Remembered Today:

voltaire60

ELECTORAL REGISTERS 1914, 1915 AND 1918

70 posts in this topic

  Could  any old local government officer assist?   Find My Past have put the British Library collection of electoral registers online (done a good job too-easy to use, quick and good images). But a small query.  The registers were compiled for each year (as they are now) -presumably working to instructions from the Local Government Board. But what was the cut-off date?  Usually c.September-October of the preceding year?  Thus, the 1915 registers should-with the "lodger" votes especially-give the closest snapshot of residence to the outbreak of war (Lodger votes are particularly useful,as they track not only the poorer male tenants but the sons of the household, with a "rented" room in the parental home)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The following has been taken from the Information leaflet on Electoral registers produced by the London Metropolitan Archives as Information Leaflet 10.

 

"There are three dates associated with each register: the qualifying date, the date when the register comes into force, and the date on which the register is replaced. The qualifying date is the most important for the purpose of tracing ancestors or missing persons because it establishes residence on a particular date. From 1832 the qualifying date was normally either June or July with the register coming into force at the end of that year. From 1953 the qualifying date became October with the register coming into force in February. "

 

Note also Ancestry has Electoral Registers and for example the 1915 register for Hammersmith and Fulham states at the beginning of the register  (page 2 of 946) that it is for the year commencing 1st November 1914

 so there is some variation.

regards

 

Indefatigable

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

   Thanks,Indefatigable- I use LMA but had not noticed that information leaflet- thus, it's pretty much the same as now.  Thus, the 1915 Register (in my case, this is the Southern Division of Essex-Romford) will reflect the situation in June-July 1914-which is as close as I am going to get to those elusive local casualties who turn up in parish mags. and local papers but who are off the 1911 Census. A June-July cut-off is ideal.  Had it been the current practice of an October cut-off-then, it would have lost many/most of the Kitchener volunteers,who would have gone by October 1914-again, mostly the transients who are off the 1911 Census. Thus, if the cut-off  was October 1914, I would have to go back and do the 1914 Register as well.  A small administrative change somewhere along the line (Thanks for identifying 1953) but it can make a lot of difference as to which Register is the more accurate.

    The 1915 Registers on FM supplied by BL look, therefore to be a very good source indeed for residence- No more mis-transcriptions from SDGW on Ancestry (I work on Wanstead- mis-transcribed several times when it should have read Wandsworth)!!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi voltaire60,

 

The 1918, etc AVLs resulted from the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1918.There is an annotated version of that (available for free download) from archive.org here.

 

Regards

Chris

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 5   Posted (edited)

Hi Chris- Thanks for that- I thnk for our purposes, the operative details are that the major part of the 1918 register was compiled in the late Summer/Autumn of 1917,hence the number of 1918 casualties on the roll. As my local register for 1915 is 134 pages downloaded, my brain is still trying to recover from reading some of it. My eyes gave up hours ago. Perhaps a tincture at sunset will help.....or another one before "on account"

 

        Pip,pip

              Mike

Edited by voltaire60

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Not sure about the assumption made re the compilation of the 1918 register, given that it was based on new legislation and so massively extended the franchise. The first page of the printed act is dated February 1918. http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/case-study-the-right-to-vote/the-right-to-vote/birmingham-and-the-equal-franchise/1918-representation-of-the-people-act/

 

Would local authorities have devised a procedure that dealt with adding so many women to the register, as well as the younger servicemen without parliamentary authority?  I don't know, but doubt it.

 

EDIT  This article confirms that amendments to the act were being considered as late as January 30th 1918. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1946102?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents       

I appreciate that the Bill on which it was based started its process through parliament in the summer of 1917. The 1918 General Election was surely based on that register, and polling was on 14 December 1918 so the register must have been in force by that date.

