Earl of Rosebery (Archibald Philip Primrose), 1847-1929

Rosebery is perhaps the least well-known of the Liberal Prime Ministers, having the misfortune to serve in the office for only a short period, immediately after the extended career of the charismatic Gladstone. He had a difficult relationship with the radicals of his parliamentary party, not because of his social policy attitudes (he was a […]


The first working class representatives within Parliament were known as "Lib-Lab" MPs. They accepted the Liberal whip while exercising the right to utilise their experience to speak freely on labour issues.

The New Liberalism

The disaster of the 1895 election, when the Liberals lost almost a hundred seats, struck a mortal blow at Rosebery's leadership and pointed to the urgent need for a new direction. Although for some it was the party's abandonment of its historic principles of self-help, voluntaryism and constitutional reform that lay at fault, to others it was the failure of the party to embrace the new imperialism. A growing number also felt that Liberalism's failure to formulate an adequate response to the new social problems of industrialisation had undermined its appeal.

Journal articles

E. D. Simon: Intellectual in politics

Biography of E. D. Simon, 1st Baron Simon of Wythenshawe

Whig, Liberal or Tory?

Review of Simon Kerry, Lansdowne: the Last Great Whig (Unicorn, 2017)

Aristocratic Radical

Review of Roger Swift, Charles Pelham Villiers: Aristocratic Victorian Radical (Routledge, 2017)

Restoring Herbert Gladstone

Review of Kenneth D. Brown, The Unknown Gladstone: The Life of Herbert Gladstone, 1854–1930 (I.B.Tauris, 2018)

Lloyd George’s presidency of the Board of Trade

A review of Lloyd George’s time at the Board of Trade, from 11 December 1905 to 8 April 1908

Lord Davies of Llandinam Papers

Description of the papers of Lord Davies of Llandinam held at the Welsh Political Archive at the National Library of Wales

The long march of British history

Review of Martin Pugh, State and Society. A Social and Political History of Britain since 1870 (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017)

The long-lived Liberal Party of Canada

An examination of the history of the Canadian Liberal Party.

Votes for Women (2)

Review of Diane Atkinson, Rise Up Women! The Remarkable Lives of the Suffragettes (Bloomsbury, 2018); Jane Robinson, Hearts and Minds: The Untold Story of the Great Pilgrimage and How Women Won the Vote (Doubleday, 2018)

Votes for Women (1)

Conference fringe meeting, 9 March 2018, with Krista Cowman and Jo Swinson MP; chair: Elizabeth Jewkes

A truly remarkable man – but not a universal man

Review of Richard Davenport-Hines, Universal Man: The Seven Lives of John Maynard Keynes (William Collins, 2015)

Asquith: friendship, love and betrayal

How did Liberal Prime Minister Asquith’s friendships and relationships affect his political decisions?

Religion and politics in the Edwardian era

The experience of the Hampshire Congregationalists

‘Pacifism is not enough; nor patriotism, either’

The life of Philip Kerr, Lord Lothian

The ‘European mind’ of late Victorian Liberalism

W. E. Gladstone and Joseph Chamberlain

Liberals, free trade and Europe

From Cobden to the Common Market

Radical Joe and Chocolate George

Review of Andrew Reekes, Two Titans, One City: Joseph Chamberlain and George Cadbury (History West Midlands, 2017)

Agents at work

Review of Kathryn Rix, Parties, Agents and Electoral Culture in England 1880–1910 (Boydell Press, 2016)

The Nonconformist mind of Lloyd George

The roots of Lloyd George’s political beliefs

Saint or devil?

Ian Cawood and Chris Upton (eds.), Joseph Chamberlain: International Statesman, National Leader, Local Icon (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016)

Churchill Archives Centre

Liberal archives at the Churchill Archives Centre at Cambridge.

Sir Walter Runciman and the Runciman papers at Elshieshields Tower

The life and political career of the Liberal MP Sir Walter Runciman (1847–1937) through the lens of his papers.

Press, politics and culture in Victorian Britain

A comparative review of W. Sydney Robinson, Muckraker: The Scandalous Life and Times of W. T. Stead – Britain’s first investigative journalist (Robson Press, 2012); P. Brighton, Original Spin: Downing Street and the Press in Victorian Britain (I.B. Tauris, 2016); and G. Cordery and J. S. Meisel (eds.), The Humours of Parliament: Harry Furniss’ View of Late Victorian Political Culture (Ohio State UP, 2014).

