‘Robin the trickster’ versus ‘Stiff Dick’: the election of Robert Harley as Speaker of the Commons in 1701

In the latest in our series discussing some of the notable figures to occupy the role of Speaker of the House Dr Robin Eagles, editor of our Lords 1715-1790 project, discusses the contested election that led Robert Harley to the chair… From 1704 to the spring of 1705 Robert Harley was both Speaker of the House of Commons and one of the secretaries of state. … Continue reading ‘Robin the trickster’ versus ‘Stiff Dick’: the election of Robert Harley as Speaker of the Commons in 1701

A Speakership that never was: Sir Thomas Hungerford and the Parliament of 1378

Throughout 2022 we have been looking into the careers of some of the people to occupy the role of Speaker- a title first recorded as being attributed to Sir Thomas Hungerford in 1377. But this did not mean that Hungerford’s place in the House of Commons was guaranteed, as Dr Hannes Kleineke, editor of our Commons 1461-1504 project, explores… There is a modern-day convention that … Continue reading A Speakership that never was: Sir Thomas Hungerford and the Parliament of 1378

Thomas Burdet of Arrow, MP for Warwickshire in 1455, and the execution of George, duke of Clarence        

The execution of Thomas Burdet has long been linked to that of George, duke of Clarence a few months later. But is it possible that their downfalls were not connected at all? Dr Simon Payling from our Commons 1461-1504 project evaluates the evidence… The execution for treason of Thomas Burdet, head of one of the principal gentry families of Warwickshire, on 19 May 1477 has … Continue reading Thomas Burdet of Arrow, MP for Warwickshire in 1455, and the execution of George, duke of Clarence        

The Secret Ballot: The Secret to Reducing Electoral Violence?

In July 1872, 150 years ago this month, the Ballot Act introduced the secret ballot to all UK parliamentary and local elections. Here guest blogger Dr Gary Hutchison, of the Causes and Consequences of Electoral Violence project, discusses how the secret ballot affected violence at elections. An Interactive Map of over 3,000 violent events, from individual assaults to riots, can be found on their website. … Continue reading The Secret Ballot: The Secret to Reducing Electoral Violence?

‘Always great fun: particularly when there was a row going on’: memories of the 1922 Committee

Once again, the powerful backbench Conservative 1922 committee is back in the headlines. Here Dr Emma Peplow, head of our Oral History Project, shares some of former MPs’ memories of its workings and influence… Whilst the 1922 Committee comes to public attention only at times of political drama, for the former Conservative MPs interviewed for our oral history project, it was a central part of … Continue reading ‘Always great fun: particularly when there was a row going on’: memories of the 1922 Committee

Lady Frances Balfour:  A Woman in Parliament before Enfranchisement

Ahead of next Tuesday’s Virtual IHR Parliaments, Politics and People seminar, we hear from Professor Susan Pedersen of Columbia University. On 24 May 2022, between 5.15 p.m. and 6.30 p.m., Susan will be presenting a paper on Lady Frances Balfour and responding to questions. Details of how to sign up for the Zoom seminar are available here. When we tell the dramatic story of women’s long campaign … Continue reading Lady Frances Balfour:  A Woman in Parliament before Enfranchisement

Parliament and the Politics of intimidation in Medieval England

As some of our previous blogs demonstrate, Medieval parliamentarians were no stranger to acts of physical violence. However as Dr Simon Payling from our Commons 1461-1504 project suggests, sometimes the mere threat was enough to influence political change… It is a central tenet of parliamentary history that the political complexion of a Parliament was determined by its membership, particularly that of its fluctuating electoral element, … Continue reading Parliament and the Politics of intimidation in Medieval England

‘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

The true premier? Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland

300 years ago, on 19 April 1722, Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland, Walpole’s rival for the premiership, died following his stakhanovite efforts during that year’s general election. Dr Robin Eagles reconsiders Sunderland’s legacy and his claim to have been George I’s first premier. Sunderland had been under enormous pressure for well over two years before, having been caught up in the South Sea Bubble, … Continue reading The true premier? Charles Spencer, 3rd earl of Sunderland