Yorkshire politics, 1658-1688
This thesis traces, chronologically, political developments In Yorkshire between September 1658 and December 1688. It examines in detail the attitudes and activities of the county's gentry, their relationship with each other, the acquisition and exercise of their power In the locality and their political relationship with the crown In parliament and in the locality. In order to investigate the nature of the gentry's authority In the county, each chapter contains sections on local office holding, the gentry's Influence In municipal corporations and on parliamentary elections. It is argued that at the Restoration the cavalier gentry restored their power successfully In all these spheres. No major purges of local office holding took place until 1679-1683 when Charles II removed his most determined political opponents with the general support of Yorkshire's loyalist gentry. James II purged opponents of his catholicising policy and alienated the majority of the gentry by undermining their authority in the county. The period is characterised by the gentry's consensus on the fundamental principles which should govern politics and government but disagreement over how problems should be solved. By '1667 the Yorkshire gentry were dissatisfied with the Restoration settlement. Gentry attitudes during the 1670s were fluid but there was a general trend towards 'country' opposition, fuelled by fears of the growth of popery. When the monarchy and prerogative were attacked by the extreme opposition, between 1679 and 1683, most of the Yorkshire gentry rallied to the crown's defence. Between 1681 and 1685 loyalist gentry enjoyed, for the first time, a mutually supportive alliance with the monarchy. James II's subversion of gentry power in the localities, his attack on parliamentary freedom and his undermining of protestantism broke this alliance with the gentry. When faced with a choice of loyalties, most Yorkshire gentry opted for protestantism and liberty.