News and Events

See below for our latest news, events and publications.

You can also:

- Follow the History on Twitter (@HistParl) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/HistoryOfParliament)

- Follow our 1832-68 ‘Victorian Commons’ section on Twitter (@TheVictCommons)

- Read our History of Parliament blog, the Victorian Commons blog and our Director’s blog.

- See the current programme of our 'Parliaments, Politics and People' Seminar at the Institute of Historical Research



Competition rules and entry instructions


1.    The History of Parliament Trust will award a prize of £250 to the best undergraduate dissertation presented in 2020 on a subject relating to British or Irish parliamentary or political history.

2.    Each university History department is invited to enter one dissertation which they consider to qualify.  They should send a digital copy of the entry to Sammy Sturgess at ssturgess@histparl.ac.uk together with a completed entry form (see below), and an unbound copy of the dissertation to ‘History of Parliament Dissertation competition, 18 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2NS’. Copies will not be returned.

3.    Due to the disruption to university deadlines and examinaton boards we will extend the deadline (from the usual September) to 18 December 2020. If your institution requires further flexibility as events progress please get in touch with Sammy Sturgess. 

4.    Parliamentary History has agreed to consider publication in the Journal for the winning dissertation.  The decision to publish or not will be at the discretion of the editor of Parliamentary History.  They may ask for appropriate amendments if necessary.

5.    For any queries, please contact: ssturgess@histparl.ac.uk.

For details about the History of Parliament Trust, please see our website, www.historyofparliamentonline.org.

The History of Parliament will run its essay competition for Sixth Form students during the summer term. Entries are encouraged from Year 11, 12 and 13 students (or all 16-18 year olds for those outside England and Wales) and the winner will receive £100.

The prize will be awarded for the best essay on a subject of the candidate's own choice related to the parliamentary or political history of Britain and Ireland before 1997. Although candidates for essays covering the period before 1832 are encouraged to look at and use the material on the History of Parliament’s website (www.historyofparliament.org) it is not required that they should do so. Students may also find the History of Parliament blog to assist them (https://thehistoryofparliament.wordpress.com/).

Essays should be between 2000 and 4000 words and submitted by a member of school staff (not personally or by a parent or guardian).

The closing date for this competition is 31 July 2020.

Competition rules

The winner of the competition will receive a prize of £100.

The competition is open to any student at a UK school or college, preparing to study or currently studying for A levels (years 11, 12 and 13 or 16-18 y/o).

Essays should be submitted by a school, and no school should submit more than four essays.

Essays should between 2000 and 4000 words.

Essays should be typed.

Entries should be sent to our Public Engagement Assistant, Connie Jeffery at cjeffery@histparl.ac.uk

We regret that entries cannot be individually acknowledged, and will not be returned after the competition.

Please send one email per individual entry.

Entries must be received by 31 July 2020.

Judging will be by a panel appointed by the History of Parliament.  Their decision will be final, and no correspondence can be entered into.

For each competition there will be one winner, although the judges may make special commendations if they think fit.

Please enclose the following details with each entry:

  1. The candidate’s name
  2. The candidate’s school and its address, with a telephone or email contact for the school, and email contact for the candidate, if they have left school.
  3. The candidate’s age at 31 July 2020
  4. A declaration, signed by the teacher, saying that the work is all the candidate’s own.


For any queries, please contact us at cjeffery@histparl.ac.uk

The History of Parliament will run its history competition for 11-14 year olds throughout the summer term to support teachers and students during the unusual teaching and learning environment as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. The winner will receive a prize of book vouchers worth £75.

The competition is open to all students in the UK aged 11-14 years old.

Entries should be between 500-1000 words and must be submitted by school staff (not a student, parent or guardian) on or before 31 July 2020.

The task has two options (see below) based on the Political Reform materials on our website’s schools section and teaching materials, and our YouTube channel. These materials are specially-adapted from our research and the resources on the website include schemes of works for teachers (students should choose on option only).

Task: Parliamentary Reform

The Political Reform materials on the History of Parliament website and the 19th century reform playlist on YouTube explore how Britain changed from a country where political power was held by a few privileged people to one much more democratic – at least if you were a man! They include information on several of the important reform acts, such as the 1832 Reform Act (see Lesson 2: 1832 Reform Act) and the 1867 Reform Act and the 1872 Ballot Act (see Lesson 4: 1867 Reform Act & 1872 Ballot Act)

Option 1: Entrants should choose one of these reform acts, and write a parliamentary speech either for or against it.

Option 2: Entrants should choose one of these reform acts, and write a newspaper article for a pro-reform or anti-reform newspaper.


Information can be found throughout our Reform schools materials, but these articles should be particularly useful for the 1832 Reform Act:

1830-32 Parliaments

Lord John Russell

Sir Richard Vyvyan



And the 1867 Reform Act and the 1872 Ballot Act

1865-68 Parliament

John Stuart Mill

John Bright



There are also specific teaching resources and lesson plans, including lessons focussing specifically on these reform acts, available for teachers here.

The videos in the 19th century reform playlist are available here.

Competition rules

For individual entries, the winner of the competition will receive a prize of a book token for £75.

