c.1860 to c.1930 Valuation Revision Books [also known the Griffith's Revision Books]

The task of surveying and valuing properties did not stop with the publication of the Printed Griffith's books c.1860. Thereafter, properties were valued periodically from c.1860 until c.1930 and any changes were recorded in field notebooks which are generally referred to as the Valuation Revision Books or the Griffith's Revision Books. Incidentally they are called the Cancelled Land Books in the Valuation Office in Dublin and the Annual Revision Lists in the PRONI Catalogue in Belfast. Since they appeared online in April 2013, I tend to refer to them as simply the Revision Books.

As well as recording changes in their field books, the valuers continually updated the valuation maps which had been produced c.1859 to accompany the printed Griffith's Books. Completely new valuation maps were produced periodically for both rural and urban areas. Over time these revisions often led to a change in the numbering of properties both within the books and on the maps. Each of the books normally cover a period of approximately ten years. Although properties were supposed to be valued annually, my experience of using these books suggests that a longer period of time could elapse between visits, particularly in remote rural areas.

You should be aware of the following points when using the Revision Books.

  • Each time a valuer visited a townland or a street he recorded any changes that had taken place to a property since his previous visit. The date [normally only the year, often in shorthand e.g. 89 for 1889 or 09 for 1909] was recorded in the far right-hand column of the book. A different colour was used for each visit. Note, however, any year written in these books is the date after the event had taken place, not necessarily the date when it took place.
  • It is important to realise that not everyone who lived in a street or townland during this period will always have had their name recorded. This is particularly the case in streets where people often moved around both within the street and to and from other streets.
  • Another group of people who were often missed by the valuers on their visits to rural townlands were the labourers who rented their houses from farmers. Again this group was fairly mobile and individuals could have come and gone in between the visits of the valuers. In short, some did not stay long enough in one place to be picked up the valuers on their periodic visits.
  • Furthermore you might be searching the Revision Books for particular persons and not find them because they were live-in servants and, therefore, were not considered as a head of household. Remember the Revision Books only record the names of the persons who [in census terms] were heads of households.
  • The Annual Revision Books [in conjunction with birth, death and marriage records and the 1901 and 1911 Census Returns] play a vital role in tracking families during the period c.1860 to c.1901/1911 - showing new arrivals in a townland or street - giving us some idea when certain families disappeared from a townland or street, etc.
  • The Revision Books are also an essential tool in establishing exactly where people were living at the the time of the 1901/1911 Census. Remember, in most cases, the house numbers given in the census returns are not the same as the house numbers in the Griffith's Valuation Books. To locate someone precisely in a townland or street in 1901 and 1911 you must know the Griffith's number [and in some cases the lettering] of their house and have a copy of the relevant map. With a bit of work it is possible to match the two sets of numbers and pinpoint their location on a map and ultimately on the ground.
  • These books will also provide an approximate date when individual farmers in a townland "bought out" their land under the Land Purchase Acts after the 1870s. Before this date any change in the landlord [the Immediate Lessor] will be recorded in the Revision Books.

The manuscript Revision Books are held in PRONI under the reference VAL/12/B. The accompanying valuation maps are also held in PRONI. There is a VAL/12/D series which are 6 inch maps covering the countryside and there is a VAL/12/E series which are large scale street maps of towns and villages. These two sets of maps follow on from the valuation maps that were produced to accompany the printed Griffith's Valuation Books of c.1860. These earlier maps are catalogued in PRONI as the VAL/2/A series [6 inch maps covering the countryside] and the VAL/2/D series [large scale street maps for towns and villages].

When the valuers began to revise the printed valuation, initially, they used the VAL/2 maps, particularly in towns. As major changes occurred in both townlands and streets they began to produce new maps - the VAL/12/D and VAL/12/E series mentioned above. Since c.2008 copies of some of these 6 inch maps [powered by Google] have been available at the askaboutireland.ie website. In most cases in Cos. Londonderry and Antrim these appear to be copies of the VAL/12/D maps, but there are also some VAL/2A maps, particularly in Mid Antrim. Note that there is only one 6 inch map of each townland [usually relating to the 1870s/80s] on the askaboutireland.ie website. This means that the numbering and lettering on these maps do not always match the numbering and lettering in particular Revision Books. In such cases it is necessary to look at the VAL/12/D maps in PRONI. In some cases there can be up to seven or eight different VAL/12/D maps covering the period 1860 to 1930. Note, also, that the askaboutireland maps do not include the VAL/12/E large scale street maps of towns and villages.

A few years ago the online eCatalogue on the PRONI website has made it much easier to search for the appropriate Revision Books for a particular townland or street and locate the accompanying valuation maps. Recently [April 2013] PRONI put the Valuation Revision Books online making this important source accessible to researchers living anywhere in the world. Note that these Revision Books only cover the six counties of Northern Ireland. See Steven Scarth's paper "Valuing the Past: PRONI's online Valuation Records" in the most recent edition of the journal Familia [Ulster Genealogical Review], No. 29, 2013, pp.83-95.

We can use the information in these books [along with the accompanying valuation maps] to chart the changes in names and properties within a townland or street between the date of the Printed Valuation of c.1860 and c.1930, the latest date in the Revision Books. En route, it is also possible to match the lists of names in the Revision Books with those in the 1901 and 1911 Census lists. Only the VAL/12/D maps and large scale town maps require a visit to PRONI.

I have included a number of other examples on how to use the Revision Books on the main Valuation Records webpage.

Copyright W.Macafee 2015.