The Rye House Plot of 1683 was a plan to assassinate King Charles II of England and his brother (and heir to the throne) James, Duke of York. The royal party went from Westminster to Newmarket to see horse races and were expected to make the return journey on 1 April 1683, but because there was a major fire in Newmarket on 22 March (which destroyed half the town), the races were cancelled, and the King and the Duke returned to London early. As a result, the planned attack never took place.
Historians vary in their assessment of the degree to which details of the conspiracy were finalised. Whatever the state of the assassination plot, plans to mount a rebellion against the Stuart monarchy were being entertained by some opposition leaders in England. The government cracked down hard on those in a series of state trials, accompanied with repressive measures and widespread searches for arms. The Plot presaged, and may have hastened, the rebellions of 1685, the Monmouth Rebellion and Argyll's Rising.
After the Restoration of the monarchy under Charles II in 1660 there was concern among some members of Parliament, former republicans and sections of the Protestant population of England that the King's relationship with France under Louis XIV and the other Catholic rulers of Europe was too close. Anti-Catholic sentiment, which associated Roman Catholicism with absolutism, was widespread, and focused particular attention on the succession to the English throne. While Charles was publicly Anglican, he and his brother were known to have Catholic sympathies. These suspicions were confirmed in 1673 when James was discovered to have converted to Roman Catholicism.
In 1681, triggered by the opposition-invented Popish Plot, the Exclusion Bill was introduced in the House of Commons, which would have excluded James from the succession. Charles outmanoeuvred his opponents and dissolved the Oxford Parliament. This left his opponents with no lawful method of preventing James's succession, and rumours of plots and conspiracies abounded. With the "country party" in disarray, Lord Melville, Lord Leven, and Lord Shaftesbury, leader of the opposition to Charles's rule, fled to Holland where Shaftesbury soon died. Many well-known members of Parliament and noblemen of the "country party" would soon be known as Whigs, a faction name that stuck.
Rye House, located north-east of Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, was a fortified mediaeval mansion surrounded by a moat.  The house was leased by a republican and Civil War veteran, Richard Rumbold. The plan was to conceal a force of men in the grounds of the house and ambush the King and the Duke as they passed by on their way back to London from the horse races at Newmarket. The "Rye House plotters", an extremist Whig group who are now named after this plot, allegedly adopted the plan out of a number of possibilities, having decided that it gave tactical advantages and could be carried out with a relatively small force operating with guns from good cover. 
The royal party were expected to make the journey on 1 April 1683, but there was a major fire in Newmarket on 22 March, which destroyed half of the town. The races were cancelled, and the King and the Duke returned to London early. As a result, the planned attack never took place.
The conspirators of this period were numerous, and the resort to some sort of armed resistance was widely debated from the early 1680s, on what was becoming the Whig side of the factional division of British politics. The form it should take was uncertain, and discussions of the seizing of control of cities other than London, such as Bristol, and a Scottish uprising, were in the air. The subsequent historiography of the Plot was largely partisan, and scholars are still clarifying who was closely involved in the planning of violent and revolutionary measures.
The assassination plot centred on a group that was convened in 1682–1683 by Robert West of the Middle Temple, a Green Ribbon Club member:  it is now often called the Rye House cabal. West had participated in one of the cases that wound up the Popish Plot allegations, that of the false witness Stephen College. Through that association he made contact with Aaron Smith and William Hone, both to be plotters though aside from the main group.  John Locke had arranged accommodation for West in Oxford at that time and had other associations in the group of revolutionary activists (Smith, John Ayloffe, Christopher Battiscombe and Israel Hayes),  of whom Ayloffe was certainly implicated in the Rye House Plot, leaving Locke vulnerable.
Rumbold was introduced to West's group by John Wildman, but when the plot was discovered, both had distanced themselves, Wildman by refusing to finance Rumbold in the purchase of arms and Rumbold by losing his earlier enthusiasm. 
Cabal members such as Richard Nelthorpe favoured a rebellion rather than an assassination, aligning much of the West group's discussion with the plans of Algernon Sidney, in particular, and the more aristocratic country party members making up the so-called Monmouth cabal.  There were discussions in the group around Monmouth in September 1682 of an uprising, having participants in common with the group around West.  The "cabal" was later named as the "council of six", which took form after the Tory successes in summer 1682 in the struggle to control the City of London. A significant aspect was the intention to employ Archibald Campbell, 9th Earl of Argyll for a military rebellion in Scotland.  Smith in January 1683 was sent to contact supporters in Scotland, for the "six", with a view to summoning them to London; but apparently botched the mission by indiscretions. 
In fact West's contacts with the Monmouth cabal, and knowledge of their intentions, were in part quite indirect. Thomas Walcot and Robert Ferguson had accompanied Shaftesbury to the Netherlands in his self-imposed exile of November 1682. They then both returned to London and associated with West, who learned from Walcott of Shaftesbury's own plan for a general rebellion. Walcott went on to say that he would lead the attack on the royal guards, but he was another of the plotters who drew the line at assassination.  During the spring of 1683 there were further contacts between the Monmouth cabal and West's group about drafting a manifesto, through Sir Thomas Armstrong in particular, there being disagreements about whether a republican or monarchical constitution should result from revolutionary measures.  In May 1683 West and Walcott discussed with a larger group  the prospects for raising a force of several thousand men around London. 
