Carmel Gilbride – Griffith’s Valuation

What is Griffith’s Valuation?

Carmel Gilbride, Eneclann

Land records have assumed an importance for Irish genealogy far beyond what their original intention. This is largely because Ireland is without its 19th Century Censuses.

The focus of this talk is to give a broad overview of the published record known as Griffith’s Valuation, which was regularly updated from its first date of publication up to the late 1970s.

The manuscript books that record the up-dates are known as the Cancelled Books or the Revision books, and are held in the Valuation Office in Abbey Street.

Griffith’s Valuation, also known as the Primary Valuation is a countywide, uniform system of land measuring and valuation managed by a centralized Government Authority.

Griffith’s Valuation ‘piggy-backed’ on a slightly earlier topographical survey undertaken by military personnel known as the Ordnance Survey, starting in 1826.

Griffith’s Valuation comprises more than 300 individual books.

These books were published between 1847 and 1864.

The ‘revisions’ are not supplemental to this source, they are integral to Griffith’s Valuation.

The date of completion of each book is recorded on the last page.  So if you can identify your ancestor in Griffiths Valuation, you will know your ancestor was present in a townland or parish, to within 2 to 3 months.

Maps are central to the work of Griffith’s Valuation and a source of endless fascination for social and economic historians.

Only Irish Origins has the maps that correspond exactly in time to the information published in the printed books of Griffith’s Valuation.  All other online versions of Griffith’s Valuation online, have maps that date from a generation or more later, by which time the population of the country had fallen by 3 million+.

No complete hard copy version of Griffith’s Valuation survives anywhere in the world, not even in the Valuation Office, the National Library or the National Archives of Ireland.

In 2002-03, Brian Donovan of Eneclann compiled for the first time ever, a complete version of this record, sourcing the individual books across three continents.

Griffith’s Valuation only exists in its entirety online, and only with the contemporary maps (1847 to 1864) on the Origins website.

Any occupier of five acres or less,  were  generally designated as a cottier or labourer.   Holding their  land from year to year, any such holding would primarily have been to raise food for the family living there.

Anyone with a holding greater than five acres  was considered to be a small farmer, slightly more economically secure than a cottier/labourer

Cancelled Books

Theoretically, the Valuation was to be updated annually.    Over the years. the book , with its many cross outs and write overs, became difficult to decipher. They were then deemed to be cancelled and a new book issued approximately every 15 to 25 years in rural areas, more frequently in large cities.

In the 1960s, the stored revision books were bound together in reverse chronological order.   These are held at the Valuation Office.

The changes recorded might signal a death, migration or a change of ratepayer in the family

Griffiths and the Valuation Books can therefore be seen to give us valuable insights in to the social and economic circumstances of our ancestors.