British Government Documents at the Newberry

Chronological table and index of the statutes, 39th ed. London: 1924.
Chronological table and index of the statutes, 39th ed. London: 1924.

The Newberry has an excellent collection of British government documents to 1900. These include a complete run of Parliamentary Debates from the earliest period of their recording to 1964 for both Commons and Lords; Parliamentary Sessional Papers to 1900, including reports, command papers, accounts, estimates, and a variety of other materials; Parliamentary bills; Statutes of the Realm from the time of Henry III; Journals of both Houses from the 16th century through the 19th century, including petitions and records of the daily business of government, calendars of bills presented, and some flavor of early debate; and a host of miscellaneous documents such as proceedings in Chancery in the reign of Queen Elizabeth, escheat records from the time of Henry III, and many others.

Parliamentary Debates and Proceedings

There are many recountings of the debates in both the Commons and the Lords before 1803. None of them are particularly accurate or reliable. For a good account of these various volumes and other parliamentary materials see:

Rodgers, Frank, and Rose Bernice Phelps. A Guide to British Parliamentary Papers. 1967. Newberry call number: Ref J 301 .R634 1967.

The Newberry has most of the early reports of the parliamentary debates. A number of them are listed below:

Great Britain. Journals of the House of Lords. London: H.M.S.O., 1509. Newberry call number: +K 145 .34 (113 volumes).

Great Britain. Journals of the House of Commons. [S.l.]: By order of the House of Commons, 1628. Newberry call number: +K 145 .32 (142 volumes, covering the years 1547 to 1885).

Great Britain. General Index to the Journals of the House of Commons. London: Printed by Order of the House of Commons], 1800. Newberry call number: +K 145 .32 Index.

The Lords and Commons Journals comprise a calendar of the bills and business of the two houses. They do not contain verbatim speeches, but some do include heads and main arguments of more important speeches.

Great Britain, and Anchitell Grey. Debates of the House of Commons, from 1667 to 1694: Collected by the Hon. Anchitell Grey. London: D. Henry and R. Cave, 1763. Newberry call number: K 145 .3 (10 volumes).

Great Britain, Richard Chandler, and Richard Chandler. The History and Proceedings of the House of Commons: From the Restoration to the Present Time ... London: Printed for Richard Chandler, 1742. Newberry call number: K 145 .31 (14 volumes covering the period 1660 to 1743. The Newberry also holds an 8-volume version of this work, which covers the time period 1660 to 1734, and this is available as Newberry call number K 145 .309).

Great Britain. The History and Proceedings of the House of Lords, from the Restoration in 1660 to the Present Time… London: Printed for Ebenezer Timberland, 1742. Newberry call number: K 145 .338 (8 volumes, covering the years 1660 to 1743).

Cobbett, William, J. Wright, and T. C. Hansard. The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803. From Which Last-Mentioned Epoch It Is Continued Downwards in the Work Entitled “Hansard’s Parliamentary Debates.”. London: Pr. by T.C. Hansard for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme & Brown [etc.], 1806. Newberry call number: K 145 .379 (36 volumes. This work is the most frequently used and important of the early works on parliamentary debates.).

The Parliamentary or Constitutional History of England, From the Earliest Times, to the Restoration of King Charles II. Collected from the Records, the Rolls of Parliament, the Journals of Both Houses … [Etc.] by Several Hands. London: Printed for J. and R. Tonson [etc.], 1762. Newberry call number: J 445 .66 (24 volumes).

Great Britain. The History, Debates, and Proceedings of Both Houses of Parliament of Great Britain from the Year 1743 to the Year 1774... London: Printed for J. Debrett, 1792. Newberry call number: K 145 .41 (7 volumes).

The Parliamentary Register; or, History of the Proceedings and Debates of the House of Commons. London: Printed for J. Almon, 1775. Newberry call number: K 145 .411 (77 volumes in 3 series, covering the years 1774 to 1801. Also includes the debates in the Lords.).

The London Magazine, or, Gentleman’s Monthly Intelligencer. London: Printed by C. Ackers for J. Wilford, 1732. Newberry call number: A 51 .5335 (The Newberry holds April 1732 to June 1735. Reports debates in the Commons and Lords, beginning in 1732.).