The competition is open to any student at a UK school or college who will not have passed his or her 15th birthday by 31 July 2020.

Entries should be sent to our Public Engagement Assistant, Connie Jeffery at cjeffery@histparl.ac.uk

Please send one email per individual entry

Entries must be received by 31 July 2020.

Judging will be by a panel appointed by the History of Parliament. Their decision will be final, and no correspondence can be entered into.

For each competition there will be one winner, although the judges may make special commendations if they think fit.

We regret that entries cannot be individually acknowledged, and will not be returned after the competition.

Some entries may be used on historyofparliamentonline.org: those whose entries are used in this way will be contacted.

All entries must be accompanied by the following information:

    1. The candidate’s name
    2. The candidate’s school and its address, with a telephone or email contact for the school
    3. The candidate’s age at 31 July 2020.
    4. A declaration, signed by the teacher, saying that the work, including any photographs submitted, is all the candidate’s own.

On 28 April 2020 the IHR Parliaments, Politics and People seminar will be hosting a virtual seminar with Helen Sunderland (Corpus Christi, Cambridge). Helen will be discussing schoolgirls’ visits to the Houses of Parliament, 1880-1918, which is part of her wider research on schoolgirls and politics in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century England.  She will be publishing a blog discussing her research on https://thehistoryofparliament.wordpress.com/ on 27 April. The virtual seminar will take place on Twitter the following day (28 April) between 2pm and 3pm. It will be hosted by the History of Parliament Twitter account: @histparl. To submit questions for Helen please contact us on Twitter or via website@histparl.ac.uk

The History of Parliament Trust office in Bloomsbury is closed to the visitors indefinitely. Our research and support staff continue to work remotely and are able to answer queries via email. Please contact us at website@histparl.ac.uk. Please note that calls to the office will not be answered at this time. 

Excepting events, business will proceed as usual to the best of our abilities. Head over to Twitter and our blog to see what we are up to.

We will update this page as the situation progresses. 

The History of Parliament is delighted to announce the creation of a new, five-year long House of Lords project covering the reign of Elizabeth I (1558-1603). Elizabeth’s was the longest reign of any English monarch since that of Edward III (1327-77). Her period on the throne witnessed no fewer than ten parliaments, which met at fairly regular intervals, roughly once every four years. Two of these parliaments consisted of more than one session. Her fourth, which sat over the course of three sessions between 1572 and 1581, was not only the longest running Parliament of the sixteenth century but also the longest up to that time – the ‘Long Parliament’ of its day.

The official Journal of the House of Lords during this period is notoriously meagre, and there are no known Lords’ diaries or ‘scribbled books’ kept by the Clerk either. However, there is a wealth of associated material available, both in the records of the House of Commons and in the State Papers. New sources have also been discovered, most notably a list of the procession to Parliament in 1572 compiled by one of the heralds and now in the archives of Gonville and Caius College, and an account in the College of Arms of the opening proceedings in 1601. The most interesting find to date is a sketch of the Queen seated in Parliament attended by the peers, made on the final day of the 1597-8 Parliament and presumably drawn by one of the heralds.

By exploring this information the team hopes to shed fresh light on the activities of the House and its members, of which there were about 250 in total, including some of the most powerful and influential personalities of their day. Elizabeth’s chief minister, Sir William Cecil, was ennobled as Baron Burghley in 1571 and so sat in the Lords in seven parliaments. Elizabeth’s great favourite and master of the horse, Robert Dudley, earl of Leicester, was also a member of the Lords, though his duties as commander of the English forces in the Netherlands in the mid-1580s meant that he was not always able to attend in person.

Biographies will take as their focal point the parliamentary and political aspect of each peer’s career. Among the many questions we shall address, both in the biographies and the accompanying Introductory Survey volume, is the extent to which peers exploited their links with members of the Commons to put pressure on Elizabeth over such matters as the succession and further reform of the Church. We shall also examine the divisions between peers and the role of faction at Court, not only in the 1590s, when the Court was split between the partisans of the Cecils on the one hand and the supporters of Robert Devereux, 2nd earl of Essex on the other, but also in the 1560s and 1570s, when courtiers were sometimes to be seen sporting the colours of rival factions. The role played by Catholic peers, of whom there were many, will also be examined. In particular, we will look at the extent to which Catholic peers accommodated themselves to the Protestant regime and continued to participate in parliamentary affairs.

The project’s research staff will blog about their methods and discoveries as the project progresses on a dedicated strand of posts on the History’s blog site. Keep an eye on our feed for new posts.

With the History of Parliament’s volumes for the reign of Henry VI complete and due for publication shortly, the focus of the History’s medieval team now shifts to the period from the accession of Edward IV in 1461 to that of his grandson Henry VIII in 1509. This exciting new project will cover the Parliaments of no fewer than five English monarchs: those convened by Edward IV, Edward V, Richard III and Henry VII between 1461 and 1504, as well as the Parliament summoned during  Henry VI’s readeption in 1470-71.

The period not only saw the longest Parliaments held to date (that of 1463 remained in being, albeit in recess, until 1465, while that of 1472 held multiple sessions over four years until the summer of 1475), it also saw a new development in English parliamentary history in the repeated and regular cancellation and delay of individual sessions and even entire Parliaments.

