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Electoral registers and poll books

Electoral registers

These record the names of people who were registered to vote. However, just as today, not everyone who was eligible to vote got round to registering.

They are arranged by electoral division, polling district and then alphabetically, either by street or by voter.

They were published for national elections from 1832 onwards. No registers were compiled at all between 1916-17 and 1940-44.

There are separate volumes for each electoral division per year or half year. The period during which each register was effective varied.

Maps are available in the NRO and NHC searchrooms showing electoral divisions at different dates.

The ‘Parish Key’ (NRO and NHC) will also tell you which division a particular parish was in at a particular date.

The county was divided into the following electoral divisions:

  • 1845: East, West
  • 1869-85: North, South, West
  • 1886-1915: North, South, East, North West, South West, Mid
  • 1918-48: North, South, East, South West, King's Lynn
  • 1949-70: North, South, South West, King's Lynn, Central, Great Yarmouth
  • 1971-73: North, South, North West, South West, Great Yarmouth
  • 1974-onwards: North Norfolk, Breckland, Broadland, South Norfolk, Great Yarmouth Borough, King’s Lynn West Norfolk Borough, Norwich City

The following provides a summary list of electoral registers held by the NRO with the main document references to use on the catalogue:

  • Norfolk County, 1845-1980s (microform to 1975), see list C/ERO 1 for 1845-1973 and DC 40-44 for 1974 onwards. Please note that the latter have not been bound into volumes, so it is much easier to use the bound copies at the NHC (see below).
  • Norwich, 1832, 1920-81 (original registers), see list N/TC 66.
  • King’s Lynn, 1834-1915, 1918-75 (on microfilm, 1834-1901, 1918-75), see KL/TC 10, but note original registers are held at the King’s Lynn Borough Archives. Electoral registers 1918-75 are included in the main sequence of Norfolk County electoral registers.
  • Great Yarmouth, 1832-1975 (on microform, 1832-1915, 1949-75), see list Y/TC 20. After 1948 Great Yarmouth was no longer a parliamentary borough and the electoral registers for this area are included in the main county sequence.

The NHC holds copies of electoral registers as follows:

  • Norwich: bound volumes (1872-1927, 1933-2003) and microfilm (1832-1915). Also separate citizens’ (1860s-70s) and freemens’ lists (1849-1890s) for elections.
  • Norfolk: 1845-1975 (microform) supplied by the NRO; also bound volumes for 1832-97 (some gaps) and 1956-2003 but microform copies are to be used where available.

Please note that the NHC does not hold any electoral registers after 2003 and current copies can be accessed at the relevant district council offices.

King’s Lynn and Great Yarmouth libraries hold some poll books and electoral registers for their own areas. Please contact them for more details.

National collections of electoral registers are held at the British Library.

Some Norfolk electoral registers can also be accessed via FamilySearch.

Some more recent electoral registers (2002 onwards) can be searched on the subscription-based site 192.com.