Ancestry.co.uk has added 139 million records from the London Electoral Registers to its UK and Ireland Collection.
Dating from 1835 to 1965, and covering the old counties of London and Middlesex, the collection will be of interest to most Irish researchers because it's a very rare family from Ireland that has no link with the English capital.
The collection contains lists compiled each year of people (and their residences) who were eligible to vote in local and parliamentary government elections. It's worth knowing a little about the history of universal suffrage in England as it may help to explain why you can't find an ancestor before 1928.
Restricting eligibility to those who owned property over and above certain financial values was the main means of keeping voting rights within a tight, select class from 1832. However, by the end of WW1, when disenfranchised (and armed!) soldiers were returning from the trenches, and the Bolshevik Revolution was demonstrating the potential for disaffection among the masses, this rich and privileged group realised the halcyon days in an exclusive club had passed.
In 1918, property owning restrictions were lifted for nearly all men over the age of 21. They were also lifted for women aged 30 and over who were married to householders or held a university degree.
It was not until 1928 that universal suffrage for adults (21+) was achieved.
Because they were updated every year, the electoral registers can help you not just to pinpoint your ancestor as he/she moved around London, but also to find out about their life between the 10-yearly census. And if you've got ancestors that always managed to avoid being recorded on census night, they may have found it trickier to evade registration on an annual basis.
The Electoral Registers collection originates from the London Metropolitan Archives, with whom Ancestry is involved in a huge digitisation project. Already more than 11million parish register entries have been made available, as have Bishops Transcripts, Registers from Non-Conformist congregations and Board of Guardians registers which include workhouse records.
School admission and discharge registers, land tax records and wills are still in the pipe.