Neale Lecture 2018

12 November 2018, 6:00 pm–8:30 pm

Engraved cartoon of St George defending the English army against a many-headed dragon labelled 'Tyranny' and 'Despotism'

This year's Neale Lecture will be given by Professor Mark Knights, University of Warwick, on 'Corruption and the Evolution of Office: Britain and its Empire, 1600-1850'

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to





Jess Hindes – History


Main Quad Pop Up G01
Gower Street
United Kingdom

The Neale lecture, which is always on a topic of British history, has been held every year since 1970 in celebration of the contribution of Sir John Earnest Neale (1890–1975), who was Astor Professor of English History at UCL from 1927–56.

Professor Mark Knights is based in the Department of History at the University of Warwick, where he studies the political culture of early modern Britain c.1550-c.1850. His publications include The Devil in Disguise: Delusion, Deception and Fanaticism in the Early English Enlightenment  (OUP, 2011), and Representation and Misrepresentation in Later Stuart Britain: Partisanship and Political Culture (OUP 2005). He is currently working on a project on corruption in Britain and its colonies from the Reformation to Reform, from which the material for this lecture will be drawn. 

Mark's talk will examine the role corruption and anti-corruption played in changing attitudes to, and practices of, office-holding, both at home and in Britain’s expanding empire. Over the early modern period office shifted from being seen as a personal piece of property, with responsibilities to the monarch, to an employment with duties to the state and public. The blurred boundary between the private and public interests of office-holders, inherent in the personal nature of authority and social institutions such as gift-giving, friendship and patronage, was partially formalised; and new concepts, such as office as a fiduciary place of trust, helped to clarify concepts of accountability and misconduct. These very protracted changes were in part driven by, and constitutive of, state formation and they were also dependent on an interaction between domestic and imperial concerns.

Attendance is free and is open to all. Professor Knights' presentation will be followed by a drinks reception in the North Cloisters.

Image © Trustees of the British Museum.

About the Speaker

Mark Knights

Professor of History at History

More about Mark Knights