Dr Stephen Roberts

History of Parliament Research

It is a privilege to be taking over as Director of the History of Parliament, which has for many decades now been one of the UK’s leading historical research organisations, and which is currently engaged in a range of projects, some of long standing and others new.

My own historical specialism is that of Britain in the mid-seventeenth century, a turbulent period in the life of the country. It was also a period when Parliament played the widest range of parts in the life of the nation: some Parliaments met only for weeks and others were purged of Members, including by force, but one, the Parliament of the Commonwealth, wielded executive power and ran the country as supreme authority. The period provides an interesting vantage point from which to look retrospectively at earlier Parliaments before 1640 and forwards to those which followed a return to a measure of political stability after 1660.  

Before I came to the History of Parliament in 1997 as editor of the House of Commons 1640-1660 volumes, I worked for many years as a tutor and organiser for the Workers’ Educational Association (WEA), the country’s largest voluntary adult education body, and have played a part in the governance of a number of historical societies, including the Worcestershire Historical Society and the Dugdale Society. I am president of the Devon and Cornwall Record Society and a vice-president of the Cromwell Association. I am proud of my roots and heritage in South Wales, and have authored or edited a number of publications on Welsh history.   

Research and Publications

My publications include:

- co-ed., The Diary and Papers of Henry Townshend, 1640-1663 (Worcs. Hist. Soc. new series, xxv, 2015),

- Recovery and Restoration in an English County: Devon Local Administration 1649-1670 (1985),

- ed., A Ministry of Enthusiasm: Centenary Essays on the Workers’ Educational Association (2003),

- ed., Evesham Borough Records of the Seventeenth Century (1994),

- co-ed., Politics and People in Revolutionary England (1986).

I have also contributed extensively to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, and have written many articles on aspects of English and Welsh history in this period.