The Will of the People? The History of Petitioning in Britain and Its Implications for Today

Mark Knights, Professor of History, University of Warwick

End date

02 May 2017


17:30 to 18:30
Wolfson College, Linton Rd, Oxford OX2 6UD


Is there, as Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice Liz Truss has suggested, a 'settled will of the people'? If so, how is this best expressed: through a referendum, through Parliament, or through petitions?

We have recently seen enormous e-petitions about Brexit and Donald Trump's visit to the UK; but what is the history of petitioning in British political culture and how does the voice of the petitioner square with other forms of representation? What indeed, was the legal status of a petition, and how was this disputed?

In this lecture, Professor Mark Knights of the University of Warwick will assess how the will of the British people has been expressed through the device of petitioning throughout the ages, and draw lessons for the Britain of today.

Mark Knights is Professor of History at the University of Warwick, whose research focuses on the nature of partisanship and the relationship between ideas, discourse and action. He is currently writing a book for OUP about the history of corruption in Britain and its empire, and writes a blog about corruption past and present.

Read Professor Knights' blog

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Tuesday, 2 May 2017 - 5:30pm to 6:30pm