State Papers Online: Eighteenth Century, 1714-1782: Part I: State Papers Domestic and Privy Council

Informing George I of the situation surrounding the South Sea Company, September 21 1720. SP 35/23 f. 99-100. Reproduced by kind permission of The National Archives of the UK.
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Primary Sources
Approx 300,000 folios
Fact Sheet

Uncover the details of British domestic politics and society in the Age of Enlightenment

Researchers will find a wealth of once classified detail about the reigns of the three Georges, including behind-the-scenes accounts of the turbulent events of George I’s reign (the Jacobite uprisings); the development of cabinet government; the ascension of George II and the consolidation of Whig supremacy; the riots surrounding libertarian politician John Wilkes; and the inept handling of the colonies that marred the early years of George III’s reign.

Along with the many internal and external threats to Hanoverian rule, users can also search and browse across a rich range of reports, petitions, and correspondence relating to the general administration and constitution of England; law and order; trade and shipping; and the founding of an empire abroad that extended to North America in the west and the Indian subcontinent in the east. The collection is invaluable for uncovering the routines of government, which rarely feature in the major narratives of the eighteenth century — for example, the management of Privy Council business, especially appointments, minutes of cabinet meetings, and excise and revenue. Consequently, the collection contains enormous potential for fresh historical discoveries.

Part I contains documents that provide evidence of the extent and nature of decisions taken by government and, more importantly, who was making those decisions. The records serve to illustrate the personal style of the secretaries of state who, with the chancellor of the Exchequer, controlled almost the entire life of the nation. Researchers can examine the differing ways in which the three Hanover monarchs conducted the business of the monarchy and develop perspectives on the king’s changing role in political and administrative history.

Key themes include:

  • Political liberty and trade
  • Britain’s role as dominant colonial power
  • Urban growth and industry
  • Parliamentary monarchy
  • Rise of the professional classes
  • European Enlightenment
  • Development of press and political associations
  • Foreign travel and economic migration

Key events include:

  • 1716: Failure of “The Fifteen” Jacobite rebellion
  • 1720: South Sea Bubble, the eighteenth entury’s most significant financial crisis
  • 1722-1723: Atterbury Plot
  • 1743: Battle of Dettingen in War of Austrian Succession
  • 1746: Battle of Culloden in Jacobite Rebellion
  • 1756: Start of Seven Years’ War with French
  • 1760: Death of George II and succession of George III at age twenty-two
  • 1773: Boston Tea Party
  • 1775: Start of American War of Independence
  • 1783: Ratification of Treaty of Paris, which acknowledged the independence of American colonies

Manuscript series include:

  • SP 35: Secretaries of State: State Papers Domestic, George I, 1714-1727
  • SP 36: Secretaries of State: State Papers Domestic, George II, 1728-1760
  • SP 37: Secretaries of State: State Papers Domestic, George III, 1760-1783
  • SP 38: Signet Office: Docquets
  • SP 41: Secretaries of State: State Papers Military
  • SP 42: Secretaries of State: State Papers Naval
  • SP 43: Secretaries of State: State Papers Regencies, George I and George II
  • SP 44: Secretaries of State: State Papers: Entry Books
  • SP 45: State Papers Office and Other Bodies: Various Administrative Records, Precedents and Proclamations
  • SP 46: State Papers Domestic: Supplementary
  • SP 47: Secretaries of State: State Papers Channel Islands, 1733-1781
  • SP 48: Secretaries of State: State Papers Isle of Man
  • SP 54: Secretaries of State: State Papers Scotland Series II, 1714-1783
  • SP 55: Secretaries of State: State Papers Scotland: Letter Books
  • SP 56: Secretaries of State: State Papers Scotland: Church Books
  • SP 57: Secretaries of State: State Papers Scotland: Warrant Books
  • SP 63: State Paper Office: State Papers Ireland, Elizabeth I to George III
  • SP 67: Secretaries of State: State Papers Ireland, Entry Books
  • PC 2: Privy Council: Registers
  • PC 4: Privy Council: Minutes and Associated Papers
  • PC 5: Privy Council Office: Plantation Books
  • PC 6: Privy Council: Miscellaneous Books and Correspondence Registers
  • PC 13: Privy Council Office: Sheriffs’ Lists

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Additional Details

Subjects Covered
  • 18th Century Studies
  • Early Modern History
  • European Studies
  • Western European Studies
  • Law and Legal Studies
  • Religion and Philosophy
  • Philosophy
  • Humanities/Humanistic Studies
  • U.S. History
  • American/United States Studies/Civilization
Advisory Board
Jeremy Black

University of Exeter

Dr. Katy Mair

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