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Durham University

Department of History

Petitions, Parliament and People Project Details

Our Research

While historians of ancient, medieval and early modern societies have shown a great interest in petitioning, scholars researching nineteenth-century Britain have largely overlooked the role of parliamentary petitioning and a vital set of sources for recovering its history. Our research emerges from Richard Huzzey's (https://www.dur.ac.uk/history/staff/profiles/?id=15157) work on anti-slavery activism and Henry Miller's (https://www.dur.ac.uk/history/staff/profiles/?id=15189) focus on the Anti-Corn Law League. However, the project moves beyond traditional histories of particular campaigns or issues, where petitioning activity is reported as a background detail.

By showing the extent and range of petitioning in nineteenth-century Britain, our project will be an important intervention in histories of democratization. However, we will also offer baseline contextual information for researchers in the humanities and social sciences to tap into these records, adding an important new source to future studies.

Our Team

Gary Blank holds one of our PhD studentships, investigating petitions to the House of Commons from women. With external supervision from the Richard Huzzey and Henry Miller at Durham, Gary is working at Warwick University with Dr. Sarah Richardson, a member of our project advisory board.

Dr. Richard Huzzey is a senior lecturer in Modern British History at Durham University. He is principal investigator for the project and leads it alongside his other duties in the Department of History.

Dr. Henry Miller is senior research fellow and project co-ordinator, researching and managing our work full-time. He co-authored our successful funding application and is an equal partner in the initiative.

Ciara Stewart holds of one of our PhD studentships, investigating petitions to the House of Commons from Ireland. Working at Durham University, she is supervised by Richard Huzzey, Henry Miller, and Dr. David Craig.

Advisory Board

Our international board of advisors reflects the interdisciplinary context informing the project. A June 2015 Manchester symposium on petitioning in transnational context, funded with support from the Social History Society, offered us the opportunity to discuss our plans for this project with some of our advisors. Others have been added, since receiving project funding.

Daniel Carpenter, Allie S. Freed Professor of Government, Harvard University (http://dcarpenter.scholar.harvard.edu/)

Barry Godfrey, Professor of Sociology, University of Liverpool (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/sociology-social-policy-and-criminology/staff/barry-godfrey/)

Joanna Innes, Professor of History, University of Oxford (https://www.history.ox.ac.uk/people/professor-joanna-innes)

Mark Knights, Professor of History, Warwick University (http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/people/staff_index/mknight/)

Sarah Richardson, Senior Lecturer in History, Warwick University (http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/fac/arts/history/people/staff_index/srichardson/)

Philip Salmon, Editor for the 1832-1945 House of Commons project, History of Parliament (http://www.historyofparliamentonline.org/about/staff/dr-philip-salmon)

Diane Urquhart, Reader in Irish History, University of Liverpool (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/irish-studies/staff/diane-urquhart/)

Stuart Wilks-Heeg, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Liverpool (https://www.liverpool.ac.uk/politics/staff/stuart-wilks-heeg/)

Our Funding

This research is supported by a Research Project Grant (RPG-097-2016) from the Leverhulme Trust. The Leverhulme Trust was established by the Will of William Hesketh Lever, the founder of Lever Brothers. Since 1925 the Trust has provided grants and scholarships for research and education. Today, it is one of the largest all-subject providers of research funding in the UK, distributing approximately £80m a year. For more information about the Trust, please visit www.leverhulme.ac.uk.

Events

Petitioning Parliament and People Power in Modern Britain Talk
25 November 2017
Education Centre, Palace Green Library
2pm - 4pm

Before the vote, there was the petition- the most popular and accessible form of political activity for the majority of the nineteenth century. Now a new project funded by the Leverhulme Trust is rediscovering the vast range of petitions sent to Parliament: from voting rights for working men and women and the abolition of slavery, to the keeping of the Sabbath and the prohibition of alcohol.

Join us for a free, short talk at 2pm, revealing the rise, fall, and resurgence of Britain’s petitioning tradition, or drop-in any time from 2-4pm to meet the team behind the research project and see some of the treasures of Palace Green Library’s Special Collections relating to popular politics and people’s pressure on Parliament. It is not necessary to book and light refreshments will be served throughout the afternoon.

This event is supported by the ESRC Impact Acceleration Account and Durham University. It is free and open to all.