 

 

Keith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
7 hours ago, keithmroberts said:

Not sure about the assumption made re the compilation of the 1918 register, given that it was based on new legislation and so massively extended the franchise. The first page of the printed act is dated February 1918. http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/electionsvoting/womenvote/case-study-the-right-to-vote/the-right-to-vote/birmingham-and-the-equal-franchise/1918-representation-of-the-people-act/

 

Would local authorities have devised a procedure that dealt with adding so many women to the register, as well as the younger servicemen without parliamentary authority?  I don't know, but doubt it.

 

EDIT  This article confirms that amendments to the act were being considered as late as January 30th 1918. https://www.jstor.org/stable/1946102?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents       

I appreciate that the Bill on which it was based started its process through parliament in the summer of 1917. The 1918 General Election was surely based on that register, and polling was on 14 December 1918 so the register must have been in force by that date.

 

 

Keith

 

    Keith- My understanding (From the older thread of yours on Portsmouth?)  is that work started on a "normal"  electoral register (ie as 1914 or 1915) in the Summer of 1917.  Thus, a chunk of the work had been done for the "normal" register come the passing of the RPA- However, as it was a coalition government and the changes were largely the results of the Speaker's Conference of 1917, then new additions to the Register were forewarned and were taken in their stride. Given the massive dislocation of population for industry, let alone the armed forces (let alone the casualties), I think the "normal" register was recognized as being a work "on account"-rather than a deluge at one go when the war ended.  I tried to work it out for my local register a while back-using the casualties in the 1918 register who had been killed before it came into effect-Then, the earliest casualties of 1917-1918 listed were from the latter part of July 1917-which fits in with a cut-off date of 31st July as in the pre-war years

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But prior to the passing of the act the only work would surely be based on the then existing law.  The requirement for six months residence, in the six months up to 15 April 1918 surely prevented work on the service men who were not householders qualified under the old law, let alone the women, given that the final details were only determined in the last few days before the law was enacted.

I plan some work, probably not until midwinter at the earliest,  given my other commitments, to match a few streets of the digitised ward of the Portsmouth 1918 register against both the 1911 Census and the 1915 register to see how far I can home the NM voters for 1911  and to see whether there were many out of area men billeted in the patch. ideally I would like to extend that to the 1919 register as well to see what happened to those younger NM voters.

 

Voltaire - it was your  suggestion that  an early start was made on the 1918 register in the earlier thread, 

"Despite the restrictions of wartime compilation, many boroughs had a better grip on their electoral registers and could realistically get them reasonably up to date. Registers were compiled broadly in the Autumn of 1917 but ,gain,a suspicion, there is a variety of completeness as the General Election of 1918,the Coupon Election,was held at reasonably short notice. "

 

Do you have any evidence that work on the 1918 register was started as early as the summer of 1917? Given the massive change in the franchise, the qualification date, and the fact that some issues were still being debated long after the draft that emerged from the Speaker's Conference, in fact right up to the end of January 1918, I still remain to be persuaded that more would be done before the enactment of the new law than some provisional planning.

 

Keith

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Keith- My understanding (Even of my own post of the same!!) is that work started on a normal register to the normal timescale and it was realised that the work was nccessary because in 2 years of war a great many people had moved, let alone the service absentees and casualties.. It was known that there would be additions to the franchise given the consensus on many things by the speaker's conference of 1917. 

    I think the key to it is that the electoral registers are divided into sections, dependent on the type of voting qualification. BUT the absolute key is that nobody was disfranchised-thus, although a new register would be incomplete, there would be a big chunk already done in a "normal" register. The sheer practicality of the effort involved, even after the actual-or anticipated passage - of the RPA 1918 meant that as much of the "new" register as possible was complete even before the new voters of RPA were known in detail.

     I think this set of mechanics is in Martin Pugh: Electoral Reform in Peace and War- but my copy is boxed in store. I will try to check the actuality in the next coupe of days at LSE.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for getting back to me on that. When you get to the book can you look at whether such action was being taken in 1916  as well. I can see that names might be brought forward, but given the high mobility of an urban population that was overwhelmingly in rented accommodation it just does not feel right, given that each address would have to be contacted after April 1918 to determine the identities of all those new electors. In my previous life as a civil servant I would not have wanted to risk duplicating work.

