Source 7

A petition from members of Clitheroe town council in Lancaster on behalf of local ratepayers saying that they do not want the Public Health Act of 1848 to be applied to their borough, December 1851, Catalogue ref: MH 13/53.


To the General Board of Health 

We the undersigned being members of the Town Council of the Borough of Clitheroe in the County of Lancaster which is comprised of Sixteen Members Do hereby Petition your Honourable Board that the Public Health Act 1848 may not be further carried out within the said Borough. 

Because the application of the Public Health Act to the said Borough is contrary to the openly expressed wishes of the great majority of the Rate Payers of the said Borough by whom it is determinedly opposed and who have presented a Petition to your Honourable Board of even date herewith praying that all further proceedings under the Public Health Act may be suspended. 

Because in the opinion of your Petitioners the application of the said Act to the said Borough is quite unnecessary and if carried out will operate most injuriously to the interests of the Rate payers of the said Borough will saddle them with very oppressive rates which they can ill afford to pay and be the cause of much discontent amongst and annoyance to them. 

Members of Town Council 


Thomas Bulcock        

Ralph Whitaker 


Robert Denhurst 

James Heaton 

William Anderson 

« Return to Coping with Cholera

The government took responsibility for health for the first time, with the 1848 Public Health Act which set up a permanent General Board of Health in the light of the second cholera epidemic. The Board of Health did not have the power to force local boards to follow its recommendations. Again, local boards could only be established when more than one-tenth of the ratepayers agreed to it or if the death-rate was higher than 23 per 1000. 

  1. Why did the members of Clitheroe council send this petition to the Board of Health? 
  2. What does the petition suggest about the effectiveness of the Public Health Act in terms of combating cholera? 
  3. Can you explain why some rate payers might object to a local board of health for their area?