Krulder on Parrish, 'Jacobitism and Anti-Jacobitism in the British Atlantic World, 1688-1727'

Author: 
David Parrish
Reviewer: 
Joseph Krulder

David Parrish. Jacobitism and Anti-Jacobitism in the British Atlantic World, 1688-1727. Royal Historical Society Studies in History New Series. Rochester: Boydell & Brewer, 2017. 199 pp. $99.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-86193-341-9.

Reviewed by Joseph Krulder (Butte College) Published on H-Atlantic (January, 2021) Commissioned by Bryan Rindfleisch (Marquette University)

Printable Version: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=54620

Jacobites and the Efforts to Suppress Jacobitism in the British Atlantic World

The sublime vastness of the Atlantic World and its notorious historical fluidity offers severe challenges to those who choose to read and write of its history. One of the constraints to the development of Atlantic histories is universities themselves, bound as institutions to serve national decorum, holding regional archives, and housing gravely underfunded departments hesitant to send (and fund) scholars on transnational treks of exploration. Atlanticists have largely countered these numerous impediments with a turn toward the literary, a necessary and often rewarding cross-discipline attempt to get to cultural truths about past perceptions of the ocean that separated the old world from the new. In some sense, David Parrish’s Jacobitism and Anti-Jacobitism in the British Atlantic World, 1688-1727 attempts to reveal the sophistication of English/British political and religious culture as a transoceanic force. However, rather than using a literary turn, Parrish develops a history drawn from scores of letters and dispatches located in a diverse array of archival records on both sides of the Atlantic. The result is a significant body of work that demonstrates not only the complexity of early modern communication networks but also a direction for historians to make—not a turn but a return to archival materials that remain undeveloped if not unexplored.

As Parrish argues, to better understand the relationship between Jacobitism and anti-Jacobitism in England and the broader British Empire during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries, one needs to follow the “shared words, images, and forms of behavior” that consumed British politics for over half a century—both domestically and throughout the Atlantic world (p. 3). Jacobites who defended James II and VII and his heirs as the rightful sovereigns to England’s throne met with steadfast consequences as anti-Jacobitism picked up both political and religious steam. The complications that ensued are deftly revealed in Parrish’s work.

Parrish divides his book into two parts: the first offers context, the second case studies. In particular, politics, religion, and the print culture of anti-Jacobites provide the thematic strands of part 1 while case studies of how colonial outposts expressed (sometimes subtly, sometimes overtly) variant forms of Jacobitism and anti-Jacobitism form the basis of part 2. Parrish draws examples from New England, the mid-Atlantic colonies, and the Carolinas to flesh out colonial expressions of Jacobitism and anti-Jacobitism in response to political developments across the ocean in Britain. Unfortunately, the Caribbean colonies did not make it into Parrish’s case study work, although instances of Jacobitism and anti-Jacobitism within the West Indies are scattered throughout the book.

The first chapter is loaded with political instances of transatlantic Jacobite sentiments. For instance, what do we make of pirates who renamed their ships after rebel Tories who participated in the 1715 Jacobite invasion? Or pirates that dubbed George I a “Turnip Man,” with seditious breath (p. 19). Thus, the animosity over the 1688 revolution not only was transatlantic but also occurred on the very waters of the Atlantic. Sedition, then is the theme of the first chapter, along with the many attempts to stamp out Jacobitism in and around the Atlantic Ocean, and the many ways Jacobites refused to give in.

Chapter 2 details the political and religious complexity surrounding those who refused to give up their loyalty oaths to James II. The last half of the chapter shows Parrish at his best, employing a masterful interpretation of archival material scattered across the Atlantic: Edinburgh, London, and Boston in the United States. Parrish demonstrates that not all “nonjurors” responded in equal manners, as they consisted of a milieu of Anglicans, Catholics, Episcopalians, and Quakers who hailed from all regions of England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales. Parrish develops a narrative in which Jacobite ideology evolved over the next quarter of a century following the revolution of 1688, a maturation process that continuously “echoed” across the Atlantic (p. 39). For example, Anglicans in Virginia charged Pennsylvanian Quakers, specifically of the ideological principle of “non-resistance,” as Jacobitism itself, particularly in the face of the French threat in the Great Lakes (p. 42). Meanwhile, Parrish explores how Anglicanism suffered a “traumatic schism” following the accession of William and Mary, with 4 percent of the Anglican clergy refusing to recant their oaths to the previous monarch (p. 43). Parrish, however, aptly demonstrates the other ambiguous and regional divisions within the Anglican church, or those variant shades of Jacobitism that overwhelmed Tory political attempts to dismantle and forestall further dissent. Thus, from England to Scotland, and to Ireland, Jacobitism not only survived but, in its maturation process, also traveled across the Atlantic to affect the politics of the colonies.

