This database contains yearly registers listing names and residences of people in Bedfordshire, who were eligible to vote in elections. These year-by-year registers can help place your ancestors in a particular place and possibly also reveal a bit about property they owned.
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. There were also requirements when it came to local elections that varied from borough to borough (e.g., residency), and voters had to petition to be added to the electoral registers.
Property restrictions 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 age 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. Many of the registers in this database have been indexed electronically, which allows you to search them by name, but if you’re searching for a somewhat common name it will be helpful to know the area in which your ancestor lived to narrow your results. The street address can be searched in the Location field.
Please find below a guide to the codes used in the registers:
- R Residence qualification
- BP Business premises qualification
- O Occupational qualification (occupation in this case is occupation of a property, not employment)
- HO Qualification through husband's occupation
- NM Naval or military voter
From 1928, with the advent of women's suffrage, the following codes can be found:
- R Residence qualification (man)
- Rw Residence qualification (woman)
- B Business premises qualification (man)
- Bw Business premises qualification (woman)
- O Occupational qualification (man)
- Ow Occupational qualification (woman)
- D Qualification through wife's occupation
- Dw Qualification through husband's occupation
- NM Naval or military voter
The following extra codes can also sometimes be seen
- J Eligible to serve as juror
- SJ Eligible to serve as special juror
- a Absent voter
- BP Business premises register
- CI Civilian residence register
- SE Service register
- RR Ratepayers register
Please note that no registers were produced during the war years 1916, 1917 and 1940, 1941, 1942, 1943 and 1944.
Note: This index was created using text recognition software. Records were not transcribed.