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From a Protectionist Party to a Church Party, 1846–48: Identity Crisis of the Conservative Party and the Jew Bill of 1847*

  • Heera Chung
Extract

This article investigates the influence of the Maynooth and Repeal crises on Conservative politicians after 1846 and the putative maintenance of their identity as defenders of the Church after the Disruption of the party. Historians of the Conservative party have long realized that it suffered from a crisis of identity for a long time after 1846. Some of the leading Peelites were heading more and more towards the Liberal party, and most backbench Peelites gradually joined the Protectionist party; but the Protectionists did not have enough experienced leaders to qualify for the inheritance. Norman Gash has argued that “the Protectionists were not a political party in the sense of one able to provide and sustain a Government in the circumstances of the mid-nineteenth century…. The weakness of the Protectionists was not merely that after 1846 they represented the Conservative party with most of the brains knocked out, but that until they could shake off the monolithic character implied by their title, they could scarcely hope to become a national party or form a viable Government.” Likewise Robert Stewart and John Ramsden consider that the Protectionists were unable to take the place of the Conservative party, given their lack of effective and experienced leaders. It is undeniable that the Protectionist party was not as strong as the Conservative party had been in terms of executive capacity or party organization. But to say also that it was unable to inherit the mantle of Conservatism is to fall into the same trap as Gash and to exaggerate the importance of Peelite executive ability. More significant is the fact that the party of Stanley and Disraeli maintained fidelity to the core principles of the Conservative party—i. e. the constitution of Church and State, and the principle of protectionism. In this sense, the Protectionist party did become the sole inheritor of the Conservative party during the later 1840s.

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This article is a modified version of part of my Ph.D. dissertation, “The Church Defence Problem in Conservative Politics, 1841–47” (University of Cambridge, 2002). I would like to thank Dr. Boyd Hilton for his supervision of the dissertation and for his comments on an earlier draft of this article.

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1 Gash, Norman, Reaction and Reconstruction in English Politics, 1832–1852 (Oxford, 1965), p. 154.

2 Stewart, Robert M., The Foundation of the Conservative Party, 1830–1867 (London, 1978), pp. 222–23; Ramsden, John, An Appetite for Power: A History of the Conservative Party Since 1830 (London, 1998), p. 80.

3 Gambles, Anna, Protections and Politics: Conservative Economic Discourse, 1815–1852 (Woodbridge, Suffolk, 1999), pp. 228–31.

4 M. C. N. Salbstein, for example, has juxtaposed David Salomons' efforts on behalf of British Jews with British politicians' resistance to Jewish emancipation (The Emancipation of the Jews in Britain: The Question of the Admission of the Jews to Parliament, 1828–1860 [London, 1982]). P. Pinsker has seen the issue as a “battle in miniature between the dying Tory oligarchy and the nascent middle classes,” arguing that opposition to the Bill originated from antagonism to the wealth of the Jews, envisaged as a new middle class, as well as from antagonism towards liberalism, envisaged as a middle-class value (English Opinion and Jewish Emancipation 1830–1860,” Jewish Social Studies 14 [1952]: 5194). In addition, Ursula R. Q. Henriques has examined the arguments of the opponents of the Bill, categorising them according to “religious belief,” “nationality,” and “moral character” (The Jewish Emancipation Controversy in Nineteenth-Century Britain,” Past and Present 40 [1968]: 126–46). See also Feldman, David, Englishmen and Jews: Social Relations and Political Culture 1840–1914 (New Haven, 1994); Gilam, Abraham, The Emancipation of the Jews in England 1830–1860 (London, 1982).

5 Benjamin Disraeli, in his biography of Bentinck, devoted a chapter to this issue. His purpose was not so much to discuss Bentinck's views on Jewish emancipation as to justify his own view of the superiority of the Jewish people (Lord George Bentinck [London, 1905]). Charles Whibley dealt with this subject more objectively, basing his discussion on relevant letters by Manners, , Bentinck, . Disraeli, , and others (Lord John Manners and His Friends, 2 vols. [Edinburgh and London, 1896]). Recent biographers of Disraeli and Gladstone have also examined the political ideologies of those supporting the bill (Smith, Paul, Disraeli: A Brief Life [Cambridge, 1996], pp. 83–17; idem., Disraeli's Politics,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 5th series, 37 [1987]: 6585; Blake, Robert, Disraeli [London, 1966], pp. 258–63; Valman, N., “Manly Jew: Disraeli, Jewishness and Gender,” in Disraeli's Jewishness, eds. Endelman, Todd M. and Kushner, Tony [London, 2002], pp. 7782).

