Friday, 2 March 2012

Who signed the Chartist petitions

How many names were there on each of the Chartist petitions, and which towns contributed the most signatories? For that matter, how many Chartist petitions to Parliament were there?
A petitions page now added to Chartist Ancestors provides some of the basic information that can be hard to track down, and allows you to see the rise and fall of Chartism as a mass movement through the size of the petitions.
To take the last of these questions first, however, there were in fact not three but six Chartist petitions, one of which came within a single vote of a House of Commons majority while another failed to find even a single MP prepared to put a motion in its support.
Using the information on this page, it is also possible to see how support for Chartism waxed and waned in certain towns between 1839 and 1842, and to track the support of women for the Charter.
Although none of the petitions called for women to be given the vote, as many as one in five of those signing in some towns in 1839 were women, while in 1848 Parliament was told that 8,500 out of every 100,000 names (or8.5%) were those of women.