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Acts of Parliament Governing the Franchise and how it affected the electorate

The First Reform Act, 1832

The First Reform Act, 1832, gave the vote to males aged 21 years and over who were 40 shilling per annum freeholders, £10 per annum householders in boroughs, £10 per annum long lease holders or £50 per annum short leaseholders. Nationwide, this meant that 3% of the population were eligible to vote.

In Aldington, five men were qualified to vote in 1843-1844: John Proctor, who owned land at The Parks; Richard Ashwin, who owned Aldington Manor; Thomas Byrd, who owned a house known as Ivy House; Thomas Keen, the miller; John Sherwood; and a non-resident who owned land, Charles Stockford. Neither Thomas Keen nor John Sherwood’s adult sons were able to vote. By 1850, John Proctor had died and his great-nephew, Thomas Humphris Clark, who inherited his estate, was qualified to vote.

In Wickhamford, just three men were qualified to vote: Samuel Taylor of the Manor Farm, who lived at Wickhamford Manor; his brother, John Taylor, of Elm Farm; and John Gibbs of Field Farm.

In Badsey, 27 men were qualified to vote, but only ten of them were resident in the village. Six of the non-resident men were members of the Allies family who had inherited the Reverend Thomas Williams’ vast estate in Badsey.

The Second Great Reform Act, 1867

The Second Great Reform Act, 1867, doubled the number of those eligible to vote including urban working class males over 21 who were householders or £10 per annum lodgers and £12 per annum lodgers in the counties.

By 1882 there were 19 on the electoral roll in Aldington, 47 in Badsey and 5 in Wickhamford.

The Third Reform Act, 1884

The Third Reform Act, 1884 enfranchised all male householders and £10 per annum lodgers over 21 years.

By 1891 there were 53 on the electoral roll in Aldington, 112 in Badsey and 30 in Wickhamford.

The Representation of the People's Act, 1918

The Representation of the People's Act, 1918, gave the vote to all males over 21 and female householders or wives of householders or graduates, over the age of 30.

By 1924 there were 181 on the electoral roll in Aldington, 625 in Badsey and 160 in Wickhamford.

Representation of the People (Equal Franchise) Act, 1928

The Equal Franchise Act of 1928 granted equal voting rights to women and men. As a result, both men and women could vote at the age of 21.

The Registration of the People Act, 1969

In 1969 The Registration of the People Act reduced the voting age to 18 years.