6 This article follows McCalmont's Poll Book in classifying Conservative candidates in three ways—“Protectionists,” “Conservative,” and “Liberal Conservatives,” where the latter were mostly Peelites, though, as J. B. Conacher has shown, they included some who were not supporters of Peel but had liberal Conservative views, such as Roundell Palmer at Plymouth. In order to avoid confusion, candidates who described themselves simply as “Conservatives” and did not specify which sort they were, will be designated Conservative in italics in what follows. Oddly, McCalmont lists Peel as a “Conservative” rather than “Liberal Conservative,” but, as Robert Blake suggests, this was probably a slip rather than a subtlety of interpretation. Conacher, J. B., The Peelites and the Party System 1846–52 (Newton Abbot, 1972), pp. 3031; Blake, Robert, The Conservative Party from Peel to Major (London, 1998), p. 72.

7 The Liberal Party won 324 seats.

8 Even contemporaries disagreed as to the number of elected Peelite candidates. For example, Gladstone counted fewer than 60 Peelites, Bentinck 85, and Beresford 120 (Stewart, , The Foundation of the Conservative Party 1830–1867, p. 229).

9 Stanley to Bentinck, 12 July 1846, Derby Papers, Liverpool Record Office 920 DER (14) 177/1, pp. 3–9; Stanley to Beresford, 12 July 1846, Derby Papers, Liverpool Record Office 920 DER (14) 177/1, pp. 10–12.

10 Blake, , The Conservative Party from Peel to Major, p. 72; Parry, J. P., The Rise and Fall of Liberal Government in Victorian Britain (New Haven, 1993), p. 171.

11 Bonham to Peel, 2 August 1847, Peel Papers, British Library, Add. Mss. 40599, ff. 121–22.

12 Wolffe, John, The Protestant Crusade in Great Britain (Oxford, 1991), pp. 220–22.

13 The Times, 30 June 1847, p. 5, col. e.

14 Ramsden, John, An Appetite for Power: A History of the Conservative Party Since 1830 (London, 1998), p. 79; Coleman, Bruce, Conservatism and the Conservative Party in Nineteenth-Century Britain (London, 1988), p. 77. William O. Aydelotte has attempted to find out if M.P.s' attitudes on Corn Law repeal affected their re-election in 1847, and concluded they had not (Constituency Influence on the British House of Commons, 1841–47,” in The History of Parliamentary Behavior, ed. Aydelotte, W. O. (Princeton, 1977), pp. 240–46.

15 The Times, 11 August 1847, p. 3, col. e. See also the speech of Frederick Shaw, the successful Protectionist candidate for Dublin University. He attempted to take advantage of his decisive opposition to Peel's religious policies, emphasizing that he had spoken prominently against the Maynooth Bill as well as against the Dissenters' Chapels Bill (ibid., 6 August 1847, p. 4, cols. a–b).

16 Ibid., 9 August 1847, p. 3, cols. c–d. Manner Sutton, the unsuccessful Conservative candidate at Cambridge borough, Charles Baring Wall, the successful Liberal Conservative candidate for Salisbury, and Eliot Thomas Yorke, the successful Protectionist candidate for Cambridgeshire, all gave as their reason for supporting the Maynooth grant the fact that Maynooth College had been established by a Protestant government, and that the grant to the college had been initiated and supported by any number of sincere Protestant politicians (ibid., 30 July 1847, p. 4, cols, b–e; ibid., 10 August 1847, p. 3, col. a).

17 ibid., 30 July 1847, p.4, col. f.–p. 5, col. a.

18 Ibid., 29 July 1847, p. 5, col. b; ibid., 19 July 1847, p. 8, col. b; ibid., 30 July 1847, p. 5, cols. a–b.

19 ibid., 11 August 1847, p. 5, col. b; ibid., 4 August 1847, p. 2, col. f–p. 3, col. a; ibid., 6 August 1847, p. 3, col. c. John Tollemache, the successful Conservative candidate for Cheshire South, boasted that he had opposed the Maynooth grant in 1842, 1843, and 1845, and promised to go on resisting such measures since Roman Catholic priests were “teachers of error” (ibid., 9 August 1847, p. 3, col. b).

