Using c.1830s Townland Valuation
[Townlands in Rural Areas: Seacon More]

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 the townland of Seacon More near the town of Ballymoney in Co. Antrim [see map].

The 1833 Townland Valuation did not identify separate holdings within rural townlands. Instead, it concentrated on identifying different qualities of land within a townland and only included those houses and buildings above a certain valuation. Initially this was £3, later raised to £5 in 1838. .

The Townland Valuation is available in PRONI. The manuscript books are organised by Barony and Parish. Each book is a mixture of pages showing the different qualities of soil and land within in a townland and pages giving details of the houses that have been selected for initial inclusion in the valuation. Some of these houses are eventually excluded but the information on these excluded houses is simply stroked out, so the data is still legible.

Click here to see the page for Seacon More which gives details on the different qualities of land within the townland and their valuation.[VAL/1/].
Click here to see a copy of the Valuation Map [Sheet 11 for Co.Antrim] that accompanies this Valuation [VAL.1/A]. The blocks of land numbered 1 to 11 on the Seacon More map are not holdings as in the later c.1860 maps - instead they indicate different types of soils and different types of land within the townland - described in the page on the previous slide.

Click here for copies of pages 104 & 105 from the Townland Valuation book for Seacon More which give details of the houses in the townland at that time. The houses on page 104 were surveyed on Friday 25th Jan. 1833 and those on page 105 on Saturday 26th Jan. 1833. Since the townland was valued in 1833 the criterion of £3 valuation for buildings to be included was in force. After 1838 the criterion of £5 or over was applied. The age and condition of the houses is given in code. Click here for an explanation of this code.

The numbering of the houses is complex but fortunately the valuers seem to have come back to the townland probably in the 1850s [before the printed Griffith’s] and noted any changes [in blue] and renumbered the houses using the numbering and lettering that would be used in the Griffith’s Valuation of 1859/1861. So anything in blue is much later. Fortunately it allows us to locate the houses precisely. Note that this kind of renumbering is rare. Note that I have appended these 1850s numbers on the valuation map. Click here for a photograph that shows where these houses are today in the townland. Note rthat No. 6Ba no longer exists.

I am particularly interested in house 4Ba. In 1833 4Ba was listed as a dwelling house 47 feet 6 inches long [i.e.from gable to gable] – 18 feet in breadth [i.e.from the front wall to the back wall] and the walls were 11 feet high [i.e. from the ground to the top of the wall where it meets the sloping thatched roof]. You will find that in 1833 the offices [i.e. the outbuildings] were 51 feet 6 inches long – 19 feet in breadth and only 7 feet high. Finally there was a cart house 18ft. 6ins x18ft x5ft. 6ins. The fact that it was 18ft in breadth suggests that it may have been attached to the house. Click here for a photograph of 4Ba today. The buildings are now in ruins. I measured these ruins and found that, allowing for later work on these buildings, the modern-day measurements and the 1833 measurements match perfectly.

You will notice that in the 4Ba photo there are some buildings opposite the offices that are built of a reddish brick. Have a look at this photograph. I am fairly certain that these are the offices shown in blue - therefore later in construction - probably some time between 1833 and the early 1850s. Note that these offices are classified as 1B+ which means that they are slated and are buildings of medium age, but still in sound order and good repair. I think the brick may be Bann brick which was made from diatomite and fired in pits along the river Bann.

I am fairly sure that the Samuel Pinkerton [1807-1887] who was listed against the house in this 1833 valuation was the son of John Pinkerton [1766-1824] and the grandson of Samuel Pinkerton [1728-1815]. Samuel [1728-1815] appears to have his name commemorated above the house with the date 1807. Samuel [1807-1887] moved to the townland of Coldagh in the 1840s and his brother James became the occupier of this house and lived here with his wife Eliza Burnside until he died in 1892. His wife died in 1895. See Pinkerton Births, Deaths and Marriages

Some background information on the Society and Economy in the 1830s.

