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

Cancelling Christmas? William Prynne, kill-joy and martyr, and the onslaught on ‘pagan Saturnalia’

With the government currently recommending scaled-back Christmas celebrations, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of our Commons 1640-60 project, considers a man who advocated scrapping Yuletide festivities for a quite different reason… The idea that ‘the puritans cancelled Christmas’ has widespread acceptance. Indeed it surfaced in the House of Commons recently in debate over what kind of celebration might be prudent … Continue reading Cancelling Christmas? William Prynne, kill-joy and martyr, and the onslaught on ‘pagan Saturnalia’

‘Going into the country’: leave, holidays and political intrigue in the 1640s

As the easing of lockdown encourages many of us to seize opportunities to go on holiday, and especially take ‘staycations’, Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of the Commons 1640-1660 section, looks at the positive and (arguably) negative uses to which civil war MPs put their leave… The widespread perception that the Parliaments of the mid-seventeenth century cut down on holidays is not inaccurate. As has … Continue reading ‘Going into the country’: leave, holidays and political intrigue in the 1640s

Breaching the guidelines: clerical MPs in the mid-seventeenth century

As the country grapples with interpreting the rules of the Covid-19 lockdown, Dr Vivienne Larminie of our Commons 1640-1660 section considers another situation where a seemingly clear-cut ban proved difficult to enforce… Uncertainty has long surrounded the eligibility of clergy to sit as MPs. Only in 2001 was legislation passed explicitly permitting all ministers of religion to stand for election. This repealed the Clergy Disqualification … Continue reading Breaching the guidelines: clerical MPs in the mid-seventeenth century

The ‘Convention’ that wasn’t: the Opening of the 1660 Parliament

Today we hear from Dr Andrew Barclay, senior research fellow for our Commons 1640-1660 project. He explores the accuracy of the naming of the so-called Convention of 1660 in the first of a three-part series about the Parliament that would end the English Republic… Prior to dissolving itself on 16 March 1660, the Long Parliament had agreed that a new Parliament should meet on 25 … Continue reading The ‘Convention’ that wasn’t: the Opening of the 1660 Parliament

Isolation, Containment and Financial Assistance: Parliament’s response to epidemics in the 1640s

In today’s blog Dr Vivienne Larminie, Assistant Editor of our Commons 1640-1660 project, considers self-isolation, social distancing and containing disease in 1640s London. Some of the below may sound quite familiar… As revealed in our recent blog, when MP and diarist Sir Simonds D’Ewes was faced with the plague in mid-1640s London, he and his wife agreed that she would retreat to the safer countryside … Continue reading Isolation, Containment and Financial Assistance: Parliament’s response to epidemics in the 1640s

An MP and an Epidemic in Civil War London

As we face challenges unfamiliar in modern times, our director, Dr Stephen Roberts, looks back at one parliamentary diarist’s response to disease in the community around him. Sir Simonds D’Ewes (1602-50) is now best known for his parliamentary journal. MP for the Suffolk borough of Sudbury, he entered the House of Commons in November 1640 and kept up a diary in English from day one. … Continue reading An MP and an Epidemic in Civil War London

Exiting the English Republic, part 1: political flux in early 1660

Continuing the series on the turmoil of 1659-1660, which saw a retreat from radicalism and political experiment, Dr Vivienne Larminie, assistant editor of the Commons 1640-1660 section, looks at the manoeuvrings of politicians and army officers in a period of great tension and uncertainty… By late January 1660 the English republic had entered its last days – although its imminent extinction was probably not inevitable, … Continue reading Exiting the English Republic, part 1: political flux in early 1660

Sitting at Christmas: getting business done, 1643

In a previous blog our director, Dr Stephen Roberts, explored legislation by which parliamentarians of the 1640s tried to promote what they saw as more appropriate ways of celebrating Christmas; contrary to popular historical myth, Oliver Cromwell was not the driving force. As Dr Vivienne Larminie of our Commons 1640-1660 section explains, Parliament itself began cutting back on the Yuletide festivities some years before Cromwell … Continue reading Sitting at Christmas: getting business done, 1643

The ‘Barebones Parliament’: an assembly of the saints, 1653

Today, Dr Vivienne Larminie, Assistant Editor of our House of Commons 1640-1660 Section, continues our Named Parliaments series with the ‘Barebones Parliament’ of July-December 1653. Strictly speaking, the body which convened on 4 July 1653 in the council chamber at Whitehall was not a Parliament at all.  Rather, having relocated to the Commons chamber at Westminster, it resolved to give itself that title two days … Continue reading The ‘Barebones Parliament’: an assembly of the saints, 1653