‘The doubly-noble prisoner’: The trial of Elizabeth Chudleigh, countess of Bristol, or duchess of Kingston?

The year 1776 is usually associated with the worsening crisis in the American colonies. Yet for one week in April the House of Lords, and the British public, turned their attention to Westminster Hall to concentrate on the sensational trial for bigamy of Elizabeth Chudleigh, the self-styled ‘duchess of Kingston’. Dr Charles Littleton examines the background to the sensational case. In 1743, at the age … Continue reading ‘The doubly-noble prisoner’: The trial of Elizabeth Chudleigh, countess of Bristol, or duchess of Kingston?

An Indispensable Member? Legal expertise in the Long Parliament, ‘an ancient lawyer’ and civil war intimidation

In the past, as with now, it was not uncommon to find those trained in the practice of law seated on the benches of Parliament. In today’s blog Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of our Commons 1640-1660 project, looks into the tumultuous political career of one such lawyer in the 17th century, John Whistler. With their expertise at a premium in the drafting of legislation, … Continue reading An Indispensable Member? Legal expertise in the Long Parliament, ‘an ancient lawyer’ and civil war intimidation

Parliament and the trial of the ‘peers of the land’ in Henry of Lancaster’s revolt, 1328-29

Ahead of next Tuesday’s Virtual IHR Parliaments, Politics and People seminar, we hear from Dr Matt Raven, of the University of Nottingham. On 16 February 2021, between 5.15 p.m. and 6.30 p.m., Matt will be responding to your questions about his pre-circulated paper on the development of parliamentary privilege in fourteenth-century England. Details of how to join the discussion are available here, or by contacting … Continue reading Parliament and the trial of the ‘peers of the land’ in Henry of Lancaster’s revolt, 1328-29

The barbarity of the medieval criminal law: petty treason and the murders of Sir Thomas Murdak and John Cotell

In today’s blog Dr Simon Payling, senior research fellow in our Commons 1461-1504 project, once again turns his attention to crime and punishment in the medieval period. In the 14th century, the criminal law system may have worked slowly, but it was particularly harsh to those convicted of ‘petty treason’… In the first months of 1316 there was a notable series of deaths in the … Continue reading The barbarity of the medieval criminal law: petty treason and the murders of Sir Thomas Murdak and John Cotell

The royal scandal that helped change British politics: the 1820 Queen Caroline affair

On 5 June 1820 Caroline of Brunswick returned to England to take her place as Queen Consort to George IV. But the breakdown in the couple’s relationship would become a matter of parliamentary and national importance. This blog from Dr Philip Salmon, editor of our Commons 1832-68 project, explores the impact of the Queen Caroline Affair on British politics. Two hundred years ago the Prince … Continue reading The royal scandal that helped change British politics: the 1820 Queen Caroline affair

Lesbians and the law: the Wolfenden Report and same-sex desire between women

Our final blog for LGBTQ+ History Month comes from Dr Caroline Derry, who has recently published a book on lesbianism and the criminal law. Here, Caroline will explore the significance of the report of the Committee on Homosexual Offences and Prostitution to the legal and parliamentary status of lesbian sexuality… In 1958, Harford Montgomery Hyde MP asked the House of Commons, ‘If homosexual conduct between … Continue reading Lesbians and the law: the Wolfenden Report and same-sex desire between women

Parliaments, Politics and People seminar: Jamaican legislature in the British Atlantic world, 1660 to 1840

Ahead of tonight’s Parliaments, Politics and People seminar at the Institute of Historical Research, we hear from Dr Aaron Graham, a Research Associate on the ERC Horizon Project ‘The European Fiscal-Military System, 1530-1870’ at the University of Oxford. He spoke at our previous session on 11 February about his study of the Jamaican legislature between 1660 to 1840… ‘Any person that shall inspect the minutes … Continue reading Parliaments, Politics and People seminar: Jamaican legislature in the British Atlantic world, 1660 to 1840

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

Parliaments, Politics and People Seminar: The Political and Religious Origins of the 1563 Witchcraft Act

Ahead of this evening’s session of the IHR’s Parliaments, Politics, and People seminar, Lewis Brennen, PhD candidate at the University of Southampton, summarises the themes that he covered in his paper, ‘The Political and Religious Origins of the 1563 Witchcraft Act’, at our last session… The 1563 Witchcraft Act, formally titled an ‘Act agaynst Conjuracons Inchantments and Witchecraftes’, was one of the most significant pieces … Continue reading Parliaments, Politics and People Seminar: The Political and Religious Origins of the 1563 Witchcraft Act

Disregarding the Past: The Problems of Pardoning Homosexual Offences

Ahead of this evening’s IHR Parliaments, Politics and People seminar, the speaker from the previous session in collaboration with the History of Sexuality seminar, Dr Justin Bengry, Director of the Centre for Queer History at Goldsmiths, University of London, summarises the issues raised in his paper about the pardoning of historical homosexual offences. In June 2015 I was approached by filmmaker Rosemarie Reed who was … Continue reading Disregarding the Past: The Problems of Pardoning Homosexual Offences