Electoral registers for London from 1835-1965 have just been made available online.
Ancestry.co.uk has today made available online the London Electoral Registers from 1835-1965, which chart Britain’s changing political landscape from the 1800s up to modern times.
Ancestry says: “The 139 million records included in the collection detail the names and addresses of registered voters in the capital over 130 years, providing valuable insight into social trends such as the rise of the Suffragette movement, which began in 1872.
“While the fight for universal suffrage had begun in the mid-19th century, it was not until 1928 that the right to vote was granted to all women over the age of 21 following the Equal Franchise Act. Previously, female property owners could vote in local, though not parliamentary, elections.
“Analysis of the registers reveals that once women had been granted the right to vote, they flocked to the polls in record numbers to exercise their new found powers, with the proportion of women registered to vote in the capital increasing from less than one per cent in the 1800s to 56 per cent in 1929, the year after universal suffrage was declared.
“The success of the suffragette movement was largely driven by a number of notable individuals, whose voting records can be found in the collection, including that of Millicent Fawcett, one of the earliest campaigners for women’s rights. Despite her record revealing that as a property-owner she was eligible to vote from 1890, Fawcett still campaigned tirelessly to achieve equal rights for all women.
“However, by the early 20th century the campaign had made little progress and women were growing increasingly frustrated at their exclusion from the voting system, with some protesters resorting to more drastic measures to make their case heard.
“One such campaigner was Emmeline Pankhurst, who founded and led the Women’s Social and Political Union – an organisation that adopted a more militant stance in the fight for equal enfranchisement. Similarly to Millicent Fawcett, Pankhurst was entitled to vote from 1892, yet continued to fight for the cause of universal suffrage.
“With the inclusion in 1952 of the registration record for the only female Prime Minister of the UK – Margaret Thatcher, then aged 27 – the collection also reveals just how far the battle for equal rights for women has come
“Numerous prominent men involved in the suffragette movement also feature, including:
- John Stuart Mill – When parliamentary reform was being debated in 1867, John Stuart Mill proposed an amendment that would have given the vote to women on the same terms as men, but it was rejected. The campaign gained momentum after this and Mill later gave up his parliamentary seat in support of women’s suffrage.
- George Lansbury – Lansbury led the campaign in Parliament for votes for women. In October 1912 he decided to draw attention to the plight of suffragette prisoners by resigning his seat in the House of Commons and fighting a by-election in favour of votes for women. The following year he was imprisoned for making speeches in favour of suffragettes who were involved in illegal activities.
- David Lloyd George – some leading male politicians supported universal suffrage, including Lloyd George. However, as a cabinet member the Liberal politician was targeted by campaigners and subjected to verbal and physical attacks, including an arson attack on his home by suffragettes in 1913.
“Electoral registration was first introduced by the Reform Act of 1832 and since then electoral registers have been compiled annually with the exception of the years 1916, 1917 and 1940 to 1944, as none were produced during the war years.
“The impact of the First World War was to have a profound impact on the suffragette movement, as the work done by women across the country proved to be vital for Britain’s war effort and finally earned them the right to vote.”