When is a Wig not a Whig?

A wig is a head adornment very much in use for 1000’s of years, many have been found on sculptures, paintings, reliefs and of course discovered in gravesites. They went out of fashion at one point for over one thousand years until the 1600’s when they made a comeback. Unsurprisingly headline was a nuisance and those that could afford it would have their heads shaved and wore a wig which could be de-loused far easily. It is the reason mainly the wealthy wore them and in time during the 16th & 17th centuries and up to the 1880’s they were still fashionable.

But in law it was different…

Many barristers (those who enter a court to argue a case) used their dapper dress, a bouffant hairstyle and many other trinkets to make themselves dapper and more appealing in court. For this reason to this day in UK courts there is a level of dress expected. Dark suits, grey blue or black gowns. A wig is used to prevent those with a jaunty shock of hair taking the eyes of a juror. A simple wig can cost a fortune the longer ones used by judges even more so but is has its purpose if even still it looks a little odd today. But. It does bring a sense or propriety, formality and discipline to proceedings.

On the other hand…

A Whig is a different creature again. This time a political movement popular in England and in fact the UK for many years between 1680 to 1850 in fact. The term Whig was originally short for whiggamor, a term meaning “cattle driver” used to describe western Scots who came to Leith for corn. In the reign of Charles I the term was used to refer derisively to a radical faction of the Scottish Covenanters who called themselves the Kirk PartyThe term Whig entered English political discourse during the Exclusion Bill crisis of 1678–1681 when there was controversy about whether or not King Charles II’s brother, James, should be allowed to succeed to the throne on Charles’s death. Whig was a term of abuse applied to those who wanted to exclude James on the grounds that he was a Roman Catholic.

So now you know and you may want to know if you are a Whig or a Tory because they are not one and the same… but that’s another blog.