Electoral Registers

Historic electoral registers are available to view in all four of our archive centres, in hard copy or on microfilm.

There is no single catalogue to all our holdings of these and the coverage is not complete. The publication of electoral registers was a requirement after 1832. Registers for the years 1875 to 1899 are missing for the whole of Cumbria except for Carlisle. There are no known copies anywhere.

Street/trade directories can help establish which parliamentary division a place falls within. Some catalogues to electoral registers can be found by searching CASCAT, our online archive catalogue, such as those for Westmorland County Council, held at Kendal. For West Cumbria, hand lists are available in the search room at Whitehaven Archive Centre. 

From the Great Reform Act, Cumberland was divided into two parts: the Eastern and Western Divisions until 1875. Later, Cumberland's electoral boundaries were re-drawn and Eastern Division became North Cumberland, then Northern/ Eskdale until 1914, and the Western Division split to become Mid/Penrith and Western, later Egremont, Divisions up to the Great War. After 1918, the Western or Egremont Division was split in two to become Whitehaven and Workington Constituencies and there was also Penrith/Cockermouth Parliamentary Division and the Northern Parliamentary Division (from the old Eastern Division). Cockermouth was part of the Workington Division by 1960 and Penrith and the Border Constituency existed from 1949 to 1973. 

For the Furness area, Barrow Archives holds registers for Barrow-in-Furness from 1882 to 2002 including Dalton-in-Furness and Askam-in-Furness from 1993. Barrow also has registers for Dalton-in-Furness, 1949-1992 (but not a complete set); Lonsdale Division, 1921-1938; Morecambe and Lonsdale Constituency, 1945-1990; and Millom and Millom Rural, 1890s-c1918. 

Kendal Archive Centre holds electoral registers covering Westmorland from 1889 to 1974, which are in the Clerk's Department of the Westmorland County Council collection [reference WC/C/2]. Kendal also holds electoral registers for the South Lakeland District Council area from 1975 to 2001 [reference WSDCSL/3]. 

The key dates for the changes in voting rights:

1832 - Male borough voters were eligible if they owned property worth £10 a year or more. For male county voters, eligibility was based on ownership of either freehold property worth 40 shillings a year, £10 copyholders, £10 leaseholders or £50 tenants. 

1867 - Extended voting rights for all men in boroughs who were owners or tenants of any dwelling house or lodgers paying £10 for an unfurnished room, provided they had been in the borough for the whole of the preceding 12 months.

1869 - Unmarried women were given right to vote in local government elections.

1872 - Secret balloting introduced, poll books no longer produced.

1884 - Every male householder over 21 had the right to vote as well as any occupier of land and tenements worth £10 or lodgers paying £10 a year. Occupiers of dwelling houses by virtue of any office, service or employment also had the right to vote but this was restricted to one voter per household. 

1918 - All men over 21 and now women were able to vote in government elections provided they were over 30 and were tenants or owners of any land or premises valued at £5 per annum. Also married women over 30, where their husbands were entitled to vote in local government elections and for those women who were university graduates. 

1928 - Women over 21 became eligible to vote.

1971 - Voting age lowered to 18.