This evidence given to the Devon Commission on the 3rd April 1844 by Mr. Alexander Burnside, farmer, of Secon Lower, near Ballymoney gives us some insight into how land was held in the first half of the nineteenth century and the state of farming in the district at that time.
 The state of agriculture in the district
The farms are generally small, from twenty to eighty acres; the culture commonly is as follows—namely, a five-course rotation: first, potatoes or turnips; second, oats, wheat, or barley, sown down with clover and rye-grass; third, hay and cut clover for house-feeding of dairy stock; fourth, grazing;  fifth, oats. Few sheep are kept, the stock are principally for the dairy. The agriculture of the district has much improved of late by manuring with animal manure, by liming, by applying sea shells, by draining, and by a more, judicious rotation of cropping than was formerly practised, say white and green in succession.    Farming societies have done much good to this district, by introducing a superior breed of dairy stock, and by giving premiums to the best or most skilful ploughman, by which all have become more perfect in the art.
There is not a great deal of subletting or subdividing of farms in our district. The consolidation of farms has been done a good deal, but not until lately. It now common to put two or three small farms together,or into one. 
Tenure [how land is held] and the rent
The tenure is generally from and under the original proprietor.  Some hold as tenants-at-will, others during one life and twenty-one years, whichever may longest continue.  No rundale is allowed now; this plan was common about fifty years ago.
The tenant-right, or sale of good-will, is regulated by the landlords or agents, as the out-going tenant's title is subject to a penalty on alienating, therefore their consent must be first had in writing.
The rent is nearly the same as the poor law valuation, being one-fourth more than the government valuation. The rent is usually demanded half-yearly, immediately before the next gale [May & November] becomes due; it is paid in bank notes. The tenants depend for their rent on the sale of the produce of their farms, and the small farmers upon the profit they derive from a second occupation they follow; that is, the bleaching of yarn and weaving it into linen cloth [see weaving shops in 2Aa & 6Ba]; they depend upon those sources for the payment of their rent; they do not depend upon loan funds or usurers, if they are thriving. The usual mode of recovering rent from defaulting tenants is by ejectment process, and the in-coming tenant generally pavs up the arrears to the landlord on getting possession.
Cottiers usually hold their cottages under the farmers, and those cottages are generally built and repaired by the farmers. The labourer's tenure is usually half-yearly; but of late it has become common for cottiers to pay their rents monthly, because from their poverty, when they get half a year in debt, they are seldom able to clear up.


Alexander Burnside mentioned that some farmers held as tenants-at-will, others during one life and twenty-one years, whichever may longest continue. Tenants-at-will had no lease at all and this became more common during the nineteenth century. The situation was very different in the eighteenth century when many more tenants would have had leases. Unfortunately there are no estate records extant for Seacon More – the landlord was James Stewart Moore of Ballydivity near Bushmills. Fortunately one lease does survive as part of the Pinkerton Papers which are held in PRONI.: D1078/F/1. Parts of the lease are missing or very difficult to read. Below, I have typed the relevant parts of the lease that I was able to read. Click here to see a copy of the lease.

This Indenture made the third day of June 1795 between James Stewart Moore of Ballydivity in the County of Antrim and John Pinkerton the Elder of Secon More in the Barony of Dunluce and County of Antrim aforesaid Farmer ................. That the said James Stewart Moore has demised ,,,,,, unto the said John Pinkerton all that ...... the one half of that farm in said Secon More formerly possessed by the said John Pinkerton and David [Pinkerton] being the one half of the Middle Third Division of said Town and John’s present half is supposed to contain nineteen acres and ...... perches arable and green pasture and four acres two roods and ten perches of moss and mixed pasture, Plantation measure ......... for the natural lives of .... James Hamill son of James Hamill of Secon aforesaid aged ..... of Samuel Pinkerton son of James Pinkerton of said Secon aged one year and of James Wallace, son of William Wallace of Drumaduan ......... farmer, aged two years and during the life of the longest lived of them and during the term of thirty one years which may be the longest ........... commencing the first day of November last the rent of eleven pounds sterling together with sixpence for every pound of said rent yearly for Receiver’s fees and two fat pullets yearly or one ......

I think that the farm leased by John Pinkerton the Elder is the farm that is occupied by Adam Pinkerton in the 1861 Griffith’s Valuation. I also think that the other farm that John held jointly with David Pinkerton before 1795 is the farm that is occupied by Samuel Pinkerton Sen. in the 1861 Griffith’s Valuation.

Unfortunately this is the only lease extant for this townland in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. I suspect that all of the other Pinkerton farmers in Seacon had similar leases at this time.

Copyright 2015 W. Macafee.