What's a "Low Tory" (U.K.)

If a person describes himself as a “Low Tory,” what does he mean? I assume it indicates some kind of allegiance to the Conservative party.

What about “Low Church Tory”?

Never heard the term. What context have you come across it in?

I’ve heard of ‘High Tory’, but assumed it meant a wealthy land-owning supporter of the Conservative party.

However here is something from a newspaper 24-31 May 1711, presumably by Jonathan Swift, no less (bolding mine):

'Some time after the Revolution the Distinction of **High and Low-Church ** came in, which was rais’d by the Dissenters, in order to break the Church Party, by dividing the Members into High and Low; and the Opinion rais’d, That the High join’d with the Papists, inclin’d the Low to fall in with the Dissenters.

And here I shall take leave to produce some Principles, which in the several Periods of the late Reign, serv’d to denote a Man of one or t’other Party. To be against a Standing Army in Time of Peace, was all **High-Church, Tory ** and Tantivy. To differ from a Majority of Bishops was the same.’


As to your second question, “high Church” and “low Church” refer to different factions in the Episcopal church. You don’t find the terms much anymore, but in the 19th and early 20th century, “High church Anglicans” were those churches that focused a lot on ritual, sacrementalism, complex liturgical structures, emphasis on the eucharist, etc.; sort of “Catholic Anglicans”, so to speak.

Low church Anglicans focused a lot on simpler services, evangelicalism, individual conversion, a lack of ritual, etc. Sort of “Anglican Protestantism”

Of course, the biggest high church, low church fight happened in the 17th century, where the high church supporter Charles I was overthrown and executed by the low church Puritans.

I’ve heard the expression ‘Low Tory’ but I can’t find a definition right now.

I haven’t heard of ‘Low Church Tory’ but for a starting point I can give a definition of ‘Low Church’. From Brewer:

The essentially Protestant section of the Church of England which gives a relatively low place to the claims of the priesthood, episcopate, etc. and has more in common with Nonconformist than Catholic teaching.

Whether the adjective ‘Low’ in ‘Low Church’ performs a similar function to ‘Low’ in ‘Low Tory’ is a question for someone else (or me if I can discover where the hell I have seen the term) to answer.

WAG: it’s an allusion to the Church of England. “High Church” has a lot more tradition and pomp, while “Low Church” is more informal. And in fact looking at this Wikipedia article, the Tories are mentioned in parallel with the CofE’s history.

Sorry about my redundant answer there - I thought I was looking at a new page, and didn’t realise I hadn’t refreshed it.

In answer to GorillaMan’s question, I’m not exactly sure where, but I think it was in some work of fiction, probably meant partially as a joke.

For some reason, I think it might have been a line spoken by Maj. Jimmy Clark in Jewel in the Crown. I have a vision of his claiming to be a “Low Tory” during a discussion about the upcoming election (1945?). I’m not sure whether he actually said it or whether it’s an artifact of my imperfect memory.

The Church of England and the Tories have always been closely linked. In fact there is a saying :-

The Church of England - The Conservative party at prayer.

It’s not a common epithet but my understanding is that a High Tory would be more conservative, with a small c, more apt to hark back to old Tory values, while a Low Tory would be more attuned to modern trends, definitely on the liberal wing of the Conservative Party. As has been said, the analogy is with High Church and Low Church.

While high tory is not uncommon, I have only heard low tory in the degrogatory sense. I dont think there is a universal definition of low tory - the author can make it mean what they want. Here is Wiki on high toryism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_Tories

Are you sure you don’t mean lLaw Tory?

High Tory- aristocratic, educated but not necessarily obviously intellectual, reads Times or Telegraph, well mannered, old fashioned in dress and culture, country not town, High Church CofE.

Low Tory- working or middle class, not necessarily educated nor intellectual, reads Mail or Express, may be chavish or at least not posh and mannered, not perlicularly old fashioned in dress or culture, town not country, Low Church or evangelical.

to which we can add: High Tory:- land-rich but cash-poor, goes foxhunting, family probably has been in Tory politics for generations, even centuries, ancestors ran the country, still owns much of the countryside.
Low Tory:- nouveau or not-so-nouveau riche, self-made man, worked for a living in industry, publishing, marketing, City of London finance. Tastes incline to low-brow sports, pastimes and friends. “Sort of chap who bought his own furniture”:- Alan Clarke, MP [as opposed to inheriting it]