The Succession to Queen Anne
By 1710 it seemed that the best hope of James retrieving his father's throne was the political crisis around the succession. Ever since Anne's succession the Whigs had been putting forward George of Hanover as her successor.
He was a great-grandson of James I on his mother's side but had a very tenuous claim to the throne. He spoke no English and had predominantly German blood in his veins. He had never visited England and there were a dozen princes who had a stronger claim than he to the throne of Great Britain. But his North German kingdom was crucially placed in the wars between France and William III. He also had a small but determined army.
In 1698 William had secured for George's father a position as ninth Elector to the Holy Roman Empire as thanks for the help he had given against France. By 1701 George was being discussed as a possible future king of England. He had perfect Protestant credentials without any whiff of Catholic sympathy. He came from a sturdy, long-lived family who seemed to have no problem producing children, unlike the Stuarts. His court was a model of sobriety and Protestant virtue. His mother, the Electress Sophia, was regarded with an almost saint-like awe among the English nobility. As time passed and it became more apparent that Anne would not produce an heir, George of Hanover began to feature in every discussion of who should succeed to the British Crown. After 40 years of succession disputes, the Whigs were desperate to find the perfect Protestant family who would guarantee the succession in perpetuity.
But there were many in England utterly opposed to George. Chief among them was Queen Anne herself. Strongly Tory, surrounded by Tory ministers sympathetic to James, she had always felt guilty about her half-brother's deposition. She favoured autocratic monarchy, and felt that a legitimate Stuart monarch should be on the throne, not some obscure German princeling. She saw James as young and romantic, unlike the boring George, whom she despised. All of these things, combined with the election of successive Tory governments and the growing sympathy for James in Britain, seemed to offer the best hope for Jacobite success.