Fourth national petition – 1849

By November 1848, with many of its leading activists in prison, the National Charter Association was in such a state of crisis that a conference ostensibly called to deal with the land company’s affairs now decided to overturn the organisation’s constitution and abolish the paid executive in favour of a voluntary body and paid secretary.

Despite this, and the downbeat mood of most activists, Feargus O’Connor now called for a further attempt to petition Parliament, this time through a series of local petitions based on a centrally agreed text.

In the end, just 19 petitions were presented. Much of the country was unrepresented, and even Feargus O’Connor’s Northern Star (7 July, 1849) failed to report a claimed figure for the number of signatories.

This time, O’Connor’s motion won the backing of just 13 MPs and two tellers. There were just 53,816 signatures to the combined petitions.

More about the Chartist petitions.