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Electoral Registers are lists of people entitled to vote in local and parliamentary elections. They are usually in order of address, although some of the earlier Registers are in alphabetical order of surname. They are very useful for establishing who lived at a particular address at a particular time.
Since 1883, for electoral purposes, Croydon has been divided up into wards. The number of wards, and their boundaries, have changed repeatedly. To find an address, you will first need to know which ward it was in - we have street indexes which will help you to do this. Within each ward voters were listed in straight alphabetical order until 1889. Since 1889, they have been laid out in alphabetical order of street, and then in order of house number - odd and even numbers are usually listed separately. As a result, it is virtually impossible to find someone in an electoral Register if you don't know their address - unless you are prepared to search through the whole Register, which will take a very long time!
Originally, there were different Registers for local and parliamentary elections, mainly because different rules applied to each. On the whole, until 1918 the laws governing who could vote in local elections were more liberal - for example, women could vote for local councillor, but not for MPs. Since 1918, a single Register has been used for both.
Electoral Registers only list people who are entitled or Registered to vote. The laws governing entitlement to vote have changed repeatedly, usually with the effect of widening the electorate, and only since 1928 have all men and women of full age been able to vote. Even on modern electoral Registers, people who have not Registered to vote will not appear on the Register.
Before 1918, the right to vote was tied to property ownership. In 1883, when Croydon's electoral Registers start, the parliamentary electorate (i.e. those who voted for MPs) included all male owners and tenants (aged 21 or over) of dwelling houses, and lodgers paying at least £10 per annum who had lived at the same address for 12 months or more. The local government electorate (i.e. those who voted in the Borough Council elections) included men and women who had occupied rateable property in the borough for one year, paid rates, and lived within seven miles of the borough. In 1918 the rules governing local and parliamentary elections were simplified. All men aged 21 or over who were normally resident in the constituency were able to vote; all women aged 30 or over who were local government voters, or were the wives of local government voters, were given the parliamentary franchise for the first time. All women aged 21 or over were finally enfranchised in 1928. The qualification age for men and women was lowered to 18 in 1969.
Prior to 1883, Croydon electoral Registers are held at Surrey History Centre. In 1883, Croydon was incorporated as a Borough, with its own Council, and from then until 1918 we hold annual Registers of local government electors (called 'Burgess Rolls'). In 1885 Croydon became a Parliamentary Borough, with its own Member of Parliament. Local Studies Library holds annual Registers of parliamentary electors from 1885 to the present, with the exception of the years 1916-17 and 1940-44, when no elections were held. Electoral Registers for the former Urban District of Coulsdon and Purley prior to 1931 are held at Surrey History Centre. We have them from 1931 to 1965, when Coulsdon and Purley became part of the London Borough of Croydon.
Burgess Rolls list people entitled to vote
in local government elections.
Prior to 1931, electoral Registers for Coulsdon and Purley are held at Surrey History Centre. From 1931 to 1965, Coulsdon and Purley are included in the East Surrey electoral Registers. Coulsdon and Purley became part of the newly formed London Borough of Croydon in 1965, and are included with the Croydon electoral Registers from that date.
Monday, 30 November, 2015