THE BIRTH OF THE BRITISH ELECTORATE REVEALED ONLINE
220 million records of British voters available to search online for the first time
- Electoral Registers document the evolution of modern British democracy from the passage of the Great Reform act of 1832 to votes for women in 1918, and voting equality in 1928
- Records include details of property ownership, allowing you to uncover the history of your home
- Now available online for the first time at http://www.findmypast.com
Leading family history website Findmypast and The British Library have announced today the online publication of an estimated 220 million records of English and Welsh voters.
The period covered by The England and Wales Electoral Registers 1832-1932 includes some of the most important events in the history of British democracy and demonstrates how the British electorate changed during the 19th and early 20th centuries: from the vote being extended to working class men and the reform of representation up until women’s suffrage.
This is the first time these registers have been made available online. They can be searched by name and constituency, as well as by keywords which will allow you to discover the history of your family home in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. They are available online to Findmypast subscribers or can be accessed for free in the British Library’s reading rooms in London and Yorkshire.
The registers form the largest single collection released by Findmypast to date, and are the result of a mammoth digitisation project to scan 100 years of microfilmed copies of the British Library’s unique collection of printed registers, housed on 2.25 miles (3.62 linear km) of shelving.
Electoral Registers are listings of all those registered to vote in a particular area. The lists were created annually to record the names of eligible voters and their reason for eligibility, such as their residence or ownership of a property. Registration for voters in England has been required since 1832, and registers were typically published annually.
Previously only accessible as printed volumes or on microfilm at the British Library’s Reading Rooms at St. Pancras and Boston Spa, the England and Wales Electoral Registers 1832-1932 can now be explored online at findmypast.co.uk anywhere at any time. Although there are gaps in the digitised collection for some constituencies, the registers that are now available open up a treasure trove of material that was never before accessible to automated searching: no expert knowledge is needed, allowing anyone to trace their family across 100 years of British history.
- Records of the first eligible voters enfranchised by the great reform act of 1832. The act increased the voting population by allowing all men who occupied a property with an annual value of £10 to vote. After the act passed, one in seven men could vote.
- The first working class voters following the Representation of the People Act of 1867. The act doubled the electorate of one million voters, allowing two million of the seven million adult males in England and Wales to vote.
- The first female voters in British history. The registers document one of the most remarkable changes of the twentieth century, the extension of the vote to women on equal footing with men. The franchise was extended to all women over the age of 30 by the 1918 Representation of the People Act, and all women over the age of 21 by 1928 Equal Franchise Act.
- Lists of absent voters from 1918 to 1921 containing the records of registers of soldiers and sailors who were on active service during the First World War.
Findmypast historian, Paul Nixon, said, ‘The England & Wales Electoral Registers are an incredibly powerful resource for family historians, as well as all those who want to understand more about social history and the stories of their own houses. With this record set now online, Findmypast now 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.”
Jacquie Carter, Service and Content Lead for Science, Technology and Medicine at the British Library, said: “As a historian myself, I’m champing at the bit to get stuck into this resource. Having tens of millions of records available in digitised format will transform the way that researchers are able to use these registers to fill in vital gaps. It makes possible discoveries and connections that would simply never have been possible, trawling through print or microfilm registers – just a few clicks will replace hundreds of hours of page turning.”
Find out more about the records at findmypast.co.uk/electoral-registers.