Did your Scottish ancestors vote in the traditional county of Linlithgowshire? Search through the electoral registers of Linlithgowshire (known as West Lothian today). The electoral registers, held by the British Library, are now available for the first time online in this browse search format. Browse through pages of Scottish electoral registers.
Each result will bring you directly to the image of the electoral register. Use the arrows on the left and right to browse through the collection. Alternatively, you can use the image counter on the bottom of the image to insert a page number you want to view. Insert the number ‘1’ and you can view the register from the first page.
Electoral registers are lists, created annually, of people who are eligible and registered to vote. These lists would include reasons for eligibility, such as their ownership or occupation of a property as a tenant or, in some cases, as a lodger. Until 1918, the right to vote was closely linked to property. Electoral registers record an individual’s name, occupation, and residence, as well as notations regarding whether a person was a proprietor or tenant and descriptions of the property, including the name of place or village where the property was located.
After 1918, as the electorate grew, it was necessary to designate who could vote in which elections. For this reason, the registers for the County of Linlithgow include specific symbols for each qualification, which appear before the individual’s name.
The symbols include
A – Entitled to vote at all parliamentary and local elections
B – Entitled to vote only at parliamentary elections
C – Entitled to vote only at local government elections
D – Entitled to vote only at local government elections (excepting county council elections)
a – Entitled to vote only at parliamentary elections as absent voters
The registers are from the traditional county of Linlithgowshire. The county became West Lothian in 1921. It is one of 34 traditional counties in Scotland. It is the second smallest mainland county in Scotland and is located south of the River Forth between Glasgow and Edinburgh.
The electoral registers are held at the British Library. The library retains the national set of current and non-current electoral registers, which form part of the 150 million plus items in its collections. In 2004, the registers took up 3.21868km (or 2 miles) of shelving. Approximately 800 volumes are added to the collection each year. Assuming the number of volumes and size remains the same (c. 40.64m per year), by 2024 the registers will take up more than 4km (or 2.48 miles) of shelving.
Electoral registers were first introduced in 1832 with the Great Reform Act. As the number of voters increased and polling days were reduced to one, there was a need to establish the right to vote in advance of the polling day. To that end, electoral registers were created.
Electoral registers are a special resource for family historians because you can discover your ancestors in an exact location between the census years. Also, through the registers you can discover the history of your family home, such as its former occupants. Have you ever renovated and found layers of wallpaper or discovered items from a previous owner in your attic? Is it possible that someone famous lived in your house? Now you can find the names of those who called your house their home for a period of time. Furthermore, you can see how the area around your home developed over the years as new homes or businesses were built. To search the electoral registers by name go to Scotland, Linlithgowshire (West Lothian), Electoral Registers 1864-1931. A link is available in the Useful links and resources section.