Using c.1830s Townland Valuation
[Streets in Towns: Church Street, Coleraine.]

The purpose of this paper is to show how the 1830s Townland Valuation can be useful to researchers in both Family and Local History. The example used here concentrates on Church Street, Coleraine, Co. Londonderry.

The Townland Valuation of the 1830s was primarily a valuation of land. Initially, only buildings with an annual value of £3 or more were to be included. From 1838 this threshold was raised to £5. These criteria meant that most buildings in rural areas were excluded. However, because Co. Londonderry was valued in the early 1830s, and the £3 rather than the £5 restriction applied, some houses in townlands were included initially only to be stroked out later.

The Townland Valuation is much more useful for towns simply because many more houses in towns met or exceeded the threshold for inclusion. As well as listing most of the houses in each street it provides considerable detail on each house within the street, even those that were later stroked out from the list because they did not meet the £3, or the later, £5 thresholds.

The house information includes the height, breadth and length of the house plus details of the roof and wall materials, plus the general age and condition of each building, given in code. The code was a combination of numbers and letters. The numbers referred to the construction of the building, particularly the walls and roof. The letters were used to describe the condition and age of the building e.g. a house coded as 1B in the valuation had stone walls and a slated roof and was of medium age, slightly decayed, but in good repair. New slated houses were coded 1A.

Construction of the building
1 a building of stone that was slated.
2 a building of stone that was thatched.
Condition and age of the building
A a new or nearly new building.
B+ a building of medium age, but still in sound order and good repair
B a building of medium age that was slightly decayed, but still in good repair.
B- a building of medium age that had deteriorated and was not in perfect repair.
C+ an old building, but in repair.
C an old building and out of repair.
C- old and dilapidated and scarcely habitable.

The two pages from the VAL/1/B/542A book for Church Street in Coleraine [shown below] show the level of detail recorded on each house. With one exception, an office [outbuilding] belonging to Samuel Brown, all of the buildings are slated. Within some towns [Coleraine being one of them] the 1830s detail on houses can be compared with the similar details given in the later Valuers' Field Notebooks [VAL/2/B] of circa 1858.

Click here to see all of the pages for Church Street, Colerains. Click here for a table [PDF format] which provides data in tabular form.

The map that relates to the two pages shown above is VAL/1/D/5/8A for the town of Coleraine. A copy of the part of the map that shows Church Street in the town is shown below and you should be able to match the numbers of the building in the two pages shown above to the numbers on the street map.

PRONI eCatalogue

These valuation books and maps can only be consulted in PRONI. The arrival of the eCatalogue on the PRONI website has made it very easy to search for the particular PRONI reference numbers of the Valuation Books and Maps. To find the appropriate map for Church Street in the town of Coleraine, it is best to type in VAL/1/D/5* in the "PRONI Ref:" box and the name of the town in the "Any Text" box in the "Search the eCatalogue window" and click on "Search" as shown in the screenshot below.

Here is the result - the town is covered by two sheets, each at a scale of 4 feet to the mile.

The Valuation Books are organised by barony and parish - not by townland or street. So to find the street in the town that you are researching you must first know the barony and parish in which it was situated in 1830. If you do not know the parish or the barony , use the appropriate Townlands database at the Administrative Divisions link in the top menu of this website. Finding the book which contains Church Street, Coleraine is not quite as easy as finding a townland. You will be confronted with this search engine on your screen. In order to carry out a search you will have to fill in the appropriate boxes in this search engine.

Simply typing Church Street, Coleraine in the Any Text box produces a nil result. I tried a variety of searches. In the end I found the correct books by using the search shown in the screenshot below. Note that to get this result I had to choose - Match Phrase - instead of the default - Match ALL Words.

Finally, although earlier than the 1830s, you might want to look at this PowerPoint which shows some of the drawings of houses in Church Street commissioned by the Irish Society c.1816.

Copyright 2015 W. Macafee.