The political party system in the English-speaking world evolved in the 17th century, during the fight over the ascension of James the Second to the Throne. James was a Catholic and a Stuart. Those who argued for Parliamentary supremacy were called Whigs, after a Scottish word whiggamore, meaning "horse-driver," applied to Protestant rebels. It was meant as an insult. They were opposed by Tories, from the Irish word toraidhe (literally, "pursuer," but commonly applied to highwaymen and cow thieves). It was used — obviously derisively — to refer to those who supported the Crown. By the mid 1700s, the words Tory and Whig were commonly used to describe two political groupings. Tories supported the Church of England, the Crown, and the country gentry, while Whigs supported the rights of religious dissent and the rising industrial bourgeoisie. In the 19th century, Whigs became Liberals; Tories became Conservatives.

contributed by user Mark Ward