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

‘Do you know where this miserable wretch lives?’: Challenging votes in Eighteenth-Century England

As the Government looks set to make the introduction of voter ID requirements a flagship policy for 2022, parallels can be drawn with the eighteenth-century electoral process. We welcome guest blogger, James Harris, post-doctoral research associate at the University of Newcastle, to tell us more. The requirement for every elector to justify their right to vote at the hustings was a routine part of Georgian … Continue reading ‘Do you know where this miserable wretch lives?’: Challenging votes in Eighteenth-Century England

‘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