Monday, 18 March 2013

Prof Richardson: Women voted in Britain since 1843

Professor Sarah Richardson of the University of Warwick has discovered evidence that indicates that British women of all classes were able to vote 75 years before the Suffragettes movement and the parliamentary franchise of 1918.

A poll book for the election to the local office of Assistant Overseer of the Poor, in the parish of St Chad's, Lichfield, in 1843 showed that women voted and played an active role in elections.
All members of a household that payed rates were entitled to vote and this included single and widowed women. What is more, those who paid higher rates were entitled to up to four votes in the election. So as records indicate Victorian women were entitled to vote.

The poll book of 1843 tells us the address of the voters, the rates they paid and how they voted at a time when ballots were not secret and everybody was entitled to know how other people had voted.

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