Before Big Ben there was Old Tom

As the restoration of the Palace of Westminster’s Elizabeth Tower reaches its final stages this summer, Dr Robin Eagles, editor of our House of Lords 1715-1790 project, takes a look at the clock tower that existed before ‘Big Ben’… The story of the at times fraught development of the clock tower of the palace of Westminster is well known. A late addition to Charles Barry’s … Continue reading Before Big Ben there was Old Tom

Four Scots Lords: One line in a Poem

Inspired by a reference in an early eighteenth-century poem, in the latest blog for the Georgian Lords, Dr Stuart Handley considers the interlinked careers of four Scots peers, who all sat in the House of Lords. The early eighteenth-century poem, Advice to a Painter, by Alexander Robertson of Struan contains a line grouping four Scots peers: Rothes, Ross, Buchan and Belhaven, who were all part … Continue reading Four Scots Lords: One line in a Poem

‘Queen Mary’, Queen Elizabeth and Parliament in the 1640s: suspicion, solidarity and nostalgia

As Queen Elizabeth II celebrates a milestone 70 years on the throne this month, we have been thinking about the relationships that other Queens throughout history had with Parliament. In 1625 Charles I married French Princess Henrietta Maria, but his Consort faced heavy comparison to other female monarchs, as Dr Vivienne Larminie from our Commons 1640-1660 project explains… The breakdown in relations between Charles I … Continue reading ‘Queen Mary’, Queen Elizabeth and Parliament in the 1640s: suspicion, solidarity and nostalgia

Episcopalians, puritans, presbyterians and sectaries: contesting the Church of England in the mid seventeenth century

If you visualize religious history in the 1640s and 1650s as a blanket triumph of puritanism, think again. As Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of our Commons 1640-1660 section explains, the real picture was much more complex… As noted in previous blogs, the myth of tight and uniformly repressive puritan rule in the mid-seventeenth has proved hard to shift. Likewise, the blame for much iconoclasm … Continue reading Episcopalians, puritans, presbyterians and sectaries: contesting the Church of England in the mid seventeenth century

The Last Peer Hanged for Murder

In the latest blog for the Georgian Lords, Dr Robin Eagles re-examines the trial and execution of Laurence Shirley, 4th Earl Ferrers, the last British peer to be hanged for murder. Long before he came to the scaffold on 5 May 1760, Laurence Shirley, 4th Earl Ferrers, had made quite a name for himself as a notorious member of the House of Lords. Ferrers had … Continue reading The Last Peer Hanged for Murder

The Union in Peril: The British Government and the Scottish Question in the Shadow of the Oil Crisis, c. 1973-1975.

Ahead of next Tuesday’s Virtual IHR Parliaments, Politics and People seminar, we hear from Robbie Johnston of the University of Edinburgh. On 10 May 2022, between 5.15 p.m. and 6.30 p.m., Robbie will be responding to your questions about his paper on Parliament and the Scottish question in the 1970s. Robbie’s full-length paper is available by signing up to his seminar and contacting seminar@histparl.ac.uk. Details of how to join the discussion are … Continue reading The Union in Peril: The British Government and the Scottish Question in the Shadow of the Oil Crisis, c. 1973-1975.

Local polls and national politics: a 19th century perspective

As much of the UK prepares to vote in local elections this week, in this blog (adapted from our Victorian Commons site), Dr Philip Salmon discusses the origins of 19th century council elections and how they quickly became guides to national polls. As barometers of political opinion, local elections have long had a special place in British politics, offering useful (though not necessarily accurate) guides … Continue reading Local polls and national politics: a 19th century perspective

The execution of Thomas Howard, 4th duke of Norfolk

As the 450th anniversary of the execution of the Elizabethan duke of Norfolk approaches, Dr Andrew Thrush, editor of our Lords 1558-1603 section, considers both the background to his trial for treason and the queen’s reluctance to carry out the sentence of the court … Shortly before seven in the morning on Monday, 2 June 1572, Thomas Howard, 4th duke of Norfolk, was led the … Continue reading The execution of Thomas Howard, 4th duke of Norfolk

‘Why not you?’ Sir John Cust, reluctant Speaker of the House of Commons

It is one of Westminster’s many traditions that, when an MP is elected to the role of Speaker of the House of Commons, they must show reluctance to accept the title and even be ceremonially dragged to the chair. However as Dr Robin Eagles from our Lords 1715-1790 project explores, Sir John Cust, Speaker 1761-1770, may not have been faking his lack of enthusiasm for … Continue reading ‘Why not you?’ Sir John Cust, reluctant Speaker of the House of Commons

Sir William Oldhall, Speaker in the Parliament of 1450-1

In recent months we have been looking into some of the more notable parliamentarians to hold the post of ‘Speaker’ throughout history. In today’s blog Charles Moreton from our Commons 1461-1504 project discusses Sir William Oldhall, a long-term ally to Richard, duke of York… One of the better known fifteenth-century Speakers, Sir William Oldhall owed his political career to his association with Richard, duke of … Continue reading Sir William Oldhall, Speaker in the Parliament of 1450-1