It’s been yet another busy year here at the History of Parliament Trust. By far the most exciting event was the publication in July of our very first volumes focussing on the Upper House. The House of Lords 1660-1715, published in five volumes, features the biographies of nearly 700 spiritual and temporal peers, along with an introductory survey. The volumes are now available through Cambridge University Press and you can read some tasters in our ongoing blog series.
Organisationally, there was a big change for us this year as Patrick, Lord Cormack, our Chair of Trustees for fifteen years, stood down. Our new Chairman, Gordon Marsden MP, paid tribute to Lord Cormack’s chairmanship, stating that he has left the Trust ‘far more prominent today both within Parliament and outside it’. We look forward to a new era under Gordon Marsden, who has been MP for Blackpool South since 1997, is the co-Chair of Parliament’s All-Party Arts and Heritage Group and a former Editor of the magazine History Today.
We’ve held some great events this year, beginning in April with our conference, ‘Speaking in Parliament: History, politics, rhetoric’ in collaboration with Professor Christopher Reid (Queen Mary, University of London). The conference was dedicated to the art and history of parliamentary rhetoric, and we held a taster session in Parliament the following month. In November, our own Dr Robin Eagles co-organised a successful day-long workshop with King’s College, London, on ‘Henry Bennet: the earl of Arlington and his world’.
Also this year we’ve had a highly enjoyable programme at our ‘Parliaments, Politics & People’ seminar over at the Institute of Historical Research, including two papers from our Director, Paul Seaward, and our annual lecture, from Professor the Lord Morgan, celebrated the anniversary (to the very minute!) of David Lloyd George becoming Prime Minister in 1916. To celebrate this year’s Parliament Week we held two virtual events: a popular blog series on ‘Unlikely Parliamentarians’ throughout the years, and our first ever live Twitter Q&A on parliamentary history. There will be plenty of opportunity to come along to a History of Parliament event in 2017, with a conference planned in November on Popular Sovereignty to mark the anniversary of the 1867 Reform Act, and a number of talks and lectures planned in parliament. Watch this space for more!
We celebrated more achievements from students, at school and university. Our 2015 A level competition winner was treated to a tour of Westminster before receiving his prize in April, and 2016’s joint dissertation competition winners were presented with their prizes at our annual lecture this month. More news on this year’s schools competitions soon, and we’re delighted that so many of you are using our KS3 resources. There’s also still plenty of time to enter submissions as well for Parliamentary History’s 2017 prize for early career academics.
Aside from all of this our sections have been continuing with their research, revisions and preparing for publication, but our researchers have still been able to update you on their findings and give some historical insights into what has been a dramatic year in politics. We discussed 17th Century impeachment in the light of Brazil’s politics, reflected on by-elections and many aspects of the European Referendum and aftermath through insights from our oral history project; a series on party splits; medieval relations with Europe and some reflections on precedents used in the High Court’s recent ruling. We’ve celebrated different anniversaries, from the First Gulf War, the Suez Crisis and the Repeal of the Stamp Act in 1766. Stephen Roberts, editor of the 1640-60 section, wrote a series on the trials of ‘Writing Parliamentary Biographies’, and Kathryn Rix of the Victorian Commons has continued her look at MPs who died fighting the First World War.
We’ve now interviewed over 150 MPs for our national oral history project, and 139 of these have been deposited at the British Library. A great big thank you to all of our volunteers helping us with our sound archive.
Happy New Year to you all, and here’s to another great year in 2017!