 

Keith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Will do- My memory (weaker than that of a aging goldfish) tells me that there were attempts at a register in 1916 but they were not followed through- in part, I think, because of the record keeping requirements on  local authorities of the MSA- My recollection is that the initial reason that there was no 1916 register compiled through the second half of 1915 is the work neccessary to get the MSA registers in order.- All those application for exemption ,etc didn't just come out of nowhere in early 1916.

     Another factor that I am rusty on is that the "normal" process of registration of voters continued as part of the usual domestic programme anyway-that is, that a new voter could go along-same as now- and ask to be put on the Register. Somewhere, sometime there were records that would have contributed to a 1916 register

 

       What is also of interest in this matter is how local authorities compiled the National Service registers-OK, easy enough to track down who was to be registered-but how did the actual nitty-gritty by local councils get this done in 1915-1916?  What records were used to compile them?  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 13   Posted (edited)

28 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

       What is also of interest in this matter is how local authorities compiled the National Service registers-OK, easy enough to track down who was to be registered-but how did the actual nitty-gritty by local councils get this done in 1915-1916?  What records were used to compile them?  

 

 

With the National Registration Act it took around 29 millions forms - https://derbyscheme.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/national-registration-act-1915/(I put this together some time ago so it likely needs updated and reviewed to correct my spelling, if nothing else). The  compilers essentially went door to door to chase down each property and the occupiers. All of the military service act details for men came out of this.

In to 1916 wasn't so bad as the forms captured the details from age 15 so once the original work was done the bulk of the work for the following 3 years was also done.

Craig

Edited by ss002d6252

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

 

With the National Registration Act it took around 29 millions forms - https://derbyscheme.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/national-registration-act-1915/(I put this together some time ago so it likely needs updated and reviewed to correct my spelling, if nothing else). The  compilers essentially went door to door to chase down each property and the occupiers. All of the military service act details for men came out of this.

In to 1916 wasn't so bad as the forms captured the details from age 15 so once the original work was done the bulk of the work for the following 3 years was also done.

Craig

 

    Thanks Craig- It would explain why there was no 1916 electoral register-the sheer diversion of effort to do the National Service register. I suspect-vis a vis my previous post- that the National Service registrars must have had access to updates of the 1915 register, such as they were. Now,one thing I am completely in the dark about- did new lodgers or tenants have to register-say,in the manner of a French hotel???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have just discovered this collection of Hansard records.  http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/acts/elections-and-registration-act-1915

 

Apparently in December 1915 parliament suspended the production of new electoral registers, and it appears that this suspension remained in force until the 1918 act was passed.  That is my reading of the various documents.

Parliament has suspended the requirement to hold an election five years after the 1910 one, and I think effectively maintained that position until 1918..

 

Keith

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 16   Posted (edited)

29 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

 

    Thanks Craig- It would explain why there was no 1916 electoral register-the sheer diversion of effort to do the National Service register. I suspect-vis a vis my previous post- that the National Service registrars must have had access to updates of the 1915 register, such as they were. Now,one thing I am completely in the dark about- did new lodgers or tenants have to register-say,in the manner of a French hotel???

I've not seen specific mention of it however I'd imagine the local authority used every record they had to get started.

Off the top of my head, when someone moved address they had a month to re-register in the new area but for moves within an area I'm not sure.

EDIT

The same applied even within area - 28 days to re-register, Failure to do so was a £5 fine on conviction + £1 for each day over the 28.

An amendment to DORA gave officials a right to inspect a property and see the registration certificate of all males who were resident. A £100 fine could be applied for failure to provide the relevant certificates.

