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 puzzling career of the luckless Sir Thomas Mallory (c.1416-1471), author of Le Morte d’Arthur

In today’s blog Dr Simon Payling, senior research fellow for our Commons 1461-1504 project, explores the mysterious life of Sir Thomas Mallory, who spent much of his life incarcerated. Whilst Mallory’s literary legacy is clear to see, the reasons behind his long imprisonment are not so straightforward… As the author of a work of lasting literary significance, Le Morte d’Arthur, a vernacular compilation of Arthurian … Continue reading The puzzling career of the luckless Sir Thomas Mallory (c.1416-1471), author of Le Morte d’Arthur

All over in 4 ½ minutes? The battle of Prestonpans, 21 September 1745

In the latest blog for the Georgian Lords, Dr Robin Eagles considers some of the Members of Parliament involved in the battle of Prestonpans along with some of the other personalities caught up in the first major action of the 1745 Rebellion. Early in the morning of 21 September 1745 government forces commanded by General Sir John Cope, encamped about ten miles east of Edinburgh, … Continue reading All over in 4 ½ minutes? The battle of Prestonpans, 21 September 1745

Of Puritans and Pilchards

In recent years, following the impact of Brexit, fishing regulation has become a recurring topic in the UK’s political discussions. Similarly, in the 17th century control over piscatorial exports was controversial. In our latest blog Dr Patrick Little, from our Commons 1640-1660 section, looks to the Cornish coast and the politicisation of their local delicacy, pilchards… In the Parliaments of the 1650s it is rare … Continue reading Of Puritans and Pilchards

The Political Lives of Postwar British MPs: Selection Troubles

Out this month, The Political Lives of Postwar British MPs explores the fascinating interviews with former MPs hidden in our oral history project archive. In this post the book’s authors, Dr Emma Peplow and Dr Priscila Pivatto, explore one of the most crucial times of an MP’s career: getting selected for a parliamentary seat… One topic which our oral history interviews heavily focus on – … Continue reading The Political Lives of Postwar British MPs: Selection Troubles

Those pesky deliveries: delivering the King’s writs across 15th century England

In recent months, easily talking to friends and colleagues on the other side of the country, or even world, has become essential. But we shouldn’t take our Zoom, Teams, Hangout, Skype (etc.) calls for granted . In the 15th c. delivering a message from the King across England was quite a difficult endeavour, as Dr Hannes Kleineke, editor of our Commons 1461-1504 project, explores… One … Continue reading Those pesky deliveries: delivering the King’s writs across 15th century England

The perils of foreign travel in the early modern era

With holidays abroad still a major challenge due to the ongoing coronavirus epidemic, Dr Paul Hunneyball, assistant editor of our Lords 1558-1603 project, considers the risks associated with travel overseas four hundred years ago… One of the standard clichés of life a few centuries ago is that people tended not to travel very far. While this was broadly true for the bulk of the population, … Continue reading The perils of foreign travel in the early modern era

From duelling to sharing the representation: Northumberland’s electoral politics in the nineteenth century

Continuing this month’s focus on Northumberland, Dr. Kathryn Rix, Assistant Editor of our House of Commons, 1832-68 project, explores the county’s elections in the nineteenth century. In 1826 Northumberland experienced its first contested election since 1774, with four candidates vying for the county’s two seats. For the previous fifty years, electors had not had the opportunity to cast their votes, as the representation had been … Continue reading From duelling to sharing the representation: Northumberland’s electoral politics in the nineteenth century

Out this month: ‘The Political Lives of Postwar British MPs: An Oral History of Parliament’

Later this month the very first book based on our Oral History Project Archive is published by Bloomsbury Academic. Today, the book’s authors, Dr Emma Peplow and Dr Priscila Pivatto, give a preview of what you can expect in the book… A publication based on our oral history project archive has been some time coming – as readers of this blog will know, we have … Continue reading Out this month: ‘The Political Lives of Postwar British MPs: An Oral History of Parliament’

The Mayflower: The New England men at Westminster, 1640-1660

In September 1620, the ship Mayflower set sail, transporting the first Puritan separatists to the ‘New World’. But, even thousands of miles across the sea, ‘New England’ would not be unfamiliar to many of those in Westminster, as our director Dr Stephen Roberts explores… Mayflower sailed from Plymouth, Devon, in September 1620, reaching what became New Plymouth, on the eastern coast of America, in November. … Continue reading The Mayflower: The New England men at Westminster, 1640-1660

A tribute to John M. H. Lee

In the fifth blog of this sombre series that pays tribute to interviewees from our Oral History Project, Emma Peplow looks back on the life and career of John Lee, Labour MP for Reading (1966-70) and Birmingham Handsworth (Feb 1974-79), who we interviewed in 2013… John Lee was born in Bagshot, Surrey. His comfortable background (his father worked in the City) might be a surprise … Continue reading A tribute to John M. H. Lee