The Power of Petitioning in Seventeenth-Century England

In seventeenth-century England, petitioning was ubiquitous. It was one of the only acceptable ways to address the authorities when seeking redress, mercy or advancement. As a result, it was a crucial mode of communication between the ‘rulers’ and the ‘ruled’. People at all levels of society – from noblemen to paupers – used petitions to make their voices heard.

The Power of Petitioning in Seventeenth-Century England is the first to examine petitioning systematically at all levels of English government over the whole century.

The project is creating a corpus drawn from seven key collections of petitions held at national and local archives, totalling over 2,000 manuscripts. This corpus, when combined with careful contextualisation, allows us to offer new answers to crucial questions about the major social and political changes that unfolded in this formative period.

The transcribed petitions can be found on British History Online.