It’s been another hectic, but excellent year here at the History of Parliament. We have been making many organisational changes after our Director, Dr Paul Seaward, won a prestigious Wolfson/British Academy scholarship. Paul will leave us for three years to undertake his new research project: ‘Reformation to Referendum: A new history of Parliament’. Paul has blogged about it here.
Whilst Paul is away researching, Dr Stephen Roberts, the current editor of the Commons, 1640-60 section, will become Director – you’ll be hearing from Stephen soon about his plans for the HPT. We’ve had some corresponding changes of personnel around the building: Dr Vivienne Larminie will become Assistant Editor of Commons 1640-60 project, and Dr Robin Eagles Editor of the Lords, 1715-90 project. Behind the scenes, we’re appointing a new Assistant Director and Public Engagement Officer: so expect to hear more from them in 2018!
We’ve had a very busy year in terms of events, despite our plans being upset slightly by the snap election! In February we introduced our recently-published Lords 1660-1715 volumes to current peers; in July a prestigious panel of Parliamentarians looked back on the 1967 Sexual Offences Act; September saw collaborations with the Parliamentary Archives on Parliament and WWI; October a celebration of the life of the first Indian MP, Dr Dadabhai Naoroji. We held two collaborative events for Parliament Week: at one Dr Philip Salmon explored the 1867 Reform Act; another Dr Robin Eagles discussed the reporting of trials and impeachments in the early years of George I 1715-1717 in Oxford’s Bodleian library. Thanks also to the Speaker for hosting another schools prize-giving for us back in July, and we look forward to awarding our dissertation competition winner early in the New Year.
On the academic front, in November we made our way to Manchester to the People’s History Museum for an excellent conference in collaboration with Richard Huzzey and Henry Miller at Durham: ‘Parliaments & Popular Sovereignty: Political Representation in the British World, 1640-1886’. Blogs from speakers we hope will feature here in the New Year. We were also pleased to see Alistair Hawkyard’s publication, earlier this year, of ‘The House of Commons 1509-1558: Personnel, Procedure, Precedent and Change’ based closely on the research in the 1509-1558 volumes of the History of Parliament.
Our researchers have had a busy year: some away in archives, others revising texts ready for upcoming publications. We’ve still been able to keep you up-to-date on social media. Our Lords 1715-90 section have launched their own ‘Georgian Lords’ blog and twitter feed, sharing insights such as the background to the 1772 Royal Marriages Act following Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s recent engagement. The Victorian Commons are going strong: this year’s most popular post told the story of Lily Maxwell, the woman who managed to cast her vote in a November 1867 by-election. Over on his Director’s blog, Paul Seaward has been exploring the A-Z of Parliament, amongst other things helping everyone understand Henry VIII clauses.
On this blog, the Victorian Commons’ Kathryn Rix has continued her series on MPs who died in the First World War. We’ve also been keeping up with another interesting year in current politics, with a series on the General Election; perspectives on modern day Brexit dilemmas from viewpoints as varied as relations between medieval Commons and Lords to Gladstone; and a look into ‘Fake News’ for this year’s Parliament Week blog series.
There’s been good news as well for our oral history project, as the British Library have begun to put our 150-plus interviews online in full for anyone to access. More will follow in the New Year, with, we hope, a special release of our interviews with former women MPs to help mark the centenary of women getting the right to vote. A big thank you to all at the Sound Archive for getting them online, and to our wonderful volunteers who keep the interviews coming! Special mention for the completion of our longest interview to date: Jonathan Aitken, who our volunteer (Alex Lock) began interviewing back in October 2015.
There’s a lot already planned for 2018: our first event a debate on the 1867 Reform Act, and a conference with Parliament’s Vote 100 project and the University of Westminster on A Century of Women MPs in September – you have until the end of January to get your paper proposals in!
A very Happy New Year to you all, and here’s to another great year in 2018.