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The Tories originally referred to two distinct political factions in the 17th and 18th centuries. The first, an alliance of MPs supporting the right of the monarchy and the established Church, fell from power in the Glorious Revolution and withered away. The name "Tory" would then be later taken up by supporters of independent Whig William Pitt in opposition to the Whigs of Charles James Fox. This second Tory Party evolved into the modern Conservative Party, and the term "Tory" is considered synonymous with "Conservative". Some adherents of "traditional Toryism" prefer the term "High Tory" to avoid confusion.

The term Tory would later be used to describe those supporting King George III in the American Revolution.