The Government of England and Wales had from at least 1430 a parliament of elected members (MPs) who were sometimes referred to as Knights of the Shire. Each county returned two members and each Borough also returned 2 burgesses. This was slowly changed and is described in the elections of MPs section later. By-elections are caused by the death/resignation of one of the current MPs. Many early elections were uncontested and so large year gaps appear between published poll books.
Other local officials including Aldermen and Sheriff's were also elected (these two usually by Freemen) and some of these registers survive.
Examples of Voting Registers are poll books and election registers.
Each of the areas (either County, City or Borough) contains a chronological list of all known voting registers up to 1871 which enables one to see who people voted for. The Ballot Act of 1872 brought in the secret ballot and so since this time only registers of electors are available showing who was entitled to vote. Some of these are by street, some alphabetical by voters' names.
These elections cover the whole county and contain voters names. Most towns or villages in the county appear as a place of freehold or residence of at least one voter. Note that any freehold in the county, except those in Norwich, gave the holder the right to vote in county elections. Hence residents of Norwich (who voted) always have a freehold outside the City against their names.
|1714 Cross-grove||Y (2925+)||Y||Y||N||N||O|
|1768 - Chase||Y (5382)||Y||Y||N||N||O|
|1768 - Crouse||Y (5382)||Y||Y||Y (2957)||N||O|
|1802 - Stevenson||Y (6773)||Y||Y||Y (2343)||NCH/KL/
|1802 - Bacon||Y (6773)||Y||Y||N||Y||N|
Castle Rising and Thetford returned MPs but there is no record of their registers.
Many people were entitled to vote in out of county elections but lived in Norfolk. A large number of these held freeholds in the adjacent counties of Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire and Suffolk (which are the only ones considered here) but some were further afield. Follow the links for details of poll books and relevant entry transcription.
|County||Date||No. Voters||Date||No. Voters||Date||No. Voters|
Many people were entitled to vote in the county elections but lived outside Norfolk. They start to appear in the Norfolk poll books from 1714 onwards but had to travel to the polls in Norwich. The table shows the approximate number of voters including the three largest contingents for a selection of dates which are online.
|1768 - Chase||61||10||1||6||59||231|
|1802 - Stevenson||69||3||3||7||63||223|
Copyright © Mike Bristow.