decorated initial 'A' political designation, the meaning of which is, as usual, complex and ambivalent. Originally applied to Irish Catholic bandits, it was used derisively in the seventeenth century to characterize defenders of the principals of hereditary succession to the crown and non-resistance to the monarch. During the eighteenth century it was applied to conservatives who insisted upon the constituted authority of the Church of England, upon the divine right of kingship, and upon parliamentary privilege predicated upon the ownership of land. Less well organized, as a political party, than their opponents, the Whigs, the Tories fell into disarray after the Glorious Revolution in 1688, though there remained within parliament, through the reigns of William III and Anne, a significant block of members bound together by mutual adherence to Anglicanism, hostility to Dissenters, and continued insistance upon the principle of divine monarchical right; the Tories, in fact, came briefly to power during Anne's reign, but were undone in 1714 by their manifestly Jacobitical tendencies.

The Tory power base was the conservative rural squirearchy, which was violently opposed to the taxation required to pay for the wars with France that the Whigs stood rather to profit by. It was not until 1784 that the followers of Pitt returned the Tories to power, but after the French Revolution they came increasingly to be seen as a party of reaction, and eventually lost power in 1830.

In the mid-nineteenth century the Tory party was rechristened the Conservative Party, but today its members are still popularly known as Tories.

Last modified 1988; links added 14 August 2006