Craig

Edited by ss002d6252

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Hansard makes it clear that the 1915 Electoral Register remained in force  effectively until 1918.In the meantime the National Registration Act served its different purpose, and clearly provided the Government with a great deal of information that  was relevant especially to conscription when that was introduced.

 

Craig tells us that some 29m forms were required to produce the National Service Register.  My reading of the sources so far is that a similar process would be applied to the production of the 1918 Electoral Register.  To what extent local authorities were able to make use of the National Service Register presumably depended on the terms of the relevant legislation, but given the qualifying dates, and the need to compile an absent voters list, (so many of which are sadly missing), I am drawn more and more to the view that in order to comply with the act an entirely new register would require a complete canvas of all households. Given the experience of compiling  the National Service registers, the procedures would surely be a normal part of local government work.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 18   Posted (edited)

1 hour ago, keithmroberts said:

I think Hansard makes it clear that the 1915 Electoral Register remained in force  effectively until 1918.In the meantime the National Registration Act served its different purpose, and clearly provided the Government with a great deal of information that  was relevant especially to conscription when that was introduced.

 

Craig tells us that some 29m forms were required to produce the National Service Register.  My reading of the sources so far is that a similar process would be applied to the production of the 1918 Electoral Register.  To what extent local authorities were able to make use of the National Service Register presumably depended on the terms of the relevant legislation, but given the qualifying dates, and the need to compile an absent voters list, (so many of which are sadly missing), I am drawn more and more to the view that in order to comply with the act an entirely new register would require a complete canvas of all households. Given the experience of compiling  the National Service registers, the procedures would surely be a normal part of local government work.

 

 

On 23 March 1918 the Western Morning News ran an article advising that the Local Government Board had issued instructions on how to prepare the register of voters. The list was to come in to force on 1 Oct 1918 and remain in place to  15 Mar 1919. The registration officer was to make inquiries for the details to each property however they could use the national registers to assist the task.

It looks like the national register was used but without the instructions it's not clear whether they could use it as 'seed' data or whether it was to be used only to deal with queries after an inquiry to the property had been made first.

http://search.findmypast.co.uk/bna/viewarticle?id=bl%2f0000329%2f19180323%2f096

Craig

Edited by ss002d6252

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 minutes ago, ss002d6252 said:

I am drawn more and more to the view that in order to comply with the act an entirely new register would require a complete canvas of all households. Given the experience of compiling  the National Service registers, the procedures would surely be a normal part of local government work.

 

   Keith-Exactly so-I agree fully. My local Absent Voters list for the Borough of Ilford (c8500 names) was clearly done both by "on the knocker" and,I suspect, the National Service register - Odd names for units suggest a wife or parent on the doorstep-while up-to-date listings of full service numbers,etc for many suggest this may have have come from the National Service register (OK-for some,from the declarations on their service letters home). But the variety of both highly accurate and specific information,for some and vagueness and misnamed units suggests a bit of both.

    One of the things I find fascinating is the comparison of the Second World War with the Great War- Started with the "Fischer Thesis" of 1914 at uni. (Heard him speak)- backtracking Germany's aims in 1939-1945 and seeing the similarities with 1914. Similarly, with the vast and efficient swathe of agencies set up in 1939-40- Just how many of these were learnt from the experience of 1914-1918 and brought out from embryo in 1938-1939?.- The National Register of 1939 is the obvious one.

   I raise this because we have may have been getting close to the Ernie Bevin levels of control of manpower and the labour market in 1917-1918-  National Service register and Electoral Register in 1918 gave a pretty comprehensive view of what manpower resources were out there- and of course, it was the Town Hall that did both. Reflected, I think, in the Second World War with ,say,the responsibilities for knowing the civil population comprehensively at local government unit level-say,reporting of civilian casualties. Overall, I don't think the role of the Town Hall in the Great War has been fully recognised (OK-shoot me down with some monographs and articles I have never stumbled across-Craig's is an excellent start)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote

Odd names for units suggest a wife or parent on the doorstep-while up-to-date listings of full service numbers,etc for many suggest this may have have come from the National Service register (OK-for some,from the declarations on their service letters home). But the variety of both highly accurate and specific information,for some and vagueness and misnamed units suggests a bit of both.

