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Pocketmags Digital Magazines
Pocketmags Digital Magazines

Unit topic: Electoral registers & poll books

Understanding the documents

Overview guide


Lists of names are a family historian’s dream and there’s no shortage of material sitting on the shelves of our record offices and libraries. Many of these lists record the payment of taxes, from the 14th century Poll Taxes, through the Tudor and Stuart subsidies and the Hearth Tax returns of the late 1600s to the Land Tax records starting in 1692. In more recent times, we can find our ancestors listed in Rate Books, Trade Directories and Phone Books.

In this month’s Family Tree Academy, we’re going to look at two sources which can help us to track down our ancestors; electoral registers and poll books.

About electoral registers

Electoral registers are at their most useful when you can trace people over a run of consecutive years.

The changes in the information recorded from year-to-year can be particularly useful when you’re trying to reconstruct the stories of their lives. They were first introduced in 1832 as a result of the Great Reform Act and, with the exception of the two World Wars (no registers were published in 1916 and 1917 or between 1940 and 1944), lists of those entitled to vote in local and parliamentary elections have been produced annually ever since.

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The shops are piled high with ‘back to school’ preparations for the children. But these new beginnings, plans and dreams aren’t just for the kids. This autumn set yourself the goal to learn more too – to devote more time to your family history! In our latest issue we’ve got three cracking ways to make strides in your family history know-how: 1. New to family history? Check out our 8 page guide packed with info on the essential websites – where to search and what to look for. Follow our advice and watch your tree grow in no time! 2. Want to get organised? Already been doing family history a while? Learn new ways to organise the fruits of your family history labour. Check out professional researcher Susie Douglas’s flexible and affordable strategy for super-organised family history records. 3. Immerse yourself in family history From genning up on the latest DNA know-how, discovering the latest new books and events, learning sleuthing skills from our experts’ advice, and enjoying the reader stories – we have page after page to inspire you on your family history mission. Enjoy!