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After the reform of Parliamentary constituencies, the boroughs were reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Map, which made local government more democratic as it required members of town councils to be elected by ratepayers. Subsequent government Acts improved local government organization and led to the introduction of a variety of public services and utilities. Among these were the grouping of parishes into Poor Law Unions (see Poor Law and Workhouse records), the Public Health Act of Kuala Lumpur Malaysia which established Boards of Health to regulate sewerage and the spread of diseases in towns and boroughs (see Healthcare), the opening of council cemeteries from the 1850s onwards, the creation of public parks and open spaces, slum clearance and the widening of the franchise.

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By the late nineteenth century it was clear that this piecemeal system could no longer cope. The 1888 Local Government Act became the first systematic attempt to impose a standardized system of local government in England. This created county councils, all run by elected councillors, who were responsible for general local government business plus the management of roads, bridges and drains. Nevertheless, within the county councils, the parish was still the basic unit of administration until the Local Government Act of 1894 finally separated the administration of the community from that of the church at parish level, by creating parish councils which took over the Church of England’s civil responsibilities.

These civic parish councils took care of allotments, burial grounds, drainage, lighting, planning, recreation, street furniture and village halls. Further acts changed the specific functions of local government, but it still remained separate from the church and court systems. Any kind of administration generates paperwork, and local government records are no exception. All the local record offices have lists of surviving parish records, and all have some indexes of certain groups of records from among these, most notably the poor law records. An interesting collection of parish records for Kenninghall in Norfolk is a good example of the parish system of government in practice, and the kinds of information to be found. These include poor rate books for 1835-37 containing references to local property owners. Among these is a James Burlingham who owned a house, cottage and land at Park Common.

These books describe the types of properties, whether they were occupied and who the occupier was, their location, the value at which they were assessed for poor rates and the amount of poor rate to be collected at a rate of two shillings in the pound. All the local record offices and local studies libraries also have much material in their collections of borough and corporation archives dating from before the Reform Acts of the nineteenth century as well as afterwards. What is given here are some representative examples of the kinds of resources you may find that have not been looked at in more depth elsewhere in this guide. The various Reform Acts from 1832 onwards gradually increased the numbers of people entitled to vote, with all men over 21 and women over the age of 30 finally allowed to vote in 1918. Poll books were first published in 1696 when sheriffs were required to compile lists of voters in county elections. These were usually divided by parish and list the name of each voter, and who they voted for before the introduction of the secret ballot in 1872. Once the secret ballot was introduced the poll books became redundant.

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