The Distributists and the Liberal Party

An analysis of the Distributists and their impact.

‘I feel I am placed at a very great disadvantage’

Sir James Whitehead (1834–1917): the parliamentary travails of a Liberal meritocrat.

Cambridge University Liberal Club, 1886–1916

A study in early university political organisation.

A Lancashire miner in Walthamstow

Sam Woods and the by-election of 1897.

Liberalism’s Radical Lord Chancellor

The life and political career of Robert Threshie Reid, Lord Loreburn, 1846–1923.

Assessing Edward Grey

Review of Michael Waterhouse, Edwardian Requiem: A Life of Sir Edward Grey (Biteback, 2013)

The long shadow of war

Sir Edward Grey and Liberal foreign policy before 1914

A history of by-elections

Review of T. G. Otte and Paul Readman (eds.), By-elections in British politics 1832–1914 (Boydell, 2013)

A hand-to-mouth man?

Review of Patrick Jackson, Harcourt and Son: A Political Biography of Sir William Harcourt, 1827-1904 (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2004).

‘God made the land for the people’

Review of Patricia Lynch, The Liberal Party in Rural England 1885-1910: Radicalism and Community (Clarendon Press, 2003).

Too short a history

Review of Chris Cook, A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900-2001 (Palgrave, 2002).

The man who made the weather: Joseph Chamberlain – imperial standard bearer, national leader, local icon

Report of the centenary conference, Birmingham 4–5 July 2014.

Party agents 1880-1914

Professionalisation and political culture.

Images of Lloyd George

How David Lloyd George was portrayed in cartoons throughout his long career.

You don’t have to be mad to work there, but …

Review of J. B. Williams, Worsted to Westminster: The Extraordinary Life of Rev. Dr Charles Leach MP (Darcy Press, 2009).

Elegant and concise

Review of David Dutton, A History of the Liberal Party Since 1900 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2nd edition, 2013).

The strange death of Liberal Birmingham

An analysis of the decline of Liberalism in nineteenth-century Birmingham.

Morley and the Liberal Party

Review of Patrick Jackson, Morley of Blackburn (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2012).

The myth of New Liberalism

Continuity and change in Liberal politics, 1889-1914.

‘A Very English Gentleman’

The life of Captain the Hon. Thomas Charles Reginald Agar-Robartes, Liberal MP 1906, 1907-15.

Bitterest allies

Review of Ian Cawood, The Liberal Unionist Party: A History (I.B. Tauris, 2012).

Scapegoat for Liberalism?

Review of Antony Lentin, Banker, Traitor, Scapegoat, Spy? The Troublesome Case of Sir Edgar Speyer (Haus, 2013).

Three acres and a cow

Jesse Collings and the Smallholdings and Allotments Act 1908.

Liberalism and national identity

An examination of the role played by Liberalism in the Victorian construction of a national identity.

The South African war and its effect on the Liberal alliance

The impact of the war on the alliance between the Liberal Party and the Irish nationalists.

Lloyd George, nonconformity and radicalism

Lloyd George’s career and beliefs from 1890 to 1906.

I blame Sir Edward Grey

Review of John Charmley, Splendid Isolation? Britain and the Balance of Power 1874-1914 (Hodder & Stoughton, 1999).

The ‘New Liberalism’

Review of George L. Bernstein, Liberalism and Liberal Politics in Edwardian England (Allen & Unwin, 1986).

‘There are things stronger than parliamentary majorities

Review of Alan O’Day, Irish Home Rule 1867-1921 (Manchester University Press, 1998).

Who did it?

Review of George Dangerfield, The Strange Death of Liberal England (Serif, 1997).

Report: Landslide for the left

Report of LDHG meeting of September 1996, on the 1906 election, with John Grigg and Andrew Adonis.

Education and the Liberal rank and file in Edwardian England: the case of Sir George White

The political career and beliefs of one of the major proponents of Liberal education policy in the Edwardian period.

Liberal Party fortunes in the Isle of Wight 1900-1910

The political and electoral history of a Liberal-Conservative marginal seat.

John Sutton Nettlefold, Liberalism and the early town planning movement

The contribution of the chair of Birmingham’s Housing Committee, 1901-11, to the debates on slum housing and town planning.

