What is a Tory?


“Tory” is a word, used mostly in the UK and Canada, to describe a person or organization with conservative or traditionalist political views. It was used to refer to a number of political factions in history and can currently refer to the Conservative Parties of the UK and Canada.


The term originated in 17th century England and Ireland and came to mean an English political faction by 1680. At that time, the status of the heir to the throne of England, Scotland, and Ireland was contested.

As James, Duke of York, and the current King’s brother, was Roman Catholic, a significant political faction opposed his succession, which came to be known as the Whigs. Their opponents, who supported James, came to be known as the Tories. Their political philosophy emphasized the monarchy and Catholicism.

The term remained in use since then, and although its specific meaning has changed, it is still associated with conservatism. In the American colonies that would become the United States, “Tory” became synonymous with “Loyalist”, meaning anyone loyal to the British Crown.

The term became especially relevant after the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and during the American Revolution, when some of them fought on the British side.

In modern times, political conservatism is seen as the successor ideology of Toryism, although it does not follow the same views. In the UK and Canada, Tory has come to mean any member of the Conservative Party, as well as the party in general. For instance, the current Prime Minister of the UK is Boris Johnson, a Tory leader.

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