Electoral Records

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General

Has been a UK electoral register since 1832 with name and abode (property owned or leased that gave the vote). Copies are held locally in libraries/town halls. Current register since 2002 contains 2 versions, the full (legal requirement) and the edited (individuals can opt out, for commercial purposes).

Some dates:

  • 1832 Representation of the People Act began to make voting fairer and this included intorduction of registers.
  • 1867 Representation of the People Act increased the number of men on the Rolls. All men who were owners or tenants of property and lodgers paying £10 who had been in the borough for 12 months prior.
  • 1918 Representation of the People Act. All men over 21 and women over 30 who were owners or tenants of dwellings of a certain value. Disqualified, for 5 years, any conscientious objectors
  • 1928 All women over 21 could vote

Need to establish your constituency to search FMP (then on pdf) or order rolls BL or copy from SoG.

FMP has broad access to English rolls collections at the BL and local collections. Has Glamorgan, in Wales, too. National Library Wales has the Welsh collection.

Family Search has rolls and regsiters.

Ancestry - use card catalogue to drill to a date set and use keyword 'electoral'. eg: London electoral register 1847-1965

Absent Voters List - service men and women and those in occupations supporting the war effort. Search by rank, regiment of service no. Available at BL (not all counties yet), also FMP and some on Ancestry.


Voting prior to 1832

About 1 in 10 men could vote.

Different types of boroughs but essentially land ownership gave voting rights.

1696 introduced poll books. Some have the place someone lived and where their freehold was, which may indicate immigration.

Poll books for City of London usually arranged by City Company and not that often the trade a man follows has no relation to the Company he belonged to.

Many poll books digitised. Guildhall collection is on Ancestry. Also GENUKI, Genealogist, FamilySearch.

Look to the Gibson Guides.


Websites

UK voting history.

Womens suffrage timeline.

Electoral Registers UK. Explains codes and abbreviations seen on registers


Literature

'Parliamentary constituencies and their registers since 1832' by Richard Cheffins.