English poll books and electoral registers from 1538-1893 have now been made available online.
Ancestry.co.uk has recently made available over 4.6 million records from English poll books and electoral registers. Ancestry says: “Poll books trace their origins to a 1696 act of Parliament designed to curb disputed election results and fraud. The remedy included requiring sheriffs to make a list of voters and the candidate they voted for in county elections. These could then be published as poll books. Poll books continued to be used for various elections until the secret ballot was introduced in 1872.
“Poll books will not list all residents of an area. Until 1832, most voters were freeholders and others who could meet property requirements for the franchise, and poll books list only those who actually cast a vote. And while the majority of books in this database are poll books, some are registers, indexes, lists of liverymen, and similar records that will include names and other details, but do not record votes.
What You May Find in the Records
“Besides names and details on the election itself – when it took place, who was running and for what – poll books may list address, occupation, qualifications for voting, and a place where the property that qualified a voter is located.”