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Hi from Australia. 

I am wanting to learn how to read and understand the Griffith Valuations and maps, in an effort to ascertain, of my ancestors, who lived / worked where. How can I do this from here in Australia?

Also, how would I work out the age of a person listed in the valuation, to be able to eventually identify which one of my ancestors - within a family of people with the same first names and same last names - the recorded person is?

I am wanting to look for Birney and Bell surnames in and around Irvinestown - around Slievebane, Drumbulkin, Derryvullen, etc.







Thursday 7th October 2021, 11:04AM

Message Board Replies

  • Anne,

    It's not possible to determine a person's age directly from Griffiths. All they recorded was who the occupants of the land were. In most cases they will have been adults (ie 21 and over). Any minors would be shown as having the land held in trust (but that's pretty rare). Many, but not all, of the women listed would be widows. I am sure that if you buy or rent property in Australia the legal documents probably don't record your age. It was the same in Ireland. Sometimes you can find when somone died from the Valuation Revision records (on the PRONI site). They take Griffiths forward up to 1929.

    I'll look at Griffiths for the names you have mentioned and see what I can find for you. And I'll then explain what the entries mean and how to do that yourself. It's probably easier to explain with real examples.

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 7th October 2021, 11:29AM
  • Continuing from my earlier message, if you click on the Griffiths site, it gives you the option to search by townland. Click on “Griffiths places” to do that.

    Enter Drumbulcan & Fermanagh and you will get 2 townlands named Drumbulcan, one in the parish of Derryvullan and the other in Magheraculmoney. From the information you have given, it seems it’s the one in Derryvullan that your family are connected to. Click on “occupants” and you will see a list of the households in the townland when Griffiths was compiled (1862 in this case).

    There were around 30 farms & labourers houses and the heads of 2 were named Bell. Johnston Bell and James Bell. If you click on “original page”, it gives you a list of the properties and heads of household. James Bell had plot 1 which was a farm, outbuildings (described as office) and 11 acres, 0 roods and 10 perches of land. (40 perches in a rood, 4 roods in an acre). Nearby on plots 4 & 5, Johnston Bell had a farm with 2 lots of land. Together they amounted to just over 17 acres. Both Bell properties were leased from Mervyn Archdale (ie the Castle Archdale estate). No Birney properties in that townland (though Griffiths doesn’t list every property nor every family. Properties with a rateable value of £5 or less were excluded and people lodging with others, or working as servants etc wouldn’t be listed.)

    If you click on the maps option, you can see where the properties were, both on a contemporaneous map, a modern map and on google earth.

    I looked for deaths for James & Johnston. Didn’t find one for Johnston (I think he died before 1864 when death registration first started) but here is James’ death in 1877 aged 92 (ages then were just a guess and that could be out by 10 years or more). Informant was an Edward Bell. Deceased was a widower.

    Here’s what looks like Edward’s marriage to Anne Mulligan in 1881. His father was William Bell, so not James’s son:

    Edward in 1901:

    Turning now to the Valuation Revision records for that townland:

    Enter Drumbulcan, Fermanagh & Derryvullan. You will see that Johnston Bell was deleted some time before 1868. Since there’s no death for him I suspect he died pre 1864. Edward Bell took over James Bell’s farm in 1878.James Johnston replaced him around 1903.

    James Johnston left a will and it’s on-line on the PRONI wills site. In it James leaves his farm to his grandson Edward Bell (so that explains where William Bell fits in). There is mention of James‘ daughter Sydney in America, also a daughter Ann Gray, also daughter Mary Graham,  & daughter Elizabeth Johnston.

    Repeating the exercise for Slievebane, I can see William Birney on plot 7 (c 13 acres), John Birney on plot 8 with c 10 acres) & George & Thomas Birney jointly sharing plot 20 (totaling around 28 acres). 3 Birney households in the townland in the 1901 census:

    You can use the Valuation Revision records to see who replaced those listed in 1862 in Griffiths and so connect to the 1901 census.

    Some probate abstracts from the PRONI wills site:

    Probate of the Will of Thomas Birney late of Slievebane County Fermanagh Farmer who died 22 May 1899 granted at Armagh to Archibald M'Farland Farmer.

    Birney John (senior) of Slievebane county Fermanagh farmer died 21 September 1922 Administration Londonderry 22 June to Adam Birney farmer. Effects £67.

    The first probate file is on-line. In the second the file is not on-line. He died intestate (so no will) but the file itself should be in PRONI in paper format.

    Do you have any questions?

    Elwyn, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Thursday 7th October 2021, 05:30PM
  • Anne,

    A small addition to the comprehensive response from Ewyn. This link explains the numbering on the GV records and how they relate to maps. A word of warning though. In the two townlands I was studying in detail I found that the GV records were very accurate in listing all the occupiers of land in a townland. However, for both townlands the actual plots occupied by specific farmers could in some cases be inaccurate. In both cases I found the revision books were accurate. This inaccuracy didn't happen often, maybe 10% of cases. If you are trying to find exactly which field was occupied by a person from GV, it is probably correct in 90% of cases. But it is worth double-checking if possible. The revision books are good for this as the same numbers are used for plots in the revision books as are used in GV, but sometimes the plot numbers in the revision books are changed. I know it is a bit difficult from Australia, but local knowledge also helps!

    Best wishes, Kieran

    Kieran Jordan, IrelandXO Volunteer ☘

    Friday 8th October 2021, 08:54AM
  • Hi Anne

    As a side to all the information ive attached a guide we used to use whe explaining Griffiths to researchers.  It potentially needs links updating but is still a useful guide.




    IrelandXO NI Volunteer Partner

    Tower Museum Derry

    Bernadette Walsh, IrelandXO Partner

    Tuesday 12th October 2021, 04:49PM

    Attached Files

  • Hi everyone.

    Thanks for the explanations and assistance provided thus far - appreciate it.

    I'll spend some time studying it all and will ask more questions if needed. 



    Wednesday 13th October 2021, 12:00AM