Electoral Rolls

findmypast have recently published electoral rolls and these are useful to find out more about the local population. Naturally, they only cover a relatively small part of the population and there aren't many women of course.

Let's remind ourselves of the qualification rules (adapted from the British Library website).

The 1867 Reform Act extended the borough franchise to all householders subject to a one year residential qualification and the payment of rates, and to lodgers occupying lodgings worth £10 per year subject also to one years residence. It extended the county franchise by including those occupying land worth £12 per year or owning land worth £5 a year. The 1884 Reform Act extended the 1867/68 householder and lodger franchise for boroughs to counties and created an occupation franchise for those with lands or tenements worth £12 a year. For the first time the franchise was substantially uniform in constituencies throughout Great Britain.

Qualifications in the 1918 Reform Act were simplified and extended to all adult men resident in the constituency, to all women over 30 and a separate vote was given to those with a business qualification and to graduates of British Universities. The period of residential qualification was reduced from a year to six months. As a temporary measure men aged 19 or 20 serving with the armed services were given the vote and servicemen absent from home were to be registered for the first time as ‘absent voters.’ In 1926 the period of residential qualification was reduced further to three months to compensate in part for the abolition of the half-yearly register (which reverted to annual) and in 1928 the voting age for women was reduced to 21 so that the male and female franchise was now the same.

So, if we consider the 1907 register for example. The Parliamentary Division was Enfield (part of Middlesex), Potters Bar Polling District was part of the Rural District of South Mims, in turn part of the Parish of South Mims and further part of South Mims Electoral Division. The register consisted of the following sections:-

Ownership Electors (Parliamentary and Parochial Electors)

Occupation Electors (other than Lodgers). Division One - people entitled to vote as Parliamentary, County and Parochial Electors)

Division Two (excluding County Electors)

Division Three (excluding Parliamentary Electors and thereby mainly including women)

Lodgers (Parliamentary and Parochial Electors). The rent payable was included in the detail.

Parochial electors only - based on ownership

Parochial electors only - based on occupation

The area covered was:-

So much of the Parish of South Mims as lies within the limits of an imaginary line drawn from the point in the centre of the Great Northern Railway Company's main line, where the northern boundary of the Parish crosses such line in a south-easterley direction, along the centre of the said line to the 13th mile post from London of the said line, thence south-westwards in a straight line to a point in the centre of Mutton Lane opposite to the centre of Sawyer's Lane, then southwards to the centre of Sawyer's Lane to the centre of Baker Street, thence southwards along the centre of Baker Street to the centre of Rowley Lane, thence eastwards along the centre of Rowley Lane to the centre of Wagon Road, thence along the centre of Wagon Road to the Parish boundary, thence along the Parish boundary eastwards, northwards, westwards, northwards and westwards to the aforesaid point in the centre of the Great Northern Railway Company's main lane.

You would struggle to map this out today. Sawyer's Lane runs between Baker Street at one end by the M25 to Dugdale Hill Lane. Mutton Lane is nowhere near Sawyer's Lane. As for Rowley Lane....

More to follow.

19th October 2015.

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