The Background to Politics in 1688

  • J. H. Plumb


By 1688 conspiracy and rebellion, treason and plot, were a part of the history and experience of at least three generations of Englishmen. Indeed, for centuries the country had scarcely been free from turbulence for more than a decade at a time. How to achieve political stability had haunted men of affairs since the death of Cecil. James I, Charles I, Cromwell, Charles II, and James II all failed, and as we shall see, William III did little better. Neither monarch nor minister was able to create a system of control by which the social, economic, and political life of the nation could be given coherence and order. The necessities of state only occasionally secured a precarious precedence over local needs and private will. Policies were frequently adumbrated both by those concerned with the need for strong government and by those intent on preserving their liberties. For both parties success was usually fragmentary and often transient. Few in 1688 believed that the liberties of the gentry had been firmly secured, and William III himself viewed his own prospects with disquiet.1 And many who were responsible for his coming were soon hankering after the Stuarts, drawn reluctantly towards those principles of strong government that they seemed to embody — principles that were heightened by the political chaos that followed the Revolution when ministers and ministries, from left, right and centre, toppled and changed like a kaleidoscope tossed by a gale.


Seventeenth Century Political Stability Strong Government Rapid Social Change Henry VIII 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. T. S. Willan, The Navigation of the Great Ouse between Si. Iver and Bedford in the Seventeenth Century, Beds. Hist. Rec. Soc. Publ. (Streatley, 1946), xxiv.Google Scholar
  2. Willan, River Navigation in England, 1600–1750 (Oxford, 1936), 14–16, 35, 34–36. There were exceptions; the Harley—Foley group was able to secure a Wye Navigation Bill in 1696, but this was in a session when their Parliamentary influence was particularly strong.Google Scholar
  3. J. H. Plumb, Walpole (1956), i. a6; H. L. Bradfer-Lawrence, ‘The Merchants of Lynn’, in A Supplement to Blomefield’s Norfolk, ed. C. Ingleby (1926–9).Google Scholar
  4. Richard Baxter, The Catechizing of Families (1683),231.Google Scholar
  5. H. J. Habakkuk, ‘Marriage Settlements in the Eighteenth Century’, T. R. Hist. S. (1950), see.,xxxil. 15–30;Google Scholar
  6. Mary E. Finch, The Wealth of Five Northamptonshirs Families, Northants. Rec. Soc. (Oxford, 1956).Google Scholar
  7. Habakkuk, ‘The English Land Market in the Eighteenth Century’, in Britain and the Netherlands, ed. J. S. Bromley and E. H. Kossmann (1960), 157.Google Scholar
  8. Plumb, Men and Places (1961),126–8.Google Scholar
  9. D. C. Coleman, ‘London Scriveners and the Estate Market in the Later Seventeenth Century’, Ec. Hist. R. (1951),iv. 221–30; Plumb, Walpole, i. 16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. S. B. Baxter, The Development of the Treasury, 1660–1702 (1957);Google Scholar
  11. A. Bryant Samuel Pepys, vol. iii: The Saviour of the Navy (Cambridge, 1938);Google Scholar
  12. G. N. Clark, Guide to English Commercial Statistics, 1696–1782 (1938);Google Scholar
  13. J. P. Kenyon, Robert Spencer, Earl of Sunderland,1641–1702 (1958), 90–91.Google Scholar
  14. Quentin Skinner, ‘History and Ideology in the English Revolution’, Historical Journal (Cambridge, 1965), viii. 371 n. 129.Google Scholar
  15. James L. Axtell, ‘The Mechanics of Opposition: Restoration Cambridge W. Daniel Scargill’, Bulletin of the Lutitute of Historical Research (1965),xxxviii. 102–11.Google Scholar
  16. Skinner, Hist.J., viii.171–3; S.I. Mintz, The Hunting of Leviathan (Cambridge, 1962), passim.Google Scholar
  17. See J. G. A. Pocock, The Ancient Constitution and the Feudal Law (Cambridge, 1957), and ‘Robert Brady, 1621–1700’, Cambridge Historical yournal (1951),x. 186–204.Google Scholar
  18. Edward Carpenter, Thomas Tenison (1948), 38 ff.Google Scholar
  19. J. E. Neale, Elizabeth and her Parliaments, 1584–1601 (1957), 376–422; W. B. Mitchell, The Rise of the Revolutionary Party in the English Howe of Commons (New York, 1957);Google Scholar
  20. H. R. Trevor-Roper, ‘Oliver Cromwell and His Parliaments’, in Essays Presented to Sir Lewis. Namier, ed. R. Pares and A. J. P. Taylor (1956), x-48. For Chkrles II, see below, Chapter Two.Google Scholar
  21. Andrew Browning, Thomas Osborne, Earl of Danby and Duke of Leeds,163217X2 (Glasgow, 1951), 3 vols.Google Scholar
  22. Valerie Pearl, London and the Outbreak of the Puritan Revolution (Oxford, 1961), 274–5, 283. There is a great need for a study, such as Miss Pearls, of London at the time of the Exclusion crisis.Google Scholar
  23. D. Ogg, England in the Reign of Charles II (Oxford, 1934), ii. 636–8.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© J. H. Plumb 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. H. Plumb

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations