British Sessional Papers (1715-1800)


Prior to 1800, the British parliament did not have a uniform method of printing, indexing or distributing its papers. All papers were listed in the Journals, but not all were reproduced in full. Some documents were ordered to be printed under separate cover (in addition to or instead of being printed in the Journals). In some cases, no copy exists of these separately-printed publications as many were lost in the House of Parliament fire in 1834.

Retrospective collections have been compiled in an effort to bring these materials together with other items not picked up in the Journals.


The collection for this time period is held in two formats - hard copy and microprint. The hard copy collection is easier to read and photocopy, but the indexing is difficult to use. The microprint version is less complete, and cannot be copied on site, but the indexes are much easier to use. (Suggestion: Start by using the indexes to the microprint collection.)


Hard Copy

v.1: 1715-1760
v. 2: 1761-1800

Volumes 1 and 2, "Introduction and List," provide a chronological index to the Sessional Papers. Items actually ordered to be printed are indicated with a "+" (i.e. items available).

To find the actual volume a document appears in:

  1. Locate the item in the chronological list.
  2. Note the date the document was ordered to be printed (use the "Return" date for Accounts and Papers, the "Report" date for Committee Reports, and the 1st Reading date for Bills.
  3. Look this date up in the "Numerical Checklist of Papers Ordered to be Printed" at the back of the "Introductions and List" volume. The volume in which the document is reproduced appears in the last column. The sessional paper number appears in the first column.

The "Introduction and List" volume also includes an "Alphabetical Index of Titles of Printed Papers, 1715-1760." Each entry gives the volume, page and sessional paper number. Items in this list for which no copies have been found are marked with an "X."


Catalogue of Papers Printed by Order of the House of Commons, 1731 - 1800.
UK1 X 7 -Q7C16 (MILLS Gov Pubs)

(Also available in microprint format in the first box of the set at UK X 8 -S26

The index is divided into three series (Bills, Accounts and Papers and Committee Reports). Items are arranged by title. Each entry includes the date, page number and volume number. A second set of index provides access by subject.

Other indexes for pre-1800 papers include:

Hansard's Catalogue and Breviate of Parliamentary Papers 1696 - 1834.
UK1 X 7 -T6H11 (MILLS Gov Pubs)

The entries are arranged under 26 broad subject (with some sudivisions), then chronologically by session and paper number. Gives a brief abstract of each paper's contents. Includes a list of important House of Lords papers not commuicated to the House of Commons.

Select List of Reports and Other Papers in Journals of the House of Commons 1688 - 1800.
Z 2009 .F68 (MILLS Gov Pubs)

Items are grouped by broad subject (with subdivisions), then subarranged chronologically. Includes some items that were printed under separate cover.

General Index to the Reports from Committees of the House of Commons, 1715 - 1801.
UK1 X7 SOG23 (MILLS Gov Pubs)

An index to items printed under separate cover, including some that also appeared in the Journals. The main body of the index is arranged in alphabetical order by subject.




Hard Copy

House of Commons Sessional Papers of the Eighteenth Century, edited by Sheila Lambert
UK1 X 8 -S41 ENG (D)

Includes many of the papers found in the Abbot Collection and the First Series, in addition to a large number that have never been previously collected.

The set is arranged by sovereign, then by session. Within each session, the documents are subdivided into three document types:

  1. Bills. Very few bills were actually ordered to be printed. Hence, the set provides a comprehensive list of bills, but actually reproduces very few. Bills appear in chronlogical order by the date of 1st reading.
  2. Committee Reports. Excludes committees relating to the introduction or progress of bills. Reports are listed in chronological order by appointment date.
  3. Accounts and Papers. Lists all accounts and papers, regardless of whether a copy was actually found. Items are listed in chronological order by request date.


British Sessional Papers. (Sessional Papers of the Great Britain House of Commons.)
UK X 8 -S26
1731 - 1932 (MILLS Gov Pubs (microprint))
1913 - 1980 (MILLS Gov Pubs)
1980 - 2002 (MILLS Gov Pubs (mfiche))

A special collection of papers ordered to be collected and printed by the House. The earliest item in the collection is 1740, not 1731.

Items are arranged by document type (Bills, Accounts and Papers, and Committee Reports), and then by year.