Petitions to Parliament

Many people have signed petitions to the House of Lords and House of Commons over the centuries.

Survival of petitions is unfortunately very patchy. All petitions presented to the House of Commons before 1834 were destroyed by fire, and original petitions to the Commons were also routinely destroyed between 1834-1951. Petitions to the House of Lords were also usually not kept before1950, although some some original petitions to the Lords do survive before that date among papers laid before the House or among Parliament Office papers.

Tracing petitions in the Parliamentary Archives

You can search our online catalogue Portcullis  for surviving original petitions.  Enter 'petition' in the Any Text field, and a year or year range in the Date field to bring up a list. Make a note of the references you are interested in, and contact us  to make an appointment to see the files or order copies.

Even if the original petition does not survive, you may be able to find a record of its presentation. Presentation of petitions to the House of Lords are recorded in the Journal of the House of Lords. For the House of Commons, between 1833-1974 there will be a record of the presentation of petitions to the House of Commons in the Reports of the Committees on Public Petitions, giving information such as subject matter, place of origin, and numbers of signatures. In addition, the full text (but not the signatories) of a number of petitions was printed each year in the Appendices to these reports. You can search our online catalogue Portcullis  for Reports of the Committees on Public Petitions.  Enter HC/CL/JO/6 in the Reference field, and 'petitions' in the Any Text field to bring up a list. Make a note of the references you are interested in, and contact us  to make an appointment to see the volumes or order copies. There is also a subject index to these reports covering 1833-1852, available in our searchroom.

 

Related links

Read comments from people who found their ancestors on a petition from Manchester in 1807 against the slave trade

See petitions to the House of Lords from debtors in Norwich prisons

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