Organiser par excellence

The career of William Gladstone’s youngest son, Herbert Gladstone (1854-1930).

The slow death of Liberal Wales 1906 – 1979

The story of Liberalism in Wales 1906 – 1979.

A squire in the House of Lords

The political life of John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley (1826 – 1902).

From left to right? The career of John Morley

Biography of John Morley (1838-1923), the leading Victorian and Edwardian Liberal who could be seen as both of the left and the right.

A lost Prime Minister?

Biography of Sir Arthur Herbert Dyke Acland (1847-1926).

How did the Empire strike back?

The impact of imperialism on democracy and liberalism in Britrain 1865-1920.

The history of the Lib-Labs

The history of what became known as Lib-Labbery: the representation of labour interests in parliament through the Liberal Party.

Biography: Lewis Harcourt

The life and career of Lewis ‘Loulou’ Harcourt.

Hilaire Belloc and the Liberal revival

Distributism – an alternative Liberal tradition?

Lawyer, politician and judge

The career of Tommy Shaw (1850-1937), one of Campbell-Bannerman’s law officers.

The Rainbow Circle and the New Liberalism

Examination of the role of a little-known radical group in the 1890s in the evolution of the Liberal and Labour parties.

Hidden workers of the party

The professional Liberal agents, 1885-1910

The Liberal Party and the South African War 1899-1902

Examination of the crisis in the Liberal Party that was provoked by the Anglo-Boer War.

Hastings in 1900

The ‘khaki election’ of 1900 saw the Liberals performing poorly. This article examines one seat they gained from the Conservatives.

The Liberal press and the South African War

The importance of the Liberal press in the politics of the Second Boer War.

Report: ‘Methods of barbarism’

Report of LDHG meeting of July 2000 on Liberalism and the Boer War, with Denis Judd and Jacqueline Beaumont. Chair, Menzies Campbell MP.

The legacy of Gladstone

The Grand Old Man’s record.

‘He would not stoop, he did not conquer’

Review of Robert Rhodes James, Rosebery (Phoenix, 1995).

The Liberal Party: Triumph and Disintegration 1886-1929

Review of G. R. Searle, The Liberal Party: Triumph and Disintegration 1886-1929 (Macmillan, 1992).

‘Women’s rights and women’s duties’

Review of Ursula Masson, Women’s Rights and Women’s Duties: The Aberdare Women’s Liberal Association, 1891-1910 (South Wales Record Society, 2005).

The 1906 landslide: the legacy

Introduction to this special issue of the Journal, on the legacy of the 1906 Liberal government

Problems of continuity

The 1906 general election and foreign policy

Economic strategies and the New Liberalism

New Liberal economic strategies, including free trade and social reform

‘Maistly Scotch’: Campbell-Bannerman and Liberal leadership

Assessment of the record of the man who led the Liberals into the 1906 landslide

‘I am a Liberal as much as a Tory’: Winston Churchill and the memory of 1906

Examination of how Churchill frequently summoned up the memories of 1906 to bolster his own position in politics

Edwardian Liberalism: ideology and political practice

Review of Ian Packer, Liberal Government and Politics, 1905-15 (Palgrave, 2006).

A Radical Life

Review of Mervyn Jones, A Radical Life: The Biography of Megan Lloyd George (Hutchinson, 1991).

‘A dynamic force is a terrible thing’

Review of Martin Pugh, Lloyd George (Longmans, 1988).

A Liberal in power

Review of Roy Jenkins, Asquith (Collins, 1964).

Lloyd George’s Flintshire loyalist

The political achievement of John Herbert Lewis MP (1858-1933).

A fine and disinterested spirit

The life and activities of Aneurin Williams MP (1859-1924).

Individualist thought and radicalism

Josiah C. Wedgwood’s battle against the collectivists, 1906 – 1914.

James Wood: East Down’s Liberal MP

The life and political career of James Wood, victor of the East Down by-election in February 1902.

The two great wartime leaders

Review of Richard Toye, Lloyd George and Churchill: Rivals for Greatness (Macmillan, 2007).

The 1908 Hastings by-election

The story of the first by-election to be fought after the introduction of the Liberal government’s 1908 legislative programme.

Rt Hon Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman

Report of centenary commemorations in Scotland, April 2008.

