Discover your Manchester ancestors with our collection of electoral registers or you can explore the history of your home and unearth the names of those who lived there before you. We have digitised millions of electoral registers across the Manchester area.
Each record will provide both a transcription and an original image. Most of the transcriptions will include the following:
Type of record
Archive and reference
It’s always important to review the original image once you found a record. The original images could contain even more information such as, ‘nature of qualification or nature of the property rated.’ Until 1918, the right to vote was closely link to property ownership. This detail on the registers is used to clarify whether the person owned a property or paid rent above a specific rate making them eligible for voting.
The electoral registers comprise individuals eligible and officially registered to participate in either national or local elections. The criteria for voting eligibility underwent multiple revisions between 1832 and 1928. Before 1918, only men who owned or occupied residential or business properties, along with select male lodgers, were eligible to cast their votes in national elections. However, after 1918, all property-related restrictions were lifted, granting suffrage to all adult males. Concurrently, women over the age of 30, who met specific property qualifications, were granted the right to vote. Additionally, a separate vote was extended to individuals with business qualifications and graduates of British Universities. Finally, in 1928, universal suffrage was achieved, granting voting rights to all individuals of voting age (21), irrespective of their employment or property status. Subsequently, the voting age was further reduced to 18 in 1969.
The oldest records in the collection are Jurors lists from Wigan. Jurors were exclusively men until 1919. The same volume also includes a list of burgesses who were eligible to elect members of parliament in 1820. The volume also details who they voted for and there is note stating, ‘Very soon after the Poll commences, a Protest was presented to his Worship the Mayor, against the receiving of any Votes from those Jury Burgesses who were Out-Burgesses, or, not paying Scot and bearing Lot in the Borough.’ We can follow this story in the newspapers and the Lancaster Gazette described serious riots taking place and extensive damage after the election results were announced.
Not all registers are the same and some will provide more details than others. Below you will find a list of some of the different register types:
Parliamentary registers – list of people entitled to vote in Parliamentary elections
Burgess rolls – lists of people entitled to vote in local government elections. Burgess means someone who is an inhabitant of a town or borough and has full rights of citizenship.
Parochial registers – lists of people entitled to vote in local parish elections
Citizen rolls (only for Manchester City) – lists of people entitled to vote in municipal elections. Citizens were considered legally recognised members in an incorporated city.
We have gathered electoral registers from seven archives and libraries across the Manchester area. The following archives and libraries participated in this digitisation project:
Greater Manchester County Record Office
Stockport Local Heritage Library
Tameside Local Studies and Archives
Trafford Local Studies
Wigan Archives and Local Studies