The interpretation of actual Whig intentions at this time is complicated by colonial schemes in America. West had a stake in East Jersey.  Shaftesbury was heavily involved in the Province of Carolina. In April 1683, some Scottish contacts of the Whigs arrived in London, as briefed by Smith, meeting Essex and Russell of the Monmouth cabal. They were under the impression that the matter concerned Carolina,  or they gave that out as a pretext for their presence.  They included Sir George Campbell of Cessnock, John Cochrane, and William Carstares.  The Earl of Argyll had left London for the Netherlands in August 1682 but kept in touch with Whig notables through couriers and ciphered correspondence. Two of them, William Spence (alias Butler) and Abraham Holmes, were arrested in June 1683. 
News of the plot leaked when Josiah Keeling gave information on it to Sir Leoline Jenkins,  and the plot was publicly discovered 12 June 1683. Keeling had contacted a courtier, who put him in touch with George Legge, 1st Baron Dartmouth, and Dartmouth had brought him to Jenkins, Secretary of State.  Keeling's testimony was used at the trials of Walcott, Hone, Sidney, and Charles Bateman; and it earned him a pardon.  It also started a lengthy process of incriminated persons confessing, in the hope of clemency. Using his brother, Keeling was able to get further direct evidence of conspiracy, and Jenkins brought in Rumsey and West, who told him what they knew, from 23 June;  West had volunteered information via Laurence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester, on the 22nd. Over several days West explained the Rye House plot and his part in purchasing arms, supposed to be for America. He did little to incriminate the Monmouth group; his testimony was later used against Walcott and Sidney. West received a pardon in December 1684. 
Thomas Walcott was arrested on 8 July, and was the first conspirator to go to trial. A meeting of the plotters had been held at his house on 18 June; but rather than escape, he chose to write to Jenkins, with the offer of a full confession in return for a pardon.  Among the plotters, John Row from Bristol was considered particularly unreliable, and he had a direct connection to the Monmouth household to offer as information; a number of steps were taken to silence him, and his life was under threat more than once.  After the meeting Nelthorpe and Edward Norton called on William Russell, Lord Russell, with an appeal to take up arms immediately; when Russell was unwilling, Nelthorpe left the country. 
Walcott named Henry Care, publisher of the Weekly Pacquet which was a leading anti-Catholic and Whig paper of the time; Care ceased publishing the Pacquet on 13 July, and began co-operating with the court.  Among those later informing against Walcott was Zachary Bourne.  Bourne was a conspirator, arrested trying to leave the country with the nonconformist ministers Matthew Meade, for whom an arrest warrant was issued on 27 June, and Walter Cross;  he informed against another minister, Stephen Lobb, who was prepared to help recruiting for an uprising. On 6 July the arrest of Lobb was ordered, and he was picked up in August. 
A royal declaration of the heinous nature of the plot was issued on 27 July.  Many more were arrested. Although the principal conspirators were minor figures, and not directly concerned in the "Monmouth cabal", the court party made no distinction between the groups. The ministers involved may have known Ferguson but not West; Meade had sheltered the Covenanter John Nisbet, and may well have known of the plans for a rebellion.  William Carstares, a Church of Scotland minister and intermediary with the Whig grandees, was found in Kent on 23 July. 
The final trial on the Rye House charges was that of Charles Bateman, in 1685. Witnesses against him were the conspirators Keeling, who had nothing specific to say, Thomas Lee, and Richard Goodenough. He was hanged, drawn and quartered. 
Having fled abroad the previous year, Sir William Waller moved to Bremen in 1683. While he was there he became a central figure in a group of the erstwhile conspirators who were in political exile. Lord Preston, the English ambassador at Paris, called him "the governor" and wrote that "They style Waller, by way of commendation, a second Cromwell". Waller would accompany William of Orange to England in 1688 but William chose to overlook him when his government was formed. 
Historians have suggested the story of the plot may have been largely manufactured by Charles or his supporters to allow the removal of most of his strongest political opponents. Richard Greaves cites as proof that there was a plot in 1683, the 1685 armed rebellions of the fugitive Earl of Argyll and Charles' Protestant illegitimate son, James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth.  Doreen Milne asserts that its importance lies less in what was actually plotted than in the public perception of it and the uses made of it by the government. 
Popular reaction to the Tories' reactive excesses, sometimes known as the "Stuart Revenge" though that term is contested, led to the discontent expressed decisively in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
Burton ... delivered himself up to the government; and he gave information against Fernley and Elizabeth Gaunt. They were brought to trial. The villain whose life they had preserved had the heart and the forehead to appear as the principal witness against them. They were convicted. Fernley was sentenced to the gallows, Elizabeth Gaunt to the stake.
