[The people pf South Shields and the surrounding neighbourhood held a meeting in their town hall on 31st December 1830. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss petitioning Parliament about reform. The town wanted to be able to elect their own MPs. The meeting was convened by the magistrates and chaired by a local Justice of the Peace. They debated the wording of the petition and made it available in the town hall and in shops so that people of “every Rank and Occupation” could sign it.]
7. That the following Petition be adopted.
To the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, in Parliament assembled.
The Humble Petition of the undersigned Merchants, Manufacturers, Shipowners and other Inhabitants of the Town of South Shields, and its neighbourhood,
That the "Town of South Shields", extending through the contiguous Townships of South Shields and Westoe, contained in 1821, a Population of 16,500 Persons, exclusive of Seamen. That the Number, as your Petitioners believe, has of late years, greatly increased, and is chiefly engaged either in Manufactures, for which the Situation of the Town, and the Resources of its Neighbourhood, afford great Facilities, or in extensive Concerns of Shipping, there being 13 Graving Docks, and 58,000 Tons of Shipping, owned by the Inhabitants of South Shields.
That your Petitioners humbly state their Persuasion, that the Trade and Shipping Interests of the Town, might have been more effectually promoted, if your Petitioners, had been able to convey to the Legislature, the Facts and Arguments, collected by their own Experience, through the constitutional Organ, of Representatives of their own Choice, and that, under every Event, the Decision of the Legislature, would be acted upon, with readier Alacrity, if your Petitioners could feel satisfied, that such Decision had proceeded upon that full Consideration of their Interests, which it would be the Office and Duty of their local Representatives to procure.
That the County of Durham, wherein your Petitioners reside, returns from within the entire Body of the County, fewer Members, in the Ratio of its Population, than any other English County, namely 4 only, 2 for the County, and 2 for the City of Durham. That there is no Community between your Petitioners and the Electors of the City of Durham, in respect of Trade or local Interests, and that the Property in this Town and Neighbourhood, being, with an inconsiderable Exception, Leasehold under the Dean and Chapter of Durham, your Petitioners do not enjoy any influential Voice in the Return of the Members for the County; and it is the Belief of your Petitioners, that owning to these Circumstances, they labour under a more serious Destitution of the elective Franchise, than the Inhabitants of any other Town in Great Britain, of equal Trade and Magnitude.
That it is not the Intent of your Petitioners, to obtrude on your Honourable House, any Recommendation, as to particular Schemes, by which the Defects of the Representation may best be remedied; that they confide in the Wisdom and Justice of your Honourable House, so to regulate the elective Franchise, as to impart it more extensively to those of their Fellow Subjects, who possess enough of Intelligence, to form a judicious Choice, and enough of Property (the Fruit of Industry and Skill) to maintain that Choice with Independence. And your Petitioners most earnestly entreat your Honourable House, to take such early Measures of Parliamentary Reform, as may redress these Grievances of your Petitioners, which they have humbly set forth, and promote the Concord, and Stability of the Empire.
And your Petitioner shall ever pray &c. …