Electoral Registers come online

This week Ancestry have release two sets of Electoral Registers, one for London the other for Dorset.

The London Registers cover the period 1835 – 1965 and come courtesy of London Metropolitan Archives.

http://search.ancestry.co.uk/search/db.aspx?dbid=1795

The Dorset Registers cover the period 1839 – 1922 and come courtesy of the Dorset History Centre .

http://search.ancestry.co.uk/search/db.aspx?dbid=2167

As announced in March 2011 the British Library in conjunction with FindMyPast are digitising the Electoral Registers held by the British Library. The collection covers the whole of the UK from 1832 onwards.

http://www.bl.uk/press-releases/2011/march/british-library-and-findmypastcouk-to-digitise-5-million-pages-of-family-history-records

When searching electoral registers you need to be aware that they are lists of individuals who are eligible to vote during the time the register is in force, which is usually one year.

Registration for voters in England has been required since 1832, and registers were typically published annually, though some years had two, registers were not published during the latter years of  World War 1 (1916–1917) and World War 2 (1940–1944).

In the early registers you may no find your ancestors as restrictive property requirements denied the vote to much of the population for many years. The Second and Third Reform Acts of 1867 and 1884 eased the restrictions. In 1918 the restrictions were removed for men,  when most males age 21 and older were then allowed to vote. The right to vote was extended to some women over the age of 30 in 1918, but it was not until 1928 that the voting age was made 21 for both men and women.