were introduced in 1696 when sheriffs were first required to compile
records of the poll in county elections. Usually divided by parish
they list the name of each voter and the candidate(s) for whom he
As the franchise
did not become universal for men & women until 1928, Poll Books
include only a small proportion of the population.
were effectively abolished by the 1872 Ballot Act. Electoral Registers
are usually available in most counties every year since the 1832
Reform Act except 1916-17 and around 1940-44. In 1832 they included
only male owners of larger properties and tenants. The 1867 Reform
Act extended the franchise to male owners of property worth £5 per
annum and tenants paying £12 per annum, and in 1884 to all male
householders and lodgers paying £10 per annum. The Representation
of the People Act of 1918 introduced a universal male franchise
and included all women over 30. In 1928 the female qualifying age
was reduced to 21, and to 18 for both men & women in 1969.