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Understanding electoral registers and poll books

Electoral registers and poll books are lists of people who were qualified to vote. They can be useful for establishing where people were living, and when.

We hold most, but not all, electoral registers for all the parishes in Essex. List of Electoral registers we don’t hold.

Finding electoral registers on Essex Archives Online

Electoral registers are not indexed by voter names. This means that if you are looking for a person in an electoral register, you will need to have an idea of the place they lived and the years they were there. You can then search for electoral registers for that place in those years.

  1. On the home page, enter the word ‘electoral’ and the name of the place you are interested in
  2. Enter the years you are searching for into the date range boxes
  3. Click Search

Viewing electoral registers

Most of our electoral registers are not available as images on this site, so will need to be ordered to view in the ERO Searchroom in Chelmsford.

Electoral registers for 1918 and 1929 are available as images on this site, and are free to view. If a register is available as an image, a thumbnail image will appear on the catalogue description page.

Who appears in electoral registers

The format of electoral registers has altered over the years. Today, electoral registers are arranged by address. In the past, specific addresses have not always been given, and if you are trying to trace a property it may be necessary to look for the names of people known to live in the property.

The right to vote has been expanded over time.

  • 1832: Male owners and tenants of large properties could vote
  • 1867: Male owners of property worth £5 per annum, and male tenants paying £12 per annum
  • 1884: All male householders, and tenants paying £10 per annum, could vote
  • 1918: All men over 21, and married women over 30, could vote
  • 1928: Everyone over 21 could vote 1969: Everyone over 18 could vote 

Poll books

Before 1832, a very small percentage of the population were entitled to vote. These voters were listed in Poll books.

Poll books should give details of name and parish, and details of the estate that qualified the person to vote. The names of occupiers may also appear.

Poll books from 1810-1841 for the county of Essex are listed on this site. To find them, go to Advanced search and type poll book into the phrase field. You can refine the search by adding a date or date range.

We hold county poll books for 1679, 1694, 1710, 1715, 1734, 1763, 1768 and 1774. Poll books for the borough of Maldon for 1761, 1787, 1807 and 1826, and poll books for the Borough of Colchester for 1780, 1784, 1806, 1812, 1820, 1830, 1831 and 1832, are also available at Chelmsford.

Please see a member of staff in the ERO Searchroom to view these books.

Electoral registers not held

  1. The Essex Record Office does not have a complete set of the early electoral registers for the years 1832-1868. These can partly be supplemented by the lists of electors (Q/RPc). In Advanced Search in Seax type the parish name in the first field the first field [All of these words], and Q/RPc in the third field [Any of these words]. Electoral registers for the northern division for 1832-1833 and 1838-1839, and for the southern division, 1832-1833, 1839-1840 and 1841-1842 are available in the Essex Record Office Library. Please see a member of staff to view these registers.
  2. No registers were produced for the years 1916-1917 and 1940-1944.
  3. There are no registers in the Essex Record Office for Southend Borough for the years 1918-1948. The British Library holds registers for 1937-1938 and 1947-1948, but other years do not survive. The Borough area included Canewdon, Leigh, Prittlewell, Southchurch and Southend. From 1949 the Southend area was divided into two constituencies – East and West. No registers are deposited in the Essex Record Office for either constituency, but Southend Central Library has registers from 1949. From 1949-1954 the parishes of Ashingdon, Barling, Canewdon, Eastwood, South Fambridge, Foulness, Hawkwell, Hockley, Leigh, Paglesham, Prittlewell, Rochford, North and South Shoebury, Shopland, Southchurch, Southend, Great and Little Stambridge, Sutton and Great and Little Wakering were part of the Southend East and West constituencies.
  4. Between 1948 and 1955 the parishes of Brentwood, Hutton, Ingrave, Shenfield and Great Warley were part of the Romford constituency and no registers have been deposited.
  5. From 1918 Great and Little Chishall and Heydon became part of Cambridgeshire and Kedington part of Suffolk.
  6. Between 1971 and 1974 there are no registers for the Basildon Constituency. Copies are held at Basildon Library, The Basildon Centre, St. Martin’s Square, Basildon, Essex SS14 1EE. The area contains the parishes of Basildon, North Benfleet, Great and Little Burstead, Downham, Dunton, West Horndon, Ramsden Bellhouse and Crays and Little Warley.
  7. Between 1971 and 1974 there are no registers for the Thurrock Constituency. Copies are held at Grays Library, Orsett Road, Grays, Essex RM17 5DX. The area contains the parishes of Aveley, Billericay, Bowers Gifford, Bulphan, Chadwell St. Mary, Corringham, Fobbing, Horndon-on-the-Hill, Laindon, Langdon Hills, Lee Chapel, Mucking, Nevendon, North and South Ockendon, Orsett, Pitsea, Stanford-le-Hope, Grays, Little and West Thurrock, East and West Tilbury, Vange and Wickford.
  8. Detailed electoral registers for the West Ham area after 1888 and the East Ham area after 1918 can be seen at Newham Local Studies Library, Stratford Library, 3 The Grove, London E15 1EL. Some electors continue to appear in Essex registers for parts of the West Ham area up to 1915. Microfilm copies of these can also be seen at Newham.
  9. Leyton and Walthamstow registers after 1918 and Chingford registers after 1970 can be seen at the London Borough of Waltham Forest Archives and Local Studies Library, Vestry House Museum, Vestry Road, London E17 9NH.
  10. Barking and Dagenham registers after 1945 are at the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham Public Libraries, Valence House Museum, Becontree Avenue, Dagenham RM8 3HT or Barking Central Library.
  11. Registers for Ilford after 1918 and Wanstead and Woodford after 1945 are held at the London Borough of Redbridge Local Studies and Archives, Local History Room, Clements Road, Ilford IG1 1EA.
  12. Romford, Havering-atte-Bower registers after 1945 and Cranham, Hornchurch, Rainham, Upminster, Great Warley and Wennington registers after 1948 are held at the London Borough of Havering’s Romford Central Library, St. Edward’s Way, Romford RM1 3AR.