Development of provincial Toryism in the British urban context, c.1815-1832
This thesis analyses the development of provincial Toryism during the period from the end of the Napoleonic wars in 1815 to the passage of the Reform Acts in 1832, examining the beliefs, organisations, and actions of local Tories particularly in some large British towns. In the early nineteenth century, the existence of two parties, Tory and Whig, became a major feature of parliamentary politics, and local political associations supporting each of them were gradually organised and became powerful and influential in urban centres. Local Tories expressed their opinions and acted together in order to support the Tory party in Parliament. They found support in different regions, and developed a recognisable network and identity in various British towns. Like parliamentary Tories, however, they were not completely coherent in their ideology nor entirely agreed in what policies to pursue. They were ‘issue-oriented’ associations, which were loosely connected with each other. They sometimes acted independently and flexibly, lacked complete unity, and were not controlled by the national party at Westminster. Taking these circumstances into consideration, this thesis attempts to reveal how national and local politics were connected, and some of the most important aspects of local Tory politics particularly in terms of identity and organisation Chapter One examines the political ideology of local Tories, by looking at the provincial Tory press published in Bristol, Colchester, and Edinburgh in particular. Chapter Two investigates Tory clubs and societies, such as the Pitt Clubs, the True Blue Clubs, the King and Constitution Clubs, the Brunswick Clubs, and the Orange Lodges, which were widely and deeply entrenched in British urban communities. Chapter Three examines Tory electoral politics in three large, open, freeman boroughs: Liverpool, Bristol, and Colchester. It analyses the political opinions and actions of the electors and non-electors and investigates the extent and the ways in which national issues impacted on these urban constituencies. Chapter Four also examines the impact of national issues on local Tory politics, but does so by presenting a case study of the involvement of local Liverpool Tories in such significant provincial political arenas as Corporation politics, mayoral elections, and public meetings. The Conclusion stresses the importance of the diverse and flexible reactions of provincial Tories to various political events occurring in the localities as well as at Westminster.