Electoral Registers

A guide to the collections at Derbyshire Record Office.

First produced in 1832, electoral registers are a record of all those persons entitled to vote at parliamentary, local and parochial elections.

They are a useful tool for family historians looking for the addresses of their ancestors, for house historians looking to see previous occupiers of their property, and local historians interested in the residential development of a particular area.

What is available

Derbyshire electoral registers are available between 1832 and 1999. For registers after 1999, please contact the relevant district or borough council. Registers were produced annually from 1835, except:

  • 1916 and 1917, due to World War One
  • 1940-1944, due to World War Two; registers were produced in 1945 or 1946 for a particular district, not both
  • 1919-1929, when two registers were produced, one in the Spring and one in the Autumn.

Registers covering Derby borough (later city) are available up to 1900 only (for registers after this date, please contact the Derby Local Studies and Family History Library). There is an incomplete run of registers for the borough of Chesterfield – Chesterfield Library holds a complete run from 1974.

Finding the Right Register

Between 1832 and 1867, Derbyshire was divided into two electoral divisions, North and South; each then sub-divided into smaller polling districts. The districts have changed many times since 1867 and it is essential to know which division covered the place in which you are interested to be sure you order the correct register.

Details of the electoral registers available can be found via the online catalogue (note the registers themselves cannot be seen online). You can also Search the Catalogue to find the results for the place you are interested in:

  • Reference Number: ER/*
  • Any Text: enter the place name you are interested in (we recommend using the parish name)
  • Date: if you have a particular date in mind, e.g. 1876 or 1920-1935

The full reference number of each volume will include an abbreviation for the division and the date, e.g. ER/ILK/1920. It is this reference you will need to order the relevant register through the search room.

Electoral registers covering 1832-1900 are available on microfiche in the Computer Room, and these original registers will not normally be retrieved in the search room. The microfiche are arranged by year and then by division. It is advisable to search the online catalogue in the first instance to identify the correct division. A hard copy index which includes the microfiche reference number is also available in the Computer Room.

Using Electoral Registers

The arrangement of electoral registers changes over time, as does the level of detail included. Before 1918, only registers covering larger towns such as Derby and Chesterfield will include specific addresses. In these cases, the information is generally arranged alphabetically by street name within each polling district. Other registers tend to be arranged alphabetically by surname, which is generally very handy for family historians, but less so for house historians.

Particularly after 1948, identifying which polling district a specific street is in does become more problematic, and there are some streets that have one side in one district and the other side in another district. There are even some streets where the two sides are in entirely different divisions. In the absence of street indexes (which may be available for some divisions from the late 1980s), it is advisable to search all relevant districts to identify the street.

Remember, the right to vote (enfranchisement) was extended to various categories at different times during the 19th and 20th centuries. Not finding an individual or a property does not always mean that they or it was not there.

Timeline of Voting Entitlements for Parliamentary Elections
  • 1832: Great Reform Act – Men over the age of 21 years, and who either owned property worth at least £10, or who occupied land worth between £2 and £5, or were tenants paying rent of £50 per annum.
  • 1867: Second Reform Act – Extended to men over the age of 21 years, and who owned property worth at least £5.
  • 1884: Third Reform Act – Extended to freeholders of inherited land (or land acquired by marriage) worth 40s; freeholders of any land worth £5. 60% of male householders over the age of 21 now have the vote.
  • 1918: Representation of the People Act – property qualifications abolished meaning the franchise is extended to all men. Women over 30 also enfranchised if they also own property, are a University graduate, or a member of (or married to a member of) the Local Government Register (a record of persons paying property taxes).
  • 1928: Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act – Franchise extended to women over the age of 21, on equal terms with men.
  • 1971: Registration of the People Act (1969) – Voting age for all citizens reduced to 18 years.
Absent and Service Voters’ Lists

Due to the First and Second World Wars, at the calling of the 1918 and 1945 elections, many citizens were not resident at home as they were serving in the military. For this reason, Absent Voters registers (known as Service Registers after the Second World War) were produced. Derbyshire Absent Voters Lists for 1918 have survived only for the Chesterfield, Ilkeston and Western electoral divisions – follow the links for each division to download PDFs of the original registers.  Service registers for May 1945 are held for the following divisions: Belper, Bolsover, Chesterfield, Derby City, Ilkeston and High Peak. Service registers for October 1946 are held for all divisions.

Poll Books

Before the Secret Ballot Act of 1872, poll books were produced recording how individual electors voted.  Sometimes the cause of eligibility (such as residence, burgess/freeman) is also included.  Books for disputed elections 1768-1869 can be accessed in the search room (Ref: Q/RE/2/1-93). A number of other poll books survive elsewhere among both the archives and local studies collections.

