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!

The Secret Ballot: The Secret to Reducing Electoral Violence?

In July 1872, 150 years ago this month, the Ballot Act introduced the secret ballot to all UK parliamentary and local elections. Here guest blogger Dr Gary Hutchison, of the Causes and Consequences of Electoral Violence project, discusses how the secret ballot affected violence at elections. An Interactive Map of over 3,000 violent events, from individual assaults to riots, can be found on their website. … Continue reading The Secret Ballot: The Secret to Reducing Electoral Violence?

Ballot boxes, bills and unions: Harriet Grote (1792-1878) and the public campaign for the ballot, 1832-9

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the 1872 Ballot Act, which introduced secret voting at general elections in the UK. In this extended blog, Dr Martin Spychal, research fellow in our House of Commons 1832-68 project, explores the role of Harriet Grote (1792-1878) in the popular and parliamentary campaign for the ballot during the 1830s. On 18 July we will be marking the anniversary of the Ballot … Continue reading Ballot boxes, bills and unions: Harriet Grote (1792-1878) and the public campaign for the ballot, 1832-9

To attend or not to attend: state trials during an outbreak of smallpox

In the latest blog for the Georgian Lords, Dr Robin Eagles considers the dilemma facing some peers summoned to attend the trials of the Jacobite peers after Culloden as London faced an outbreak of smallpox in the summer of 1746. On 28 July 1746 the House of Lords convened in Westminster Hall for the trials of three Scots peers, who had been arrested following the … Continue reading To attend or not to attend: state trials during an outbreak of smallpox

‘Always great fun: particularly when there was a row going on’: memories of the 1922 Committee

Once again, the powerful backbench Conservative 1922 committee is back in the headlines. Here Dr Emma Peplow, head of our Oral History Project, shares some of former MPs’ memories of its workings and influence… Whilst the 1922 Committee comes to public attention only at times of political drama, for the former Conservative MPs interviewed for our oral history project, it was a central part of … Continue reading ‘Always great fun: particularly when there was a row going on’: memories of the 1922 Committee

New Project: The House of Lords 1640-1660

In exciting news for the History of Parliament, 2022 sees the winding down of our long-running House of Commons 1640-1660 project and with it the launch of a new section: the House of Lords 1640-1660. Here the section leader, Dr David Scott, introduces the project and the status of Peers in the mid-17th century… In April of this year the History of Parliament launched the … Continue reading New Project: The House of Lords 1640-1660

Before Big Ben there was Old Tom

As the restoration of the Palace of Westminster’s Elizabeth Tower reaches its final stages this summer, Dr Robin Eagles, editor of our House of Lords 1715-1790 project, takes a look at the clock tower that existed before ‘Big Ben’… The story of the at times fraught development of the clock tower of the palace of Westminster is well known. A late addition to Charles Barry’s … Continue reading Before Big Ben there was Old Tom

Execution or murder? Elizabeth I and the problem of how to kill Mary Queen of Scots

Dr Andrew Thrush, editor of our Lords 1558-1603 section, discusses the thorny issue that faced Elizabeth I in the wake of the discovery of Mary Queen of Scots’ role in the Babington Plot of 1586… On 1 February 1587 Sir Francis Walsingham and his fellow Secretary of State, William Davison, wrote on behalf of Elizabeth I to the privy councillor Sir Amias Paulet, one of … Continue reading Execution or murder? Elizabeth I and the problem of how to kill Mary Queen of Scots

Parliament and Parliaments from the Gaelic Perspective

Since autumn 2021, we have been working with the University of Oxford and the Centre for Intellectual History at the University of Oxford to put together series of blogs that explore European Parliamentary Culture. The series, built around the ‘Recovering Europe’s Parliamentary Culture, 1500-1700’ project, is focused on the Early Modern period, but blogs have ranged more widely, seeking to bring in some scholars of the more recent past to provide … Continue reading Parliament and Parliaments from the Gaelic Perspective

Parliamentary Culture and Library History in Britain

Since autumn 2021, we have been working with the University of Oxford and the Centre for Intellectual History at the University of Oxford to put together series of blogs that explore European Parliamentary Culture. The series, built around the ‘Recovering Europe’s Parliamentary Culture, 1500-1700’ project, is focused on the Early Modern period, but blogs have ranged more widely, seeking to bring in some scholars of the more recent past to provide … Continue reading Parliamentary Culture and Library History in Britain

One of our seals is missing! How a summer vacation brought Charles I’s government to a grinding halt

During the coronavirus pandemic we have grown used to government interventions disrupting our travel plans. However, in 1625 the government itself was disrupted by a holiday in Wales, as Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 section explains… In the context of contemporary British government, the office of lord privy seal – more correctly lord keeper of the privy seal – is a non-job, a … Continue reading One of our seals is missing! How a summer vacation brought Charles I’s government to a grinding halt