through the country, and placing himself on the throne. They had not been exactly defeated, because they had not come to a regular engagement; but they saw a foreign prince, supported by his foreign troops, presiding in the country; and though not beaten, they felt humbled, and were now as near to mutiny as they had been ready to revolt under James. As for the whig party, which had invited and supported William, they were only eager for office and emolument. It was not patriotism in the bulk of them which animated them, but the triumph of their party; and they thought that nothing could ever pay them for the favour they had conferred on William. The accounts of those writers who were present and cognisant of their proceedings, represent them as clamorous for place, honour, and emolument, no one thinking that William could do enough for them, and every one ready to upbraid him for giving to others those posts which they thought they themselves were more entitled to.

Thus, though there was a great deal of outward rejoicing - the people shouting, the lord mayor and corporation, the speakers and maces of the houses of parliament joining in the procession of the proclamation, followed by a train of coaches with noblemen and gentlemen of distinction, and crowds of whigs thronging the court at Whitehall - beneath the surface all was hollow, much was volcanic and dangerous, and nothing but the shrewd and cautious intellect of William could have enabled him to maintain his illustrious but most uneasy position.

His first public measure was to announce that all pro- testant subjects who were in office on the 1st of December last should retain their posts till further notice. On the 17th of February he published the list of his privy council, which contained men of almost all parties - Danby, Halifax, and even old Sancroft, the archbishop of Canterbury - in order to show the church that its interests would be protected. This and all other endeavours, however, failed to win over the high church prelate. The whole list was as follows: - -The prince of Denmark, the princess Anne's husband, who had been one of the first to abandon James, and had thereby acquired the nickname of Est-il possible; the archbishop of Canterbury; the duke of Norfolk; the marquises of Halifax and Winchester; the earls of Danby, Lindsay, Devonshire, Dorset and Middlesex, Oxford, Shrewsbury, Bedford, Bath, Macclesfield, and Nottingham; the viscounts Falconberg, Mordaunt, Newport, and Lumley; the bishop of London; the lords Wharton, Montague, Delamere, and Churchill; Messrs. Bentinck, Sidney, Powle, Russell, Hampden, and Boscawen; Sir Robert Howard, and Sir Henry Capel.

If some of the members of the council gazed at each other in astonishment to find themselves included in one body, still more was that the case with the ministry. Danby, though a tory, was made president of the council; but whilst this offended others, who remembered that he had opposed the idea of the throne being vacant though he had resisted the appointment of a regency, he himself was wofully disappointed in not receiving the white staff. But William neither now nor till the end of his reign entrusted the office of lord high treasurer to a single person, but put it in commission. On the other hand Halifax, who had not joined William's party till the last moment, received again the privy seal, and was continued speaker of the house of lords, to the great disgust of the whigs, who remembered how long he had deserted them, and how successfully he had opposed them on the question of the exclusion bill. To add to their chagrin, the earl of Nottingham was made secretary of state. Nottingham had been foremost amongst those who had maintained the doctrine of passive obedience; who had denied that the throne could for an instant become vacant; had declined to give up James or to call in William, but had also led that party in submitting to the decision of the convention in favour of William and Mary, on the ground that we are enjoined by the New Testament to be subject to the powers that be. The other secretary, the earl of Shrewsbury, was indeed a whig, and in the highest favour with that party. He had been foremost in calling in William; but then he was a mere youth, only eight-and-twenty years of age. Admiral Herbert expected to be appointed lord high admiral, and to have the entire control of the admiralty; but he had the mortification to see a number of others placed at the board of admiralty to share his authority, though he bore nominally the name of first lord of it. Churchill expected to be made master of the ordnance for his treason to James; but William had too certain evidence that he' was at this very moment a traitor to himself; was in correspondence with the court of St. Germain's, and believed that he would be one of the first to run if any future success warranted a hope of James's restoration. He was therefore appointed only to a post in the household, along with Devonshire, Mordaunt, Oxford, Dorset, Lovelace, and others; whilst the gallant foreigner Schomberg was made master of the ordnance.

