The early handwritten electoral registers (1832-1839) are presented as images and transcripts and the later printed registers are presented as portable device formats (PDFs). The format of each register can vary depending on the constituency or the year of the register. Each register page will display the following facts about your ancestor:
Property - whether it was land, a freehold, a farm, a house, or a rental
Location of property – for example, near the church, near the cross, on the far hill, etc.
If the property was known by any other name – for example, Holly Burch farm, Green Court farm, etc.
The transcription box to the left of the image will show the constituency, district (if available), year of the register, and whether the register is a parliamentary election or county council election.
Electoral registers are lists of people eligible to vote. After the Representation of the People Act 1832, the right to vote was extended to those who were paying at least £50 a year in rent. Then in 1867, voting rights were extended to all male ratepayers in boroughs. This was extended again, in 1884, to give all rural ratepayers the right to vote. Finally, in 1918, the right to vote was given to all men over the age of 21 and women over the age of 30, regardless of property ownership or tenancy. Equal voting rights for women came in 1928.
Electoral registers are a powerful resource for family historians. With the registers, you can trace your ancestor every year, allowing you to fill in those missing years between census records. In addition to adding information to your family tree, you can also trace the history of your home. By searching the registers, you can discover the names of people who lived in your home before you.
The records can be organised by the different constituencies: Monmouthshire; Monmouthshire, Northern Division; Monmouthshire, Southern Division; and Monmouthshire, Western Division. Each transcript will explain if the register was for parliamentary elections or county council elections. Monmouthshire is close to the Welsh/English border. The historic county is known for its scenic settings amongst castles, woodlands, and rivers.
Sir Benjamin Hall
Monmouthshire is the home of Geoffrey of Monmouth, Henry V, and the infamous Captain Morgan. However, all were born before the establishment of electoral registers. In the records, you can find Sir Benjamin Hall, 1st Baron Llanover, after whom ‘Big Ben’ is named. Benjamin Hall started his political career as the sheriff of Monmouthshire in 1826 and became a Member of Parliament (MP) in 1831. While an MP, he became the first Commissioner of Works and worked to improve sanitary conditions in London.
In 1834, the Houses of Parliament were ravaged by fire and needed to be rebuilt. Benjamin Hall oversaw the final stages of the rebuilding of Parliament including the installation of the famous bell in St Stephen’s Tower, now known as Elizabeth Tower. It is said that the great bell was named after the commissioner, however, another theory is that the bell was named after a contemporary heavyweight boxer, Benjamin Caunt. Within the Wales, Monmouthshire electoral registers 1839-1889 you can find Sir Benjamin Hall in an Abergavenny district register from 1849 listed as the owner of Llanover Court, consisting of a freehold and land.