British Parliamentary Journals

The Journals record the daily transactions of each House of Parliament. They differ from the Debates in that they record what was done in each House, as opposed to what was said.

Journals of the House of Commons

The contents of the Journals vary through the years, but generally include:

  • preliminary matter concerning the opening of a new Parliament or session
  • the progress of every Bill through Parliament
  • Divisions (the number of votes cast is usually given, however, the list of those voting is provided in the division lists or, from 1909 onward, in the Debates)
  • Petitions
  • records of Papers presented to the House
  • texts of Motions
  • Orders and Resolutions.

The journals cover the period 1547-1580 and 1603 to present. The original sources for the intervening years were lost before they could be printed, though this gap can be filled by consulting Sir Simonds D'Ewes' Journals (see below).

A brief summary of speeches and debates appears in the volumes until 1628. Prior to the 19th century, the Journals include complete or partial texts of Parliamentary Papers. From 1801-35, this material appeared in the Appendices to the Journals. Since 1801, these papers are published in the Sessional Papers.

D'Ewes' Journals

This Journal includes the period 1581-1603, completely filling the gap in the Journals of the House of Commons. It was made using the Clerk of the House of Commons' rough notes.

Journals of the House of Lords

The contents of the Journals of the House of Lords are substantially similar to that of the Journals of the House of Commons except for the following variations:

  • the Lords Journals include daily lists of members present
  • give the texts of amendments to Bills and the results of the deliberations concerning them
  • and include Division lists

The first printed Journals date from 1509, having been ordered printed in 1767. The Journals covering the period 1509-1829 were printed from the original Manuscript Journals with omissions in varying degrees.

Entries in the early Journals are in Latin with increasing use of English throughout the 16th century. A mixture of Latin, English and Norman French (for certain subjects) continued until the mid 19th century.

Medieval Parliaments

Manuscript Rolls of Parliament and Parliamentary Petitions dating from the 13th century record the proceedings of medieval parliaments.

This collection contains the Manuscript Rolls and Parliamentary Petitions for the period 1275-1504, and serves as a record of the proceedings of Medieval Parliaments. The texts are available in their original language (Latin, Norman French or English) along with an English translation. High resolution images of the original scrolls are also included.


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