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Compilation of Absent Voters Lists


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Can someone give me some advice on how these lists were compiled, please?

I'm looking for someone who is named on a war memorial in Newport, and I've found an address which may be the right one for him. However, having looked at the Absent Voters Lists for Newport between 1918 and 1939, I've found that the name recorded for this address change several times.

There are a number of different Christian names for the same surname (Monaghan) and in the middle of the records there is a completely different surname (Waite). Furthermore, I have found that two of the names recorded (one of the Monaghan's and Mr Waite) actually died during the Second World War, yet they're both recorded during the middle or the end of the 1920's.

I'm sure that the two I mention above aren't the one that I'm looking for, so that's not a particular problem, but I would like to know how the name(s) recorded can change so drastically.

Can anyone help with this, please? If you can, please post on here; however, I won't be able to reply until the New Year, so don't worry if you don't get a reply to any questions you have - I'm not ignoring you, I promise!

Thank you; if you have any questions, please let me know.

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johndavidswarbrick

This link explains a little of how it was done in one area - presumably much the same elsewhere:

http://www.tameside.gov.uk/archives/absentvoters

This link appears to confirm the first:

http://www.pals.org.uk/avl/

and this link takes you back to an earlier discussion of the topic from this forum:

 

Dave Swarbrick

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you for this very comprehensive advice.

It seems to me, therefore, that the entries for the First World War should be treated separately to those for the Second World War. As the former is the period that I'm actually looking at, I can do that easily enough.

Mind you, there's no record of the last named person resident at the address for either war, so he'll remain a mystery!

If anyone else has any advice, please, I'd be very grateful.

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The Absent Voters lists of 1918 in my patch are a shambles, I made a database of all those men & women in my patch some years ago, and checking them against my files of all the men who took the Kings shilling in WW1. There are 100's or errors some minor, some glaring, if the information had been supplied by the service man, you would think he would know his number and regiment, even if relatives supplied the info, you'd thing they would also now his correct numb & regmt. Any thing but, I even have two men who were killed in 1916, so who filled those forms in. I'm now checking them against the medal cards in the National Archives, I don't know who compiled the database, but there are dozens of cock ups in there, I've got fed up of trying to get satisfaction from Kew, even sending them a copy of a mans Attestation form isn't acceptable, they won't correct any thing.

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Hi retlaw,

Not a complete answer to your problem, but if a serviceman was still listed as "Missing" when the AVLs were being compiled, he might still appear - as I know from some examples I've checked. Once the Regimental Record Office decided that his death had to be accepted as having taken place on or after a given date, and told the next of kin so, in theory the entry should have been removed before the next edition of the AVL was compiled. Or perhaps likewise if an identified body was recovered.

I know of a war grave to a man with a 6-figure (early 1917) TF number who was killed on 1 July 1916. Reason is that he was still just "missing" when the renumbering exercise took place, and the body was only recovered afterwards.

Given the large number of (official) under-19 -year-olds serving in 1918, they'd also be disqualified from voting - I think the voter had to be aged 19 on 1 April 1918 to qualify? None of this is watertight of course, and like you I've also failed to match some men who really should be on a list with the eventual published register!

Clive

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Hi retlaw,

Not a complete answer to your problem, but if a serviceman was still listed as "Missing" when the AVLs were being compiled, he might still appear - as I know from some examples I've checked. Once the Regimental Record Office decided that his death had to be accepted as having taken place on or after a given date, and told the next of kin so, in theory the entry should have been removed before the next edition of the AVL was compiled. Or perhaps likewise if an identified body was recovered.

I know of a war grave to a man with a 6-figure (early 1917) TF number who was killed on 1 July 1916. Reason is that he was still just "missing" when the renumbering exercise took place, and the body was only recovered afterwards.

Given the large number of (official) under-19 -year-olds serving in 1918, they'd also be disqualified from voting - I think the voter had to be aged 19 on 1 April 1918 to qualify? None of this is watertight of course, and like you I've also failed to match some men who really should be on a list with the eventual published register!

Clive

I get your point about your men being recorded as missing, but it wasnt that, they hd been reccorded as K-I-A. I was once told that the men them selves were given a card to complete with their details, then i was informed that it was organised by the local clown hall, and they went door knocking. If the men were given a card, what hapened when they came under attack and had to drop every thing and fall back, also the men in P-O-W camps, who filled in their cards, those serving in remote corners of the world. Who ever compiled those lists from the available info, you'd think they would have got the right name & adress, some of mine have more than one adress, same service No, but different Regmts. Found a right corker today. Roland Heap GREENHALGH 102607, turns out he is actually Rowland HEAP 102607 at a completely different adress.

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  • 5 weeks later...

I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one frustrated by the AVLs!

Both my grandad and his (future) brother in law (my great uncle) are listed in the Herefordshire lists.

My grandad is correctly listed as DCLI, but in the 1918 list is given the service number of (if the MICs are correct) another DCLI man with the same middle initial and surname. In the 1919 list he is given the service number as per his MIC.

My great uncle is more problematic. I had no info on him, apart from a photo in uniform, before finding him in the AVL, in which he's listed as Ox and Bucks. However I can't find an Ox and Bucks MIC with the service number.

However I have found an MIC for his name, with the same service number, but a different regiment!

