The term 'Griffith's Valuation Books' covers the complete library of materials created by the Valuation Office both before and after publication of the Primary Valuation of Tenements in the mid 1800s.
It includes books used by Richard Griffith's valuers in the lead up to his great land survey, during the survey and – very importantly – SINCE the publication of the survey results.
These pre- and post-publication manuscript books are not a researcher's first port of call, but can be extremely useful for further research after studying the Primary Valuation of Tenements.
Griffith's Valuation was published county-by-county between 1847 and 1864. Both before and after each publication, manuscript books were produced to record all manner of features about the properties and land-holdings, and to record subsequent changes of ownership.
These books – made up of Valuers' Notebooks and Revision Books (also referred to as the Cancelled Land Books) – can be rich sources of advanced research.
Even so, they won't be of interest to all Irish genealogists. If you can
readily identify your ancestors in the Primary Valuation of Tenements you may not need or want to do any more digging.
You will, however, need to know the area you want to explore. Griffith's Valuation was a land survey, and all the accompanying manuscripts are organised by location.
As is always the case in genealogy research, a good understanding of the resource is the key to getting every last drop of information from it. And Griffith's Primary Valuation, with all its many parts, is a prime example of this.
So this page goes a bit deeper than the Householder
List and the printed Valuation of Tenements. It deals with the Valuation Books
produced before and during the survey. These are the valuer's notebooks.
For details of the Valuation Books
produced since Griffith's Primary Valuation was published, see the Revision
Books (Cancelled Books) and Current Land Books page.
It is fair to say that Griffith's Primary Valuation was more than 20 years in preparation before the first tranche of the Primary Valuation of Tenements (for County Dublin) was published in 1847. It was to be a further 17 years before the final tranche of the survey was published to complete the Primary Valuation for the entire island.
The project was effectively commissioned in 1826 when the Townland Valuation Act was passed. The Townland Valuation survey got underway in the north of Ireland, with the intention of cataloguing and assessing every single parcel of land and building within each townland.
By 1831 it had become clear that this was just a bit too ambitious for the department to undertake so it was decided that only properties or land with a value of over £3 would be included. This first phase lasted until 1838.
With only the northern counties fully assessed by 1838, it was obvious that the survey in its current form was going to take a very long time to complete. To speed things along, it was decided to raise the threshold of value for properties to £5.
This second phase reduced the workload considerably as there were relatively few buildings of this calibre.
By 1844, 27 of the 32 counties had been surveyed (some of the early surveys survive in manuscript form... see Townland Valuation surveys below). Only the counties of Munster remained.
At this point it was decided to revert back to the 'all property' basis of the first phase and apply it to all counties! (Retrospective legislation confirmed this requirement with the Tenement Valuation Act in 1852.)
This was the third and final phase leading to publication of the county-by-county Primary Valuation of Tenements.
Each of the 300-odd volumes that make up the Primary Valuation had an individual publication date, typically within six months of the district survey completing. See the map for approximate dates.
As explained above, the first Valuation Act was passed in 1826 prompting a survey and assessment of all Ireland's property and estates. This early survey was never printed and the surviving records are in manuscript form as Field and House Books.
These valuers were mainly concerned with agricultural land. They went from parish to parish, describing each one in a notebook and recording the quality of the local soil.
In rural areas, householder details are less frequently recorded in the valuation books; the gentry and some better-off tenant farmers were usually listed, but the poorer tenant's property rarely met the £ value criteria. In urban areas, however, more properties reached the threshold, so more householders were recorded.
Details collected from the early Townland Valuations (1826-1844) were not included in Griffith's Primary Valuation of Tenements when it was published, county-by-county from 1848 to 1864 (Only the details current at the time of each county's publication were included in the Primary Valuation of Tenements.)
The Valuation Books were arranged by parish. You can identify the appropriate parish of any given townland at the Townland Database.
The manuscript records of the valuers are spread across three repositories: the National Archives of Ireland (NAI) and Valuation Office (both in Dublin) and PRONI (in Belfast).
Although PRONI holds the majority of the material relating to the six counties of Northern Ireland, some northern material slipped through the net and can be found at the National Archives of Ireland and the Valuation Office. The latter's collection is relatively small.
Several types of notebook were used by the Valuers: