The Mystery of the ‘Black Box’ and the ‘true’ heirs of Charles II

In the latest blog for the Georgian Lords, Dr Robin Eagles probes the mysteries of the ‘black box’ that was supposed to contain proof of Charles II’s marriage to his mistress, Lucy Walters, and how the family of the duke of Monmouth eventually made its way back into the House of Lords. In February 1735 Parliament was faced with a petition lodged by the Scots … Continue reading The Mystery of the ‘Black Box’ and the ‘true’ heirs of Charles II

Friends reunited? The end of the Whig Schism

In the summer of 1720 a schism that had divided the Whig Party into competing factions was finally healed. Dr Charles Littleton, senior research fellow in the House of Lords 1715-90 section, considers how this came about and how those involved were compensated or rewarded to help reunite them. A previous blog has described the origins of the Whig Schism of 1717, as an example … Continue reading Friends reunited? The end of the Whig Schism

A Queen in Isolation: Mary Beatrice of Modena

On 7 May 1718, James II’s widow, Mary of Modena, died in exile at the palace of St Germain-en-Laye. Displaced as a result of the ‘Glorious Revolution’ Mary had been an important figure for Jacobites and thanks to her good relations with Louis XIV had also established for herself a prominent role in the court of Versailles, where she was granted precedence over all the … Continue reading A Queen in Isolation: Mary Beatrice of Modena

‘Where the disease is desperate, the remedy must be so too’: debating the 1721 Quarantine Act

The latest blog for the Georgian Lords considers the topical issue of quarantine. In the 1720s the government was forced to update its quarantine legislation, but as Dr Charles Littleton of our Lords 1715-1790 project shows, it received spirited opposition from members of the House of Lords… In the face of pressure from opposition parties and its own back-benchers, the Johnson government substantially amended the … Continue reading ‘Where the disease is desperate, the remedy must be so too’: debating the 1721 Quarantine Act

‘The only place that can heighten my enjoyment of my friends’: The literary coterie at Wrest Park

In 1740, the duke of Kent unusually made his granddaughter, Jemima Campbell, the benefactor of his estate at Wrest Park on the condition that she married his choice of husband, Philip Yorke (later 2nd earl of Hardwicke). Despite being an arranged marriage, it was a highly successful union. Upon inheriting Wrest, Jemima, Philip and their friends went on to form their own literary group, ‘Wrestiana’, … Continue reading ‘The only place that can heighten my enjoyment of my friends’: The literary coterie at Wrest Park

Stand and deliver: sex, scandal and the Beaufort divorce case

In the middle of the 18th century polite society was both shocked and entertained by the lurid details following on from the breakdown of the marriage of the 3rd duke and duchess of Beaufort. Dr Robin Eagles considers how the case first came to light and the effects it had on those caught up in it. In 1746 the artist Thomas Gainsborough married Margaret Burr, … Continue reading Stand and deliver: sex, scandal and the Beaufort divorce case

A Trojan horse in the House of Lords? The South Sea Company and the peerage

2020 marks the 300th anniversary of one of the most spectacular stock market crashes in British history when the South Sea Bubble burst. Dr Charles Littleton re-examines the way in which the scheme was guided through Parliament and the impact it had on some members of the House of Lords On 22 January 1720 the chancellor of the exchequer, John Aislabie, presented to the House … Continue reading A Trojan horse in the House of Lords? The South Sea Company and the peerage

“Windy music & heat in the House” The failure to reform the House of Lords in 1719

In the spring of 1719 the government introduced a measure for reforming the House of Lords. By its provisions the size of the peerage of Great Britain was to be frozen, while the Scots were to be allotted 25 hereditary peerages in place of the 16 elected ones they currently held. It failed but in the following session the same measure was brought back again. … Continue reading “Windy music & heat in the House” The failure to reform the House of Lords in 1719

‘Duely sensible of their obligation’: the role of women in Georgian election balls

With general elections back in the news, the Georgian Lords welcomes back Hillary Burlock for the second part of her series on the importance of dance and the participation of women in 18th-century electoral contests. Much of Georgian electioneering played out in the public, ‘masculine’ theatre of the hustings and city streets; yet the ballroom, too, was an intensely political arena. Politicians understood the political … Continue reading ‘Duely sensible of their obligation’: the role of women in Georgian election balls

Tobacco Fraud and the Prorogation of April 1707

In the latest blog for the Georgian Lords, Dr Stuart Handley, senior research fellow in the Lords 1715-90 section, considers how an unexpected prorogation around the time of the Union was employed to attempt to secure the passage of much-needed legislation Prorogations have been much in the news of late, but they are a common occurrence in parliamentary history. Parliament is prorogued at the end … Continue reading Tobacco Fraud and the Prorogation of April 1707