Letter of Lord Churchill to King James II, November 1688

On November 23, 1688, Lord Churchill deserted King James II and attached himself to the Prince of Orange. Lord Churchill addressed the following letter to the King in explanation of his actions.

A printed version of the text can be found on page 432 of State Tracts (London: Richard Baldwin, 1692; reprinted by Scholarly Resources, 1973).


Since men are seldom suspected of sincerity when they act contrary to their interest, and though my dutiful behaviour to Your Mjaesty in the worst of times (for which I acknowledge my poor services much over-paid) may not be sufficient to incline you to a charitable interpretation of my actions, yet I hope the great advantage I enjoy under Your Majesty, which I can never expect in any other change of government, may reasonably convince Your Majesty and the world that I am acted by a higher principle, when I offer that violence to my inclination and interest as to desert Your Majesty at a time when your affairs seem to challenge the strictest obedience from all your subjects, much more from one who lies under the greatest personal obligations imaginable to Your Majesty. This, Sir, could proceed from nothing but the inviolable dictates of my conscience and a necessary concern for my religion, (which no good man can oppose) and with which I am instructed nothing ought to come in competition. Heaven knows with what partiality my dutiful opinion of Your Majesty has hitherto represented those unhappy designs, which inconsiderate and self-interested men have framed against Your Majesty's true interest and the Protestant Religion. But as I can no longer join with such to give a pretence by conquest to bring them to effect, so will I always with the hazard of my life and fortune (so much Your Majesty's due) endeavour to preserve your royal person and lawful rights, with all the tender concern and dutiful respect that becomes,

Your Majety's most dutiful, and most obliged subject and servant

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