It was the Licensing Act of 1737 that gave the Lord Chamberlain the role of arbiter of theatrical taste. The role, held until 1968, was introduced by the Prime Minister Robert Walpole to gag his theatrical critics, in particular Henry Fielding, by banning any offensive reference to a living person. So from the 18th century every British playwright had to obtain a licence for the public performance of a play … By September 1968 the Theatres Act was in force and the censor banished.
For a limited time, the Times of London will provide free access to its archive online. Currently scanned pages from 1785 through 1985 are available. This includes the law reports, with full-text or excerpts of cases, articles, advertisements and announcements. Now is the time to search for those 18th and 19th Century English cases. Registration is required.