Researching in Griffith's Land Valuation
Beth L. Mullinax, Librarian IGSI, March 2001
The Irish Government ordered a valuation of land for tax purposes. Sir Richard Griffith undertook this responsibility -a Valuation of Tenements - in 1848 through 1864.
Every piece of land and property in Ireland was to be counted and the value determined in order to assess the amount of the tax. Only the leaseholder or owner was listed, not the entire family. Since there are only fragmentary census records in existence before 1901, "Griffith's" as we call it, is our most valuable resource in determining an exact location for our Irish ancestors - if not already known.
Griffith's Valuation was the first real listing of each piece of property; the occupier who was living on it by lease or ownership; the immediate lessor; the type of property, i.e. house, offices (out-buildings), land, etc.; the acreage; and the value of the land, buildings, and total valuation for the tax. These same records were used well into the 1900, names being crossed off as people died or moved, and the new occupier listed.
To begin research in the Griffith's, we have two sources of indexing:
1) The Householders' Index which was done by the National Library of Ireland in the 1960s. This was an index of surname only, first in the Baronies and then in the Parishes of each County. The Householders' Index gives you the number of each of the different spellings of a surname by Barony. Once you had narrowed your surname down to a Parish or Parishes, you would have to search each Parish of the actual Griffith's to find the names you were looking for. This was time consuming to say the least! However, it still has its uses as it is a good source for the different spellings of a surname within a County, a Barony, and a Parish. It also shows a "T" after some names in the Index, where that name is found in the Tithe Applotment Books for that area. I still use the Householders' for Tithe information. Tithes were tithes to the Church of Ireland which were paid by most of the people regardless of their religious affiliation. It is another record source for the 1820's and 1830's.
2) The second source of indexing is the CD Index of Griffith's Valuation which lists each name (surname & first name) on the Griffith's, the County, Parish and Location of that name. The "Location" is the Townland or Town. With this information, you can go directly into the actual Griffith's after checking the Householders' Index for the appropriate page.
Neither of these two indices is perfect. There are mistakes in both, but they are great resources for shortening the searching. A good researcher would look through the whole Parish to study the other inhabitants to make sure none of his ancestors were missed on the indices. He might often find witnesses to marriages and sponsors to baptisms living within a few doors.
Once you have located your family member on the Griffith's Valuation, copy the Townland or Town name, and the Ordnance Survey Number. This is usually under or next to the Townland/Town name. It is the specific number in which that townland is found on a certain map. Next, look at the number in the column in front of the name. For instance, my John Costello is occupier on #lOb, in Gortacrossane Townland, Ordnance Survey Map # 10, Listowel Parish, County Kerry. I ordered a map from the Land Valuation Office in Dublin showing the exact location of that piece of property. All the properties in that townland were numbered per the numbering on Griffith's. From there I went into the Land Valuation Books, which gave me the same information as Griffith's, but my John Costello's name was crossed off and Patrick Kennedy's was written in as he took over the lease. At the end of the line, there was a 60/61 written in - the time when my John left Ireland for Minnesota (1860/1861)!
These Land books are available through LDS, but the maps are only available through:
1). the Land Valuation Office, Block 2, Irish Life Centre, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 2, Ireland. Email: email@example.com (Republic of Ireland)
2). PRONI, 66 Balmoral Ave, Belfast BT9 6NY , Northern Ireland Email: Anne.Craig@doeni.gov.uk
How did I know that this was "my" John' Costello, since there were five listed in the index? I took all the Costello's (all spellings) listed in County Kerry and plotted them out on a map of Kerry showing the parishes. Every parish where there was a Costello I put a red dot. My Margaret Costello married a John Hennessy so I then took all the Hennessy's (all spellings) in Kerry and put a green dot. There were several scattered around the middle of the county, but most were clustered in the Listowel Parish area. I then had church records searched and the marriage was found in Listowel Catholic Parish, and the baptisms found in Duagh Catholic Parish, a mile or two down the road. Also, on the marriage one of the witnesses was a Jones. There was a Patrick Jones living right next door to John Costello on Griffith's.
Even if your family had left Ireland before Griffith' s was done in your County, you should still try to determine where your family surname is found. There is a very good chance there were relatives left in Ireland - parents, uncles, brothers, cousins, etc. In the above case, most of the family had left in the late 1840's, and settled in Canada for several years. However, so far my research leads me to believe that the "old couple" ( John Costello & wife Margaret Stack Costello) did not immigrate until after their children came down into Minnesota about 1860.
Study the Glossary Index For Irish Genealogy Research that you were sent in your membership packet. The terms listed there are used in Griffith's. Having a quick reference to them will help you understand it better. James T. Reilly wrote a very useful book titled,
Richard Griffith and his Valuations of Ireland. It tells you how to interpret the numbering system of each piece of land and other information you need to fully appreciate this most useful research tool. (IGSI sells it in our Bookstore.)
IGSI will certainly be glad to answer any of the questions you have on using Griffith's. We have copies of the actual Griffith's Valuation on all 32 counties, the Householders' Index on all counties except Fermanagh, Mayo and Wicklow, and the CD Index (also for sale in our Bookstore). We have the Townland Maps showing the townlands for all of the Republic of Ireland and most of Northern Ireland (6" to a mile). These do not have the plot numbers though. The plot number maps are only available from Ireland at this time as explained above.
IGSI also has a list of LDS film numbers of Griffith's Valuation and the Tithe Applotment Books by County and Parish. The list also gives the year(s) of the Griffith's and the Tithes available for each Parish. Let us know your area and we can copy the pages for you.
Irish Genealogical Society, Intl.
1185 Concord Ave. North
South St. Paul, MN 55075