Search the Manchester Electoral Registers and discover your Mancunian ancestor? Use our unique browse feature and search by event year or type. The records include Citizens’ Rolls, Burgess Rolls and Parliamentary Registers. The registers include Ardwick, Bradford, Beswick, Cheetham, Chorlton-Upon Medlock, Harpurhey, Hulme, Newton and Manchester. The collection also includes registers from the townships of Salford and Broughton.
Until 1918, the right to vote was closely linked the property ownership. In the registers you will find where your ancestor lived and whether they owned a home or business. The detail in the registers may vary slightly, but in most you will find a combination of the following information:
Name – usually listed in alphabetical order
Abode or residence
Nature of qualification or nature of the property rated – a description of the property either owned or rented. Prior to 1918, it was necessary to own a property or pay rent above a designated amount in order to be allowed to vote. The properties are usually described as a house, yard, shop, workshop, counting house, smithy & yard or public house.
Street, lane or other place in this township, where the property is situated, for which he is now rated – the address of the property.
The records are a collection of burgess rolls, citizens’ rolls and parliamentary registers. Burgess rolls and citizens’ roll were registers for local government elections and the parliamentary registers are lists of those who could vote in a parliamentary election.
The layout for the registers have changed slightly throughout the years. In the earlier registers from about 1832 to 1840, the names were listed alphabetically by township. From about 1840, the electoral names were organised by ward. Then after 1880, the registers were organised into polling districts. In some of these later records, the polling districts were further broken down by street name.
Many, but not all, will have an index or guide at the beginning of the register to explain how it is organised and a page list of either townships or wards. Use the image number selector at the bottom of the page to move through the document quickly if you wish to skip pages.
In the later records, which are organised by polling districts and then by street names you will find a street directory in the beginning of the register. The street directory lists each street alphabetically, then its township is given. For example, in Citizens' rolls for elections in the Borough of Manchester 1898-1900, we find that Wycliffe Street is in the West Gorton District, South Manchester Township, East Parliamentary Borough and Ardwick Municipal Ward.
The images were created from the microfilms. Due to the size of the registers, some of the microfilms for a single register were be broken into two or three pieces. Therefore there can be up to three sources for one register year.
Electoral Registers are compiled annually. They are lists of all adults eligible to vote. The Manchester Electoral Registers 1832-1900, include both the registers for local government elections, Citizens’ Rolls and Burgess Rolls, and the registers for Parliamentary Elections, Parliamentary Electoral Registers. The registers recorded a person’s name, address and why they qualified for a vote – what type of property they owned or rented.
Manchester is located in Lancashire County. It is a major city in the Northwest of England, with a rich industrial history. It was nicknamed Cottonopolis in the nineteenth century because of the dominant cotton industry. Manchester was also given the nickname, Warehouse City, because of the vast number of warehouses built, especially in the city centre, in the nineteenth century.
The registers are from the Borough of Manchester which includes: Ardwick, Bradford, Beswick, Cheetham, Chorlton-Upon Medlock, Harpurhey, Hulme, Newton and Manchester. In 1974 all boroughs of Manchester were combined formally to create Greater Manchester. The collection also includes registers from the townships of Salford and Broughton.
The Electoral Registers have been scanned from their microfilms. Some of the registers were too large for one microfilm and have been split into two or three parts. The original records are held at the Manchester Archives, Central Library in Manchester, England.
Burgess rolls of the Borough of Manchester 1838-1854
Burgess rolls of the Borough of Manchester and Citizens' Rolls for elections 1853-1859
Burgess roll of the Borough of Salford in the townships of Salford and Broughton 1852-1899
Citizens' rolls for elections in the Borough of Manchester 1854-1900
Parliamentary electoral registers for the Borough of Manchester 1832-1900
The nineteenth century witnessed significant changes to the voting laws and the representation of the people. Prior to 1832, voting rights were limited and representation was unbalanced in Parliament. Through the century a number of reforms were passed and by the early twentieth century universal suffrage had started to come to England.
Representation of the People Act 1832
Known as the Great Reform Act, increased the voting population by allowing all men who occupied property with an annual value of £10 to vote. After the act passed, one in seven men could vote. Prior to the law, voting was restricted to freemen and freeholders. Even though many were still excluded it was a step forward as reform of electoral system had started. The Reform Act did disenfranchise most of the rotten boroughs. These were boroughs with a very small electorate, but used for undue representation in the House of Commons. For example, Old Sarum at Salisbury had only seven voters but two MPs.
Representation of the People Act 1867
Known as the Reform Act of 1867, the second of the voting reform acts in the nineteenth century, extended the vote for all male householders living in towns. This included lodgers who paid more than £10 a year in rent. Additional voting rights were given to men living in rural areas with small landholdings. This Act doubled the electorate in Wales and England from one million to two million. Representation for industrial centres was increased and decreased for the smaller towns. Women were still unable to vote in Parliamentary elections.
Secret Ballot Act of 1872
All Parliamentary and local elections were to be held by secret ballot. Prior to this Act, voters could have been bribed or intimidated by landowners or employers. They would have been present during voting and could check individual votes. A second act, The Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act of 1883, was passed as a further measure to remove bribery from voting.
Franchise Act of 1884
The Franchise Act gave the same political rights to those living in rural areas as those living in the towns. All male house owners and lodgers who paid at least £10 a year, in both urban and rural areas, could vote. This meant the vote was further extended across the male working class population. The Act was passed on the promise to the House of Lords for the Redistribution Act. The Act was passed the following year and allowed growing towns more MPs.
1918 Representation of the People Act
This 1918 Act enfranchised all women over the age of 30 and all men over the age of 21. However, the Manchester Electoral Registers 1832-1900, do not reflect this change in the electorate as the records stop 18 years before.