John Charmley is, of course, no stranger to controversy.... How tempting it would be to begin a review of his latest book in this vein.
The Parliament Rolls are the principal record of the meetings of English Parliaments from the 13th to the early 16th centuries. Their importance to scholars of medieval England has long been recognised; between 1776 and 1777 they were edited, under the direction of the Reverend John Strachey, and published as the six-volume edition of Rotuli Parliamentorum.
The present volume marks the latest in a succession of modern editions and/or translations of Richard fitzNigel's Dialogus de Scaccario and the Constitutio Domus Regis, stretching back in the case of the former to the edition by A. Hughes, C. G. Crump, and C. Johnson published in 1902.
If there is a popular image of George II, it derives from the Whig historians of the 19th century, who established him as the counterpoint to their chief subject of 18th-century interest, his grandson and successor, George III.
A Man and an Institution is in reality three books combined into one. It is, first, a contribution to a biography of Sir Maurice Hankey, the first Cabinet Secretary; second, a history of the origins of the Cabinet Office and its development until Hankey’s retirement in 1938; and third, an account of how the Cabinet Office came to be the guardian of official secrecy.
As Professor Gunn observes in his foreword, this book has been a long time coming: first mooted in fact in 1985 (a very suitable date). This has had two significant consequences which I shall discuss sequentially.