Perhaps the most important chapter is the third. Here, Parrish focuses on print culture and reiterates the work of Isabel Rivers, Nicholas Rogers, Douglas Hay, and James Raven. Newspapers, pamphlets, chapbooks, and other printed ephemera related to Jacobitism and anti-Jacobitism traveled through transatlantic networks crafted by families and institutions of religious, political, and merchant concerns. When the empire sailed the Atlantic, news from the old world was devoured by colonial readers. What Parrish contributes is a fresh look at how colonialists worked to shape anti-Jacobitism to their own advantage, portraying colonial contemporaries not just as mere receivers of private and public discourses but also as self-interested activists ready to direct and steer what and what is not a Jacobite in the colonies.

In the case study of chapter 4, Parrish focuses on the political struggle between South Carolina governor Sir Nathaniel Johnson (1703-9) and the Anglican minister of St. Philip’s Church in Charleston, Edward Marston. Ironically, both Johnson and Marston were former nonjurors, yet both charged the other of maintaining Jacobite sensibilities. Such political fighting signified, according to Parrish, that England’s political mudslinging associated with Jacobitism traveled the Atlantic and was appropriated to serve self-interests in the colonies.

Parrish argues in the next chapter that the seventeenth-century mid-Atlantic colonies were a Dissenter stronghold. As the eighteenth century developed, Whig and Tory partisanship in Britain over issues of Jacobitism and tolerance quickly spilled across the Atlantic into New York, New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. Pragmatically, colonial governor Robert Hunter (New York and New Jersey, 1710-20) chose the path of tolerance, especially in New York where the population was ethnically mixed between Dutch, French, Scot, Welsh, and English settlers. Yet Hunter’s moderation became a target of the SPG (Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts) which sought and received Queen Anne’s support of a High Church appointee on Long Island behind Hunter’s back. Hunter’s tolerance toward Quakers further aggravated High Church supporters who complained bitterly of the governor’s religious equanimity. Hunter and his allies countered that such religious zeal was a threat to peace and order and took to writing pamphlets to state their case. Nonetheless, the queen’s affection toward Tory stalwarts demarcated that political party’s ascendancy across the Atlantic. Only the death of Queen Anne and the coronation of a Whig adherent, George I, along with the 1715 Jacobite Rebellion in Britain, prevented Hunter from losing his post.

In New England, Britain’s obsession over party politics infiltrated northern colonies with relative ease, due to the intersection of imperial warfare, intensified transatlantic communications, and conflicts between Anglicans and whiggish Puritans. It was within this turbulent context that Jacobite and anti-Jacobite allegations in New England took a torrid turn. For instance, Parrish highlights the correspondence between Puritan minister Cotton Mather and a Presbyterian covenantor in Scotland, Robert Wodrow, to conclude that the two were convinced that “Episcopalians, Anglicans, Tories, and Jacobites were inseparable” and alive and well in New England (p. 146). Further complicating New England’s sentiments on Jacobitism was a High Church Anglican, a Tory supporter, and bookstore owner, John Checkley. Checkley viewed himself as a “Bostonian Sacheverell” and bankrolled the re-publication of a controversial attack against deists and religious toleration written and published in 1697 by a nonjuror, Charles Leslie (p. 151). In 1719, and on the heels of the Jacobite Rebellion in Scotland, magistrates in Massachusetts demanded that Checkley declare an oath to George I. Checkley refused, twice. What Parrish points out is that despite Checkley’s numerous points of contact, his circuit of men whom he corresponded with on both sides of the Atlantic, resistance to Checkley was equally Atlantic-based. Checkley’s Jacobitism found resistance in New York, Boston, and across the ocean in London, leading to his eventual downfall.

Altogether, Parrish’s book does much more than simply prove the liveliness of the Jacobitism and anti-Jacobitism debate in Britain and its American colonies during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. It proves beyond any doubt how Jacobite and anti-Jacobite sentiment was facilitated by transatlantic networks of correspondence, print culture, and party politics on both sides of Britain’s Atlantic.

Citation: Joseph Krulder. Review of Parrish, David, Jacobitism and Anti-Jacobitism in the British Atlantic World, 1688-1727. H-Atlantic, H-Net Reviews. January, 2021. URL: https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=54620

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.