My A2Z 2016 theme is how to pursue an interest in family history/genealogy – I’d love you to join me on the journey.
V is for Valuations
Through the centuries it’s been necessary to tax people for the services they, or their community, use whether it be for workhouses, poor relief, support of the clergy or, more recently, public services such as roads, libraries, water etc. One of the ways taxes have been assessed is on land or property owned or leased by individuals, or businesses. These days this would usually translate into your local government rates or taxes. You may find them listed as council rates (more recently) or valuation rolls (in the UK) depending on where or when you’re searching.
Why use Valuations?
These records can potentially tell us a great deal about our ancestors, for example:
- Whether they owned or leased their land and property
- Who their landlord was
- Whether their land ownership, and hence possibly how their economic circumstances changed over time
- What type of property they owned
- Where their property was within a street
- Who their neighbours were and their relative wealth within the community
- Whether they owned one or more properties
Where to find them
- Regional,state or national government archives in your home country or your ancestor’s country of origin
- City archives (eg City of Sydney archives), Brisbane City Council
- Local reference libraries
- Parish records especially for older periods (check out what’s available in the Family Search catalogue for your family’s parish).
- County Records Offices
- Scotland’s People (pay to view, but inexpensive) and the Scottish Records Office (in person)
None of these will work in every case, but if you can find them, they can really expand your information.
What discoveries have I made?
- The locations of my McCorquodale 2xgreat-grandfather’s residence on the Ardkinglas estate in Argyll
- Landlord information for my Kent ancestors and changes of property
- Location of the Dorfprozelten Germans and other families in inner suburban Sydney.
- Details of my Kunkel, Kent and Partridge ancestors properties in Ipswich, Queensland.
- The residential location of Mr Cassmob’s McKenna family in Melbourne, and hence their economic circumstances.
- Tenancy and later ownership of my Irish ancestors from Co Clare, and subsequent inheritors of the land.
- Where my Irish ancestors’ fields lay in relation to the land where they lived.
- Probable residence of my Sherry ancestors outside Gorey, Wexford.
Ireland is a very specific instance of the importance of valuations as the Griffith’s Valuation remains one of the critical ways of tracing Irish families prior to 1901. Less well known are the revision books which track down the ownership of the property from one valuation to the next…invaluable if you want to narrow down when an ancestor died, or who ultimately inherited the property, and thus gain a clue to current relatives.
The Ask About Ireland site now has Ireland-wide searches and images from the Griffith’s Valuations and FindMyPast has the associated field and house books where they survive. Another of the wonders of digitisation, no longer requiring an overseas visit.
If you have Irish ancestry I strongly encourage you to read this abbreviated report by James Reilly entitled Is there more to Griffith’s Valuation than just names?
Valuations can also be used to complement other records such as wills, land documents, census enumerations and the like. As always comparing information from different sources provides us with a richer picture of our ancestors’ lives and permits us to critically assess each record’s data.
V is for Virtue
Just a whim to add this. Have you ever found an obituary for an ancestor, especially a woman, who wasn’t the picture of Christian virtue, admired by all?