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London's PeopleVictorian Etiquette IX: Petitions
Posted on Aug 15, 2005 - 04:27 AM by Bill McCann

The London Journal, launched in 1845, was one of the most widely read publications of nineteenth-century Britain. Its weekly appearance ushered in the period when mass-market reading, in a modern sense, was born. Between April 12 and August 30 1845, the Journal carried seventeen articles under the heading "Etiquette for the Millions," written by G.W.M Reynolds. They were clearly aimed at educating the mass readership (mostly the newly emerging middle-classes) in the behaviour expected of them in public. At times trenchant, the views expressed in the articles describe a view of society that is very, very different from that which we experience today. But, perhaps, one that many sections of modern society hanker after. In this set of instructions we are shown precisely the mode of address to be used in submitting a petition to the Queen, the Houses of Parliament or Government Departments. And of course, it matters greatly whether the petition comes from an Assembly or from an individual . . .



When assemblies, Associations, societies, or Meetings resolve upon petitioning the Queen in Council, the following formula should be observed:-

"To the Queen's most excellent Majesty in Council, The humble Petition of --, Humbly Sheweth, That Your Petitioners, etc."
Then follows the matter of complaint, solicitation etc. The Petition concludes thus:-
"Whereupon Your petitioners humbly pray that your Majesty will be graciously pleased to --. And Your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray."

Petitions to the House of Lords must commence thus;-

"To the Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled, The Humble Petition of --, Humbly Sheweth That Your Petitioners, etc."
Then follows the matter of complaint, solicitation etc. the Petition concludes thus:-
"Whereupon Your petitioners humbly pray that your Lordships will be pleased to --. And Your Lordships' Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray."

Petitions to the House of Commons must commence thus:-

"Whereupon Your petitioners humbly pray that your Majesty will be graciously pleased to --. And Your Petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray."

Petitions to the House of Lords must commence thus;-

"To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland in Parliament assembled, The Humble Petition of --, Humbly Sheweth That Your Petitioners, etc."
Then follows the matter of complaint, solicitation etc. The Petition concludes thus:-
"And Your petitioners humbly pray Your Honourable House to be pleased to --. And Your Petitioners will ever pray."

There follows the form of address to be used when addressing governmental Departments from the "Right Honourable. The Lords Commissioners of her Majesty's Treasury" down to the "Lord mayor and Court of Aldermen of the City of London" before continuing with some more specific instructions, as follows:

The petitions of individuals must be based on the following formula:-

"To -, The Humble Petition of -, of the City, (or Town) of -, (profession, avocation or trade), Humbly Sheweth,"
etc.

Each sentence of the above formulas must commence a separate paragraph.

Petitions of Assemblies, Associations, Societies, and Meetings should be written on parchment; those of individuals upon paper. In either case only one side of the folios should be written upon.

G.W.M. Reynolds.
The London Journal,
For the week ending June 21, 1845.

TO BE CONTINUED.


 

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Victorian Etiquette VIII: Behaviour out of Doors


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