A bit of history first....
The Representation of the People Act 1832 extended the right to vote to any man owning a household worth £10, and so approximately one man in five had the right to vote. Subsequent Acts of Parliament then gradually extended the right to vote, and the inclusion of names on Electoral Registers, to more people.
The 1867 Act gave the right to vote to all male urban householders and male lodgers paying £10 rent a year for unfurnished accommodation.
There was a Reform Bill in 1884 followed by the Redistribution Act the following year. These gave those men in the countryside the right to vote, so the names of a lot of Agricultural Labourers finally began to appear.
However, women still did not have the vote, so you will not find their names on any Electoral Registers for this time. But.......
1918 saw the introduction of voting for women over the age of 30 and all men over the age of 21, not just those mentioned above.
Finally, the Equal Franchise Act of 1928 gave parity to women and they were able to vote from the age of 21 – the same as men. This then became 18 for all in 1969.
So, please bear all these dates and Acts in mind when searching for people in the Electoral Registers.
Where do you find the registers?
Older sets of electoral registers are most likely to be found in local archives/local studies libraries.
Also, the British Library has a substantial collection. A full listing of what is available is given in Jeremy Gibson's Electoral Registers 1832-1948
Similarly, the National Library of Scotland and National Library of Wales have collections for Scotland and Wales respectively.
But remember! There is no name index to most non-current Electoral Registers, so it is important that you know the street of the person you are looking for, although some County Records Offices have prepared their own name-indexes to parts of the roll.
Currently, Cheshire electoral rolls are indexed and have been searchable on Find My Past for several months. Many London electoral rolls are indexed and searchable on Ancestry.
What will they tell you?
When you find a person on an electoral register, you will see their full name (or at least middle initials), their residence, and the property on which they qualify to vote, which is not always where they live.
Also, the details provided for absent voters may enable you to trace service records.
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Thread: Electoral Registers
03-03-2012 8:03 PM #1Jan1954Guest