These are the records of everyone registered to vote, in a certain year, in a certain place. People who did not register are not included, even though they may have been entitled to vote.
Helpsheet for Electoral Registers
The Archives and Heritage Service hold the lists for Birmingham from 1832 onwards. There are no electoral registers for 1915 - 1917, and 1941 - 1944.
Because of data protection issues there is no access to electoral registers produced after February 2001 in Birmingham Libraries. You can consult the current register through the Elections Office (details at www.birmingham.gov.uk/elections). For Birmingham electoral registers produced between 2002 and the current register you will need to contact the British Library Tel: 0870 444 1500.
Types of electoral register
From 1918 onwards there is only one type of electoral register; anyone with the franchise could vote in local and national elections. Previously there had been several types of register. Some people had the vote in local elections, so appear on burgess or parochial rolls, but were not allowed to vote in parliamentary elections.Parliamentary
For the national elections. The lists were in alphabetical order of surname before 1884. After voting reforms in 1884 property requirements were similar to those for burgess rolls, so in many areas parliamentary electors were then listed by address, as in burgess rolls.
Lists those who could vote in local elections. They were initially arranged in alphabetical order of surname within the ward. Later they were organised like modern electoral registers; according to house-number, street, and ward.
Separate local registers; some functions of local government were dealt with at parish level from 1894 to World War 1.
Who is included?
The lists show only those entitled to vote.
Initially no women had the vote. Before 1918 the right to vote was also linked with property, and the liability to pay tax. There have been a number of changes in voting rights; some of the
most important are listed below. Ask staff for the 'Voting Rights' sheet in the Genealogy folder, for further details.
One man in seven had the vote
Some unmarried women and widows were allowed to vote in local elections only.
Two men in three could vote.
Men over 21, women over 30.
Everyone over 21.
Everyone over 18.
Birmingham, originally in Warwickshire, has grown considerably since 1832. We hold some records for most suburbs now in Birmingham. In 1891 Saltley, Harborne and Balsall Heath became part of Birmingham. Yardley, Acocks Green, Hall Green, Sparkhill, Moseley, Kings Heath, Bournville, King's Norton, Selly Oak, and Northfield, went from Worcestershire to Warwickshire in 1911, to become part of Birmingham; as did Handsworth and Aston Manor, from Staffordshire. Perry Barr, Sheldon, and Shard End joined Birmingham later. The electoral registers for Sutton Coldfield prior to 1974, when Sutton became part of Birmingham, are in Sutton Coldfield Library.
Using the electoral registers in the library
Copies of the electoral registers up to 1919, of every type, are on microfilm. Two microfilm machines on Floor 6 can be booked in advance. Others are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Electoral registers for 1920 onwards are in print. For these you need to know the address so you can check the street index to find the ward, and the section within the ward.
- Up to 1939 the registers show the property qualification which gave the right to vote; from 1945 only electors' names are given.
- Early registers (poll books); Warwickshire 1835 for example, show how the electors had voted.
- Absent voters' lists show members of the military absent when registration took place; they give rank, regiment and service number.
- Jurors' lists show jurors' professions.
Possible inaccuracies and omissions
As already mentioned, women did not appear on any of the earlier lists, nor did men without property. In addition:
- Some electors might choose not to register.
- Some people might move into or out of an area during the period between the qualifying date, and the date when the register came into force.
- Rates had to be paid by the qualifying date for the elector's name to be entered. Rate collectors might deliberately collect rates late from those whom they knew to be political opponents!
Tel: 0121 303 4217 or 0121 303 4549 or 0121 303 4220
Fax: 0121 233 4458
Parish Registers - Church of England
Family History - African & African-Caribbean
International Genealogical Index (IGI)
CD-ROMs & the Internet for family history