This paper asks a methodological question: In what way can petitions written in the colonial period introduce us to the persona of the writers – that is, as against mainstream interpretation given to them as mere archival sources? Doesn’t the very nature of the petitions introduce us to the selfhood of those “caught up” in the often-mentioned “sophisticated” concepts of nationalism, politics, power, imperialism, urbanity, and colonialism? What, and how, do petitions tell us about the “interior version” of colonial society as seen in the individual? In an attempt at a deeper understanding of colonial Lagos, this paper examines an alternative feature of petitions as entry into the selfhood of colonial subjects rather than mainstream interpretations of the documents as qualitative exposition to “grand” historical phenomena. Selfhood as examined here is presented as it was constructed by petitions written in Lagos between 1940 and 1960 with a particular focus on three. Their deficiencies in “standards of grammar” notwithstanding, the words are also examined to allow for a demonstration of their qualities as texts: their meanings in singular and collaborative contexts, the gaps they exposed, the information they concealed, the disconnections in chronology they indicated, the “ethics” of grammar they “relegated” for more “substantial expose” of the self, the information they privileged the reader to hear, the identity they formed in the personas they constructed and the voice they generated. This paper suggests that these strands analyzed together affirm the textuality of petitions written by everyday people in colonial Lagos and that these point to the potentiality of such documents to further contribute to the substantial comprehension of the inner qualities of self-identity in Lagos and Nigeria’s colonial history.