The London Lives Petitions Project

Petition of Ester Cutler (1715)
LL ref: LMSMPS501460090
London Metropolitan Archives MJ/SP/1715/07


The London Lives Petitions Project is a digital history project 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. These are important sources for the social history of eighteenth-century London, which have been difficult to access within the existing London Lives resource because of the sheer size and variety of the Sessions Papers documents.

Project data

Current releases of all shared data, with documentation and licensing information.

Writing about the project and additional resources

Blogging and presentations (and eventually more formal publications).

Petition of p. St George Botolph Lane (1693)
LL ref: LMSLPS150040205
LMA CLA/047/LJ/13/1693

Project visualisations

Note that these are works in progress, which are liable to be revised following data updates (or even removed), and therefore citing them in scholarly work is really not advisable. If you would like to build your own versions, the underlying data files can usually be found here.

Petitions in context

Petition word counts

Note: these charts use reworked versions of the public release files, from which marginal annotations etc that are not part of the body of the petition have been trimmed. May be slow to load.

Comparing types of petition


Other things

Example petitions

Letter/petition of Benjamin Martin (1719)
LL ref: LMSLPS501790037
LMA MJ/SP/1719/07

Other resources

Historical petitions online


The dataset has been created using the transcriptions of the Sessions Papers published at the London Lives website. I am grateful to Tim Hitchcock and Bob Shoemaker, the London Lives project directors, for agreeing to share this data.

The original documents are held at the London Metropolitan Archives.

The London Lives project was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.


The dataset and this documentation are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

This means that you are free to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format; and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, providing you follow the terms of the licence: