ON THE RECORD
A century’s worth of English and Welsh electoral registers have been made available to search on Findmypast in a partnership with the British Library
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A vast collection of electoral registers has been published on the web for the first time. Spanning 1832-1932, the latest findmypast.co.uk release contains approximately 220 million entries, each revealing detailed information about voters across England and Wales.
Searchable by name, year, parliamentary constituency, county and keyword, the records list the addresses of individuals and the means by which they were eligible to vote. As the registers were compiled on an annual basis, family historians can track the movements of their ancestors in the 10-year gaps between census years and discover the former occupants of their houses.
Exploring the collection also gives researchers the chance to uncover the story of British democracy since the early-19th century.
Beginning in 1832, the records capture details of the first men to become enfranchised by the Great Reform Act of the same year. Whereas previously only a wealthy minority had been able to elect a Member of Parliament, the Act extended this right to all men paying a yearly rent on their property of £10 or more. However, the new voters still only represented a small percentage of the total population. It was not until 1928 that suffrage was finally granted to all citizens over the age of 21 regardless of gender and economic status. As a result, the total size of the registers available for each year expandsp significantly. Cr ucially, the release also includes Absent Voters’ Lists for 1918-1921, bearing the names of soldiers and sailors who had been on active service during the First World War.
“These registers are an incredibly powerful resource for family historians,” said Findmypast’s Paul Nixon. “With this record set now online, Findmypast has an unbroken collection of census, land and survey records from the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign, right through to the start of the Second World War.”
The records were created from microfilm copies held at the British Library. Previously, it was only possible to access the collection by browsing the microfilm or set of printed volumes in person.
Jacquie Carter, service and content lead for science, technology and medicine at the British Library, said she was eager to explore the dataset. “As a historian, I’m champing at the bit to get stuck into this resource,” she said. “Just a few clicks will replace hundreds of hours of page turning.”
Just a few page clicks will replace hundreds of hours of page turning
The 1832 Great Reform Act extended suffrage to all adult males paying a yearly rent on their property of £10 or more. However, most people remained excluded