20 Ibid., 11 August 1847, p. 4, cols, d–e; ibid., 7 August 1847, p. 3, col. a. For similar argument see the address of Lord T. C. Pelham Clinton, the unsuccessful Conservative candidate for Canterbury (ibid., 30 July 1847, p. 4, col. a).

21 Journal, 21 April 1846, Inglis Papers, Canterbury Cathedral Archive, U 210/1/9.

22 For Stanley's efforts for Conservative reunion, see Hawkins, Angus, “Lord Derby and Victorian Conservatism: a Reappraisal,” Parliamentary History 6 (1987): 286–87); for the relationship between Protectionist Peers and Peelite Peers in the House of Lords after the split of the Conservative party, see Hogan, John, “Protectionists and Peelites: the Conservative Party in the House of Lords 1846 to 1852,” Parliaments, Estates and Representation 2 (1991): 163–79.

23 Stanley to Beresford, 16 September 1847, Derby Papers, Liverpool Record Office, 920 DER (14) 177/2, pp. 135–37.

24 He had voted for the Maynooth Bill of 1845 and supported concurrent endowment. In the election campaign of 1847, at his constituency of King's Lynn, he claimed that “some provision out of the land should be made to the Catholic priesthood of Ireland” (Salbstein, , The Emancipation of the Jews in Britain, p. 165).

25 Charles James Blomfield (1786–1857) became Bishop of London in 1828, and resigned the see in 1856.

26 Parliamentary Debates, 3rd ser., vol. 82 (1845), col. 524, 10 March 1845. On 10 March 1845 Peel's ministry introduced a bill for removing the restriction that had prevented Jews from holding municipal office. In the House of Commons the bill passed its second reading by 91 to 11, and passed the third reading by 44 to 11 on 21 July. In both second and third readings of the bill, while 51 Conservatives voted for it, 22 Conservatives opposed it (ibid., 82 [1845]: 642–43, 17 July 1845; ibid., 82 [1845]: 870, 21 July 1845).

27 Whibley, , Lord John Manners and His Friends, 1: 289; Gilam, , The Emancipation of the Jews in England 1830–1860, pp. 9596.

28 Parl. Deb. 3rd ser., 95 (1847): 1236, 16 December 1847.

29 Ibid., new ser., 23 (1830): 1304, 5 April 1830; ibid., 3rd ser., 19 (1833): 1079, 23 July 1833.

30 Journals, 10 March 1841, Inglis Papers, Canterbury Archive, U210/1/3; Journals, 31 March 1841, Inglis Papers, Canterbury Archive, U210/1/3.

31 Parl. Deb. 3rd ser., 82 (1845): 629–30, 17 July 1845.

32 Ibid., 97 (1848): 1240, 3 April 1848.

33 Ibid., 95 (1847): 1235, 16 December 1847.

34 Banks, , Parl. Deb. 3rd ser., 95 (1847): 1306–08, 16 December 1847; Acland, ibid., 95 (1847): 1331–32, 16 December 1847; Law, ibid., 95 (1847): 1359–62, 17 December 1847; Burghley, ibid., 95 (1848): 227, 7 February 1848; Mahon, ibid., 96 (1848): 249, 7 February 1848; Spooner, ibid., 96 (1848): 493–99, 11 February 1848.

35 Law, ibid., 95 (1847): 1357, 17 December 1847; Walpole, ibid., 96 (1848): 265, 7 February 1848.

36 Ibid., 97 (1848): 1243, 3 April 1848.

37 Ibid., 97 (1848): 1232, 3 April 1848.

38 Ibid., 97 (1848): 1215–16, 3 April 1848.

39 Ibid., 97 (1848): 1238, 3 April 1848.

40 Ibid., 96 (1848): 281–82, 7 February 1848: ibid., 95 (1847): 1366–71, 17 December 1847. Newdegate also asserted that this separation would present a great opportunity for Roman Catholics to regain power. Catholics treated Protestants no better than they treated Jews, and the fact that Catholic M.P.s supported the bill was evidence of their church's hidden intention. His rigid anti-Catholicism may have led him into exaggeration here. Nevertheless, the English and Irish Roman Catholic leaders' support for Jewish emancipation was unusual, given that in other European countries anti-Semitism was invariably led by Roman Catholics (ibid., 96 [1848]: 278–79, 7 February 1848; Henriques, , “The Jewish Emancipation Controversy in Nineteenth-Century Britain,” pp. 138–39).

