March 18 1812: Samuel Whitbread presents Petition

On March 18, 1812, Mr. Samuel Whitbread presented a petition from the inhabitants of Bolton-in-the-Moors seeking parliamentary reform with respect to representation. Of interest, is that they tied reform to the economic difficulties that they were experiencing and the ongoing wars with Napoleon's France.

HC Deb 18 March 1812 vol 22 cc29-30 29
Mr. Whitbread presented a Petition from the inhabitants of the town and neighbourhood of Bolton-in-the-Moors, assembled pursuant to public advertisement, setting forth,

"That many of the Petitioners are, in consequence of the depressed state of trade, in a situation of extreme distress, 30 and that the distress approaches so nearly to actual starvation, that they think it would be highly imprudent any longer to delay communicating their situation to the House: and that immense numbers of the industrious manufacturers in their neighbourhood, are reduced to the necessity of working for less than one fourth of what they would previous to the commencement of the war with France, whilst the necessaries of life are, since that period, nearly doubled in price; and that they are convinced, by sad and dear-bought experience, that the expensive war in which this country has been so long engaged, is the immediate cause of the distresses they now labour under; and that the continuance of this war, and most of its concomitant evils, are attributable to the imperfect representation of the people in the House; and it is the humble opinion of the Petitioners, that if the House consisted of representatives of the people only, it would not, for any doubtful prospect of benefit to our allies, consent to expose the people of this country to the certain misery, ruin and starvation, which the continuance of the war must bring upon them; and that, though the Petitioners have, on many occasions, been proud to express their loyalty and patriotism, and their willingness to sacrifice their lives, if necessary, in defence of their invaluable constitution; yet they cannot help shrinking from the horrible form in which death now seems to await them and their helpless families, unalleviated by any circumstances of glory or of advantage to their beloved country; and praying, that the House will take into its serious consideration the privations and sufferings of his Majesty's loyal subjects in their populous district, and will devise some speedy means of relieving them; and further, that the House will, by all the means in its power, endeavour to bring about the so much wished for Reform in the Representation of the people: and will also recommend to his royal highness the Prince Regent, that no means be left untried which are likely to restore to his Majesty's loyal and long-suffering people the blessings of peace."

Ordered to lie upon the table.

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