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

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 Seacon More near the town of Ballymoney in Co. Antrim [see map]. At that time Seacon More was part of the Electoral Division of Seacon in the Poor Law Union of Ballymoney [see map] and part of the Parish of Ballymoney in the Barony of Dunluce Upper [see map].

Below is a copy of part of page 130 from the Griffith’s [Tenement] Valuation Book [18th Sept. 1861] for Ballymoney Poor Law Union. Note that the sheet number of the relevant OS Map [11] for the townland is also given under the name of the townland in column 2.

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 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 jointly by James Hamill and Samuel McCrelis.

Where a holding or farm 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. 2A & 2B the farm of Andrew [or is it Adam?] Pinkerton; 4A, 4B & 4C occupied by a James Pinkerton and 6A & 6B the holding of another James Pinkerton, or is it the same James Pinkerton?

Lower case letters are used to identify houses. On plot 2A there are two houses – 2Aa the house of Adam Pinkerton and house 2Ab the house of Robert M’Anal who was a cottier renting his house from Adam Pinkerton.

Only James Pinkerton lived at 4Ba; he does not appear to have had any cottier tenants. The other James had a herd’s house & cottier houses [plural] at 6Ba. Did this James actually live there? Who was living in the cottier houses? Note that I am taking a particular interest in houses 6Ba and 4Ba.

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, as I hinted at above. Since a herd’s house was used on a casual and seasonal basis, the name listed in the Griffith’s 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 James S. Moore who is Capt. James Stewart Moore of Ballydivity, a townland situated between Dervock and Bushmills. Note that cottiers held their houses from farmers, i.e. not directly from the head landlord. Some cottier houses had small gardens but this does not seem to have been the case in Seacon More

The next column provides a description of the tenement, i.e. the holding. Note that an office is a farm outbuilding.

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 old shillings in a pound sterling.

Note that no detailed information is given on houses other than their valuation. The valuation can give a clue to what the house might have been like. Four of the seven farmhouses were valued in excess of £3: 2Aa [£3.50] – 3BAa [£3.25] – 4Ba [£4.50] – 7Aa [£4.00]. The valuation of both the land and the farmhouses suggest that this is a townland of “strong” farmers as opposed to a townland of smallholders.

Earlier I asked the question -Was it Andrew or Adam Pinkerton in No. 2? The page, below, from the VAL/2B Valuer’s Field Book, shows clearly that it was Adam. Nowadays I always check the VAL/2/B book when using the printed book. Mostly, there are no discrepancies but there can be!

There is also another mistake in the printed page. The houses and other buildings at 6Ba on the original manuscript page, shown above, have been copied wrongly in the printed page shown above. Here the houses, etc. are listed as 6Aa, but, when you go across to the Buildings column, the valuation of £2.50 is shown opposite plot 6B. Looking at the valuation map will show you that there are no buildings shown on 6A. Clearly, the printer has made another mistake.

This is a copy of the VAL/2/A Valuation Map that matches the VAL/2/B Field book and the Printed Griffith’s for the townland of Seacon More. I have indicated the location of 6Ba on this map. Clearly it is very difficult to read and things don’t get much better on the next slide which shows an enlargement of the area where 6BA is located.

The map below shows, in more detail, 6Ba situated within a cluster of houses that academics now call a CLACHAN which is usually associated with a system of land tenure called RUNDALE. This is consistent with the way that most of the farms in this townland have plots of land scattered throughout the townland. For more information on clachans and rundale, go to

If you go to the website you will be able to see a much clearer map. This map is probably dated 1870/1880 but since there has not been too much change in Seacon More during that period [particularly in the farms] it will match the numbers and lettering in the 1861 Griffith’s Printed Book. Whilst looking at the valuation map you can also use the slider in the top right hand corner of your computer screen to look at a modern-day road map of the area and, in particular, at a modern satellite image of the area – and - superimpose these on one another.

The above maps [plus the map] plus the list of occupiers in the townland provide a starting point for the "mapping" of changes to each property from c.1860 to c.1930. The online Griffith's Revision Books provide the evidence for this change and allow us to see exactly where the occupants of houses in the 1901 and 1911 Census were living at that time. Another advantage is that the askaboutireland maps will usually match the earlier Revision Books during the period c.1860 to c.1880/90.

Finally, I always like to check the askaboutireland map against the VAL/2/A map, even if it is difficult to read. Normally, with perseverance, I can usually find houses on the VAL/2/A maps.

Copyright 2015 W. Macafee.