Petitioners in the reign of Charles II, 1660-1685

When the monarchy was restored in England in 1660, the new king, Charles II, was met with a flood of petitions from suitors seeking royal favour after nearly two decades of war and disruption. These were variously addressed to the king himself, his Privy Council or various other key ministers.

As part of ‘The Power of Petitioning’ project, we have transcribed and published almost 400 of these manuscripts from across the seventeenth century on British History Online. We also completed a six-month Shared Learning Project with a large group of amateur researchers from the London Region of the University of the Third Age.

Each of these researchers wrote one or more reports about the petitioners and their requests or complaints. The introduction to this U3A project includes much more information, including important caveats about accuracy and interpretation. These 32 reports cover the period from the Restoration in 1660 to the death of Charles II in 1685.

The petition of Richard Williams, one of the yeomen ushers of the king’s great chamber. The National Archives, SP 29/29 f. 63 (1661), discussed in Pauline Brown’s report.

As you will see from the list below, these include all sorts of requests from all sorts of people, from powerful aristocrats seeking favours to labouring men and women asking for assistance in times of need. Many of the petitioners directly recall the civil conflicts of the 1640s and 50s, seeking resolution or revenge for difficulties that arose for them during the Interregnum. Others concerned much more mundane matters, but they all show the importance of petitioning in the Restoration period.

The Petitions and the Reports

For further petitions and reports from the rest of the seventeenth century, return to the main ‘Investigating Petitioners’ page.