Between 1847 and 1864 a detailed, county by county record of tax liable was kept in Ireland. Today the "Griffith Valuation" is an invaluable resource for anyone researching their Irish family history and if properly used, it can be a fantastic key to uncover family history information prior to the mid 19th century.
Griffith's Valuation and The Cancelled Books
The Griffith's Valuation or the 'Primary Valuation' is a much used and valuable source in genealogical research. Published between 1847 and 1864 it provides a detailed county by county record of tax liable on land and buildings for the period. The Valuation can 'ground' an ancestor in a place at a given time as well as providing information about the plot leased - the area, the lessor's name and annual valuation. Additional information like the presence of a national school in a parish, for example, can point you to other potential research sources. Perhaps there is school roll still extant or a school register entry about an ancestor who was a teacher. Whatever information you manage to take from it, the Valuation is available here to view for free: Griffith's Valuation
One of the ways to try to find out if an ancestor stayed in a given parish after his or her inclusion on the Griffith's Valuation is through the Cancelled or Revision Books. These are so called because of the colourful revisions or handwritten edits. Each time a change in a landholding took place an edit in a particular colour was recorded on the Books, thus allowing us to track what family name is associated with a particular plot from the 1850s up to the 1970s in some cases. It might be the case for example, that all of the revisions for 1916 were allocated the colour red, while revisions for the following year were blue. A change in family name may mean that a marriage occurred and a new son-in-law has taken over a plot or perhaps the family has emigrated and no longer leave any further trace. It is really important to see the Books in their original colour (the LDS Library provides a copy on microfilm in black and white) as these colours and corresponding years provide important context.
So how does this work in practice?
Glynn Family, Kilbannon, Tuam, Co. Galway.
The Glynns leased land in the townland of Ballygaddy, just outside Tuam town in 1855. This plot included a house, land and garden and was valued at £1. The Cancelled Books allow us to see the changes in the tenure of the plot from the time of Mary Glynn through to her son-in-law Michael Lowry and later to her grandson Joe Lowry and later his brother John right up to the 1950s. The same family own the land today. Incidentally, a headstone from the local graveyard at Kilbannon confirmed the familial relationship.
Above: An example of the coloured edits from a Co. Galway Valuation record
The Revision Books are not yet available online for the Republic of Ireland but can be accessed via the Valuation Office, Abbey Street, Dublin. The following Counties (Antrim, Armagh, Down, Londonderry [Derry], Fermanagh and Tyrone) are available for Northern Ireland and can be seen at the PRONI website here: PRONI Valuation Records
The National Archives of Ireland has uploaded a number of Valuation books associated with the Griffith's Valuation. They can be accessed here: National Archives of Ireland
A summary of websites you will find useful
Have you gained valuable family history insight through your study of the Griffith's Valuation? We would love to hear your story and you can email it to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We've lots more IrelandXO Insights to help you with your Irish family history research: