The Exclusion Crisis, Part I

J.P. Kenyon describes how the childlessness of the Queen, and the conversion of James, Duke of York, to Roman Catholicism, produced a febrile state of opinion in Restoration London, out of which rumours of a “Popish Plot” naturally arose.

On August 13th, 1678, King Charles II was strolling in St. James’s Park when he was accosted by Christopher Kirkby, an amateur chemist whom he knew slightly. Kirkby warned him that the Catholics had hired two assassins to shoot him, and that, failing this, the Queen’s physician, Sir George Wakeman, would poison him. Charles was blankly incredulous, but he agreed to meet Kirkby’s informant, Dr. Israel Tonge, that evening at Whitehall.

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