Either a massive coincidence or someone got the details very wrong when compiling the AVL!

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The AVLs for the 1918 election were produced by civilian registration officers from details supplied by households at home. Once these lists had been compiled, the names of those in the forces were sent to the relevant authorities, so that they could make arrangements for voting cards to be sent to the men in question in the UK (about 1 million) and ballot papers sent to men serving on the Western Front and in Italy (some 2 million papers). Special postcards (AFW 3940) were distributed to soldiers serving in France, Belgium and Italy on which they could state their qualifying address and send it directly to the Registration Officer of the constituency in which they were entitled to vote.

Men serving in "distant theatres" were allowed to vote by proxy. In this case, this was done by special proxy voting form, AFW 5014, and sent to these theatres by the War Office. In the case of the Army, these tasks were coordinated by the Adjutant General's Department and the work actually undertaken by the unit records offices.

Each record office was provided with two copies of the AVL and the officer in charge of the respective offices took steps to revise the lists and to correct the numerous errors they contained. The Directorate of Organisation noted that "owing to the hurried way these lists were prepared (by the civilian registration officers) a very large percentage of entries were incorrect and in many cases soldiers could not be identified at all." Amongst the problems were movement of units, casualties and transfer of men from one unit to another, which could of course include regimental number changes.

Out of interest, the total number of people allowed to vote at the 1918 General Election rose from just over 7 million at the previous election, to around 21 million.

TR

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The AVLs for the 1918 election were produced by civilian registration officers from details supplied by households at home. Once these lists had been compiled, the names of those in the forces were sent to the relevant authorities, so that they could make arrangements for voting cards to be sent to the men in question in the UK (about 1 million) and ballot papers sent to men serving on the Western Front and in Italy (some 2 million papers). Special postcards (AFW 3940) were distributed to soldiers serving in France, Belgium and Italy on which they could state their qualifying address and send it directly to the Registration Officer of the constituency in which they were entitled to vote.

Men serving in "distant theatres" were allowed to vote by proxy. In this case, this was done by special proxy voting form, AFW 5014, and sent to these theatres by the War Office. In the case of the Army, these tasks were coordinated by the Adjutant General's Department and the work actually undertaken by the unit records offices.

Each record office was provided with two copies of the AVL and the officer in charge of the respective offices took steps to revise the lists and to correct the numerous errors they contained. The Directorate of Organisation noted that "owing to the hurried way these lists were prepared (by the civilian registration officers) a very large percentage of entries were incorrect and in many cases soldiers could not be identified at all." Amongst the problems were movement of units, casualties and transfer of men from one unit to another, which could of course include regimental number changes.

Out of interest, the total number of people allowed to vote at the 1918 General Election rose from just over 7 million at the previous election, to around 21 million.

TR

That may be the official version of the compilation of the 1918 AVL,, but to me its a load of barnyard confetti, I am at present checking my patches AVL against the Medal Cards at the National Archives, over 8500 of them, and the number of errors is nigh on 10%.

You would think a man would know his rank, number, regiment and where he lived, then think again. I even have two men who were killed on July 1st 1916, what was that an act of god. As far as I'm cocerned the lists were compiled by clown hall pencil jockeys, who wrote down what they thought they heard, and if some one wasn't in they asked a neighbour. finally what about P-O-W's who filled their forms or cards in.

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Walter

You may wish to re-read my post. Rant, may I suggest, does not further knowledge.

TR

Maybe I was ranting, but if your official version is correct then where have all those clangers come from, and thats just in my patch, what must it be like for the whole of the country, and how do you account for those two who died before the AVL was thought of.

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Walter

You seem to be looking for someone to blame because you can't find what you want and I am not going to be your whipping boy. I have no interest in taking this any further with you.

TR

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Walter

You seem to be looking for someone to blame because you can't find what you want and I am not going to be your whipping boy. I have no interest in taking this any further with you.

TR

Terry. I am not looking for some one to blame, just a more logical explanation, I can find what I want, its just that all those clangers make it more difficult. And the officilal version you quote doesn't make sense, especially with the dead, and P-O-W's.

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Terry's explanation seems pretty straightforward to me.

Initially the information was based on that supplied by families at home.

Given a wide range, as now, in both intelligence and literacy it is surely hardly surprising if some submissions contained errors, and in theory at least surely POW's were eligible to vote. The dead, provided that death was confirmed are obviously more difficult, but one has read of some parents refusing to believe in the death of a soldier son, and as I hinted at above, some relatives of serving soldiers may have been either confused or just plain not able to understand the form they were filling in. I would expect the local authority clerks to be generally quite literate and capable to be in their posts at all.

Keith

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Doesn't really go into how the AVLs were compiled, but this Wikipedia article explains the general changes in the franchise from 1885 up to 1918 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parliamentary_Franchise_in_the_United_Kingdom_1885%E2%80%931918

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Interestingly, my grandad's entry in the Herefordshire Autumn 1918 list has his initial posting to the KSLI crossed out, and hand written next to it is 'Devonshires 31/10/18', I may be wrong, but I doubt his family knew the exact date of his transfer, and wonder if whoever complied the list found that information somewhere else and annotated the list later.

Maybe some authorities were more dilligent than others and looked to other sources for information in addition to going to the soldiers' families?

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