London Overseer Returns 1863-1894

London Overseer Returns 1863 1894

Ancestry.co.uk doesn’t seem to be announcing their new data releases with the normal trumpet fanfare and drum roll, so I was surprised to see that this set of valuable records for those with London ancestors was simply listed under this month’s feature. Never mind they are online  which is the important thing.

Although this data is headed Overseers Returns, and that indeed is what they are, we normally expect anything to do with the parish overseers to concern payments out of or into the poor funds. This set of records are in fact a list residents within the parish who are claiming a right to vote. The Reform Act of 1832 required voters to be registered and the parish overseers were used to collect the information to compile the registers.

What we are seeing in this dataset is the returns that were used to list all the voters in the registers. The London Metropolitan Archives which hold the originals calls them “raw material” which is a good description. The returns are organised in bundles by polling district and each bundle is for a set year. Within the bundle the parishioners are arranged alphabetically.

The information likely to be found is -

    • name
    • address
    • residence year
    • voting qualification
    • description of qualifying property

The records on Ancestry.co.uk can be searched by surname or can be browsed by location.

A search for any entries for the surname Pottinger came up with two results both for the same man John Pottinger one in 1885 and one in 1886.The information given is as follows

1885
Full name John Pottinger
Place of abode 5 Strafford Road, Acton W
Nature of qualification Dwelling house
Description of qualifying property 5 Strafford Road
1886
Full name John Pottinger
Place of abode 5 Strafford Road, Acton
Nature of qualification Dwelling house
Description of qualifying property 5 Strafford Road

The records are printed so there must have been forms that either the resident or the overseers filled in, I wonder whether they have survived? However there are plenty of names crossed out, names added to the bottom of the page and spelling corrected so this shows that what we are seeing is not the final copies.

This record set is useful for those years where the electoral rolls either haven’t survived or aren’t available online. A very useful tools for tracking families between the census. Remember that you will not find any of your female ancestors or men who did not qualify for the vote in this dataset.

Ancestry.co.uk

London Metropolitan Archives

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