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?

‘Cakes, Cheese and Zeal’: Puritan Banbury, the Fiennes family and civil war radicalism

In today’s blog Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of our Commons 1640-1660 project, returns to our local history exploration of political representation in Oxfordshire. First enfranchised in 1554, the constituency of Banbury developed strong Puritan representation in the 17th century, but it wasn’t always welcome… In the mid-seventeenth century the small north Oxfordshire market town of Banbury punched above its weight. Situated at the centre of … Continue reading ‘Cakes, Cheese and Zeal’: Puritan Banbury, the Fiennes family and civil war radicalism

Gap years and study abroad: 17th century MPs and the legacy of a foreign education

As international travel continues to be unpredictable and as universities and colleges start a new academic year in uncertain times, Dr Vivienne Larminie, Assistant Editor of the Commons 1640-1660, considers MPs who went abroad to complete their education and the effect of that on their parliamentary service… As Dr Paul Hunneyball observed in a previous post from James I to Restoration, more than a quarter … Continue reading Gap years and study abroad: 17th century MPs and the legacy of a foreign education

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

Northumberland in the British Civil Wars

This month’s local history focus is Northumberland and we’re kicking things off with a look at the county during the British Civil Wars. Dr David Scott, senior research fellow in our Commons 1640-1660 project, explores the county torn between Scotland to the North and the rest of England to the South. Northumberland in the eyes of Stuart England’s not-so-liberal elite was one of ‘the dark … Continue reading Northumberland in the British Civil Wars

‘Going into the country’: leave, holidays and political intrigue in the 1640s

As the easing of lockdown encourages many of us to seize opportunities to go on holiday, and especially take ‘staycations’, Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of the Commons 1640-1660 section, looks at the positive and (arguably) negative uses to which civil war MPs put their leave… The widespread perception that the Parliaments of the mid-seventeenth century cut down on holidays is not inaccurate. As has … Continue reading ‘Going into the country’: leave, holidays and political intrigue in the 1640s

Exploring parliamentary history through art

Today’s blog contains details of the Art UK online exhibitions that our researchers have curated during lockdown… The History of Parliament’s researchers have been trying out the Curations tool recently launched by Art UK, which enables anyone to create a digital exhibition from the artworks on its site. With art galleries and museums currently closed, it is an excellent way to visit their collections online. … Continue reading Exploring parliamentary history through art

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

Breaching the guidelines: clerical MPs in the mid-seventeenth century

As the country grapples with interpreting the rules of the Covid-19 lockdown, Dr Vivienne Larminie of our Commons 1640-1660 section considers another situation where a seemingly clear-cut ban proved difficult to enforce… Uncertainty has long surrounded the eligibility of clergy to sit as MPs. Only in 2001 was legislation passed explicitly permitting all ministers of religion to stand for election. This repealed the Clergy Disqualification … Continue reading Breaching the guidelines: clerical MPs in the mid-seventeenth century