Q. When is a Shire not a Shire? A. When it’s a Stewartry! Kirkcudbright in the 1650s

Continuing our series on Scotland, Dr Patrick Little, senior research fellow for the House of Commons 1640-1660 project, explores the attempts to accommodate an anomalous administrative area within the scheme which briefly saw Scottish seats represented at Westminster during the Cromwellian Protectorate… The Stewartry of Kirkcudbright in the south west of Scotland was the last of the medieval stewartries of Scotland – so-called because they … Continue reading Q. When is a Shire not a Shire? A. When it’s a Stewartry! Kirkcudbright in the 1650s

Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland: the brains behind the Gunpowder Plot?

As we approach Bonfire Night on 5 November, Dr Paul Hunneyball of our Lords 1558-1603 project ponders whether we should be remembering a much more prestigious figure than Guy Fawkes… The Gunpowder Plot is one of the great ‘what ifs’ of British history. For more than four centuries we’ve commemorated the scheme’s failure – but if it had succeeded, and the House of Lords had … Continue reading Henry Percy, earl of Northumberland: the brains behind the Gunpowder Plot?

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

The ‘troubled nature’ of Francis Norris, earl of Berkshire: a Jacobean peer’s battle with depression

As public debate intensifies about the impact of the coronavirus lockdown on mental health, Dr Paul Hunneyball, assistant editor of the Lords 1558-1603 section, considers a poorly documented aspect of early modern medicine… If ever there was an era when despondency was in vogue, it was surely the early seventeenth century. Shakespeare’s plays exploited mental anguish to great dramatic effect, from the love-sick Romeo to … Continue reading The ‘troubled nature’ of Francis Norris, earl of Berkshire: a Jacobean peer’s battle with depression

An MP and an Epidemic in Civil War London

As we face challenges unfamiliar in modern times, our director, Dr Stephen Roberts, looks back at one parliamentary diarist’s response to disease in the community around him. Sir Simonds D’Ewes (1602-50) is now best known for his parliamentary journal. MP for the Suffolk borough of Sudbury, he entered the House of Commons in November 1640 and kept up a diary in English from day one. … Continue reading An MP and an Epidemic in Civil War London

Archbishop Laud’s secret ‘misfortunes’: decoding sexual identity in the seventeenth century

Continuing the theme of LGBTQ+ History Month, Dr Paul Hunneyball, assistant editor of the Lords 1558-1603 section, explores the problem of interpreting evidence from the early modern period… ‘I dreamed that K.B. sent to me in Westminster church, that he was now as desirous to see me, as I him, and that he was then entering into the church. I went with joy, but met … Continue reading Archbishop Laud’s secret ‘misfortunes’: decoding sexual identity in the seventeenth century

The ‘Other’ House of Windsor

As our House of Lords 1604-1629 project nears completion, Dr Paul Hunneyball takes a look at one of the lesser-known peers who feature in the forthcoming volumes… When we use the term ‘House of Windsor’ nowadays, we’re referring to the royal family, who adopted this name in 1917, thereby celebrating their long-standing association with Windsor Castle. However, back in the early 17th century, the ruling … Continue reading The ‘Other’ House of Windsor

Sex in the Long Parliament

In our latest blog, Dr David Scott of the House of Commons 1640-1660 section looks at the extra-curricular activities of some Members of a supposedly puritan Parliament – at least according to newspaper reports… Sexual licence and parliamentary politics have always enjoyed an intimate relationship, and not even the great puritan preachers of the seventeenth century ( who regularly addressed assembled MPs in the adjacent … Continue reading Sex in the Long Parliament

Alternative uses for the palace of Westminster: the early 17th-century picture

With the palace of Westminster requiring a major restoration programme, and some people suggesting that Parliament should permanently relocate to a new home, Dr Paul Hunneyball of the Lords 1604-29 section considers some of the uses to which the old Palace was put 400 years ago… Since the 19th century, the palace of Westminster has been synonymous with Parliament – but that wasn’t always the … Continue reading Alternative uses for the palace of Westminster: the early 17th-century picture

Wigs on roundheads: puritans, peruques and powder under Oliver Cromwell

In our latest blog, Dr Patrick Little of the House of Commons 1640-1660 section challenges one of the lingering stereotypes associated with the era of puritan rule… The fashion for wearing periwigs is commonly thought to have been brought into England by Charles II and his court after their return from the continent in 1660, but there is plenty of evidence to show that the … Continue reading Wigs on roundheads: puritans, peruques and powder under Oliver Cromwell