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Opposed Private Bills

1.Why use this guide?

Use this guide if you think your ancestor may have been given evidence against the passing of a private bill between 1835 and 1999.

You might also find this guide useful if you’re interested in a locality more generally.

2.What are the records?

The witness statements were gathered as evidence for or against the passing of a private act of Parliament in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The statements were given to an Opposed Private Bill Committee in Parliament. Private bills are those which affect the interest of a corporate body or individual only. For example, a company wishing to build a new railway or canal, or road. As such, the statements contain information about decisions that affected people at all levels of society and impacted on every city, town and village in the UK.

3.What information do the records contain?

The statements consist of verbatim accounts, directly taken from shorthand notes of the examination of promoters, engineers and other expert witnesses, and of property holders and other members of the public who would be affected by the bill.

4. How to get started?

Search our online catalogue for a location (town, village etc) or public work you believe there might be a evidence for.

Next, select ‘Private Bill evidence on railways, roads, canals and other public works‘ from the left hand menu.

5. How to access the records?

You will need to consult the records in our search room, but first you will need to identify the record(s) of interest to you and make a note of their catalogue reference. Use the instructions above to get started.

When you find a record you’d like to consult, follow the instructions on our Plan Your Visit page.