41 Bankes maintained that a determination to uphold Church and State was the main test of fitness for public life, and they had a right to apply the test to those who attacked the Church, “as much as to those who might attack the Throne or Crown,” since the established Church was “part of the Establishment of the State as much as the Throne and Crown themselves.” For the sake of the principle of the established Church, Henry Ker Seymer, the Conservative (Protectionist) M.P. for Dorsetshire, announced that “he was ready to maintain all religious disabilities which were necessary to support the principle of an established Church” (Parl. Deb. 3rd ser., 96 [1848]: 482, 11 February 1848).

42 Ibid, 97 (1848): 1227–28, 3 April 1848.

43 Ibid., 95 (1947): 1364–65, 17 December 1847.

44 Ibid., 97 (1848): 1214, 3 April 1848.

45 Henriques, , “The Jewish Emancipation Controversy in Nineteenth-Century Britain,” p. 133.

46 Ibid., new ser., 23 (1830): 1306, 5 April 1830.

47 Parl Deb. 3rd ser., 97 (1848): 1242, 3 April 1848.

48 Henriques, , “The Jewish Emancipation Controversy in Nineteenth-Century Britain,” p. 143.

49 Parl. Deb. 3rd ser., 96 (1848): 494–95, 11 February 1848.

50 Joseph Napier (1804–1882) was newly elected for Dublin University in February 1848, and became attorney-general for Ireland in March 1852.

51 Ewald, Alex Charles, The Life and letters of the Right Hon. Sir Joseph Napier, (London, 1892); Napier, Joseph, The Miracles: Butler's Argument on Miracles, with Observations on Hume, Baden Powell, and J. S. Mill, to which is added a Critical Dissertation by the Rev. H. L. Mansel (Dublin, 1863).

52 Parl. Deb. 3rd ser., 98 (1848): 640–42, 4 May 1848.

53 Ibid., 95 (1847): 1321, 16 December 1847.

54 Finlayson, G. B. A. M., The Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury 1801–1885 (London, 1981), pp. 112–16, 154–59. Lord Ashley (Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1801–1885) became an extreme Evangelical after 1835 when he met Edward Bickersteth, leading pre-millenarian and author of A Practical Guide to the Prophecies (1823). He was obsessed with prophecy and with the imminence of the Second Advent (Finlayson, , The Seventh Earl of Shaftesbury, p. 104; Hilton, , The Age of Atonement, p. 95).

55 Parl. Deb. 3rd ser., 95 (1847): 1280–81, 16 December 1847.

56 For Cowper's extreme Evangelicalism, see Hilton, Boyd, “Whiggery, Religion and Social Reform: the Case of Lord Morpeth,” Historical Journal 37 (1994): 829–59.

57 Parl Deb. 3rd ser., 95 (1847): 1373–74, 17 December 1847.

58 Ibid., 95 (1847): 1378, 17 December 1847.

59 Ibid., 95 (1847): 1380, 17 December 1847.

60 Henry Drummond had published a pamphlet opposing the Repeal of the Test and Corporation Act in 1828 on the grounds that it was the work of a satanic liberalism that was stalking the land (A Letter to the King against the Repeal of the Test Act by a Tory of the Old School,” in Speeches in Parliament and Some Miscellaneous Pamphlets of the Late Henry Drummond, ed. Lovaine, Lord, 2 vols. [London, 1860], 2: 51, 5455).

61 Conacher, , The Peelites and the Party System (Newton Abbot, 1972), p. 49.

62 Aydelotte, William O., Members of the House of Commons: Great Britain, 1841–1847 [Computer file] (Essex: the Data Archive, University Essex, 1975), SN: 219. I am grateful to the late Professor Aydelotte, and to Mrs. Aydelotte and Professor Ian Maclean who have kindly shown me the identification list of the database.