The admiralty, the treasury, and the great seal were all put into commission; which, though this enabled the king to distribute his favours to a greater number of his adherents, yet it disquieted internally the chief leaders, who hoped for the influence and emolument of those offices individually in their own hands. At the head of the commissioners of the great seal was placed the sound old lawyer Sir John Maynard.

Whilst the leaders, therefore, were deeply disappointed, all aspirants to favour were extremely jealous of the three staunch Dutch adherents of William, Bentinck, Auverquerque, and Zuleystein, whom William kept about him with a very natural feeling, for they had been faithful to him through all his arduous struggles in his own country, and were now, indeed, almost the only men in whom he could put implicit confidence. The main thing in which Danby, Halifax, Nottingham, and Shrewsbury agreed was in complaining that William did not make them his confidants, but preferred the secret advice of Bentinck, whom he soon made earl of Portland, and the counsel of Sidney, whom he created lord Sidney. William ha*l but too much cause for keeping the knowledge of his thoughts and intentions from those around him, for many amongst his privy councillors and chief ministers would have betrayed them at once to the exiled monarch. Danby had been heard to say, even after James had quitted England, that if he would only abandon his priests, he might come back again; and others besides Churchill were in regular traitorous correspondence with James's court. With all William's caution, not a thing was discussed in his council but was immediately transmitted to St. Germain's.

To his trusty countrymen already mentioned William gave profitable offices near his person. His great friend Bentinck was made groom of the stole, with five thousand pounds a year; Auverquerque, master of the horse; and Zuleystein had charge of the robes. The earl of Devonshire, perhaps the most disinterested man in the whole party, was made lord steward; Dorset, lord chamberlain; Mordaunt was placed at the head of the treasury; Delamere was chancellor of the exchequer, and also sat at the treasury board with Godolphin, Sir Henry Capel, and Richard Hampden. The new judges were Pollexfen, chief justice of the common pleas; Sir John Holt, chief justice of the King's Bench; Sir Robert Atkins, chief baron, Powell, who had been dismissed for his upright conduct in the trial of the bishops, was restored to the bench; Treby was attorney- general, and Somers solicitor-general.

These arrangements being made, on the 18th of February William, for the first time, addressed the two houses of parliament. It is remarkable that the very first subject which he introduced to them was a demand for liberal supplies to carry on the war on the continent - a topic which never ceased to be heard in our parliaments from the moment that a foreign king became seated on the throne till the conclusion of the great war of the French revolution. One of the most serious inconveniences of the rule of a continental dynasty in the country has since then till our own time been the mingling up of ourselves with the questions of continental politics, and the accumulation of the enormous debt with which this country is now burthened. The national debt of England at the moment of William's ascent of the English throne was merely nominal, consisting chiefly of the sum unpaid by Charles I. to the London merchants, when he so fraudulently closed the exchequer in 1672; but, by our present entanglement with the affairs of Holland, and afterwards with Hanover, after the accession of the house of Hanover, it continued to grow till our habit of meddling on the continent beame confirmed, and reached its climax in the contest with Buonaparte, with a burden of eight hundred millions of our money.

This amongst all the alleged mischiefs of William's accession was the real and cardinal mischief. It is true that the ambition of Louis XIV. demanded a check, and the nation was in a temper to afford the means for it; but had not William of Orange been also king of England, we should have contented ourselves with assailing France from our proper element, the ocean, and should have escaped the costly habit of becoming a party to every continental quarrel. William's great argument was the protestant interest both here and abroad - a very paramount interest, which could now be very conveniently prosecuted with English money and English arms. This was one of the chief adjuncts of William's ambition to reach the throne of England. His whole life had been spent in the unequal contest with Louis of France, and he now trusted to cope effectually with him through English money and English valour. His heart lay in this object far more than in the glory of ruling the English people - amongst whom he was always a stranger, from whom he was constantly receiving troubles and annoyances, which nothing would have taught him to endure but his darling scheme of repressing and punishing the unprincipled aggressions of the Grande Monarque.

