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Gary Rivett, Information, surveillance and parliamentary governance during the English Civil Wars
30 November, 2017 @ 1:05 pm - 1:50 pm
Sometime between 1645 and 1649, William Lenthall, the speaker of the House of Commons, wrote to the Wiltshire County Commissioners stating that the House had received ‘intelligence from severall parts of the kingdome’ about the designs of its enemies. To prevent these designs, the Commissioners were ordered to ‘daily meet together and to observe the motions and practices of disaffected persons in your county and to secure such as you find active to endanger the peace thereof’. Lenthall’s order points to the existence of surveillance practices throughout the 1640s that generated vast unprecedented amounts of paperwork and information. Using the Committee for Plundered Ministers as a case study, this paper offers preliminary thoughts on how a microhistory of a Parliamentary committee might be undertaken to understand the information regime Parliament developed to govern, police and discipline dissent during the English Revolution.