 

I'd think the same - the 'odd' units provided by the wife with the 'out of date' units probably coming from where they had to look at the registers for national service. The military records may have come from the duplicate card index which had been utilised for the Derby Scheme, this probably seems more likely to me to have been updated in that respect than the main register.

Craig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think we are there. The extract from the Western Morning News confirms I think the primary door to door canvas; in effect a completely new register compiled by that means initially,  and your examination of a surviving Absent Voters Register with some interesting unit names supports that, while it is entirely likely that reference was made in some (or many) cases to the National Service Register by the more conscientious of the staff involved.

 

Back to the cut off date query at the beginning -  the qualifying date was that in Craig's earlier extract from the act, 15 April 1918. There was a timetable for appeals and challenges, but basically, 15 April it was. There will of course have been errors - either made by respondents to the canvas, by the canvassers in recording, or by the "overlookers" checking and assembling the lists.

 

In the case of the register that we have digitised for Buckland Ward in Portsmouth it is also clear from errors that the allocation of poll numbers in Portsmouth at least was effectively done by the men who set the type. It seems likely that forenames especially in the Buckland register were subject to the established view of the typesetters - for example a ratio of about ten to one in favour of the name Harriett  against Harriet. And as for names such as Sidney  or Sydney I have no faith whatsoever in the printed register. Life is too short to go looking for birth records for these individuals.

 

Keith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

ID: 22   Posted (edited)

In case it helps the debate and with due apologies if it has been mentioned upthread which I only scan read but it looks. from the attached Card, that the men oveseas contributed to the Absent Voters Register by filling out said Card. The date of 15th April 1918 is confirmed on the Card. I think the card was previously posted on the Forum by Clive Hughes (LS_164)

75335 Electoral Card.jpg

Edited by Hywyn
minor typos

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks Hywyn. I suspect a mixture of cards from men serving in France and Flanders, and of family information in respect of men further afield probably applied, but the image is itself an interesting document as well as confirming the 15th April date.

 

Keith

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hywyn-Excellent work-Thanks a lot for that- I have never seen one of these AVL cards before. It struck me after the last posts, that the AVL details may have come from Field Service letters-so my next question was going to be -what soldier details were on the letters home?????  It struck me that if a local official  was "on the knocker", then a Field Service card/letter might have been accepted on the doorstep, if addressed to that location and having enough details of name,rank and serial number to go on the AVL Register. That-and the AVL cards- suggests that the AVL cards went back in bulk to each local council (as the Electoral Registration Officers)-and then the clerks were out on the knocker.-and could accept Field Service cards/letters as proof of residence to go on the register- Perhaps accounting for the differences in details listed on the register.

 

      Keith- Millbank is good for Hansard historically-though it's inability to rank by significance makes,say,following the passage of a bill very awkward. Now, 2 little questions that might have already come your way for the Portsmouth registers you work on:

 

1) I still think that the normal registers were there-OK-I accept that the 1915 register was continued in force as per the Millbank reference- hence the presence of 1917-1918 casualties on the 1918 register-I suspect that they would have been there anyway given that they were likely in different voting categories on the 1915 register. But a small problem-there were still elections during the war-local and national (the Pemberton Billing by-election comes to mind), But there had to be some provision for new voters to vote in these elections over and above the 1915 register- Yes, a general election may have been postponed and the provisions of the 1911 Parliament Act suspended for the duration on that-BUT the registers are used for all elections- Given the swirl of displacement and the sheer numbers of people working and living elsewhere on war work, then I suspect they must have been able to update the registers pro tem to allow new incomer residents to vote-this would be but a continuation of the process of registering. If this had not occurred, then it could only be done by the suspension of the right to register if moving into an area. Also, if it was the 1915 register only, then this would have effectively disfranchised those moving out of area- I have no recollection of any protests on this score, so I presume the peacetime regime of registering "as and when" between registers continued.

