Author Topic: electoral rolls  (Read 400 times)

Offline Wulfsige

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electoral rolls
« on: Wednesday 12 October 22 18:28 BST (UK) »
I have no idea how to use the electoral rolls, nor when they began, how often they were made, how to access them on-line, either by a family history site (I belong to a couple) or on some other website. Please guide me, bearing in mind I know nothing at all yet.
Young, Gameson, Miles, Williamson, Cramond

Online CaroleW

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Re: electoral rolls
« Reply #1 on: Wednesday 12 October 22 19:06 BST (UK) »
Depends what years you are looking for & what area.  Can you give us a bit more info
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Offline MonicaL

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Re: electoral rolls
« Reply #2 on: Wednesday 12 October 22 19:41 BST (UK) »
A brief guide is available here www.bl.uk/collection-guides/uk-electoral-registers

Monica
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Offline Andy J2022

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Re: electoral rolls
« Reply #3 on: Wednesday 12 October 22 20:42 BST (UK) »
Electoral registers were first compiled in 1832 following the Representation of the People Act of that year. The Act widened out the franchise , although not by much: only men who owned or rented property over a certain rateable value were to be included.  It wasn’t until the 1918 ROPA  and the later 1928 Act that we began to see near universal suffrage, although further reforms took place in 1948 and 1969 (the last reduced the age for voters to 18).  There were separate franchises for parliamentary and local (borough) elections. Even before the 1918 ROPA, some women who owned property could vote in borough elections, and so you will find a few listed in the registers in the nineteenth century.

Virtually all electoral registers have survived, but the problem is that they are archived in a wide variety of places. The British Library has the biggest collection overall, but even its holdings have gaps, and this where the local County Archives will usually come to the rescue.

Initially the registers were laid out in alphabetical order, and only later was this changed to cadastral ordering (that is, by street number).  A person may have been listed more than once if he owned a house, and a shop or business premises or other land such as farm or woodland. This would entitle him to more than one vote. University graduates were included on the register for their university and might have also been entitled to vote at home if they met the financial criteria.

How to use the Registers.

Once you know where someone lived (say, from a census or a marriage entry) you can use the registers to track how long that person remained at that address, and sometimes it is possible to find where they moved to because of the way in which the registers were compiled. This compilation was done once a year by an official armed with a register of rateable values for properties, calling on the eligible properties and ascertaining who was the owner or rent payer. Over the next few months the list would be checked and revised, with political agents being able to scrutinise the provisional lists before their eventual publication. Because this process took a few months, people could move from the place where they were registered to vote  and so they could apply to have the register updated, provided this was before the date the register became effective for the next 12 months. Where this happened you often find both their old address and their new address listed with the word successive annotated beside the entry.

The earlier registers tell you whether the property was a dwelling house or some other kind of qualifying property such as a shop.

Since there are no additional details about the person apart from their name, the registers are not much use in finding where someone lived without some other collateral information, but once you are reasonably certain that you have the right person, the  following years’ registers will tell you if the person remained at that address. This is particularly useful between censuses. After 1918 the registers include women over 30, and from 1928, all women over 21, so this helps with checking if you have the correct household. Sons and daughters will be added to the register in the year that they reached 21 (18 from 1969) which provides a further check that you have the right family.

There were no registers for the period 1916-18 and again for 1940-44 due to the first and second world wars. However in both cases there were two six monthly registers in the years immediately after the wars. In the case of the first world war, there were lists of absent voters containing men who had not yet been demobilised, which give some details about their regiment or ship and service number. These can be useful in tracing the service records or medal cards for those who served in WW1. 

The biggest drawbacks are, firstly that a relatively small percentage of  all the registers are available online, and secondly those that are online tend to be in the form of pdfs which are more difficult to search. For instance if you are searching for a John Wilson-Brown, you tend to get a lot of hits which will include other people named Wilson and Brown if there is also a John listed nearby.   Also it is harder to search on specific addresses, which is generally how you might first start to look for someone.  Finally, as will be obvious from the description of how the registers were compiled,  the fact that someone is listed at a property in a particular year is no guarantee that they were still actually there in the year stated, or that they were even still alive.


Offline Wulfsige

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Re: electoral rolls
« Reply #4 on: Wednesday 12 October 22 21:16 BST (UK) »
So - where is the best place to start? A quick read through most of this (to digest it all will take much longer) seems to suggest that the county record offices (Winchester, Ebbw Vale, Ruthin &c) would be my best first step. Is that correct?
Young, Gameson, Miles, Williamson, Cramond

Offline Andy J2022

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Re: electoral rolls
« Reply #5 on: Wednesday 12 October 22 21:41 BST (UK) »
Yes if the people you are interested in appear to have remained in the same area, a trip to the local archives is probably your best bet as you can probably get to see the actual registers, making it easier to get to the address you are interested in. There will probably be some sort of index to the voting wards which in turn contain the streets. However do phone them first to confirm they have the registers you are interested in.
Find My Past has the largest collection of online registers as far as I am aware, so if you have a subscription, check there first just to see what coverage they have.

Offline Wulfsige

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Re: electoral rolls
« Reply #6 on: Thursday 13 October 22 22:43 BST (UK) »
Gr8! Thank you
Young, Gameson, Miles, Williamson, Cramond