Barrow, J. H. The Mirror of Parliament. S.l: s.n, 1828. Newberry call number: K 145 .39 (The Newberry holds November 15, 1837 to October 7, 1841. This journal employed Charles Dickens for a time.).

Hansard, T. C. The Parliamentary Debates from the Year 1803 to the Present Time... London: Printed for Longman, Husrt, Rees, Orme, and Brown [etc.], 1812. Newberry call number: K 145 .38 (5 series covering the dates 1803 to April 24, 1964. When ordering a session, be sure to specify that the index be included. There is an index for each session. Beginning with the 1909 session the Commons and the Lords debates were divided into separate volumes. They are in separate locations on the shelves. Be sure to specify Lords or Commons debates after 1909.).

A number of more recent works are valuable for the care and scholarship they bring to the Tudor and Stuart parliamentary debates. Some of these works are mentioned below, and others can be found by searching the online catalog for the subject Great Britain – Parliament – House of Commons.

Great Britain, and T. E. Hartley. Proceedings in the Parliaments of Elizabeth I. Wilmington, Del: M. Glazier, 1981. Newberry call number: JN 525 .P76 1981.

Notestein, Wallace, Frances Helen Relf, and Hartley Simpson. Commons Debates, 1621. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1935. Newberry call number: K 1455 .307 (7 volumes).

England and Wales, and Robert C. Johnson. Commons Debates, 1628. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1977. Newberry call number: J 301 .K16 (6 volumes).

Notestein, Wallace, and Frances Helen Relf. Commons Debates for 1629. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1921. Newberry call number: K 1455 .312.

Parliamentary Sessional Papers

The sessional papers include bills, reports and papers that comprise the working documents of Parliament. Reports include those of Select Committees, Commissions, Command papers, estimates and accounts. The Newberry has all the published sessional papers for the 16th through the 19th century. Before 1803 most reports and working papers were appended to the Journals of the Lords and Commons. For Sessional Papers issued before 1803 consult the following works:

Great Britain, James Hansard, P. Ford, and Grace Ford. Hansard’s Catalogue and Breviate of Parliamentary Papers, 1696-1834. Oxford: Blackwell, 1953. Newberry call number: Ref J 301 .K62 1953. Available in the Reference stacks on the third floor.

Ford, Grace. A Select List of Reports and Other Papers in Journals of the House of Commons 1688-1800. Nendeln: KTO Press, 1976. Newberry call number: J 301 .M3 1976.

Great Britain, and Sheila Lambert. House of Commons Sessional Papers of the Eighteenth Century. Wilmington, Del: Scholarly Resources, 1975. Newberry call number: folio J 301 .K625 1975. (2 volumes).

Great Britain. Reports from Committees of the House of Commons: Which Have Been Printed by Order of the House, and Are Not Inserted in the Journals; Reprinted by Order of the House. London: s.n, 1803. Newberry call number: Oversize K 145 .323 (16 volumes covering the years 1715 through 1802).

Nineteenth-century Sessional Papers

The Newberry Library has the entire set of published sessional papers for the period 1801 through 1900 for House of Commons, in READEX MICROPRINT. These are not catalogued, but are listed in the card catalog (on the third floor) as follows: “GT. BRIT. PARLIAMENT. HOUSE OF COMMONS. SESSIONAL PAPERS. Microprint Edition.”

This microprint edition includes virtually all sessional papers which parliament caused to be published. It does not, for example, contain census enumeration, but it does contain all the parliamentary-sponsored investigations into social, economic, and medical problems about which Victorian society became obsessed. The microcard edition is arranged by the year (or session), there were often 2 sessions per year as, for example, the 1878 session and the 1878-79 session. In ordering microcards it is important to get the session as well as the volume number within the session correct. There are two indexes for 19th century British sessional papers:

Great Britain. General Index to the Accounts and Papers, Reports of Commissioners, Estimates, &C., &C. London: H.M. Stationery off. [printed by P. Lund, Humphries & Co.], 1938. Newberry call number: Ref J 301 .M3 1801-1852. Available in the Reference stacks on the third floor.

