The Atterbury Plot

Between the Jacobite Rising of 1715 and 1745 lies the Atterbury Plot. Here in 1722 many prominent men joined forces to try and instigate a Jacobite Rising that would restore the Stuarts to the throne.

The plot is named after Francis Atterbury, Bishop of Rochester, who acted as James III & VIII’s representative in England. His reasons for joining the Jacobites are intriguing, as he was not considered a supporter during the 1715 Rising, yet, a year later he was a key component in another planned rising. It appears that the changing politics in England are the main reason for his change in position. In 1714 the Tory ministry collapse and the Whigs too over, leaving the Tories excluded from high office. As a prominent High Church bishop, Atterbury feared the Tories would never be able to regain enough power to restore the church to, what he felt, was its rightful place.  Thus, we start to see a collection of Tory supporters coming together to support the Jacobites.

Atterbury is the man named in the plot but he was not necessarily considered the leader of the plot. There are many big names associated with the plan. Lord North, the Earl of Arran, General Dillon, the Earl of Mar and the Duke of Ormond all supported the plan.

The collapse of the South Sea Company in 1720 led to economic crisis and political scandals in Britain and the growing tensions held an opportunity for the Jacobites to exploit. It is suggested that the plan was to capture London and the city of Westminster and then begin multiple rising across the country. They had plans to sail men to Cornwall to begin a rising in the west and a separate group would head for Scotland and raise support to the north. The group had formed a list of all the counties where they felt they could gain support as well as those they knew would oppose the men. There was a general election scheduled in 1722 and it is believed that they planned their rising to coincide with this event.

Before the plans could take place though they were discovered. In April 1722 the Earl of Sunderland passed away and upon his death the Regent of France supposedly informed government men that the Jacobites had asked him to supply three thousand men for an attempted coup which was to take place the following month.  Sunderland papers were confiscated and amongst them was apparently a letter of thanks from James III & VIII. Despite very little evidence arrests began upon the main suspects. Atterbury himself was betrayed by the Earl of Mar and was arrested in August and confined to the Tower of London. Following his trial he was exiled and joined up with James III & VIII and became his Secretary of State.

We hope you enjoyed reading a little bit about the Atterbury Plot. As always please like, tweet, share, comment and follow us as we try and uncover more interesting tales for your to enjoy.

All the best, K & D

Advertisements

Rye House Plot

On 12th June 1683 The Rye House Plot, a plot to assassinate Charles II and his brother was discovered.

After Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660 there was a certain degree of concern over his relationship with France and Louis XIV, as well as other Catholic powers in Europe. Some felt he was too close to these powers and, whilst he was publicly Anglican, he and his brother were both suspected of having Catholic sympathies in private.

To try and exclude Charles’ brother James from the line of succession the Exclusion Bill was introduced but King Charles II dissolved the parliament, thereby protecting his brothers inheritance. With tensions high there were a lot of conspirators around and many ideas on how to stop Charles and James and invoke a rebellion that would take them off the throne.

rye
Rye House in Herefordshire

 

There were several suggestions on how to proceed but the Rye House Plot was one of the most famous and was named after Rye House, about 18 miles from London, where a group of Protestant Whigs made their final plans. It was well known that the King regular travelled to Newmarket for the horse racing, so, a plot was formed to ambush him on his return. The assassins would wait by a narrow lane to attack and the death of Charles and James would help to instigate a rebellion.

Unfortunately, following a fire at Newmarket the races were cancelled and the King returned earlier then anticipated. The plan had to be abandoned. News of the plot however leaked out and suddenly the conspirators found themselves in trouble. The plot was used as an opportunity for the government to arrest several Whig leaders, including Lord William Russell and Algernon Sidney, despite there be little evidence they were involved in the plot. In total twelve people were executed, several fled for their lives and ten men were imprisoned.

rye2
Elizabeth Gaunt

 

Among those executed were Russell and Sidney, as well as Elizabeth Gaunt, who helped one of the participants of the plot, James Burton, escape to Amsterdam. When Burton was captured he named her as an accomplice in exchange for a pardon. Elizabeth was sentenced to death for treason and was executed by burning. She was the last woman to be executed for a political crime in England.

Some question whether the plot was actually real and not just a manufactured tale that Charles used in order to get rid of some of his strongest opponents. Whether it was true or not the story certainly had an effect on the country and is worth sharing. As always please like, tweet, comment, share and stay away from too much plotting.

All the best, K & D