British Liberalism and Irish Nationalism

Review of Eugenio Biagini, British Democracy and Irish Nationalism, 1876-1906 (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

‘The strange case of Mr Rigg’

The surprise Liberal victor in North Westmorland in the 1900 election proved to be something of a surprise himself.

Asquith and the Liberal legacy

Assessment of Asquith’s record – in a lecture given to mark the centenary of the formation of Aquith’s administration.

Campbell-Bannerman and Asquith

Analysis of the uneasy political relationship between the two Liberal leaders.

The Liberal Party and womens suffrage, 1866-1918

Analysis of the relationship between the Liberal Party and the campaigns for womens suffrage.

Report: ‘Taxes that will bring forth fruit’ – The centenary of the People’s Budget of 1909

Report of the Liberal Democrat History Group meeting at The National Liberal Club, 12 January 2009, with Kenneth O. Morgan and Vince Cable MP. Chair: Lord Wallace.

The ‘People’s Budget’ a century on

An examination of the genesis, content and impact of Lloyd George’s famous Budget of one hundred years ago.

Report: Fighting Labour – the struggle for radical supremacy in Scotland 1885-1929

Report of the Liberal Democrat History Group meeting at the Scopttish Liberal Democrat Conference, 13 March 2009, with Professor Richard Finlay, Dr Catriona Macdonald and Jim Wallace. Chair: Robert Brown MSP.

Land and nation in England

Review of Paul Readman, Patriotism, National Identity, and the Politics of Land, 1880-1914 (Royal Historical Society, 2008).

Edwardian Liberalism

Review of H. V. Emy, Liberals, Radicals and Social Politics, 1892-1914 (Cambridge University Press, 1973; reprinted 2008).

The Liberal Party and the New Liberalism

Examination of the relationship between the New Liberalism and the Liberal Party in the period around the Liberal victory of 1906.

The 1910 general elections

Turning points in British politics?

The strange case of Edward Hemmerde

David Dutton traces the story of the three-times MP, playwright and judge Edward Hemmerde (1871-1948).

The Lloyd George land taxes

A look at the history of the land taxes introduced by Lloyd George in the 1909 People’s Budget.

Secular intellectuals

Review of William C. Lubenow, Liberal Intellectuals and Public Culture in Modern Britain, 1815-1914: Making Words Flesh (Boydell Press, 2010).

Report: 1906 remembered

Scottish Liberal Club lecture, with Willis Pickard.

1906: Blissful dawn?

Lecture to the Corporation of London, February 2006.


The Liberal Party, Unionism and political culture in late 19th and early 20th century Britain

A one-day seminar organised by Newman University College and the Journal of Liberal History. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw great changes in British political culture. The gradual emergence of a mass electorate informed by a popular press, debates about the role of the state in social policy, Imperial upheavals and wars all […]

Blissful Dawn? The 1906 Election

On 7 February 1906, the counting of votes was completed in the 1906 general election, and the Liberal Party had obtained a majority of 132 over all other parties. In addition, for the first time, 29 Labour MPs were elected and shortly afterwards the Parliamentary Labour Party was founded. To mark this anniversary, the Corporation […]

“Methods of Barbarism” – Liberalism and the Boer War

“When is a war not a war?” asked the Liberal leader Campbell-Bannerman. “When it is carried on by methods of barbarism in South Africa.” One hundred years after the Boer War began, Professor Denis Judd (University of North London), author of The Boer War and Empire, reviewed the response of Liberalism to the War. Dr […]

Founding the welfare state

A hundred years ago, in 1908, H. H. Asquith’s government introduced the Old Age Pensions Bill. This was just the beginning of a comprehensive Liberal programme of social reform, including national insurance, minimum wages, labour exchanges and compulsory school meals, among much else. Did this programme really represent a decisive break with nineteenth-century notions of […]

‘Taxes that will bring forth fruit’ – The centenary of the People’s Budget of 1909

Following the introduction of Old Age Pensions by the Liberal government of H H Asquith in 1908 and the plans to legislate for limited unemployment and sickness benefit through National Insurance, Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George brought in the means to pay for these measures, as well as for naval rearmament, in his […]

Fighting Labour: the struggle for radical supremacy in Scotland 1885-1929

The Liberal Democrat History Group is holding its first meeting in Scotland as part of the fringe at the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ spring conference. The meeting will look back at the Liberal Party’s contribution to radical, progressive politics in Scotland and its struggle with Labour in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, culminating in […]