Further Reading

There are a number of articles available concerning electoral registers for family history (please see the local studies card catalogue for specific details). Jeremy Gibson’s Electoral Registers 1832-1948 (published 2008) contains useful information about content of registers and voting entitlements.

Building History – Getting Started

An introductory guide to the sources available for researching Derbyshire houses and other buildings

There are a large number of different sources available for researching the history of Derbyshire buildings, but the survival and availability of sources varies significantly between different places.

Most records do not relate to specific properties and it is very rare to be able to identify records based on the house number (and almost never using a postcode) as these are relatively recent inventions in comparison to the dates of the records.  Therefore, it is often best to search just by place name rather than house number or street name.

When was the property built?

For many properties finding the specific year it was built is often not possible, but it is usually possible to narrow it down to with a few decades or years.  Search the Land Registry website to see if the property has been registered.

  • Title Deeds should be the starting point and ought to be in the custody of the current owner (or their solicitor) if the property hasn’t been registered.  If the property has been registered then the deeds may have been kept by the owner at the time the property was registered, transferred to Derbyshire Record Office, or (more often) destroyed.
  • Maps  are the key source used for working out approximately when a property was built.

Who owned and/or lived in the property

  • Census Returns are particularly useful for identifying who lived in a property, the returns were made every ten years, and currently available to search and browse online between 1841 and 1911 (particularly via Ancestry and Find My Past).
  • Electoral Registers (available from 1832-1999) list voters at a particular property, although the descriptions are usually too vague to identify specific properties for most places before 1918.  Search the online catalogue using Reference ER* and entering the place name in the AnyText field.  No registers were made in 1833-1834, 1916-1917, and 1940-1944
  • Where they survive Rate Books record information about each property, owner, occupier and the rates payable.  You will need to know which pre-1974 local authority covered the area you are interested in and consult the catalogue for the appropriate archive collection.
  • Various Maps are available may have been created with schedules detailing owners and/or occupiers.

 Other useful sources

  • Search Picture the Past to see if any photographs are available for the property or street.
  • Sale catalogues are published accounts of properties at the point they are put up for sale.  Catalogues from the 1970s are available in the local studies library (indexed on site); earlier catalogues in the archives collections can be searched in the online catalogue, though rarely by property name/number.
  • Building regulation plans survive for a small number of pre-1974 rural and urban district councils and those that do are rarely individually listed in our catalogue.  Sometimes registers are available that can help identify a specific plan.  See our catalogue for a list of pre-1974 authorities where building regulation registers and/or plans have survived.  If the authority is not listed, unfortunately this means no plans or registers have been deposited at Derbyshire Record Office.
  • Local newspapers can often give detailed descriptions of properties, especially relating to sales.
  • Never discount that someone may already have undertaken some relevant research relating a specific property, street or town/village.  Search the onsite indexes and online library catalogue for details of relevant publications and articles.

Discovering Ilkeston

Yesterday morning I visited Ilkeston Library to deliver a new workshop  introducing people to the various sources available for researching the history a Derbyshire building. It was a quiet session, with only two in attendance – though one had travelled all the way from Aston on Trent which took me quite by surprise!

With the opportunity to handle examples of all the original sources we talked about, learning how to use the record office catalogue and discussing more specific aspects of the research each was undertaking (one doing a history of their own house, the other looking more generally at their street and surrounding area, including a former laundry and former chapel), it was a very interesting and enjoyable session all round.

So what did we look at? There are a number of key sources we would always recommend consulting whichever part of Derbyshire you are researching – not all of these sources exist for all parts, though these are the ones you are most likely to come across either at the record office, your local library or elsewhere. There is one very useful source not mentioned below, and this is the tithe map and award as there was never one created for Ilkeston                                                                                                                         title deeds … enclosure map and award … land values map and domesday book c1910 … photographs … electoral registers … sale catalogues … building plans … local publications … official town guides … rate books … local authority records … (click an image for more information)

We also looked at the census – available to access for free at your local Derbyshire library – and talked about newspapers available across the county.

Many of the sources we used during the session were picked somewhat at random purely as an example of what was available, but the stories we found we really quite fascinating – I can’t go into details now, though I do hope to be able to do so very soon.

If you want to find out more about doing a building history, we will soon be publishing a series of new research guides on our website, including three guides relating to building history. We will also be re-running this introduction to sources for building history in the coming months so keep an eye out for more information in the next Events brochure. In the meantime, do contact us for more advice if you want to get started now.

 

 

Conservation of WWI electoral rolls

With the anniversary of the start of World War I upon us, like many heritage institutions around the country, the Conservation Team at Derbyshire Record Office have been working to preserve and conserve documents from the first world war era. Particular priority has been given to those documents which will be used the most by the public, and at the moment we have decided to work on electoral registers from the period 1914-1919. Continue reading