William Of Orange Invades England In 1688

King William III of England

As the reign of James ll progressed, the Protestants of the Three Kingdoms of England, Ireland and Scotland feared that the three countries would once again become controlled entirely by the Catholics.

Already the Stuart monarch had replaced most of the Protestant officials in England and Ireland with Catholics. In Scotland, he had put down a rebellion by Archibald Campbell Duke of Argyll and in England a rebellion by the Duke of Monmouth who had declared himself king.

Both rebellions had occurred simultaneously in 1685 and had been launched from Holland, where the reigning monarch, William of Orange had turned a blind eye to the activities of the rebels.

After these rebellions, James decided that he should have a standing army in order to protect himself from any future attempt to oust him. Parliament refused his request stating that it went against English tradition to have an army during times of peace. They were also fearful of the fact that Catholics no longer needed to take the Oath as obligated by the Test Act and could now command regiments. Even James’ own Protestant brothers-in-law were removed from office and their positions are given to Catholics. In Scotland, James demanded that toleration should be shown to Catholics but he had no such wish for it to be given to the Covenanters, though he did grant partial toleration of Presbyterians.

By 1687, James’ had alienated almost all the Anglicans, and he had purged many Protestants from their positions. He ordered the Anglican clergy to read in the church his Declaration of Indulgence, which demanded the repeal of the Test Act and the removal of the penal laws against Catholics and Dissenters. The final straw was the birth of a healthy son, James Francis Edward, in 1688. The child was baptised into the Catholic faith. There were many accusations that the child was not a true prodigy of the King but these were never proved. However, fear and outright resentment of the King was evident.

William of Orange is invited to invade England

In June 1688 a group of Protestant nobles (The Immortal Seven) went to Holland and invited William of Orange to invade England with his army. At first, William hesitated, perhaps worried that the French would move against him, but later he agreed and in November 1688 he landed with his army in Brixham. English Protestants, including his sister Anne and Lord Churchill, immediately started to desert James, as did many Protestant officers in his army.

King James flees England

Seeing that resistance was futile James attempted to flee to the safety of France but was apprehended by some fishermen and taken back to London. During this escape, he threw the Great Seal of the Realm into the Thames. James was then placed under armed guard but William, not wishing to make him a martyr allowed him to escape again in December. He was received by King Louis XIV of France, his cousin and ally.

William then convened Parliament which pulled back from disposing of James as king. However, they declared that James, by his flight and the act of throwing the Great Seal into the river, had abdicated his throne. They then declared that Mary Stuart, his daughter would be Queen and her husband William would be king. Parliament then denounced James for abuse of power and of trying to repeal the Test Act amongst other things. They also declared that no Catholic would ever again ascend to the English throne nor could any English monarch marry a Catholic.

Last updated March 2, 2020.

About the Author

Pádraig Mac Donnchadha
Pádraig is a fluent Irish speaker with a passion for history, traditional music, and story telling.