Welcome to the History of Parliament blog!

Here we share posts about our current research projects, wider parliamentary history, highlights from our events, seminars and conferences, and future publications. The History of Parliament’s core work lies in researching and writing series of volumes depicting Parliamentary life and proceedings throughout the past 700 years. These academically rigorous works contain detailed biographies of parliamentarians, studies of constituencies and introductory surveys. The Sections currently underway … Continue reading Welcome to the History of Parliament blog!

“A great lover of forms, and a regular Speaker”: Sir Spencer Compton, Speaker of the House of Commons 1715-1727

Sir Spencer Compton, earl of Wilmington, is often overlooked, overshadowed by his colleague and predecessor Sir Robert Walpole. But as Dr Robin Eagles, editor of our Lords 1715-1790 project, suggests, Wilmington deserves more attention, particularly for his earlier role as Speaker of the House of Commons… If Sir Spencer Compton is much remembered at all, it is most probably as the man who missed his … Continue reading “A great lover of forms, and a regular Speaker”: Sir Spencer Compton, Speaker of the House of Commons 1715-1727

‘Make good your ways and your habits’: Edward IV’s first Parliament of 1461-2

During the winter of 1461, Edward IV’s first Parliament began. Dr Hannes Kleineke, editor of our Commons 1461-1504 project explores the priorities of the session… On Wednesday, 4 November 1461, Edward IV’s first Parliament opened at Westminster. It was an assembly designed to set a seal on the change of dynasty that had been foreshadowed in the accord reached in the previous Parliament a year … Continue reading ‘Make good your ways and your habits’: Edward IV’s first Parliament of 1461-2

Seven Jobs for Seven Brothers

In the latest blog for the Georgian Lords, Dr Stuart Handley considers the case of Bishop Reynolds of Lincoln, one of a minority in the episcopate to stand out against Walpole, possibly because of frustration both at his own lack of promotion, but also his endless efforts to find employment for his children. Richard Reynolds (1674-1744), was chancellor of the diocese of Peterborough (1704-1718), rector … Continue reading Seven Jobs for Seven Brothers

Using the past to help us to understand the future of the Palace of Westminster

Ahead of next Tuesday’s Virtual IHR Parliaments, Politics and People seminar, we hear from Dr Alexandra Meakin of the University of Leeds. On 9 November 2021, between 5.15 p.m. and 6.30 p.m., she will be responding to your questions about her pre-circulated paper on ‘Using the past to help us understand the future of the Palace of Westminster’. Details of how to join the discussion are available here, … Continue reading Using the past to help us to understand the future of the Palace of Westminster

The Murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, 1613

On our blog today Dr Andrew Thrush, editor of our House of Lords 1558-1603 project, takes a look at an infamous murder that took place in 1613, and asks why foul play wasn’t suspected until two years later… In the early hours of the morning of 15 September 1613, Sir Thomas Overbury, the former friend and mentor of the royal favourite Robert Carr, Viscount Rochester, … Continue reading The Murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, 1613

Prorogation Tide: Elizabeth I and the Parliament of 1572-81

In the sixteenth century, parliaments were not only summoned but also prorogued at the behest of the monarch. In this blog, Dr Andrew Thrush, editor of our Lords 1558-1603 project, discusses an exceptionally large but often overlooked number of prorogations that took place during the mid-Elizabethan period… Before the Long Parliament of 1640-53, the Parliament of 1572-81 bore the distinction of being the longest in … Continue reading Prorogation Tide: Elizabeth I and the Parliament of 1572-81

Conference Report: Bath 250

On 29 and 30 September the opening of Bath’s historic (Upper) Assembly Rooms was marked with a conference over Zoom, followed by a live event in the Assembly Rooms where conference participants were able to experience a display of dances from the Ridotto, which had opened the Rooms precisely 250 years before in 1771. We welcome back one of the speakers, Jemima Hubberstey, a doctoral … Continue reading Conference Report: Bath 250

What price a peerage? John Roper and the Jacobean trade in titles and offices

Accusations of political sleaze are on the rise again, but the concept of government insiders profiting from the system is nothing new, as Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 project explains… If the Committee on Standards in Public Life had existed 400 years ago, it would have needed a rather different remit. While Jacobean politicians periodically attacked corruption and venality in government, it was … Continue reading What price a peerage? John Roper and the Jacobean trade in titles and offices

‘The doubly-noble prisoner’: The trial of Elizabeth Chudleigh, countess of Bristol, or duchess of Kingston?

The year 1776 is usually associated with the worsening crisis in the American colonies. Yet for one week in April the House of Lords, and the British public, turned their attention to Westminster Hall to concentrate on the sensational trial for bigamy of Elizabeth Chudleigh, the self-styled ‘duchess of Kingston’. Dr Charles Littleton examines the background to the sensational case. In 1743, at the age … Continue reading ‘The doubly-noble prisoner’: The trial of Elizabeth Chudleigh, countess of Bristol, or duchess of Kingston?

Henry Dundas: A ‘great delayer’ of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

Ahead of next Tuesday’s Virtual IHR Parliaments, Politics and People seminar, we hear from Dr Stephen Mullen of the University of Glasgow. On 12 October 2021, between 5.15 p.m. and 6.30 p.m., Stephen will be responding to your questions about his pre-circulated paper on Henry Dundas and the transatlantic slave trade. Details of how to join the discussion are available here, or by contacting seminar@histparl.ac.uk. … Continue reading Henry Dundas: A ‘great delayer’ of the Abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.