Saturday, 16 May 2015

Elector's Right!

I have just come across this Elector's Right form which belonged to my Great Grandfather William Gow (1868 - 1943). It was folded up with some other documents of his that my Grandfather had stuck together with a nail. I have transcribed it below.

Electoral District of Newtown Erskine Division

The Holder Hereof William Gow of 227 Wilson Street, Newtown (Occupation) Constable of Police whose name is signed hereunder, is, if enrolled, entitled to vote at Elections of Members of the Assembly in the above district, being qualified in respect of Manhood and of Residence in such District.

It is dated the 29th of December, 1897.

Map showing location of 227 Wilson Street, Newtown
[Source: Google Maps]
Newtown was an electorate in the recent New South Wales State Election this year, but I wanted to know more about the Newtown Erskine Division at the time William was around. Why was it called Newtown Erskine back then? I found that in 1894, single member electorates were introduced. This required the Newtown local government area being divided into three seats - Newtown-Camperdown, Newtown-Erskine, and Newtown-St Peters (Electorate: Newtown, 2015). In 1904, the number of seats in Parliament was reduced from 125 to 90, and thus, Newtown became a single electorate. Up until 1947, Newtown had it's own local government, separate to Sydney City Council (Electorate: Newtown, 2015). William would have experienced these electorate changes in Newtown, but sadly died a couple of years before it became part of Sydney City Council.

I also found this awesome website, Atlas of New South Wales that shows the electoral history from 1856 to 2007. It's a lot of fun. Definitely check it out. I found the Newtown Erskine electorate for the year 1898 (the year after William enrolled). If you have an ancestors address over a few years or decades, you could follow their electorate over that time too.

Newtown Erskine Electorate
[Source: Atlas of New South Wales]
A new genie-tool! I wonder if the Atlas will have my political cousin Donald Walter Croal? Alright, I'm off on another tangent now.

Have you followed an ancestor's electorate over time?

Electorate: Newtown. (2015). Retrieved from


  1. What a find! And the atlas isn't bad either ;)

  2. Thats' so good! I have never heard of an electoral right form before.

  3. I'd never seen or heard of these. Great treasure Caitlin.

  4. We have one of these in our Black Diamond Heritage Centre Museum at Bulli, NSW - I invited a local State MP to launch exhibition and he spotted the Elector's Right and was very excited - insisted on being photographed with the document