More Information on Petitions

'Petitions of the People' allows a rare insight into life from 1855 to 1899, a period when this gold mining tent town grew into a thriving Victorian city.  A signature on a petition may be the only tangible evidence that an ancestor lived in Bendigo, practiced a particular trade or profession or felt strongly about a local issue.

About the Spelling and Handwriting

While there may appear to be spelling or typographical errors in the typed lists of petitioners’ names, this is not the case. A conscious decision was made to leave spelling exactly the way the author used it.

The question mark entries mean the writer’s hand was illegible, even after trying to cross-reference the address and occupation details to other sources.

If you can help us correct unknown or misspelt names, please email

Project Acknowledgement

The Bendigo Regional Archives Centre (BRAC) received funding for this project from the Victorian Government in celebration of the 175th anniversary of the founding of Melbourne.

Council Regulations for Petitions

From the early days of Local Government citizens have felt compelled to express their concerns to their elected representatives. So prolific were the requests and entreaties that by 1886 the Council had adopted specific regulations for the wording and presentation of the Prayer and its signatures.

“Regulations of Proceedings of City Council of Sandhurst 1886, Clauses 42 to 48”

42. “No petition shall be presented after the Council shall have proceeded to the orders of the day.”

43. “It shall be incumbent on every councillor presenting a petition to acquaint himself with the contents thereof, and to ascertain that it does not contain language disrespectful to the council, and that the Contents do not violate any bye-law or any provision thereof.”

44. “Every councillor presenting a petition to the Council shall write his name at the beginning thereof.”

45. “Every petition shall be in writing, and not printed or lithographed, and shall contain the prayer of the petitioners at the end thereof, and be signed by at least one person on every skin or sheet on which it is written.”

46. “Every petition shall be signed by the persons whose names are appended thereto, by their names or marks, and by no one else except in cases of incapacity by sickness.”

47. “No letters, affidavits, or other documents shall be attached to any petition.”

48. “Every Councillor presenting a petition to the Council shall confine himself to a statement of the persons from whom it comes, of the number of signatures attached to it, of the material allegations contained in it, and to the reading of the prayer thereof.”

Sourced from: (VPRS 16936 P1, Unit 24 pp. 6-7 of Regulations of Proceedings - Sandhurst/Bendigo)