The Historical Journal


William Pitt and the origins of the Loyalist Association Movement of 1792

Michael Duffya1

a1 University of Exeter


This article presents new and conclusive evidence to resolve the long-running controversy over whether the loyalist association movement of 1792 was spontaneous or was crafted by government. It shows that Pitt and his colleagues did not know in advance of John Reeves's proposals for the Crown and Anchor association before they were published on 23 November and it suggests who Reeves's original collaborators probably were. It then goes on to show how Pitt and his cousin, Lord Grenville, confronted with many demands and proposals for associations at this time, quickly seized upon the Reeves project as the most adaptable to their own ends and produced a new draft, redefining his proposals in the directions they were prepared to see such a movement take. This they induced Reeves to publish as a second declaration on 26 November and they went on to promote as the example and inspiration for a wider association movement.