William reminded them, too, that their domestic affairs would demand serious attention, and especially the condition of Ireland, where a strong feeling was known to exist for the fallen dynasty, through the interests of the catholic religion. He exhorted them moreover to take immediate measures for securing the despatch of business. This alluded to the settlement of the great question, whether the convention could continue to sit legally after the deposition of the monarch who had called it. The question had been debated in the council, and now, on the king's retiring, the lords immediately laid on the table of the house a bill declaring the convention a valid parliament. It was speedily carried and sent down to the commons; but there it excited a warm debate. The whigs were vociferous for it; the tories, who believed that the calling of a new parliament would be in their favour, were as vehemently against it. The depositions of Edward II. and Richard II. were referred to and strongly argued upon: but the case in point was the convention which recalled Charles II., and continued to sit and act long after. Sir John Maynard moreover contended that, as they were like men who found themselves in a trackless desert, it was not for them to stand crying, Where is the king's highway? but to take the track that would lead them out of it. That track was the precedent of Charles II.'s reign. The house passed the bill without a division, and it received the royal assent on the tenth day after the accession.

A clause in this bill provided that, after the 1st of March, no person could sit or vote in either house until he had taken the new oath of allegiance to their majesties. Great excitement was occasioned by this oath. It was hoped by the tories and high church there would be found a sufficient number of persons of influence who would refuse the oath, so as to render the seat of the new monarchs unstable, and open the way to the return of James. Care was taken to consult the prejudices of the adherents to the old notions of right divine as much as possible, and the words "rightful and lawful sovereigns," after much deliberation, were omitted; but this did not prevent many refusing it. As the day approached for taking the oath, the capital was full of rumours. It was said that the duke of Grafton had escaped to France in order to reconcile himself to his uncle; and numerous other persons were supposed to have followed his example. When the day arrived, however, Grafton was one of the first to present himself; and the number of the lords who declined it, amongst them the earls of Clarendon, Lichfield, and Exeter, with the archbishop of Canterbury, and some of the bishops, was small. Of the bishops, five were of those who refused to obey the commands of James to publish his indulgence, and had been sent to the Tower. Rochester, the brother of Clarendon, was expected to refuse the oath, as he had adhered to James after Clarendon had abandoned him; but Clarendon's income was secure from his estate. Rochester had a pension of four thousand pounds a year, which he would lose if he refused the oath - a strong argument, which seems to have proved convincing, for he took the oath. Four hundred of the lower house had taken the oath on the 2nd of March, and amongst them Seymour, who had led the tory opposition; but when the oath was extended to the clergy and other individuals in office, above four hundred of the clergy, including some of the most distinguished dignitaries, refused it; and thus began the great schism of the non-jurors, who long continued to figure as the unswerving advocates of the right divine.

>>> Next page >>>
Pages: <1> 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15

Pictures for Reign of William and Mary

Death of Dundee
Death of Dundee >>>>
William III
William III >>>>
MaryII
MaryII >>>>
Great Seal of William and Mary
Great Seal of William and Mary >>>>
James II. Taking leave of Louis XIV.
James II. Taking leave of Louis XIV. >>>>
Londonderry
Londonderry >>>>
Reception of James II
Reception of James II >>>>
Kensington Palace
Kensington Palace >>>>
Old Abbey
Old Abbey >>>>
William III. Wounded at the Boyne
William III. Wounded at the Boyne >>>>
William III. at the Battle of the Boyne
William III. at the Battle of the Boyne >>>>
William III
William III >>>>
Arrest of Jacobites
Arrest of Jacobites >>>>

Home | Privacy Policy | Copyright | About