Searching the Registers

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Using the Registers to Research Your Family Tree

The best way is to describe a search I was doing for one of mother's cousins, long lost. They lived in London so are covered by the Ancestry London Electoral Registers from the LMA, London Metropolitan Archives.

From names remembered by my aunt, I had Clara Dines, my great aunt, married Ted Thurlow with six children Teddy (who married Winnie), Ethel, Albert (who married Ray), Lilian, George and Arthur.

The 1911 census came up with 2 more children, a total of 8 living at 131 Bertram Rd in Enfield. The names were Edward Thurlow 44, wife Clara Thurlow 39 and children Edward B Thurlow 13, Ethel Thurlow 11, Albert Thurlow 10, Charles Thurlow 8, John Thurlow 6, Lilian Thurlow 4, George Thurlow 3 and Arthur Thurlow 1.

From this starting point I then checked the London Electoral Registers on Ancestry. The first entry was for just Edward B in 1911. By 1918 he'd been joined by his wife Clara E., in 1920 by their son Edward, in 1923 by Albert James and in 1924 by Charles, as they reached 21 years of age.

The details from the 1925 register ...

In this extract, the first column of codes shows eligibilty to vote in Parliamentary Elections and the second column in Local Elections, so only the parents Edward and Clara could vote in the local elections.
In this case the codes are:
R Residence qualification
O Occupational Qualification
HO Qualification through husband's occupation.
(note occupation means occupation of a property, nothing to do with employment)
There is a full list of codes here.

In 1925 John was also on the list, but Edward B (junior) was not there in 1924 so the assumption is that he's left home. Their daughter Ethel would have been 26 but would not appear because it was not until 1928 that all women under 30 got the vote.

In 1929, the daughters duly appeared as they gained the vote, Ethel and Lilian.

In 1930 Clara E. was now named as Clara Ellen giving me her middle name, Ethel Cordelia was there (again giving me her middle name) as was George Frederic and Lilian Eleanor.

In 1931, Arthur Robert appeared in the list, he would have been about 21.

In 1933, the name Edith Florence appeared on the list. This was a name I didn't have before so either she was another daughter born around 1912 or might have been Edward's (senior) mother come to live with them (mind you, the 1911 census said they had 5 rooms at 131 Bertram Rd including kitchen and any living rooms as well as bedrooms, so it would have been cosy). Anyway, a quick check on FreeBMD for births with father's name Thurlow and mother's maiden name Dines (mother's maiden name is held in the index from 1911 on) came up with just one, Edith F Thurlow born 2nd qtr 1912 in Edmonton district. So that's child number 9.

By 1935 all except Arthur, Edith and Ethel of the children had dropped off, as they left home. By 1937, the last year that Ancestry had indexed, just Edith and Ethel were left at home.

The details from the 1937 register ...

The codes used changed in 1928 but as with 1925, only the parents Edward and Clara could vote in the local elections.
In this case the codes are:
R Residence qualification (man)
Rw Residence qualification (woman)
O Occupational Qualification (man)
Dw Qualification through husband's occupation.

This chart gives a year by year view of who appeared in the registers which, after allowing for the delay in Ethel and Lilian in appearing in the electoral roll until 1929, shows how a good guess at the dates of birth of the children can be made. (no registers were compiled in 1916 or 1917 because of the war and their entry in 1936 has eluded me so far).

What all this gave me was confirmation of the family and names and details of their ninth child. It also showed me that all nine children lived until they were at least 25.

As well as this, it gives me very strong clues looking for the children's marriages since it was common to only leave home to get married, and if nothing else it gives me a year before which I know they had not married.

Lilian Eleanor last appeared in the registers with her family in 1932 and a look on FreeBMD for marriages for Lilian Thurlow comes up with only one, Lilian E Thurlow and she married John E Olive in early 1932 in Edmonton district, an extremely likely match.

Similarly, their eldest son Edward B dropped off the list after 1923 and again FreeBMD shows an Edward B Thurlow marrying Winifred Riddell in summer 1923, again in the Edmonton district where his parents lived (which fits with my aunt remembering he married Winnie).

I know that Edith was not married before 1937 and, again looking in FreeBMD, a marriage in the 4th quarter of 1937 is recorded in the Edmonton district between Edith F Thurlow and Matthew E Drake which gives me a good lead to investigate.

One word of warning about the Ancestry London Electoral Registers - they have produced the indexes using optical character recognition rather than by human transcription. The quality of the originals is quite good, as you can see from the extracts above, but nevertheless, the indexing is not perfect, for example the transcription of "Ethel Cordelia Thurlow" in 1933 is "Ethfil Conic Thurlow".

You need to use the usual techniques, for example in some of the years a search for Edward Thurlow didn't give any results but a search for Clara Thurlow did and then of course when you click on the link to view the original register you see the whole family.

For another year, I could find no Thurlows but I had noticed they had a neighbour through all the years with a surname I remembered. A search for that surname for the missing year found the entry and there on the same page were all the Thurlows.

Clara Dines as a young woman, the second youngest of a family of seven, although two older brothers died before their first birthdays. She married Edward Bernard Thurlow in St Pancras Church on 15th November 1896, where she'd been christened 25 years earlier.

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