Tory Party

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Related to Tory Party: Labour Party, Whig Party, Conservatives
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Tory Party


an English political party that existed from the 17th to 19th centuries. It arose in the late 1670’s and early 1680’s as a group of supporters of absolute monarchy.

In the 1720’s the Tory leaders undertook to reconstruct the party in response to new historical conditions. They established the tactical and organizational foundations of the party and formulated its philosophy, which included limited recognition of the evolutionary progress of human society, the interpretation of the principles of the Glorious Revolution of 1688–89 in a way that suited the interests of the aristocracy, and support for the supremacy of the Anglican Church. With this new orientation, the Tory Party became one of two leading parties in the English two-party system (together with the Whigs).

Over a period beginning in the mid-18th century, the Tory party became the undoubted representative of the landed aristocracy, many of whom, together with the Anglican hierarchy, came to make up the core of the party. The Tories were also supported by the small and middle nobility and by part of the petite bourgeoisie. From the 1780’s until 1830, the Tories were continuously in power. While repressing the masses and opposing revolutionary movements in the international arena, they were forced by Parliament to undertake moderate bourgeois reforms.

In the late 18th century, the “new Tories, ” including W. Pitt the Younger and E. Burke, turned the Tory Party into a force capable of attaining temporary hegemony among the ruling classes; sympathy for Tory views accompanied a reaction against the profound socioeconomic and political changes and upheavals caused by the industrial revolution, the Great French Revolution, and the democratic and revolutionary movements within Great Britain. The Corn Laws of 1815 and the repressive government of Lord Castlereagh, however, weakened the Tory influence. Liberal Tories, including G. Canning and R. Peel, sought compromise with the industrial bourgeoisie; these efforts in turn led to the sharpening of differences within the party.

The Reform Act of 1832, which gave the industrial bourgeoisie representation in Parliament, dealt a serious blow to the Tories’ political position. In the mid-19th century the old Tory Party was succeeded by the Conservative Party of Great Britain. The term “Tory” was retained in unofficial usage to refer to the supporters of the Conservative Party.


Feiling, K. G. A History of the Tory Party, 1640–1714. London, 1951.
Feiling, K. G. The Second Tory Party, 1714–1832. London, 1938.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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