Whigs and Tories: Social Studies was a Long Time Ago

 My friend Sophia Rose suggested a piece on “The Bloody Law” from the British Regency Era in which the crimes for which the death penalty was allowed were enumerated. But, as I began to look at that, I found the differences between the early British political parties, the Whigs and the Tories were important to the topic. In historical romance novels people running House of Commins or, who were in the House of Lords, are always aligned Whig or Tory. But what does that mean?
I took a detour from listing hanging offenses because, as I say above, social studies was a long time ago and all I can remember is the undoubtedly too simple idea that they were ideologically analogous to our political parties.

It all goes back to absolute divine right and the split between the Catholic and Protestant faiths (thanks Henry VIII!).  But, it ended up affecting everything from crime and punishment, to the Jacobite uprising featured so heavily in Diana Gabaldon’s OUTLANDER series.

I found complicated information and then a really simple explanation a history book ” The story of the Greatest Nations” 1913 by E. S. Ellis and Ch. F. Horne. Which would you prefer?

The political parties were the Whigs and Tories, ancestors of the present Liberals and Conservatives. They bitterly opposed each other except on the questions of despotism and anarchy. There they stood shoulder to shoulder like a rock. The Whigs were pledged to the Act of Settlement and the Protestant succession, while the Tories wished to abolish it and restore the Stuarts. There were two parties also in the Church of England, as there are to-day.These were the High Church and the Low Church. The former were mainly Tories, who demanded an increase of the power of the bishops, and could nottolerate the Dissenters. The second, who were mainly Whigs, favored curtailing the power of the bishops and granting to all Trinitarian Protestants perfect freedom of worship and every civil and political right. (https://archive.org/stream/storyofgreatestn06elli/storyofgreatestn06elli#page/1087/mode/1up)

While it is probably simplistic and too general, it seems like the differences between Whigs and Tories were at least nominally about religion and absolute monarchy.

Early political parties
The Whigs and Tories of 1679-85 are seen by some as embryonic political parties in England. Although each group’s relation to government and political power changed over time, they continued to fight for dominance in Parliament over the next centuries.

The names Whigs and Tories derive from religious differences. The Whigamores were Scottish Presbyterians known for rioting against the established Church, while Tories were Catholic highwaymen and robbers in Ireland.

And more:

Whig and Tory,
members of two opposing political parties or factions in England, particularly during the 18th century. Originally “Whig” and “Tory” were terms of abuse introduced in 1679 during the heated struggle over the bill to exclude James, duke of York (afterward James II), from the succession. Whig—whatever its origin in Scottish Gaelic—was a term applied to horse thieves and, later, to Scottish Presbyterians; it connoted nonconformity and rebellion and was applied to those who claimed the power of excluding the heir from the throne. Tory was an Irish term suggesting a papist outlaw and was applied to those who supported the hereditary right of James despite his Roman Catholic faith. http://www.britannica.com/topic/Whig-Party-Englandces
While it changed over time Originally
Whig: Protestant, No Absolute Divine Right, No Catholic Succession, Originally were considered rebels.
Tory: Catholic or Catholic Sympathetic, support hereditary right of succession of James despite his Catholicism.
Whigs (founded 1678 – dissolved 1859)
Featured Image Information: Title: The Tories and the Whigs pulling for a crown Abstract: Print shows George, Prince of Wales, seated on a throne in the background waiting the results of a tug-of-war over the crown (and regency for the Prince) between the Tories represented by Edward Thurlow and William Pitt and the Whigs represented by Edmund Burke and Charles Fox. The illness of George III (1788-1790) raised the issue of a limited regency for the Prince. Physical description: 1 print : etching ; 22.6 x 26.7 cm. (sheet) Notes: Forms part of: British Cartoon Prints Collection (Library of Congress).; Title from item.