How to use the History of Parliament's biographies of Members


This database contains the 21,420 articles published so far by the History of Parliament covering the careers of Members of Parliament. At present the articles for the 1604-29 and 1820-32 Sections are unavailable: they will be published on the website late in 2012 and late in 2011 respectively.

The History has been compiled over a long period of time: the first articles were published in 1964 and the most recent were published in 2010. There is a considerable variation in the size and amount of information provided. In general, those sections published more recently should be regarded as much fuller and more authoritative, although for most purposes, the earlier biographies can be relied on.

Each biography contains information on the Member’s family background, career and significant achievements, but the main emphasis is placed on the Member’s parliamentary activity, where this can be traced.

Please bear in mind the following points when consulting the biographies:

  • a Member’s name is given in the style that he held when he first entered the House in the relevant section period – for variant spellings, name changes and double-barrelled versions, try using the Search rather than the Browse facilities
  • a Member’s biography may be split across two or more section periods – where applicable, follow the links to entries covering the Member’s earlier or later careers (where the name may not appear in precisely in the same form)
  • a Member’s biography only covers his career in the House of Commons – where applicable, his career in the House of Lords will be dealt with by the relevant Lords section
  • a Member’s biography starts with his name and address, and then lists all the constituencies that he sat for throughout his career – where only a year date is given, this refers to that year’s general election

For more clarification on the layout and meaning of the various elements of the biography, go to the Method section of the relevant section’s introductory Survey.

  • the rest of the summary of information presented at the start of a Member’s biography conforms to a set formula (family details, offices held, etc.) – explanations of the abbreviations can be found in the Glossary
  • details presented at the start of a Member’s biography in one section may differ from those given in another section – the more recently published section should be taken as the authoritative version
  • more information will be found in the related constituency article(s) and, where applicable, in biographies of close relations who were also in Parliament – follow the links to view these pages.