Henry Fox's Drafts of Lord Hardwicke's Speech in the Lords' Debate on the Bill on Clandestine Marriages, 6 June 1753: A Striving for Accuracy
Clyve Jones (notes)
Before Hansard, the records of debates in the Commons and Lords were personal ones taken by members or visitors to Parliament. The problem facing historians is the accuracy of these accounts for all necessarily reflected the agenda and views of the compiler. Two drafts in the BL's Holland House papers may be unique for the insight they give into the compilation of a 'verbatim' account of part of a speech by Lord Chancellor Hardwicke on the Clandestine Marriage Bill in June 1753. The author was Henry Fox, who considered the bill a personal slight on his family for he and his brother had contracted clandestine marriages. Further Fox was trying to maintain his place in the ministry, and may have wanted an accurate account of the speech to bolster his position. Thus he seems to have gone to great lengths to strive for accuracy in his version of the speech.