While visiting Beverley RO I ordered up the 1832 Electoral Rolls for the East Riding. These and the 1833 Rolls were on dozens of loose paper sheets, but the 1834 Rolls were printed. The printed Electoral Rolls are arranged by Divisions, then generally by parish, then by surname of the respective electors.
The Rolls give the following information: Christian and Surname (of the persons entitled to Vote); Place of Abode; Nature of Qualification; Description of the Property by Name, or by the Name of the Tenant, or by the Street in the Parish where situate.
This last piece of information can be valuable indeed. Only a small percentage of people were entitled to vote, as the qualification for voting was property based. However, although your ancestor may not have been entitled to vote, being only a non-qualifying tenant rather than a freeholder, his name could show up as the occupier (tenant) of a freeholder's property.
Electoral Rolls are a fascinating resource, and become more informative and encompass more of the population in subsequent years, as the franchise widened by successive Acts. For a full listing of extant rolls see: Electoral Registers since 1832; and Burgess Rolls , by Jeremy Gibson and Colin Rogers, FFHS, 2nd Edition, 1990, ISBN 1 872094 10 4.
Colin Blanshard Withers, July 2000
On the 15th November, 1830, Wellington's government was defeated in a confidence vote in the House of Commons. The King, William IV, asked Earl Grey to form a new government. Grey's first act was to form a cabinet committee to produce a plan for parliamentary reform. Details of the proposals were published on the 3rd February, 1831, and the bill was eventually passed by the House of Commons with a majority of 136. However, the bill was defeated in the Tory-controlled House of Lords by a majority of forty-one.
This defeat prompted Earl Grey to call for a general election. The Whigs swept to power with an increased majority in the House of Commons. A second Reform bill was again defeated in the House of Lords. When the news broke, riots took place in several towns. In Bristol the Mansion House was set on fire, and in Nottingham the Castle was burnt down.
The House of Lords again defeated the bill when it was re-introduced in 1832, and Grey appealed to the King for help. William agreed to Grey's demands to create a large body of new Whig peers. However, this may have been a bluff, as when the House of Lords heard the news, they immediately agreed to pass the Reform Act. On the 7th June the Bill passed the Royal Seal and crowds rejoiced in the streets of Britain.
So what was all the fuss about? Why did the electoral system need reform? Was it simply a case of extending the franchise, or was there fundamental flaws in the existing franchise? The answer is `yes' to both questions.
The following Table from an 1831 Electoral Report clearly illustrates the need for Reform:
|WHICH NOW SEND MEMBERS TO PARLIAMENT.|
|COUNTY, CITY, BOROUGH or TOWN||POPULATION||TAXES||Number of MEMBERS||TOTAL POPULATION|
|of each County, City, Borough or Town||Paid by each County, City, Borough or Town||Now returned by each County, City, Borough or Town||of the county|
The main reforms in the bill were:
The borough franchise was regularised. The right of voting was vested in all householders paying a yearly rental of £10 and, subject to one year residence qualification, £10 lodgers (if they were sharing a house and the landlord was not in occupation).
In the counties, the franchise was granted to:
Despite the reforms many people believed the Bill didn't go far enough, as only one in seven adult males had the vote. Many constituencies still had disproportionate populations, with 35 constituencies having less than 300 electors, compared with Liverpool, for example, which had a constituency of over 11,000.
But it was a start...........
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