Last month, the Parliamentary History Yearbook Trust (publishers of the journal Parliamentary History) released a festschrift in honour of Professor David Hayton, ‘Parliaments, Politics and Policy in Britain and Ireland, c.1680-1832‘. Professor Hayton is a renowned historian of early modern British and Irish political history between the Glorious Revolution and the mid-18th century, and the festschrift marks his retirement from Queen’s University, Belfast.
Before moving to Queen’s, Professor Hayton worked for the History of Parliament Trust for many years. He was one of the editors of the 1690-1715 volumes (which connected two earlier-published volumes of the History of Parliament, 1660-1690 and 1715-1745) and the author of the extremely well-received introductory survey. The volumes contain 1,982 biographies of members, including Hayton’s own 30,000 word essay on the leading Tory politician Robert Harley, as well as a range of other notables, including Sir Isaac Newton and Sir Christopher Wren. The period is one of dramatic and considerable change in Parliament, as it became a regular institution, sitting every year. Elections were held every three years from 1694; the result was a ‘rage of party’. This is not to mention the wider changes after the ‘Glorious Revolution’: a financial revolution, war in Europe, Jacobite rebellions against the Hanoverian dynasty and of course the union with Scotland in 1707.
Hayton’s survey is more comprehensive and detailed than its predecessors. It includes a succinct introduction to the political chronology of the period, new sections on the ‘politics of the House’ and the ‘business of the house’, which detailed the political relationships between MPs and the legislation introduced and passed during the period. Various appendices give more detailed information, including an index of defeated candidates and articles on ‘men of science and letters’ and my own favourite, ‘rogues, madmen, bankrupts and suicides’. The volumes are recognised for their contribution to fields outside political history, as one reviewer noted, ‘they will be read and plundered for many years to come by historians not only of politics, but also of culture, economy, education, ideas, religion and society’ (J. Hoppit, English Historical Review). Hayton’s survey has been widely praised, not only as his own ‘masterpiece’ , but as a ‘magisterial’ piece of work (W.A. Speck, Parliaments, Politics and Policy and H-Net Reviews) which not only brought the History up to date with a ‘new generation of scholarship’ (C. Jackson, The Historical Journal), but also set the terms of debate for the period.
The Festschrift contains a range of essays on parliamentary history in Britain and in Ireland from the ‘Glorious Revolution’ up to the career of Robert Peel, including an essay on the Leicester House opposition to George II by our own Dr Robin Eagles. The Festschrift is available to buy here, but you can read Professor Hayton’s Introductory Survey in full on our website.