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Armistice 100: Leeds population ‘trebled’ during First World War

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Dateline: October 1, 1918: On this day 100 years ago, news in the pages of the Yorkshire Evening Post that 100,000 women in Leeds had the vote. But the article makes interesting reading for another reason also - that during the First World War, the population of Leeds almost trebled.

The revelation came about because of the Franchise Act, which allowed some women to vote.

According to the first register of electors in Leeds, under the new franchise, Leeds was ahead of most other cities and county boroughs.

The article reads: “In every respect, the figures for Leeds are greater than was ever anticipated. When the Franchise Act was framed, it was expect to give the vote to about one third of the population.

“Actually, from the figures now published, it is seen that just over half the population of the city has become enfranchised. The aggregate of Leeds electors now is 232,909, as compared with 78,981, who were on the last register before war broke out, which means that in Leeds the electorate has been trebled.”

It went on to say that unofficial estimates which had been made in the past for Leeds, put the female electorate between 60,000 and 70,000. However, it turned out the figures were wrong. The number of voters in Leeds was above 232,000 and the number of women eligible to vote was over 95,000.

The article goes on: “Women voters are apparently very evenly distributed in all parts of the city, for it they are more numerous in the central division, it is only because that division has the largest electorate.”