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Electoral registers and poll books

Electoral registers

These list people entitled to vote at elections, which was not universal until 1928! Registers were kept from 1832 (but only a few survive for Shropshire before 1880).

Finding and using electoral registers at Shropshire Archives

Most electoral registers are on the open shelves in the Search Room so you’ll need a reader’s ticket to see them. Please book a search room space in advance.

You are welcome to consult any electoral registers over ten years old (form the date of publication) for the purpose of private research only, during the lifespan of the people listed. They must not be used for marketing or in any way that would contravene the Data Protection Act.

The registers are arranged by polling district within constituency. There is no alphabetical list of voters. This means that they are time-consuming to search.

Information in other places

Contact Shropshire Council’s Electoral Services team if you need to access to the current register or registers covering the last 15 years.

The British library holds copies of electoral registers for England and Wales from 1832 (although there are gaps).

Electoral registers 1832-1932 and edited versions of electoral registers 2002- 2014 are on FindMyPast. Access to this site is free at Shropshire Archives. Please book a PC in advance.

Poll books

Poll books record the votes cast at parliamentary elections. From 1696, returning officers complied a record of voters and how they voted at elections. Only a small percentage of the population was entitled to vote at this time and voting was not done in secret until 1872.

Finding and using poll books at Shropshire Archives

You’ll need a reader’s ticket to see the poll books. Please book a search room space in advance. There is a microfiche index to some of the Shrewsbury poll books.

Trade Directories

These started in the late 18th Century. The earliest directories are quite limited in the information they contain. Extracts from Bailey’s directories of 1780s are at C 67 v.f. (Reader’s Ticket needed) and Minshall’s directory for Shrewsbury of 1796 is at D 66.

From the 1850s onwards they are extremely useful sources for family and local history.

A variety of directories were produced between 1850 and 1941, the most common being Kelly’s Directories.

These directories can include a short history of each parish, alphabetical list by type of trade, alphabetical list of traders, shops and businesses, court directories listing wealthy residents and officials.

Finding and using directories at Shropshire Archives

Most trade and street directories are on the open shelves in our Reading Room, so you just need to sign our visitors book to consult them.

Information in other places

The University of Leicester has digitised many directories on the Historic Directories website. It is also worth checking Ancestry and FindMyPast.

Find out more

For more detail on electoral registers, poll books and trade directories, please visit our printable short guides page.