Research: The House of Commons 1832-1868 - Hoofdinhoud
The House of Commons, 1832-68 is the latest research project in the History of Parliament’s series of publications charting the development, personnel and activities of the Westminster Parliament over the last 700 years.
Building on the work of the recently published 1820-32 volumes, the 1832-68 project is producing biographical profiles of all the 2,589 MPs who were elected between the first and second Reform Acts as well as accounts of all the 401 constituencies in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, providing a new resource for political and local historians and all those interested in the United Kingdom’s early democratic development. A survey volume, evaluating the findings of the research and examining the institutional operation of the Commons during this formative period, is also being prepared.
In an important departure for the History , the project is being made available in a new web-based layout, in which the text is supported by online links to original sources and factual data. (Biographies, for example, have links to speeches, votes, committee work, archive collections and an extended bibliography.) The project is also being compiled far more rapidly than previous studies, partly owing to the proliferation of digital resources in nineteenth-century history, but also because of a far greater reliance on contributions by external experts, drawn from universities and libraries around the world. Expressions of interest from potential contributors are most welcome, and should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The research team is led by Dr. Philip Salmon, known principally for his work on the 1832 Reform Act, and Dr. Kathryn Rix, a specialist in mid to late-Victorian political culture. With their colleagues Dr. Stephen Ball, Dr. Henry Miller and Dr. James Owen, they aim to complete the project within half the time of the preceding study. Complementary research is also being undertaken by Seth Thevoz, as part of a PhD programme established in collaboration with the University of Warwick. As well as providing fresh perspectives on the key themes of this period – electoral reform, party development, radicalism and the threat of revolution, religious and economic controversies – the editors are paying particular attention to the changing culture of representation, both within and outside the Commons, and its broader impact and legacy, both for the UK and its growing number of colonial elected bodies.
Parliament dealt with an unprecedented range of social, economic and local issues during the 1832-68 period, and in many respects this was the ‘golden age’ of the Commons and the backbencher, without the restrictions on debate of subsequent years imposed through the ‘guillotine’ and ‘closure’. As well as presenting a new type of comprehensive account of MPs and constituencies, in which online links help to unburden the text of data, it is hoped that the new format will provide vital gateways into the ever-expanding corpus of nineteenth-century digital collections now available, creating a hub for researchers working across a variety of different disciplines.
With over 600 articles now completed, the project is now well on its way to its target total of articles: we expect these to be completed by the end of 2018.