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January 2010 Archives

I had intended to continue the story of my remarkable meeting in the Churchyard in Penmachno but instead I want to write about the use of Electoral Registers for family history research as there now appears that there could be some doubt about their continued availability. I've only used the Electoral registers once when I was trying to establish when a house was destroyed by fire. The long way of doing this is to search thought the local papers to try to see a reference to the event but it's a great help if you can narrow down the dates for the search.

I thought that by looking at the Electoral Registers I would be able to establish when the house was no longer recorded on the Register and I could then look at the newspapers before that date. I found that the Conwy Archives Service in Llandudno had Electoral Registers for their area only for the years when there was a Parliamentary General Election so there could be a gap of up to five years between the records and over the WW2 period the gap was longer. They were therefore not of great value for the purpose that I wanted but nevertheless they were interesting and they could be of value if you're trying to check where people lived after the last available Census Records, 1911. You can't, of course, search for a name but you can search for an address and see the names of the adults living there.

I haven't done any real research but assume that the availability of the Electoral Registers varies between local Archive Services although the National Library should have copies of all registers. Why this is currently of interest is because the Ministry of Justice is conducting a consultation about the future availability of the Register, in particular the "Edited Register". Each October we all receive a form to complete to ensure that we keep our right to vote. In recent years it has been possible for you to tick a box on this form to show that you don't want your name to appear on the "Edited Register" which is the version that can be sold to any interested party. Many marketing companies buy this "Edited Register" and use it to send you junk mail and this is why increasing numbers of people are ticking the box. Hence the current consultation as to whether it should be continued. You can find details of this consultation on:
http://www.justice.gov.uk/consultations/docs/electoral-registers-changes-edited-register-consultation.pdf

The arguments for and against the continued availability of the Edited Register are given in the consultation document but it's the availability of the Full Register for family history research that concerns me. There is a section on Page 15 which states which bodies are entitled to receive copies of the Full Register, i.e. the register that contains the names of all those registered to vote. I'm pleased to see that the National Library is mentioned amongst the bodies that receive the Full Register but there is no mention here, or anywhere else in the consultation document, that county Archive Services have the right to receive these Full Registers.

A number of options for dealing with the Edited Register are given and Option 3 is "Abolish the Edited Register, but extend access to the full electoral register for other purposes (to be decided)". In the comment on this Option on Page 30 of the documents it states "It may be that there are other groups or purposes for which the full register might be made available in carefully defined circumstances and we would welcome views on this." I shall certainly be responding to this invitation to express my view that the full register should be made available to all Archive Services so that they can be viewed by people like us who are interested in conducting family history research. I hope that others will also write to express this view.

If you follow the link to see the full consultation document you'll find that there is a questionnaire which is in my view somewhat limited but there is a clear invitation to send in additional views. Such views should be sent by 23 February to Kristen O'Connell, Ministry of Justice, Elections and Democracy Division, Floor 5, 5.18, 102 Petty France, London, SW1H 9AJ or email: kirsten.c'connell@justice.gsi.gov.uk


The Gwynedd Family History Society meetings for the next four weeks are:

Bangor, 2 February (first Tuesday of each month) 7.00pm at the Quakers Meeting Hall, Dean Street: Peter Brindley, "Bangor Pier"

Caernarfon, 28 January (last Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at the The Library, Lôn Pafiliwn: Parch Harri Parry, "Meddygon Dafad Wyllt"

Dolgellau, 11 February (second Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at the Royal Ship Hotel: Rhian William, "Pobl Mynd a Dwad"

Conwy, 8 February (second Monday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Ebenezer, Abergele Road, Old Colwyn:
Gareth Haulfryn Williams, "Probate Records"

Llangefni, 18 February (third Thursday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Smyrna, Ffordd Glanhwfa: Hywel Roberts, "Uncle Tom in WW1"

Pwllheli, 19 February (third Friday of each month) 7.00pm at Capel Seion, Lon Dywod:
Noson Aelodau

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Hywel Roberts

Hywel Roberts - is known to many readers of the Caernarfon and Denbigh Herald as a member of Caernarfon Town Council and as chairman of the Caernarfon Civic Society. He is also company secretary of Segontium Cyf, the voluntary organisation that runs Segontium Roman Fort Museum.

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