Published1986 by Boydell and Brewer
“a very splendid work indeed”
Linda Colley, in The London Review of Books
“The achievement is of an order that almost defies description in scholarly language; but what is abundantly clear is that Mr Thorne and his colleagues have removed the blinkers through which historians of early nineteenth century politics have previously had to operate … The material collected by Mr Thorne and his colleagues has amply justified the painstaking research which they have conducted over many years; these volumes are amongst the finest fruits of scholarship on this period ever to have been harvested. In an age of increasing uncertainty among historians about the direction and utility of research, which often seems merely to retrace familiar ground or to grapple with abstractions, may provide abundant reassurance that there is no substitute for solid, detailed enquiry into specific, important and neglected subjects.”
J. P. Parry, in Parliamentary History
These volumes cover the period of Britain's long wars with revolutionary and imperial France, and a huge expansion of the business of the House of Commons: Charles Abbot, Speaker from 1802-1817 estimated that the amount of business carried on in the House had quintupled between 1761 and 1813. They include the period of the Union with Ireland and the introduction of 100 Irish MPs; the debates on Catholic relief, and the royal veto against it; the agitation for and achievement of the abolition of the slave trade; the Regency; and the resurgence of the political reform movement after the defeat of Napoleon. The period includes that of Pitt’s ascendancy until his death in 1806, and of the classic opposition of Charles James Fox.
The volumes contain 2,142 biographical articles and 314 constituency articles, as well as the introductory survey written by R.G. Thorne. The biographies include, of course, the first members to sit in the Westminster Parliament for Irish constituencies; they also include – in this time of unprecedented military activity – a large number of army and navy officers (a fifth of the members elected during the period served at some stage in the regular army).