 

2) It was a surprise to me that there are many civilians on the AVL register for Ilford. I cannot see that they could have been  on the AVL register by any other way than "on the knocker". I have men registered as away on war work who would clearly be beyond military service age and not likely to be on the MSA register. Thus, I suspect that,on the doorstep, the questions would have been:

 

1) Does this person still live here?  (If the clerk had an AVL card). Recent casualties may have been a problem but I suspect that as local councis had the internally circulated casualty lists anyway, that AVL cards for post-April 1918 casualties were pulled off the system.

 

2) Anyone here in the Forces?- Do you have a Field Service letter/card that would show that?

 

3) Anyone here away on war work?  

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 minutes ago, voltaire60 said:

Hywyn-Excellent work-Thanks a lot for that- I have never seen one of these AVL cards before. It struck me after the last posts, that the AVL details may have come from Field Service letters-so my next question was going to be -what soldier details were on the letters home?????  It struck me that if a local official  was "on the knocker", then a Field Service card/letter might have been accepted on the doorstep, if addressed to that location and having enough details of name,rank and serial number to go on the AVL Register. That-and the AVL cards- suggests that the AVL cards went back in bulk to each local council (as the Electoral Registration Officers)-and then the clerks were out on the knocker.-and could accept Field Service cards/letters as proof of residence to go on the register- Perhaps accounting for the differences in details listed on the register.

 

      Keith- Millbank is good for Hansard historically-though it's inability to rank by significance makes,say,following the passage of a bill very awkward. Now, 2 little questions that might have already come your way for the Portsmouth registers you work on:

 

1) I still think that the normal registers were there-OK-I accept that the 1915 register was continued in force as per the Millbank reference- hence the presence of 1917-1918 casualties on the 1918 register-I suspect that they would have been there anyway given that they were likely in different voting categories on the 1915 register. But a small problem-there were still elections during the war-local and national (the Pemberton Billing by-election comes to mind), But there had to be some provision for new voters to vote in these elections over and above the 1915 register- Yes, a general election may have been postponed and the provisions of the 1911 Parliament Act suspended for the duration on that-BUT the registers are used for all elections- Given the swirl of displacement and the sheer numbers of people working and living elsewhere on war work, then I suspect they must have been able to update the registers pro tem to allow new incomer residents to vote-this would be but a continuation of the process of registering. If this had not occurred, then it could only be done by the suspension of the right to register if moving into an area. Also, if it was the 1915 register only, then this would have effectively disfranchised those moving out of area- I have no recollection of any protests on this score, so I presume the peacetime regime of registering "as and when" between registers continued.

 

2) It was a surprise to me that there are many civilians on the AVL register for Ilford. I cannot see that they could have been  on the AVL register by any other way than "on the knocker". I have men registered as away on war work who would clearly be beyond military service age and not likely to be on the MSA register. Thus, I suspect that,on the doorstep, the questions would have been:

 

1) Does this person still live here?  (If the clerk had an AVL card). Recent casualties may have been a problem but I suspect that as local councis had the internally circulated casualty lists anyway, that AVL cards for post-April 1918 casualties were pulled off the system.

 

2) Anyone here in the Forces?- Do you have a Field Service letter/card that would show that?

 

3) Anyone here away on war work?  

 

From doing some more reading there's a report from the Faringdon Advertiser which state that a person on the electoral list could apply to be placed on the AVL if they could prove that they needed to be on it. The 'military or naval voter' was automatically added to the AVL unless they notified the registration officer otherwise.

 

The Admiralty, Army Council and Air Council were to furnish information to the registration officers in respect of the details of any army and naval voters for their area however the voter registration forms for each address also asked, in Part V, for the details of any men who were away on service.


Craig

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now