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News and Events

See below for our latest news, events and publications.

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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.  

Our 2019 undergraduate dissertation competition is now open!

Does your department have an outstanding undergraduate essay on British or Irish parliamentary or political history? If so, we want to hear from you. The prize for the winning entry is £250 and tour of the Houses of Parliament. The closing date for entries is 31 July 2019.

We accept one entry per history department and entries must be entered by staff not students. 

Full details on how to enter can be found here 

Please contact Sammy Sturgess at ssturgess@histparl.ac.uk with any questions.

The History of Parliament Trust and the Devon and Cornwall Record Society are delighted to invite you to our joint conference ‘The South West and Parliament’. It takes place on Saturday 11th May in St Stephen’s Church, High Street Exeter, from 10am to 4pm.

Four presentations across the day will explore aspects of the relationships between Cornwall, Devon and Parliament over five centuries.

  • Hannes Kleineke, "The beginning of troubles": the parliamentary representation of Devon and Cornwall during the crisis years 1449-1453
  • Stephen Roberts, Cornwall, Devon, Parliament and the English Civil War, 1640-48
  • Robin Eagles, "Nothing should have tempted me to concern myself with such an affair": Devon and Cornwall and the opposition to Walpole and the Pelhams c.1727-1760
  • Martin Spychal, The representation of Devon and Cornwall after reform, 1832-68

To book please send a cheque for £10 by the 4th May payable to: The Devon and Cornwall Record Society. Address: The Cottage in Hayes, Cheriton Fitzpaube, EX17 4JG. Please include an email address or stamped SAE for acknowledgement if required.

Alternatively email: elly.babbedge@hotmail.co.uk for more information.

We hope you can join us!

Thanks to National Lottery players and the Heritage Lottery Fund the History of Parliament Trust has produced a pack of Key Stage 3 History materials about the life and politcal campaigns of Colonel Josiah Clement Wedgwood. 

We've used Wedgwood life as a starting point to explore wider themes in the KS3 History curriculum that relate to international politics in the 1930s. All of the resources are available for FREE and downloadable from the Schools section of our website.

Check out this short video for more on the pack's content:

For further details or with questions please contact, Sammy Sturgess: ssturgess@histparl.ac.uk 

The History of Parliament Trust is delighted to invite you to our annual lecture on Wednesday 20th March in the Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, Westminster, from 6pm to 8:30pm.

Paul Seaward will give this year's lecture, 'Time and the Commons, or a Brief History of Parliamentary Time'.

It is no accident that the most familiar symbols of Parliament are its clock and its bell, which (with their predecessors) have marked time in central London for hundreds of years.

All institutions are defined by time, in one way or another: Government and Parliament are driven by cycles of elections, annual sessions, and the legislative timetable. But the sense of the pressure of time is especially pervasive in political assemblies. Time is the resource that Parliament spends; battles such as those over the ‘obstruction’ of the Irish party in the 1880s or resistance to Liberal reforms after 1906 underline that the opportunity both to spend it, and to stop it being spent, are the keys to control of what it does.

This lecture looks at how governments, oppositions and individual members have tried since the sixteenth century to manage or manipulate the time available, and how their efforts have been constrained and moulded by many other ways of spending (and misspending) it.

Sign up for free and find out more here.

The History of Parliament's latest project, ‘Commemorating Josiah C. Wedgwood’, is looking to commission a video producer to create a short videofor the schools section of the HPT's website (3-5 minutes long) to promote a pack of Key Stage 3 educational materials about early twentieth century parliamentarian, Josiah C. Wedgwood. You will be working with Public Engagement Officer and project manager, Sammy Sturgess. You'll work collaboratively on the script, be required to do some filming at our Bloomsbury Square offices, and edit the video. We envisage the project will take 2-3 days to complete.

Please see the attached brief for further details.

Please register your interest with Sammy Sturgess (ssturgess@histparl.ac.uk, 020 7467 9810) by Monday 7th January 2019 for immediate start.

The History of Parliament Trust, in association with The Co-operative Party, is delighted to invite you to join us at a panel discussion to mark the landmark election of 1918 and its consequential broader representation within the Parliament of 1919.

This free event will take place on Wednesday 16th January in the Attlee Suite, Portcullis House, Westminster, from 6pm to 8:30pm.

Following the passing of the Representation of the People Act and the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act in 1918, the electorate was vastly expanded.  This led to a number of firsts in the so-called ‘coupon’ election of 1918 including; the first women candidates, the first elected woman MP, Constance Markievicz (although she didn’t take her seat) and the first Co-operative party MP, Alfred Waterson.

Join us for a lively discussion and Q&A to explore this wider representation with papers presented by: Angela Whitecross on the early Co-operative Party and Alfred Waterson MP, Edward Madigan on Sinn Fein and Constance Markievicz and Krista Cowman on Women’s Voting Experiences.

To find out more and to sign up click here.

Join the German Historical Institute London and the History of Parliament Trust in Bloomsbury Square on 14 December 2018 (0930-1700) for a free one-day workshop disscussing mass media, news and communications in the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 

The morning will be hosted by the History of Parliament Trust, 18 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2NS, with the afternoon being hosted by our neighbours at the German Historical Institute London, 17 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2NJ. The full programme can be found here

Lunch and refreshments are included.

Please register you attendance with GHIL's events officer, Carole Sterckx on sterckx@ghil.ac.uk

The History of Parliament Trust and IHR's Parliaments, Politics and People seminar would like to invite you to a round table discussion on digital humanities and political history, in memory of the Trust's former director, Valerie Cromwell. Valerie, who founded the parliamentary history seminar at the IHR, was an early enthusiast for computing and recognised its potential to transform parliamentary history, long before digital humanities became a discipline in itself. With expertise ranging from the medieval to the modern, the panel will consider the impact of digital humanities on the practice of political history, the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration, materiality and digital sources, as well as the management and development of digital humanities projects. Speakers: Dr Hannes Kleineke (History of Parliament, Commons 1422-1504), Dr Ruth Ahnert (Queen Mary/Tudor Networks of Power), Professor Arthur Burns (King’s College London/ Georgian Papers Programme), and Professor Jane Winters (Professor of Digital Humanities, School of Advanced Study).

 

With questions or enquiries about the event please contact Martin Spychal, seminar convenor at the History of Parliament Trust on mspychal@histparl.ac.uk