There is an immense array of resources available online to learn more about the history of petitioning and related activities. We are very pleased that our project is adding considerably to this material by transcribing and publishing the texts of more than 2,500 petitions from c.1570 to 1800, as well as a series of guides and other resources. Links to all of these will be added below in due course.

Transcribed Petitions

To browse or keyword search the whole series of seven volumes, go to the English Petitions Collection on British History Online.

Sharon Howard (ed.), Petitions to the Cheshire Quarter Sessions, 1573-1798, on British History Online (2019)

Brodie Waddell (ed.), Petitions to the Derbyshire Quarter Sessions, 1632-1770, on British History Online (2019)

Brodie Waddell (ed.), Petitions to the Staffordshire Quarter Sessions, 1589-1799, on British History Online (2019)

Brodie Waddell (ed.), Petitions to the Westminster Quarter Sessions, 1620-1799, on British History Online (2019)

Brodie Waddell (ed.), Petitions to the Worcestershire Quarter Sessions, 1592-1797, on British History Online (2019)

Brodie Waddell (ed.), Petitions in the State Papers, 1600-1699, on British History Online (2020)

Jason Peacey (ed.), Petitions to the House of Lords, 1597-1696, on British History Online (2020)


Research Tools and Guides

Brodie Waddell, ‘Petitions in Early Modern England: A Very Short Introduction’ (2019)

Brodie Waddell, ‘Petitioning in Early Modern England: An Annotated Bibliography’ (first posted 2019, updated 2022)

Brodie Waddell, ‘The Long Road to a New Project’ (2018)

‘Investigating the Lives of Seventeenth-Century Petitioners’ (2019-21): A U3A Shared Learning Project producing short reports on many of the petitions transcribed in our British History Online volumes.


External Resources

‘British History Online’: A digital library of over 1,270 volumes of primary and secondary sources for the history of Britain and Ireland, with a primary focus on the period between 1300 and 1800. Thousands of references to early modern petitions can be found in the parliamentary journals and in the calendars of state papers.

‘The London Lives Petitions Project’: A digital history project created by Sharon Howard which aims to explore approximately 10,000 petitions (and petitioning letters) addressed to magistrates, contained in the voluminous records of eighteenth-century London and Middlesex Sessions of the Peace which were digitised for London Lives, 1690-1800.

‘Exploring the Power of Petitioning’: A website by Sharon Howard for exploring and visualising data created by and for The Power of Petitioning in Seventeenth-Century England. Most pieces are likely to be quite short, with commentary focusing on explanation of the visuals rather than discussion of findings.

‘Civil War Petitions: Conflict, Welfare and Memory during and after the English Civil Wars, 1642-1710’: A fully-searchable digital edition of over 4,000 petitions for relief from maimed soldiers and war widows, to be fully complete in June 2021. It emerges from a project run by academics from the Universities of Leicester, Nottingham, Cardiff and Southampton funded by the AHRC.

‘Intoxicants and Early Modernity: England, 1580-1740’: A research project run by Phil Withington and Angela McShane which ran from 2013 to 2017, funded by the AHRC and ESRC. It includes a beta version of a database that currently holds transcriptions of more than 100 petitions about alehouses and other intoxicant-related matters.

‘Petitions and Petitioning from the Medieval Period to the Present’: A research network run by Henry Miller and Richard Huzzey that aims to foster new comparative perspectives and interdisciplinary dialogues on petitions and the practice of petitioning. It includes a series of three workshops in Durham, Leiden and Birkbeck in 2018-19, funded by the AHRC.

‘Political Petitioning and Public Engagement in Early Modern Scotland, Britain and Northern Europe 1550-1795’: Two workshops at Glasgow University in 2017 supported by the Royal Society of Edinburgh. They resulted in a special issue on this topic in Parliaments, Estates and Representation, 38:3 (2018), edited by Karin Bowie and Thomas Munck.

‘Addressing Authority: An Online Symposium on Petitions and Supplications in Early Modern Society’: A collection of twelve short pieces by historians and literary scholars looking at a petitioning across Europe, hosted by the Many-Headed Monster history blog in 2016. It was preceded by ‘The Voices of the People: An Online Symposium’, which includes 20 posts each exploring the challenges and rewards of recovering the voices of ‘ordinary people’ from the historical record.