Griffith's [Tenement ]Valuation 1846-64: Manuscript Field Books

When I first used the printed valuation books, many years ago, I paid little attention to the manuscript field books. I was working mainly in South Derry at that time. Initially, I would have looked at the VAL/2/B field books for some townlands but always found that the lists of names, numbers, acreages, etc. were the same as those in the printed version. Sometimes there would be a reference to a mill not working or a note that some of the tenants had a 21 year lease or some other valuer's comment but, essentially, the information in the manuscript book was the same as that in the printed book. Because of this early experience, I rarely used the VAL/2/B books at that time.

It was only, later, when I was working in the Roe Valley [Barony of Keenaght], that I began to use them again. In fact the reason I did this was because I was trying to find a man called Samuel Long whom I thought should have been listed in the townland of Drumadreen in the parish of Bovevagh, between the towns of Dungiven and limavady.. I also had a fair idea of where he should have been living. When I looked at the printed valuation there was no mention of Samuel Long in Drumadreen.

Below is a copy of the page from the VAL/2/B book [PRONI: VAL/2/B/5/20B] relating to holdings Nos. 7 and 8 in the townland. The page shows that the original valuation of the townland took place in August 1856. At that time Samuel Long and his two cottiers Arthur Begley and John Brolly were listed against property number 7. Although it is clear from the statement "Offices & land" against Samuel Long's name, he was not living on the property. Before the field book was printed in August 1858 the valuer revised number 7. The names of Samuel Long and his cottiers were stroked out and the name of the new occupier, Joseph Hunter, inserted. A search of my Griffith's database and the askaboutireland.ie database suggests that this Joseph Hunter lived in the townland of Clagan near Ballykelly.and had a substantial farm of some 50 acres. This farm at Drumadreen was simply an out-farm.

You can read more about this in the case study of the Long family of Cullyramer, Ballymacallion & Drumadreen. [PDF] When I looked at other pages in the VAL/2/B books for the barony of Keenaght I found many similar amendments to the original names against a holding; clear evidence that it is worth looking at the manuscript books in this area, at least.

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Below is a copy of the accompanying Valuation Map.

Incidentally, these manuscript books are organised by Barony and Parish, unlike the later Griffith's Revision Books which are organised by Poor Law Union and District Electoral Division [DED].

You will find another example in the case study of the Dunlop family of Drumnagee, Parish of Ballintoy. [PDF] pages 3-7.

I have to say that these various experiences have now led me to always double check the VAL/2B book when looking for names c.1860. Just recently I came across an Andrew Pinkerton listed in the townland of Seacon More, near Ballymoney. I was somewhat suspicious of the forename Andrew, having expected it to be Adam. I checked the VAL/2/B book for 1859 where it was clearly written as Adam. Incidentally it was later corrected in the first Griffith's Revision Book in 1864. Now, I always check the VAL/2/B books when I am researching a family or a locality .

The VAL/2/B books also contain detailed information on houses [mainly in towns] that does not appear in the printed books. Below is a copy of a page from the Coleraine Town VAL/2/B/5/ 3C book for Church Street, Coleraine, dated 1858, showing the kind of information that is available on one of the houses in that street.

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This detailed information was used to calculate the overall valuation of the buildings which made up a property, which was then entered in the printed version of the Valuation which was published in 1859. Note that the valuers used a similar code for describing the age and condition of the buildings [1B, 1C, etc.] that was used in the earlier [Townland] Valuation of the 1830s, i.e. 1 meant that a building was slated, A, B and C denoted the age and condition of a building. The length [frontage] and breadth [depth] and height of the building were also recorded. However, the measurements relating to the frontage and depth of buildings were now in yards rather than feet as in the earlier 1832 Valuation. Note also that the height of buildings was now given by the number of floors or storeys [1, 1 and a half and 2, etc.] rather than in feet and inches. In many cases the valuers would add comments which never appeared in the printed version of 1859. Note that the original numbering on this page is 18, 19 & 20 identifying three separate elements within this building. These three numbers were then stroked out and the three parts of this building are grouped under the number 16. It is the number 16 which is used in the 1859 printed version. This kind of information is available for most streets in most of the larger towns in Cos. Antrim and Londonderry.

Copyright 2014 W. Macafee.