Historic Electoral Registers

Details of the historic electoral registers we hold.

""The Local Heritage Library holds a range of electoral registers, as listed below. Please note coverage of the Stockport area is not comprehensive - this reflects the fact that certain Urban District Councils didn’t amalgamate with Stockport Borough Council until 1901 and later. Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council was created in 1974. From 1980 all areas of Stockport Council Register of Electors are included in one register.

Before 1832 inclusion in the Land Tax Returns (1780-1831) was proof of qualification to vote. The library holds the following land tax records on microfilm:

  • Bramhall : 1784-1831
  • Bredbury : 1784-1831
  • Brinnington : 1780-1831
  • Cheadle Bulkeley, Cheadle Moseley & Cheadle Hulme : 1780-1831
  • Handforth cum Bosden : 1780-1831
  • Marple : 1780-1831
  • Norbury : 1780-1831
  • Offerton : 1780-1809, 1811-1831
  • Romiley & Chadkirk : 1780-1831
  • Stockport : 1780-1831
  • Torkington : 1780-1831
  • Werneth : 1780-1831

The 1832 Parliamentary Reform Act ordered the publication on a “parish basis of lists of persons eligible to vote”. The registers were originally called Burgess Rolls. Poll Books are different - a record of how individuals voted - stopped by the Ballot Act of 1872 which introduced the secret ballot.

Fewer people could vote in the 19th century - some could vote in local elections but not in parliamentary elections - this fact is indicated in the registers.

  • Until 1832, with some exceptions, only owners of property had the franchise (the right to vote)
  • From 1832 until 1885 the franchise was gradually widened to include householders and lodgers
  • In 1918 all men over 21 and women over 30 were given the vote
  • From 1872 women who were qualified as householders had the vote in local elections only
  • In 1928 women aged 21 were given the vote
  • The voting age was lowered to 18 in 1970

The lists became more comprehensive as the right to vote was gradually extended. Electoral registers for National Elections have been compiled annually since 1832, apart from 1916-17 and 1940-44 as elections were not as a rule held in wartime.

Registers record name and address - and the nature of a person's qualification before 1918.

They are drawn up the autumn of the year before they are due to come into force - therefore Feb 2004-2005 register will have been drawn up in Oct 2003.

It was necessary to be resident at an address for a year (6 months after 1918) before being registered as an elector, and this excluded many people.

Also, it must be remembered that registration is not compulsory.

Electoral registers are in ward and street order rather than alphabetical order by surname. This means that searching for someone when no address is known can be a time consuming process.

If someone is listed at an address one year but not the next, there is no indication in the register of the reason for the change. The person could have moved, could have died or could have failed to register that year.

Parts of older editions can be photocopied; later volumes are protected by the Data Protection Act.

Our holdings include:

  • Bredbury and Romiley UDC : 1948-1974
  • Cheadle and Gatley UDC : 1948-1974
  • Hazel Grove and Bramhall UDC : 1946-1974
  • Heaton Norris Township : 1840, 1859, 1871
  • Heaton Norris UDC : 1905-1912
  • Heaton Wards : 1913-1915, 1918-1925
  • Marple UDC : 1949-1974
  • Stockport Borough : 1834-1835, 1837-1840, 1842-1846 1859-1860, 1865-1866, 1871, 1880-1888
  • Stockport County Borough : 1889-1915, 1918-1939, 1945-1973
  • Stockport Metropolitan Borough : 1974-to date
  • Register of Electors for those parts of Cheshire now in Stockport Metropolitan Borough : 1833-1900

Some of the registers are available on microfilm or microfiche only. Please contact the library for more details.