Great Britain. General Alphabetical Index to the Bills, Reports, Estimates, Accounts and Papers Printed by Order of the House of Commons and to the Papers Presented by Command, 1852-1899. London: Printed for H.M.S.O., by Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1980. Newberry call number: Ref J 301 .M3 1852-1899. Available in the Reference stacks on the third floor.

The indexes are arranged by subject. It is necessary at times to be creative in thinking up the appropriate subject heading. “Drunkenness,” for example, is listed under “Intemperance.” Under the subject headings individual papers and reports are listed as, for example, the following:

INTEMPERANCE

“Number of persons taken into Custody for Drunkenness and Disorderly Conduct by
the Metropolitan Police Force, and in the cities of London, Edinburgh, and
Glasgow in each year, 1831 to 1851 …. 1852 (548).
XLI. 515.”

To locate this document in the Microprint Edition order as follows:

Call number: GT. BRIT. PARLIAMENT. HOUSE OF COMMONS. SESSIONAL PAPERS. Microprint Edition. Spring/Summer 1852 Session, volume XLI.

You derive this call number by noting the following pieces of information in the index entry:

1852: The session. You must specify clearly the session. This is the spring and summer session of 1852. There was also a fall/winter session designated 1852/1853.

(548): Document number. This is unnecessary in the microprint edition.

XLI: Volume number. This is the volume within the session in which the document is found. It is necessary to put this on the call slip.

515: This is the page number within the volume for the document in question. This does not need to go on the call slip. This page number refers to the manuscript (or handwritten) page number at the upper right hand corner of the page. There is usually a printed page number as well, but this should be ignored.

Other subject-listings of the 19th-century Sessional Papers include:

Irish University Press. Checklist of British Parliamentary Papers in the Irish University Press 1000-Volume Series, 1801-1899. 1972. Newberry call number: lower case folio f 45.445.

Ford, P., and Grace Ford. Select List of British Parliamentary Papers, 1833-1899. Shannon: Irish University Press, 1969. Newberry call number: Ref J 301 .M3 1969. Available in the Reference stacks on the third floor.

To give some idea of the richness of the House of Commons Sessional Papers, some of the papers included in the 1801/1802 session include: Bills Introduced, in volume 1; Committee Reports in volume 2; Financial accounts, including the remunderation of diplomats and foreign envoys around the world, in volume 3; various special reports in volumes 4 and 5; and the 1801 census returns in volume 6. And there are many other volumes in this session.

Twentieth-century Sessional Papers

Although the Newberry collected Parliamentary Debates up to 1964, it did not collect sessional papers after 1900. Except for a few scattered reports catalogued separately, the Newberry has no 20th-century sessional papers. The library does, however, have the indexes for these papers:

Great Britain. General Index to the Bills, Reports and Papers Printed by Order of the House of Commons and to the Reports and Papers Presented by Command, 1900 to 1948-49. London: H.M. Stationery Off, 1960. Newberry call number: Ref J 301 .K58. Available in the Reference stacks on the third floor.

This item provides another subject listing of Sessional Papers for the 20th-century:

Ford, P., Grace Ford, and Diana Marshallsay. Select List of British Parliamentary Papers, 1955-1964. Shannon: Irish University Press, 1970. Newberry call number: K 145 .2764.

Acts of Parliament and Miscellaneous Papers

Great Britain, and Alexander Luders. The Statutes of the Realm… London: Printed by George Eyre and Andrew Strahan], 1810. Newberry call number: Oversize K 245 .365 (9 volumes, covering the years 1101 through 1713, and 2 volumes of indexes).

Great Britain, John Caley, John Bayley, and Robert Lemon. Calendarium Inquisitionum post mortem sive Escaetarum [Records of Chancery]. London: Printed by G. Eyre and A. Strahan], 1806. Newberry call number: Oversize K 49 .372 (4 volumes, each separately indexed, containing escheat (death duty) records for the years 1216 through 1485).

Great Britain. Standing Orders of the House of Commons, Relating to Private Bills, and Other Matters, 1852-53. With Tables of Fees, and Index. London: H. Hansard, 1853. Newberry call number: K 045 .3641.