Prior to the 1832 Reform Act, Yorkshire returned two members to Parliament. Those claiming the right to vote had to appear in person on polling day, prove their claim and cast their votes in public. No registers were kept of persons entitled to vote.
The votes cast by each elector were recorded in a manuscript poll book.
Unfortunately almost all the manuscript poll books were destroyed in 1907. Luckily it was normal, after an election, for the poll book to be published. The poll books list the votes cast by each voter but do not list those who were entitled to vote and did not bother to travel to the poll town.
One result of the 1832 Act was that electoral registers had to be compiled, as only those people whose names appeared in the register were entitled to vote.
Poll books continued to be published until the secret ballot was introduced in 1872. Our records date between 1727 to 1865, with a number of gaps.
Location of records
The collections of poll books are split between Sheffield Local Studies Library in the Central Library and Sheffield Archives at Shoreham Street. The downloadable documents at the bottom of this page advise which poll book is available where.
There is normally no need to order poll books in advance.
We can normally supply copies for private study purposes, subject to the usual copyright regulations. Please contact us for further information.
Poll books are printed books.