Aspects of Jacobite conspiracy in England in the reign of William III
The first four chapters establish the general background. The sources present major problems: the main Jacobite archives are destroyed, and the reliability ·of all Jacobite material is mistakenly attacked. The confusion arises largely from widespread accusations by false witnesses, who, it is shown, prospered o-ling to the comparative weakness and ignorance of the Government and to the unscrupulous use of perjury by Opposition Whig politicians attempting to destroy their political enemies. It is argued that in the 1690s restoring James Il was a practical alternative not only for Tories but for Whigs and moderates. His character and entourage always included both arbitrary and constitutionalist elements, and his French allies encouraged politicians who attempted to bring him to terms. He benefited from a strong reaction among politicians against William Ill's war taxation, administrative failures and arbitrary personal conduct. The hysterical mutual distrust of Whigs and Tories often provided the
decisive motive for conspiracy. Three chapters give a narrative of these 'Compounders" intrigues, and the reactions of loyalist Jacobites who distrusted them, between 1689 and 1694. Early Whig conspiracies were always quickly destroyed by their own weakness , bad luck or James's folly. After the Hogue his previously reactionary Secretary Melfort, to protect his own position, helped to rush through an agreement by which English politicians sent over a new minister, Middleton, and James made concessions. However, William's 1694 turn to the Whigs regained their loyalty, and Middleton was forced for survival to overthrow Melfort and crush a promising Tory reaction towards James. A study of the one important provincial conspiracy, in Lancashire, shows how a· group of private swindlers exploited genuine Catholic preparations for a rising in false accusations which provoked a major prosecution. The Conclusion shows ho\of the Assassination Plot of 1696 caused the temporary destruction of the Jacobite movement in England. By 1701, when James died, it was reviving, but in a narrower form.