‘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

Women Speakers and Deputy Speakers

As we have seen in some of our previous blogs, the role of Speaker of the House has a long history, but it wasn’t until the late 20th century that women took to the Speaker’s Chair. Through the History of Parliament Oral History Project we have been able to interview some of the female former MPs who occupied the roles of Speaker and Deputy Speaker, … Continue reading Women Speakers and Deputy Speakers

‘So much dignity and efficiency’: John Evelyn Denison, Speaker of the House of Commons, 1857-72

The new year calls for a new blog series, so throughout 2022 we’re taking a closer look at some of the figures who held the post of ‘Speaker’. Today we hear from Dr Kathryn Rix, assistant editor of our Commons 1832-1868 project, who explores the career of J. E. Denison, Speaker of the House of Commons from 1857-72. On 8 April 1857 John Evelyn Denison … Continue reading ‘So much dignity and efficiency’: John Evelyn Denison, Speaker of the House of Commons, 1857-72

“A great lover of forms, and a regular Speaker”: Sir Spencer Compton, Speaker of the House of Commons 1715-1727

Sir Spencer Compton, earl of Wilmington, is often overlooked, overshadowed by his colleague and predecessor Sir Robert Walpole. But as Dr Robin Eagles, editor of our Lords 1715-1790 project, suggests, Wilmington deserves more attention, particularly for his earlier role as Speaker of the House of Commons… If Sir Spencer Compton is much remembered at all, it is most probably as the man who missed his … Continue reading “A great lover of forms, and a regular Speaker”: Sir Spencer Compton, Speaker of the House of Commons 1715-1727

‘It was the dissimulation of this one man that stirred up that whole plague of evils which followed’: William Catesby, Speaker in the Parliament of 1484, and the accession of Richard III

On 25 August 1485 William Catesby, Speaker of the House of Commons, was executed. But what brought about the downfall of this once influential Member of Parliament? Dr Simon Payling from our Commons 1461-1504 project explores… In his account of the accession of Richard III, written in the 1510s, Sir Thomas More assigned a pivotal role to an unlikely candidate, William Catesby, a lawyer educated … Continue reading ‘It was the dissimulation of this one man that stirred up that whole plague of evils which followed’: William Catesby, Speaker in the Parliament of 1484, and the accession of Richard III

The Speaker and the same question: a view from the Victorian Commons

In today’s blog Dr Philip Salmon, editor of the 1832-1945 House of Commons project, explores some of the historical background behind recent Parliamentary rulings relating to Brexit. The rules governing UK parliamentary procedure, not surprisingly, don’t often get much public attention. However, some of the recent decisions by Speaker Bercow serve as an important reminder that the practices of the past can have an important … Continue reading The Speaker and the same question: a view from the Victorian Commons

Taking control: Speaker William Lenthall, precedent and the Long Parliament

In the midst of extraordinary times at Westminster, Dr Vivienne Larminie of the House of Commons 1640-1660 section looks at the response of a pioneering Speaker to the unprecedented challenges of the mid-seventeenth century… On 4 January 1642, in one of the most dramatic and iconic moments in the history of Parliament, Charles I arrived at Westminster with an armed guard.  Having entered the Commons … Continue reading Taking control: Speaker William Lenthall, precedent and the Long Parliament

A Speaker-Elect Makes a Quick Escape from the Parliamentary Turmoil caused by England’s Precipitous Exit from Europe

In light of the recent controversy surrounding the current Speaker of the House of Commons and his position on Brexit, Dr Linda Clark, Editor of the House of Commons 1422-1504 Section discusses how Agincourt veteran, Sir John Popham narrowly escaped assuming the daunting task of Speaker nearing the turbulent end of the Hundred Years’ War… THE HISTORY OF PARLIAMENT: THE HOUSE OF COMMONS 1422-1461, edited … Continue reading A Speaker-Elect Makes a Quick Escape from the Parliamentary Turmoil caused by England’s Precipitous Exit from Europe

The ‘Election’ of the Speaker in Fifteenth-Century Parliaments

Today Parliament returns, and the new assembly’s first job is to elect a new Speaker. Dr Simon Payling, Senior Fellow of the Commons 1422-1504 section, explores how medieval parliaments ‘chose’ their Speakers… The practice of electing the Speaker can be traced back almost to the origins of the office in the 1370s, but there is almost nothing to show the form taken by these elections … Continue reading The ‘Election’ of the Speaker in Fifteenth-Century Parliaments