The Speakership of the House of Lords, 1660–1832




The speakership of the house of lords was a lucrative and prestigious post, held by individuals who either as lord chancellor or lord keeper carried out a range of high-profile and demanding judicial duties. There seems to be a contradiction between this and the time-consuming but largely empty ceremonial duties appropriate to this role in the conduct of business in the theoretically self-regulating house of lords. This article suggests that the apparent insignificance of the Speaker's role was a façade that disguised the chancellor's ability to influence the conduct of business in the Lords as well as to exercise leadership and electoral influence over the membership of the Commons. Nevertheless, the precise level of power that he was able to exercise was mediated by the nature of the political infrastructure within which he operated, his own personal and political skills and his relationships with the crown and its other ministers.