How to look for records of... Political history in the 18th century

How can I view the records covered in this guide?

How many are online?

  • Some

This is a brief guide to help you find records about 18th century political history. There are various types of material available from this period, both in manuscript and in print, and this guide describes some of the most important.

Online records

State Papers Online (1509-1782)

Search State Papers Online (institutional subscription required) for 18th century State Papers Domestic, Foreign, Scotland and Ireland. The calendars are fully searchable, and many entries are linked to a digital image of the relevant State Paper.

State papers domestic and foreign are the accumulated papers of the secretaries of state relating to domestic and foreign affairs respectively – the latter include treaties and correspondence with diplomats. State papers domestic are divided by reign; state papers foreign are divided by country.

The principal Secretaries of State handled the domestic and foreign business of the British government until 1782, when the Home Office and the Foreign Office were founded.

Parliamentary papers (1688-1834)

Search the 18th Century Parliamentary Papers Collection (institutional subscription required) for digitised copies of official papers published by the House of Commons and House of Lords.

London Gazette (1665- )

Search the London Gazette on The Gazette website by date or keyword for official news from home and abroad.

Records available only at The National Archives in Kew

To access these records you will either need to visit us, pay for research (£) or, where you can identify a specific record reference, order a copy (£).

State papers domestic (1702-1783)

Browse Discovery, our catalogue, for state papers (arranged by reign) in record series SP 34 (Anne, 1702-1714); SP 35 (George I, 1714-1727); SP 36 (George II, 1727-1760); and SP 37 (George III, 1760-1783). Use our in-depth research guides (listed to the right) to find out which calendars and lists are available.

State papers foreign (1577-1782)

Browse our catalogue in state papers foreign, arranged by country, including papers of the Secretaries of State up to 1782.

Home Office: domestic correspondence, George III (1782-1820)

Browse our catalogue in HO 42 for material relating to the reign of George III after 1782.

Records in other archives and organisations

Records held elsewhere

The National Archives’ catalogue contains collections and contact details of local archives around the UK and beyond. To locate these records, search our catalogue with keywords and refine your results to ‘Other archives’ using the filters.

Other resources


Explore a range of 18th century sources in British History Online.

Consult the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (institutional subscription required) for biographies of prominent people.


Search the catalogues on the British Library website to find 18th century political pamphlets and newspapers.