The crown, the peerage and high politics 1689-1760
It is the contention of this thesis that the crown went through some rather marked change during the course of the period, starting with the Bill of Rights and effectively ending with the Act of Settlement in 1701. In 1689 the crown had an extensive prerogative and a limited executive, in 1702 it had a more limited prerogative (although it did come into operation until after Annets 1714 death) and an extensive executive. Thereafter, there was no deterioration in the crown's position during the subsequent decades to the period's end. The importance of the crown has been underestimated because of the limited amount of direct research on it as a political entity. This thesis makes advances in terms of both factual knowledge and historiography. Its body falls into two principal parts. The first of these are three structural analyses of crown patronage in relation to the peeragetitles, central office and local office. The second is a broad political narrative. The analyses show that the crown was a very definite presence in high politics. Over the period as a whole the crown defined the limitations that its political managers had to operate within these. As the period progressed crown prejudices, especially with relation to the peerage, grew more marked rather than declining in the Revolution Settlement's wake as has been the general interpretation previouslY. In the narrative. the reigns of William III, Anne and George I are principally innovative in terms of historiography. For George II's reign there is such advance but also a far higher share of new material, the latter part of the period having had far less research on it than the former one. A notable example of this is the patterns of occurrence and general character of Post-1727 tory tergiversation.