AUTHORED BY RUSSELL JAMES (ANCESTRY.CO.UK)
Our NEW London, England, Electoral Registers, 1835-1965, take you back through the history of Britain and London’s democratic system. More than that, they let you trace your English ancestors’ movements between census years and well into the 20th century, giving you far greater precision in your timeline of their lives.
Electoral registers listed everybody in a particular area who had the right to vote. They were started in 1832 and taken just about every year from then on.
At first, they only included middle-class men, as these were the only people who could vote. However, as more and more people were allowed to take part in elections they gradually became comprehensive lists of local adults and by 1928 everyone over the age of 21 was registered.
Electoral registers reveal each person’s name and address. In early records, you might also find details of how they met the voting criteria, such as the size of their property, whether they owned or rented it, and even their occupation.
Because these records were compiled annually they enable you pinpoint any changes to a precise year. For example, you might know that one ancestor moved house between 1871 and 1881. That’s quite a long period of time in comparaison to these days when we might move three or four times in a decade – perhaps more! By following that person through the registers, you can see exactly when their address changed.
The first and last years when a relative appears in the registers are also crucial. Before 1969 each person was added when they reached 21 meaning that you can effectively work out their birth year. And they were usually listed right up to their death, so a sudden disappearance might suggest they emigrated or passed away that year.
Our new addition, the London Electoral Registers, 1835–1965, is a particularly extensive collection, including more than 139 million records from all over London. Just click here to start searching the records.