Among the particular challenges facing the team of scholars working on this period is the loss of most of the original election returns for the period, with the exception of those for the Parliaments of 1467, 1472 and 1478. Meticulous work in national as well as local archives has nevertheless brought to light much additional information: the East Anglian election returns for the Parliament of 1461 have in recent years been found among the records of the Westminster law courts, lists of Members of the Commons for two of Henry VII’s Parliaments are supplied by early modern copies in the British Library, and local records have provided the names of many hundreds of urban representatives elected during the period. Altogether, the names are today known of more than 1,300 men who sat in the Commons between 1461 and 1504.  

Nor are the proceedings of the Parliaments of the period without interest. In the repeated changes of ruler Parliament began to adopt a more pronounced constitutional role in facilitating dynastic change, and if Edward IV was prone to use Parliament as a clearing house for his and his family’s property transactions, Henry VII’s Parliament of 1495 stands out as one of the great legislative assemblies of the middle ages.

Those interested in the period will be able to follow the section’s work through a new strand of posts on the History of Parliament’s blog, which will explore individuals, events and themes relating to the dramatic history of the later fifteenth century.

Collaborative Doctoral Award with the Open University: The Black and Mixed Ethnicity Presence in British Politics, 1750-1850

We are pleased to announce that the History of Parliament Trust is participating in a doctoral studentship project in partnership with the Open University. Applications are invited for an Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC DTP-funded Collaborative Doctoral Award, for entry in 2020-21. The deadline for application to the Open University is 8 January 2020.

The proposed PhD research will examine ‘The Black and Mixed Ethnicity Presence in British Politics, 1750-1850’. It will be supervised by Dr. Amanda Goodrich (Open University) and Dr. Robin Eagles (History of Parliament Trust). For further details on the project, see https://www.oocdtp.ac.uk/black-and-mixed-ethnicity-presence-british-politics-1750-1850

Details of how to apply to the Collaborative Doctoral Award scheme can be found here: https://www.oocdtp.ac.uk/collaborative-doctoral-awards

We were sorry to hear of the death of Roland Thorne at the age of 79. Roland was the Editor of our House of Commons 1790-1820 volumes, which were published in 1986 and described in The Economist on publication as part of ‘a monumental project of devoted scholarship’, not only an apt description of the publication but also of Roland’s dedication to it.

Roland was born and raised at Thornton, just outside Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, where his family had long been dairy farmers. Given this background, it is unsurprising that he retained a life-long interest in the history of his native county; and equally unsurprising that he was more at home in the culture of his district, often called ‘little England beyond Wales’, than in that of the Welsh-speaking north part of Pembrokeshire. He was educated at Milford Haven Grammar School and Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, where he took a First in History. His degree was said, on the record, to have been among the top two or three in History achieved in Cambridge since 1945; and equally on the record, his Cambridge career was described as that of a ‘prodigy’, not least because of his very wide knowledge of languages. In the light of Roland’s life’s work at the History of Parliament, his tutor’s comment that in historical topics ‘he tended to neglect … political matters’, reads as deliciously ironic.

Roland came to the History of Parliament in 1963 after a couple of false starts in teaching and academic research. He was appointed research assistant on the House of Commons 1790-1820 Section, then edited by a remote overseer editor, Arthur Aspinall, professor of history at Reading University. Because of funding difficulties at the History, Roland left a year later to teach at South London College, Norwood; but after Aspinall retired, in 1967 he returned, to become Editor in 1970. He was then only 31. With the exception of John Brooke, appointed in 1960 as co-editor of Commons 1754-90 after the sudden death of Sir Lewis Namier, all previous appointments to the post of Editor had been of external senior academics, who held editorships in tandem with full-time employment elsewhere. He then edited the Commons 1790-1820 volumes through to publication. His was the first Section to explore the provincial press for accounts of elections, and his own elegant prose was noted by the reviewers.

In 1981 Roland was made Deputy Editor of the History of Parliament overall, at a time when the chief executive of the organisation was called General Editor and Secretary. This was a proper acknowledgement of his willingness to work cheerfully across the Sections, regardless of period: he proof-read the 1509-58 Commons volumes, and contributed biographies and constituency articles on Welsh subjects to the fledgling Commons 1640-60 Section.  After publication of Commons 1790-1820, Roland had chosen to work only part-time for the History of Parliament, but he returned to full-time employment in 1989 as Editor of the 1820-32 Commons Section, during the illness of Dave Fisher.  He finally retired from the History in May 1991.

Outside the History of Parliament, Roland contributed 44 articles to the Oxford DNB. He contributed to the Transactions of the Honourable Society of Cymmrodorion, and wrote chapters and articles for the Pembrokeshire County History, National Library of Wales Journal and The Pembrokeshire Historian.  He is remembered at the History as a very hard-working and genial colleague, whose diffident manner concealed leadership skills of a high order. He was a great raconteur, with a keen sense of humour – revelling in the absurdities of life and the follies and pomposity of those in authority. The History of Parliament was fortunate to have benefited from his dedication over such a long period.