Whig historical noun

1 a member of the British reforming and constitutional party that sought the supremacy of Parliament and was eventually succeeded in the 19th century by the Liberal Party.

2 an American colonist who supported the American Revolution a member of an American political party in the 19th century succeeded by the Republicans.

3 a 17th-century Scottish Presbyterian.

4 [as modifier] denoting a historian who interprets history as the continuing and inevitable victory of progress over reaction.

DERIVATIVES Whiggery noun Whiggish | adjective Whiggism noun ORIGIN mid 17th century (in Whig sense 3 of the noun): probably a shortening of Scots whiggamore, the nickname of 17th-century Scottish rebels, from whig to drive + mare Old English mearh horse, mere mare, from a Germanic base with cognates in Celtic languages meaning stallion

Whiggism like other words of historic derivation has different interpretations. What however strikes me as amusing is the catalogue of almost contradictory definitions.  Addressing the meaning in the same order as noted above, it might initially be argued that Whiggism was a beneficial political avenue because it strengthened the voice of the people (parliament) over that of the monarchy.  This naturally is patently absurd because by the time the so-called constitutional issue of divine right and public representation was adequately addressed the real government of England was managed not by the monarchy (as laughingly lately denoted for example in the phrase, “Her Majesty in right of the Province of Ontario”) rather by a handful of usually well-to-do chaps who had nothing better to do than count their money. Hearkening back to King James II in 1685 it is evident that the fight between putative populace or divine primacy was already at an end.

James II and VII (14 October 1633 O.S. – 16 September 1701) was King of England and Ireland as James II and King of Scotland as James VII from the death of his elder brother, Charles II, on 6 February 1685. He was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. He was the last Catholic monarch of England, Scotland, and Ireland. His reign is now remembered primarily for conflicts over religious tolerance, but it also involved struggles over the principles of absolutism and the divine right of kings. His deposition ended a century of political and civil strife in England by confirming the primacy of the English Parliament over the Crown.

The next summary of Whiggism is once again its connotation of popularism after the Boston Tea Party in America at about the same time as Marie Antoinette was being beheaded in France. This event as well would await another hundred years before being acquainted with Republicanism (which formerly had the same flavour as Liberalism in England).

In political philosophy, Republicanism is a western political ideology that encompasses a range of ideas from civic virtue, political participation, harms of corruption, positives of mixed constitution, rule of law, and others.

Now however Republicanism is more frequently associated with what is euphemistically identified as “conservative” which is to say, not “liberal”; or what is perhaps more accurately related as “far right” itself but a disguise for isolationism, reactionary politics and racism.

The subsequent definition of Whiggism as a description of Presbyterianism is overall but a small compliment to the term. The British majority even in the 17th century predominantly viewed Presbyterianism as nothing but a violation of the Church of England which was considered by the British as the ethical centre of the universe. The disfavour of Presbyterianism can hardly be attributed solely to Calvanism (which still preserved the Protestant element as opposed to that of the Roman Church); rather it is more likely that the discredit arose from the Presbyterian alliance with the Scots whom the British viewed as barbaric.

The further summary of Whiggism as the “inevitable victory of progress over reaction” is so unimaginative as to hardly bear repetition except that it captures what the optimist will attribute to or camouflage as change.

As for the Scottish derivation of “whiggamore” (to drive a horse) I confess I am at a loss to enlarge usefully upon that intelligence.