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Dr Philip Loft

Dr Philip  Loft

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow

Faculty of History
West Road

Cambridge CB3 9EF

Subject groups/Research projects

Early Modern History:

Research Interests

From 2016, I am a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the Faculty of History. I am also a College Research Associate at Wolfson College. My broad areas of interest are the political and legal cultures of Britain between 1660 and 1800.

Whilst holding the fellowship, I will conduct two research projects.

My current monograph project examines how trust and stability were generated in late Stuart and early Georgian Britain (c.1688- 1760), and seeks to explore the significance of the 'public interest', 'political friendship' and 'political arithmetic' to generating the conditions for stability and a culture of sacrificing one's interests for those of another. This was a particularly partisan period of British history, with the growth of pamphlet and news cultures, frequent general elections to 1716, and petitioning campaigns that divided British society. I seek to develop a ‘social history’ of politics in this period through establishing the social profiles of the public who petitioned and accessed the Palace of Westminster, and a cultural history of the responses amongst both the public and elites to an increasingly partisan and divided participatory political culture.

On the back of this, I am currently establishing the patterns of petitioning to Westminster between 1660 and 1787. 

My second project explores the place of Scotland in the post-Union state, with a particular focus on the legal connections between England and Scotland after 1707. I primarily focus on the institutions of self-government in Scotland, particularly the Court of Session and Convention of Royal Burghs, and the House of Lords as “Supreme” court as the point of unity between the two legal systems of post-Union Britain. I am interested in the ideas of legal pluralism, particularism and privilege, and in exploring the variety of experiences of the state in the pre-modern world. 

Before coming to Cambridge, I studied at University College London, and was awarded my PhD in 2015.  I am grateful to the AHRC and British Academy for funding my research. 


Paper 5 British Political history, 1688-1886


  • Modern British History
  • Early Modern History

Key Publications

  1. Philip Loft, ‘Litigation, the Anglo-Scottish union and the House of Lords as high court, 1660-1875’, Historical Journal (Online 2017, print publication forthcoming).
  2. Philip Loft, ‘Involving the public: Parliament, petitioning, and the language of interest, 1688–1720’, Journal of British Studies, Volume 55 (January 2016), pp. 1-23.
  3. Philip Loft, ‘Political arithmetic and the English land tax in the reign of William III’, Historical Journal, Volume 56 (June 2013), pp. 321-343. 

Other Publications

A summary of findings on petitioning can be found at:

Background to the role of the House of Lords as high court at:

My PhD thesis may be found at: