Oct 12, 2013

Pages 335 - 336
Whole Number 24

THOMAS SPARKS, POLITICAL EXILE

by Paul E. Sparks



(Editor's Note: Among a large number of political exiles sent from England to Prince George's County, Maryland, in 1716-1717, was one Thomas Spark. He was probably the same Thomas Sparks who died intestate in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, in 1727. (SeeThe Sparks Quarterly, No. 3, Sep, 1955, p. 79.) The following account by our President, Paul E. Sparks, gives the historical background necessary to understand the circumstances under which this early Sparks immigrant came to America.)

James II, King of England, was deposed in 1688 primarily because he attempted to restore Catholicism as the religion of England. The birth of a son, by his second wife, who was to be educated as a Roman Catholic, precipitated the crisis. James fled to France where he died in 1701. His son James, (later to be called The Old Pretender), was proclaimed at once by the French court as 'James III, King of England and Scotland.' The English people, however, had selected as their rulers William and Mary, the latter of whom ruled Great Britain until 1702, when she was succeeded by Queen Anne.

In 1707, during Queen Anne's reign, England and Scotland formed a political union. The union was not popular, and there was much unrest. It set into motion several factions: 'highlander' against "lowlander," Whig against Tory, "low" churchman against "high" churchman. The discontent mounted and reached a climax in August, 1714, when Queen Anne died and George I was crowned as King.

Under the leadership of the Jacobites (Latin for 'followers of James'), a dissenting group of Englishmen and Scotchmen invited James, The Old Pretender, to become their King. Internal friction within the group, however, and a lack of concerted leadership, caused a premature meeting of the Jacobite forces and a Loyalist army at Preston, England, and in Nov, 1715, the rebel group surrendered or dispersed. A month later, James landed from France, but his supporters had melted away, and he speedily returned to France. The rebellion collapsed.

Seven hundred and thirty-eight men were taken as prisoners of war by the English army and were sentenced to exile in the colony of Maryland. They were forbidden to return to England within seven years. Most of these exiles, lowlanders from Scotland in the main, settled in Prince George's County, Maryland, where they remained. They called their new home 'New Scotland.'

Among these exiles was Thomas Spark. Since there were so many factions involved in this short rebellion, it is not known to which faction he belonged.

References:

1. Richardson, Hester Dorsey. Side-Lights on Maryland History (Baltimore, Williams and Wilkins Company, 1903), Vol. I.

2. Cross, Arthur Lyon. A Shorter History of England and Great Britain (New York, The MacMillan Company, 1929).

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