Using Griffith's Printed Valuation c.1860
[Townlands in Rural Areas: Gorteade]

The purpose of this paper is to provide some guidance on how to read the pages in the printed Griffith's Valuation Books and link this information to the accompanying valuation maps. This paper concentrates on the townland of Gorteade near the village of Upperlands in South Derry [see map]. At that time Gorteade was part of the Electoral Division of Swatragh in the Poor Law Union of Magherafelt [see map] and part of the Parish of Maghera in the Barony of Loughinsholin [see map].

Below is a copy of parts of pages 114 & 115 from the Griffith’s [Tenement] Valuation Book [2nd March 1859] for Magherafelt Poor Law Union. This printed edition was produced from the manuscript field books created by the valuers who surveyed the townland in November 1856. Click here to view the pages in the valuers' field book. Note that the sheet numbers of the relevant OS Maps [32 & 33] for the townland are also given under the name of the townland in column 2. You will, of course, want the valuation version of these maps - see later.

As you can see the page is divided into columns. The numbers and letters in the first column, on the left, are used to identify holdings and houses on the six inch maps which accompany the Printed Valuation. Where a person or persons have a holding which is one continuous plot of land it is identified by a number only, e.g. number 1, occupied by Michael McGowan. Where a holding consists of a number of plots of land separated from each other within the townland, each plot is identified by a capital letter, e.g. 6A & 6B and 9A & 9B, the holdings of Hugh Lafferty and Patrick Kane respectively. Note, however, that Patrick Kane does not live on either 9A or 9B. In fact he lived on plot 10B in a house marked a. On the same plot of land was a Bernard Kane who lived in a house marked b. Note that where there is more than one house on a plot of land a lower case letter is used to identify each house. Another example of this on the map is 7a & 7b, the houses of Patrick McMaster, senior and junior. Unfortunately at times, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to identify lower case letters on the accompanying valuation map. Another point worth making is that Patrick and Bernard Kane shared the two plots of land 10A and 10 B and both of them lived in separate houses on 10B. Patrick also held 9A and 9B on his own and Bernard held 11 on his own. Plots of land 12A, 12B & 12C make up a farm occupied by a John Kane. Another Kane family, that of Archibald Kane sen. occupied No. 14 and Anthony Kane No. 13 and Archibald Kane Jun. No. 8. Clearly Archibald Kane Jun. did not live on No. 8. William Hannay, a cottier [i.e. renting his house from a farmer] lived on No. 8. Holdings 6 to 14 are the subject of a more intensive study in the Valuation Revision Book example. Here you will find out more about the Kane families.

The next column gives the name of the townland or street and the names of the occupiers of the land and buildings. Note, however, that one person could be listed as occupying more than one property in a townland or a street and it must be remembered that, sometimes, the person listed against a holding may not actually be living there. For example, in the case of herd's houses which were used on a casual and seasonal basis, the name listed is usually that of the farmer who owned the house, rather than its actual occupant. The same can sometimes happen in the case of cottier houses, i.e. houses rented by farmers to their labourers. Fortunately, in most rural areas the name listed in the printed Griffith's [Tenement] Valuation is usually the name of the actual occupant. However, the same cannot always be said of streets in towns, particularly those streets which had businesses in them.

The next column shows the names of the immediate lessors (i.e. the persons from whom the tenants in the townland rented their land and houses). In this example most of the persons listed here are farmers renting from the Mercers Company. Note that cottiers held their houses from farmers, i.e. not directly from the head landlord, e.g. William Hannay, 8a, held his house from Archibald Kane Jun. In this instance there is no land associated with this house. Some cottier houses had small gardens. There is another unoccupied house 14b on the farm of Archibald Kane Sen. Incidentally Archibald Kane Sen. is the father of Archibald Kane Jun. and it looks as if the son is living with the father in house 14a.

The next column provides a description of the tenement, i.e. the holding. Note that an office is a farm outbuilding. There are no offices listed for the smaller farms 1-10. Compare this to farms 12-17 where the farms are 15-20 acres in size.

The remaining four columns give details of the size of each holding in acres, roods and perches and a valuation of the property in pounds, shillings and pence. For younger readers there are 40 perches in a rood and 4 roods in an acre. There are 12 old pence in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound sterling.

Below is part of the valuation map of the townland of Gorteade (PRONI ref. VAL/2/A series) which accompanies the Printed Valuation of 1859. The valuers used the revised version of the first edition of the Ordnance Survey maps as their base maps to create the maps which are known in PRONI as the VAL/2/A maps. On these maps they marked out and numbered individual holdings [tenements] - hence the title Tenement Valuation. Note that the term 'tenement' is used in its medieval sense as meaning a holding rather than in its modern sense of a building housing many separate families. It is quite difficult to read the numbers on the individual plots of land on these VAL/2/A maps, and house numbers are often indecipherable as the map below illustrates. The date of this map is probably c.1856 which was the year when this townland was first surveyed.

An alternative map is the later VAL/12/D series, part of which, is shown below. This map dates from around the 1870s and because there was little change in the layout of holdings between 1859 and 1870, the numbers on this map match the numbers in the 1859 Printed Valuation. You can see the plots of land 6A, 6B, 9A and 9B more clearly. Also, the houses 7a, 7b, 8a, 10Ba and 10Bb are visible on this map.

Nowadays I would use the maps on the website. Both the pages from the Printed Valuation and the accompanying valuation maps for every townland in Ireland are now available online [free] at this website. Note that the maps [powered by Google] are of good quality - much clearer then the above map. Because of copyright, I cannot show a copy of this map here. Go to and see for yourself. However, there can be problems with these maps. In some cases the numbers on the map do not match the numbers in the printed valuation and in Co. Antrim there is a great chunk of Mid Antrim where the Google maps only contain some of the the Griffith's numbers. For more information on this read and the askaboutireland site - read more.

These maps and lists of occupiers in both townlands and streets provide a starting point for the "mapping" of changes to each property from c.1860 to c.1930. This is made possible by the Griffith's Revision Books and the 1901 and 1911 census. You can learn how to "follow" the changes that took place between c.1860 and 1929 in Gorteade in the Revision Books example.

Copyright 2015 W. Macafee.