Petition to release Sunderland men who are prisoners of the Napoleonic Wars

       A Sunderland Petition of the Napoleonic Wars

 transcribed (and names alphabetized) by Ken Coleman, from the petition in The National Archives, Kew, Ref: HO 42/121.

 To His Most Gracious and Serene Highness The Prince Regent.

The Humble Petition of the Distressed Wives, fatherless Children, Orphans, and Aged Weeping Mothers of the Towns of Sunderland, Bishop Wearmouth and Monkwearmouth in the County of Durham. Sheweth.

Humbly forth Praying in the Name of the Blessed Prince of Peace above to Our Most merciful and Gracious Prince Regent on Earth who has Ever bore the estimations and renowns of a Protector to his Country and subjects to whose Supreme Wisdom and goodness we humbly Commit our Distressed Situations, for want of an Exchange of Prisoners and to whose Mercy has Ever been great we humbly wait the result.

Your humble Petitioners further state that thro’ a long and cruel War they have been brought to a state of Poverty, Distress and ruin by the Numerous captures made by the Enemy, and the long detention of the Husbands, Fathers, Brothers, Sons and Nephews of the Towns of Sunderland, Bishop and Monkwearmouth, amounting to many Hundreds of Brave seamen, which Case has reduced thousands to the utmost pitch of Starvation and Want, the Parish Houses being full of Wives, Widows and Orphans, some craving Charity from Street to Street, tradesmen and others ruin’d by the Heavy Charges coming on in Order to support the poor. Aged mothers, Wives, Widows and Children become Orphans, who before the War were in Opulence, are now become destitute of a Home only the small pittance of a Parish Allowance, and the Parishes so incumber’d with poor can’t sufficiently support them.

Your Humble Petitioners further Sheweth

That if it should meet his Most Serene Highness’s approbation to consider and release His Loyal Subjects now in France who has been some for 8 years, there would be many Hundreds of Brave Seamen who would venture in His Most Gracious Sovereigns Navy and boldly defend their Sovereign and Country’s Cause which would be the Means of restoring Comfort and Tranquility to a County and People who are now in a state of Misery. Should it be the Will of our Most Sacred sovereign to Consider Our Most Miserable case and release our Dear Fathers, Husbands, Brothers and Children from their long Confinement It Ever will be the Duty of them and us poor petitioners to join in Prayers and Thanksgivings, to His most Sacred Sovereignity and all the Royal family that they may Long Live to Reign over their Subjects and humble Petitioners.


of prisoner

in France

Family left
Hannah Aison son 7 widow
Hannah Bainbridge husband 4 wife & 2 children
Elizabeth Bainbridge son 5 widow
Elizabeth Briggs husband 2 wife & child
Alice Briggs father 6
Ann Buck 1 son 2 widow
Ann Blacket husband 5 wife & 4 children
Jane Brainby husband 4 wife & 2 children
Isabella Barkas son 4 mother
Margaret Booth son 9 widow
Ann Beals(?) brother 7
Elizabeth Bainbridge husband 4 wife & 3 children
Hugh Cock 2 sons 1
Margaret Curry husband 3 wife
Eleanor Cathey husband 5 wife & 2 children
Mary Cliburn husband 5 wife & 3 children
Mary Cowen sister 7 wife & 4 children
Susan Ditchburn son 3 wife & 6 children
Margaret Dunning husband 5 wife & 2 children
Margaret Forbes husband 4 wife & 2 children
Sarah Forster husband 9(?) wife & 1 child
Andrew Garson brother 4
Elizabeth Gibbons son 3
Elizabeth Gill son 5 mother of 7 children
Mary Garrat husband 1 wife & 1 child
Hannah Harling husband 2 wife & 5 children
Ann Howe husband 6 wife & 5 children
Ann Hodgson husband 3 wife & 6 children
Ann Hamilton husband 9 wife & 3 children
Ann Hamilton, elder son 9
Jane Hay husband & son 1 wife
Alice Holmes husband 6 wife & 4 children
Mary Hison husband 5 wife & 2 children
Sarah Hall husband 3 wife & 2 children
Mary Hutchinson son 1 mother of 2 children
Sarah Harrinton husband & son 9 wife & 2 children
Cathrin Johnson husband 6 wife & 3 children
Catherine Jackson husband & son 5 wife & 4 children
Isabella Jamson 2 sons 7 widow with 3 children
Mary Kay husband 5 wife & 4 children
Margaret Loutit husband 6 wife & 3 children
Margaret Lewis husband 4 wife & 4 children
Mary Loutit husband 3
Jane Lancaster husband & 2 sons 7 wife & 4 children
Ann Langley husband 8 wife
Lydia Laws husband 5 widow & 3 children
Ann Mapletoft husband 5 wife
Susan Maines husband 3 wife & 3 children
Jane Maurice husband 6 wife
Eleanor Mohudon(?) son 6 widow & 4 children
Elizabeth Melvin brother 1 mother
Susannah Mole husband 5 wife
Mary Nicholson brother 6 3 sisters
Evan Owen son 7 wife & 5 children
Elizabeth Oliver son 5 widow & 1 child
Sarah Parkin son 3 widow
Mary Paddin husband 4 wife & 1 child
Thomasin Pickering husband 7 wife & 5 children
Elizabeth Potts 2 sons 5 mother of 2 children
Ann Ridley husband 7 wife & 1 child
Isabella Robertson husband 2 wife & child
Eleanor Roxby brother & son 5 widow & 2 children
Barbara Rennison husband 5 wife & 4 children
Jane Ramsey husband 5 wife & 2 children
Mary Robinson son 5 mother of 2 children
Sa. Scott husband 7 wife & 2 children
Ann Stevinson husband 9(?) wife & 1 child
Frances Storey husband 2 wife & child
Alice Smith husband 8 wife & 2 children
Ann Smith husband & son 7 wife & 7 children
Ann Smith husband 5 wife & 3 children
Margaret Sanders husband 2 wife & 2 children
Jas. Todd son 2
Mary Tynmouth husband 6(?) wife
Ann Trulove son 7 widow & 2 children
Margaret Todd father 7 2 children
Mary Turnbull husband 5 wife & child
Elizabeth Thompson husband 4 wife & 2 children
John Wake 2 sons 1
Hannah Wardropper husband 7 wife & 5 children
Sarah Wilkinson brother 3
Mary Watson husband 5 wife & child
Mary Wilson husband & son 8 wife & 3 children
Ann Wood husband 7 wife & 2 children
Johannah Wilson husband 3 wife & 2 children
Eleanor Wheatley 2 sons 7 mother of 2 children

Hon Sir,

The above are a few names shewing how long their relations have been from them and what large family are left in distress. There is computed to be about 700 men in prisons belonging these Towns and to put down all their friends would take a long time so they thought it would be best just to send a few to shew what a state the town must be in for want and leaves it much to your Goodness whether you think it would be Proper to shew the above to the Prince or not they humbly leave to your better judgement.

[Note from Durham Records Online: this petition is undated, but must have been filed in the early 1800s. According to the book Narratives of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars: Military and Civilian Experience in Britain and Ireland, by Catriona Kennedy, Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, there were around 16,000 British prisoners of war confined in France between 1793 and 1815. In 1803, Napoleon ordered the detention of every British male between the ages of 18 and 60 currently on French soil, and many of these men were not returned to Britain for several years, keeping them from taking up arms against the French. Kennedy points out that many of these men were in France as wealthy tourists or for their health, and their suitability for military service was questionable. However, many earlier detainees were sailors from merchant ships and the Navy; since Sunderland was a port, this was probably the case for many of the men listed above.]