The 1867 Reform Act and the Continued Development of the Electoral Franchise

[The Reform Act of 1867 was introduced as a means of counteracting the widespread corruption that occurred under the 1832 Reform Act and to further widen the franchise. The transcriptions of the Electoral Rolls can be seen here.]
An assessment of the effect of the 2nd Reform Act is complicated by absence of the List of Burgesses for 1868, ie the year immediately after the introduction of the Act. The list for 1867 is extant but it is assumed that it was compiled under the 1832 regulations (see below). Subsequent comments should be read with this in mind.
The introduction of the 1867 Reform Act had the surprising effect of actually reducing the size of the electorate in St. Thomas's ward (from 588 down to 576) whilst creating a moderate growth in St. George's and St. John's wards and substantially increasing it in the other three. It should be remembered however that there was at this time a massive growth of new housing in All Saints, St. Paul's and St. Mary's wards which masks the effects of the Act.
The most surprising change to the electorate from 1869 was the inclusion of female members, some 60 years before the wider female emancipation of 1919. In St. Thomas's ward, for example, the List of Burgesses for 1869 contained the names of 53 women (9.4%) and 523 men (90.6%); a total electorate of 576. This represented a reduction of 65 in the number of male voters. The number of female names on the lists for the other wards also averages around 10% though it peaks at 14.3% for St. George's and is lowest at 7% in All Saints.
The level of qualification for the female vote seems to have been exactly the same as for the men, which means that it was still as varied and chaotic as under the previous act. There is certainly no question of the women having to satisfy a higher level of entitlement than the men, such as property ownership. Some of the women did indeed own property, but others such as Elizabeth Hunt at 10 Lombard Street, who listed her occupation as Dressmaker, or Sophia Hutchings at the Coach and Horses, 73 Broad Street, who was the licensed victualler, did not.
The presence of women in the electorate does not seem to have been anticipated under the provisions of the act which repeatedly uses the phrase "every male person" when referring to those qualified. It is difficult to understand how the registering authority could misinterpret this to include women. Nevertheless, the women's names remained on the lists.
In the 21st Century we take women's suffrage as completely uncontentious so it is interesting to note that the men of Portsmouth seemed to have behaved in a similar manner. The Hampshire Telegraph, not noted for it's liberal views, took the transformation of the political landscape in it's stride. In an article on the election results for 1869 it reported quite calmly that the result in St. Mary's ward was probably influenced by the female voters supporting one candidate rather than the other.
The second Reform Act had little effect on the consistency of house-numbering across the 6 wards. In St. George's and St. John's wards close to 100% of addresses included the house numbers; it was slightly less in All Saints and St. Paul's at about 98% and down to 60% in St. Thomas's and 30% in St. Mary's wards.
A new phenomena arose in 1872, but only in St. Paul's and St. Mary's wards, whereby an address was linked to a geographically distant address such as "St. Mary's road from Gloucester View". Stephen Pomeroy has suggested that this meant the property on St. Mary's Road was owned by a person living in Gloucester View.
Property Qualification
By 1869, the use of the qualification term "house" was ubiquitous across five of the wards with only rare instances of "warehouse", "store" etc. The exception remained St. Thomas's Ward where little change had occurred since the early days of the first Reform Act.
One new type of entry occurred in 1872 onwards and that was "houses in succession" but this was only seen in St. Paul's and St. Mary's wards. This was a rare form that was used for only two years and related to the instances where a person was in transit between properties in two different wards at the time the list was compiled - see "Onions v. Bowdler, 1847".
The research is ongoing.
Tim Backhouse