63 Parl. Deb. 3rd ser., 95 (1847): 1314–21, 16 December 1847.

64 Ibid., 98 (1848): 614, 4 May 1848.

65 Ibid., 96 (1848): 519–20, 11 February 1848.

66 Ibid., 47 (1841): 754, 31 March 1841.

67 Ibid., 95 (1847): 1258, 1287, 16 December 1847. Boyd Hilton has argued that the conception of progress was a key factor in Gladstone's liberalism from the 1850s onwards, but the above-quoted passages show that Gladstone's idea of social evolution was already in place by 1847 (Hilton, , The Age of Atonement, pp. 343–44).

68 Parl. Deb. 3rd ser., 95 (1847): 12941304, 16 December 1847.

69 In particular, Edward Pusey responded hysterically to Gladstone's attitude on the Jewish question (Matthew, H. C. G., Gladstone 1809–1874 [Oxford, 1986], pp. 7273; Machin, G. I. T., Politics and the Churches in Great Britain 1832 to 1868 [Oxford, 1977], p. 194).

70 Whibley, , Lord John Manners and His Friends, p. 284.

71 Parl. Deb., 3rd Ser., 95 (1847): 1323–24, 16 December 1847.

72 Smith, , “Disraeli's Politics,” pp. 8283.

73 Blake, , Disraeli, pp. 258–59; Smith, , “Disraeli's Politics,” pp. 8384; for the details of Disraeli's idea of Judaism, see Smith, , Disraeli, pp. 83105.

74 Disraeli, Benjamin, Lord George Bentinck (new edition; London, 1998), pp. 314–30.

75 Smith, , Disraeli, p. 100.

76 Blake, , Disraeli, p. 259.

77 Bentinck to Croker, 29 September 1847, in The Croker Papers, ed. L. J. Jennings, 2nd. ed., 3 vols. (London, 1885), 3: 139–41.

78 Stanley to Beresford, 2 November 1847, Derby Papers, Liverpool Record Office, 920 DER (14) 177/2; Bentinck to Disraeli, 3 November 1847, Hughenden Papers, B/XX/Be/40, Cambridge Uni-versity Library, Micro Film, MS MF 1720, Reel 43.

79 Bentinck to Stanley, 27 November 1847, Derby Papers, Liverpool Record Office, 920 DER (14) 132/13.

80 Parl. Deb. 3rd ser., 95 (1847): 1381–90, 17 December 1847.

81 Ibid., 95 (1847): 1390, 17 December 1847.

82 Whibley, , Lord John Manners and His Friends, p. 289.

83 Bentinck to Bankes, 23 December 1847, Bentinck to Christopher, 24 December 1847, quoted in Disraeli, , Lord George Bentinck, revised ed., pp. 333–36.

84 Bentinck to Croker, 26 December 1847, in The Croker Papers, ed. Jennings, , 3: 158–60.

85 Bentinck to Disraeli, 24 December 1847, Hughenden Papers, B/XX/Be/45, Cambridge University Library Micro Film, MS MF 1720, Reel 43; Bentinck to Disraeli, 25 December 1847, Hughenden Papers, B/XX/Be/46, Cambridge University Library Micro Film, MS MF 1720, Reel 43.

86 Parl. Deb. 3rd ser., 98 (1848): 1352, 25 May 1848.

87 Ibid., 98 (1848): 1391–93, 25 May 1848.

88 Ibid., 98 (1848): 1342, 25 May 1848.

89 He had presented a controversial address to “a meeting of the Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews” in June 1847: “the Jews have no home for which to fight, no nation for which to feel, no literature by which to be lifted up, no hope, and hardly a God,” and this had annoyed many Jews (Henriques, , “The Jewish Emancipation Controversy in Nineteenth-Century Britain,” pp. 137–38).

90 Parl. Deb. 3rd ser., 98 (1848): 1371–72, 25 May 1848.

91 Ibid.. 98 (1848): 1381–82, 25 May 1848.

92 Bentinck to Stanley, 4 February 1848, Liverpool Record Office, 920 DER (14) 132/13; Bentinck to Stanley, 5 February 1848, Liverpool Record Office, 920 DER (14) 132/13.

93 Bentinck to Croker, 26 December 1847, in The Croker papers, ed. Jennings, , 3: 158–60.

* This article is a modified version of part of my Ph.D. dissertation, “The Church Defence Problem in Conservative Politics, 1841–47” (University of Cambridge, 2002). I would like to thank Dr. Boyd Hilton for his supervision of the dissertation and for his comments on an earlier draft of this article.

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