Edmund Mortimer, 5th Earl of March, 7th Earl of Ulster, was an English nobleman and a potential claimant to the throne of England. A great-great-grandson of King Edward III of England, he was heir presumptive to King Richard II of England when he was deposed in favour of Henry IV. Edmund Mortimer's claim to the throne was the basis of rebellions and plots against Henry IV and his son Henry V, and was later taken up by the House of York in the Wars of the Roses, though Mortimer himself was an important and loyal vassal of Henry V and Henry VI. Edmund was the last Earl of March of the Mortimer family.
Henry Sidney, 1st Earl of Romney was an English Whig politician, soldier and administrator. He is now best remembered as one of the Immortal Seven who drafted the Invitation to William of Orange, which led to the November 1688 Glorious Revolution and subsequent deposition of James II of England.
Samuel Johnson (1649–1703) was an English clergyman and political writer, sometimes called "the Whig" to distinguish him from the author and lexicographer of the same name. He is one of the best known pamphlet writers who developed Whig resistance theory.
Philip Sidney, 3rd Earl of Leicester was an English politician who sat in the House of Commons at various times between 1640 and 1659 and became Earl of Leicester in 1677. He supported the Parliamentarian cause in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, when he was known as Viscount Lisle, a subsidiary title of the Earls of Leicester.
Ford Grey, 1st Earl of Tankerville PC, 1st Viscount Glendale, and 3rd Baron Grey of Werke, was an English nobleman and statesman.
Richard Rumbold (1622–1685) was a Parliamentarian soldier and political radical, exiled for his role in the 1683 Rye House Plot and later executed for taking part in the 1685 Argyll's Rising.
Henrietta Maria Wentworth, 6th Baroness Wentworth was an English peeress.
Justice of the Common Pleas was a puisne judicial position within the Court of Common Pleas of England and Wales, under the Chief Justice. The Common Pleas was the primary court of common law within England and Wales, dealing with "common" pleas. It was created out of the common law jurisdiction of the Exchequer of Pleas, with splits forming during the 1190s and the division becoming formal by the beginning of the 13th century. The court became a key part of the Westminster courts, along with the Exchequer of Pleas and the Court of King's Bench, but with the Writ of Quominus and the Statute of Westminster, both tried to extend their jurisdiction into the realm of common pleas. As a result, the courts jockeyed for power. In 1828 Henry Brougham, a Member of Parliament, complained in Parliament that as long as there were three courts unevenness was inevitable, saying that "It is not in the power of the courts, even if all were monopolies and other restrictions done away, to distribute business equally, as long as suitors are left free to choose their own tribunal", and that there would always be a favourite court, which would therefore attract the best lawyers and judges and entrench its position. The outcome was the Supreme Court of Judicature Act 1873, under which all the central courts were made part of a single Supreme Court of Judicature. Eventually the government created a High Court of Justice under Lord Coleridge by an Order in Council of 16 December 1880. At this point, the Common Pleas formally ceased to exist.
Rye House in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire is a former fortified manor house, located in what is now the Lee Valley Regional Park. The gatehouse is the only surviving part of the structure and is a Grade I listed building. The house gave its name to the Rye House Plot, an assassination attempt of 1683 that was a violent consequence of the Exclusion Crisis in British politics at the end of the 1670s.
John Ayloffe was an English lawyer, political activist, and satirist, described as "one of the most consistently committed radicals of the century". According to his contemporary and political opponent Sir Roger L'Estrange, there were few 'more daring men for a desperate exploit'.
George Speke (1623–1689) was an English politician. A Royalist during the English Civil War, after the Restoration of Charles II he became an early Whig supporter in Parliament.
Edward Norton was an English soldier and politician, an early Whig supporter and conspirator of the Rye House Plot.
Robert Murray was an English financier, writer on commerce, and Whig conspirator. He is now remembered for his part in the first London Penny Post.
The 1696 Jacobite assassination plot was an unsuccessful attempt led by George Barclay to ambush and kill William III and II of England, Scotland and Ireland in early 1696.
Henry Danvers was an English religious and political radical from Leicestershire. He sided with Parliament in the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, serving on the Committee for Staffordshire from 1647 to 1652 and as Governor of Stafford from 1650 to 1652, during which time he became a General Baptist. He also contributed to the constitutional manifesto known as An Agreement of the People and was nominated as MP for Leicestershire in the short-lived Barebone's Parliament of 1653. Following the 1660 Stuart Restoration, he was associated with numerous plots to overthrow the regime and died in Utrecht in 1687.
Events from the year 1683 in the Kingdom of Scotland.
Ann Smith was an English anti-Catholic political activist. A devout Baptist, she and her family sheltered the rebel 9th Earl of Argyll when he was in hiding in London and fled with him to the Spanish Netherlands in 1683. She lived with her husband in Utrecht and following his death funded Argyll's Rising in Scotland and the contemporaneous Monmouth Rebellion in England. She hosted fellow conspirator Elizabeth Gaunt in Amsterdam and received a royal pardon for her activism in 1686, after which time records of her life cease.