Electoral Registers, Rate Books and Land Tax
We hold electoral registers for Manchester (as the City was at the time) from 1832-2001. They are on microfilm up to 1993.
The current full electoral register is available for consultation in the Archives and Special Collections search room on the ground floor of Central Library (Monday to Wednesday, 9am - 5pm, Thursday 9am - 8pm, Friday - Saturday 9am - 5pm). No appointment is required to consult it. No photography is permitted.
We hold electoral registers at Manchester Central Library on microfilm for the years 1832-1993 and in bound volumes for the years 1993-2001. No appointment is necessary to view these registers.
Please note that electoral registers were not compiled in the years 1917, 1919 and 1940-1944. They were compiled twice in the years 1920-1926 and 1945-1949.
Absent Voters Lists were produced for 1918-1923 and were used for servicemen. They give information such as the regiment, regimental number, rank, battalion. Arrangement is the same as for 1918-1949.
Because of changes in legislation, no historic registers are available for inspection until they are 10 years old. This means that the registers for 2002-2012 are currently inaccessible.
Copies of the Edited Registers can be purchased from the Electoral Services Unit in either paper or data format. Costs for the purchase of the Edited Registers from the Electoral Services Unit are available upon request.
Absent Voters Lists
There are separate lists of these for 1918-1923 and were used for servicemen. They give information such as the regiment, regimental number, rank, battalion. Arrangement is the same as for 1918-1949 above.
Using the Electoral Registers
1832-1839: arranged by township (Ardwick, Chorlton-upon-Medlock, Hulme, Manchester) then alphabetically by surname
1839-1878: local election registers, arranged by ward, then alphabetically by surname
1879-1886: use the 1886 index to look up the polling district for a particular street. The registers are in a straight polling district number order, the polling district number appearing at the top of each page besides the ward. Check the polling district number TWICE - in Division 1 (those who could vote in local AND parliamentary elections) then in Division 3 (those who could only vote in local elections). Streets are then alphabetical within each polling district
1887-1916 : as above but use the street index on the first microfilm for each year
1918-1949: Use the 1934 street index to look up the parliamentary division and polling district number. The parliamentary division will be on the microfilm box (eg Ardwick), look for the polling district number on the microfilm. These numbers are made up of a letter and a number (eg A38) or two letters and a number. Those with two letters appear after the sequence with one letter
1950-1982: as above but use 1950 street index for 1950-60, the 1961 index for 1961-5, the 1966 index for 1966-71, the 1972 index for 1972-79, the 1980 index for 1980-81
1982-2001: arranged by ward, then alphabetically by street. Use the 1982 index for 1982-91, the 1992 index for 1992-8, the 1999 index for 1999, the 2000 index for 2000 and the 2001 index for 2001 to look up ward (a three figure abbreviation, for example DDA)
Eligibility to Vote
Please note that some people could vote in local elections even if they could not vote in parliamentary elections. For example, unmarried women after 1869. Parliamentary electoral registers only contain those eligible to vote. This has changed over time, for parliamentary elections as follows:
- 1832-67: only MEN over 21 who owned a certain amount of land/property or who were tenants paying a certain amount of rent
- 1867-1918: MEN who were owners/tenants or who were lodgers paying at least £10 per annum
- 1918-1928: all MEN over 21 and WOMEN over 30
1928-1971: all MEN and WOMEN over 21
1971-to date: all MEN and WOMEN over 18
Rate books are a useful source for family history. Kept every year, they are a record the occupiers and owners of properties, and the amount of rate paid. They are very useful for filling in gaps between census years.
Rate books for Manchester are now available from 1706 to 1901 on Findmypast.co.uk and original rate books are held at Central Library from 1902 to 1956/1957. Free access to the Manchester rate books on Findmypast is available in any Manchester City Council library - please ask staff to log you on.
In addition Manchester Central Library holds valuation books for the 1910 Land Tax Valuation (Domesday).
As part of its Finance Bill of 1909, the Government introduced a new taxation on land values. For this tax to be implemented, a valuation of all land carried out by the Inland Revenue was necessary, giving rise to the series of records known as the 1910 Domesday Books.
The country was split into 12 and then 14 Divisions, each of which in turn was divided into Districts with a District Valuer. These sometimes cut across existing County boundaries. In what is now Greater Manchester, Manchester and Bolton contained a Valuation Divisional Office, while Wigan, Oldham and Stockport had a District Valuer's Office.
The valuation books (ref: GB124.A11) contain a great deal of information of use to the family historian. Of principal interest are the details of the name of occupier, together with his or her address, and the name and address of the actual owner of the property is also given, if different from the occupier.
In addition to giving details of owners and occupiers, information is also given about the property itself. This may be described in terms of house, shop, cottage, inn, etc., and its extent in terms of acres, roods, perches and yards is noted, as are both the gross and rateable values.
The valuation books are arranged by property number, which is not the most convenient way for family historians. However, most sets of books have a street index, and the forms from which the books are drawn, are arranged by street.