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Parliamentary Papers

Nature of Source

Documents relating to the work of parliament, including debates, draft legislation, white papers sessional papers (blue books) which include committee reports, royal commissions, public bills and accounts and papers. Public and Private Acts of Parliament are also included. Private Acts were used to obtain permission to build railways, roads and canals. Property and inheritance disputes such as terminating a property's entail could be enacted by a private Act of Parliament.

Some Royal Commissions such as those on the poor law, workhouses and employment conditions often cite individuals and provide social background. Parliament records also includes the papist and protestation returns. Before 1844 naturalization was gained through a Private Act of Parliament and before 1858 divorces were obtained using this procedure.

Also see
Newspapers, magazines & journals

Where Found

The Parliamentary Archives (Archives provides access to the archives of the House of Lords, the House of Commons and to other records relating to Parliament)
The National Archives (Parliament Rolls 1275-1504. The rolls were the general proceedings of Parliament in medieval times; Parliamentary Papers, 1715-2005; Public Acts of Parliament, 1801-present)
Reference and university libraries

Period Covered

1600 - Onwards

Genealogical Value

Names, addresses, occupations, family relationships.

Further References

Bond, Maurice. Guide to the Records of Parliament: HMSO, 1971


Curry, Anne & Horrox, Rosemary. The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, 1275-1504: Boydell Press, 2012


Powell, W.R. Local history from Blue Books: Historical Association, 1962


Stephens, W.B. Sources for English Local History: Cambridge University Press, 2008
The History of Parliament: The History of Parliament Trust, 1964 onwards (Various volumes)


Websites (Parliamentary Archives: Guides to using the archives including family history guides) (TNA Guide: Looking for records of Parliament) (Digitised Historical Parliamentary Material) (The History of Parliament Trust. The site contains all of the biographical, constituency and introductory survey articles published in The History of Parliament series) (Research Wiki: The Parliamentary Archives) (Guide to Westminster and Scottish parliamentary records) (National Archives of Scotland Guide: Scottish Parliament records)

Online Databases

Online Catalogues (Access to Archives [A2A]: Partial whereabouts of records and indexes to acts of parliament) (Portcullis: The catalogue of the Parliamentary Archives) (House of Commons Parliamentary Papers: House of Commons sessional papers ['blue books'] from 1715 to the present including Bills, Reports of Committees, Reports of Commissioners, Accounts and Papers, Available at university libraries and in the reading room at TNA. The contents of Parliamentary Papers can also be searched at Connected Histories together with a number of other databases)
(Justis: Online access to General Acts of Parliament from 1235, Local Acts of Parliament from 1797 and statutory instruments from 1949) Free access is available at THE National Archives)
BOPCRIS Ford Collection (The Ford selections of British Parliamentary Papers 1801-1995: Printed indexes created by Professor and Dr Ford) (British History Online: Parliamentary history. Includes volumes of Journals of the House of Commons and Lords and volumes of debates) (Full text of debates in the House of Commons and the House of Lords from 1803 to 2005 (The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England) (Searchable texts of most types of UK Legislation and Acts of Parliament including Scottish Legislation) (Commonwealth Legal Information Institute: United Kingdom Legislation 1215-: Free online access to the full text of unconsolidated United Kingdom Statutes and the full text of Primary legislation. Users can also browse decisions by titles or year) (Commonwealth Legal Information Institute: House of Lords Decisions from 1838 and Privy Council Decisions from 1884: Free online access to decisions made by the House of Lords and the Privy Council. Users can also browse decisions by titles or year) (Parliamentary papers) (Victorian Times Project: Includes some images of parliamentary papers)

CD Roms

Scholarly Digital Editions (The Parliament Rolls of Medieval England, 1272-1504 containing full text and translations)
Cambridge University Press (The History of Parliament)