In the late 1840s several petitions were presented to both houses of Parliament and to its committees on behalf of Frances Sarah Barlee of Bungay in Suffolk. 1 She begged for action or redress on a wide range of issues: the state and cost of upkeep of public roads; the repeal of the Poor Law; and the ‘mental torture’ inflicted upon her by the detention of her letters because of a lack of a Sunday post. Frances Barlee was unusual in that she was a serial petitioner to Parliament, but she joined a growing number of women who used the petition, either singly or collectively, as a method of getting their voices heard, as a means of organising and mobilising female opinion, and of encouraging others to political activism. Frances Barlee had been politicised at a young age after being duped into marriage by a reprobate ex-soldier who then proceeded to take control of her land and income as well as attempting to have her committed to a lunatic asylum. When she fled the house, he installed his lover and his children in her place. 2 She proved a formidable litigant taking cases in the Courts of Chancery, Consistory, and Common Law, and appealing to the Court of the Vice-Chancellor. She sued her husband and the trustees of her estate and resisted paying costs. Audaciously, she even attempted to avoid paying her solicitor, claiming that as a married woman, a feme covert, she could not make contracts and was only entitled to be charged for necessaries. 3 The experience she gained from her interactions with the courts encouraged her to confront other public institutions when she had grievances she wanted addressed. Her petitions were typical of many from women received by Parliament in the mid-nineteenth century. They touched on highly personal matters, such as the high rate of tax she had to pay to the local surveyor for road grinding, but often intersected with the key political and economic issues of the day including taxation, the role of the state, employment opportunities, and social reform.