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Source Information

Ancestry.com. Dorset, England, Electoral Registers, 1839-1922 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011.
Original data: Dorset Electoral Registers and Poll Books. Dorchester, Dorset, England: Dorset History Centre.

About Dorset, England, Electoral Registers, 1839-1922

This database contains yearly registers of names and residences of people in Dorset who were eligible to vote in elections.

Historical Background

Electoral registers are lists of individuals who are eligible to vote during the time the register is in force (usually one year). Registration for voters in England has been required since 1832, and registers were typically published annually. Restrictive property requirements denied the vote to much of the population for years, though these were eased somewhat in 1867 and 1884 through the Second and Third Reform Acts. They were finally removed, for men, in 1918, when most males age 21 and older were allowed to vote. The franchise was extended to some women over the age of 30 in 1918, but it was not until 1928 that the voting age was made 21 for both men and women.

Thus, the number of names listed in the registers increases with the expansion of suffrage in England.

Searching the Registers

Electoral registers typically provide a name and place of abode, and older registers may include a description of property and qualifications to vote. Registers were compiled at a local level, with names appearing alphabetically within wards/districts. In the past, this meant that to effectively search a register, you needed a good idea of where your ancestor lived. The registers in this database have been indexed electronically, however, which allows you to search them by name. The street address can be searched in the Location field.

This index was created using text recognition software. Records were not transcribed.

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