If you have Irish ancestors, you have likely used Griffith’s Valuation in the past. I know that I did but revisiting it has highlighted some new information and insights. Let’s look a bit more.
I hadn’t thought of Griffith’s Valuation records for quite some time. I had a copy of the page that showed my family in East Rathneeny, County Donegal, Ireland. I had even visited “the home place” where my relatives still live. What more did I need? After listening to David E. Rencher, AG, CG, FUGA, FIGRS present his session on Irish records titled “Help! The Irish Church Records I Need are Missing”, I thought differently. While he had many ideas and tips, let’s focus on what we can find in the Griffith’s Valuation records.
Richard Griffith’s became this valuation of Irish properties from 1847 to 1864. It was a process so different parts of the country were done at different times. You can find the Griffith’s Valuation at askaboutIreland.ie. Once you are on this site, you can search by the family name and then have the option to filter by county, barony, union and/or parish. These filters have dropdowns which helps. You also can include a first name—I prefer to start without the first name so I see all the results. Searching this valuation truly works best if you have your county name and now approximately where they lived. For example, when searching my Molloy surname there were 203 records with that name in County Donegal alone. When I filtered by the parish Drumhome a more manageable size of sixteen possibilities appears. In this search we are looking for a John or a Patrick who lived in East Raneany near the town of Laghey. Looking at the list, there is not an easy way to know which of these people would be the correct person without look at the documents using the links to the right of the name.
Here is what it looks like for my Patrick and John. You will notice that most listings have home, office and land. The office refers to any outbuildings/sheds, not necessarily an office.
You can see what the total assessment was based on the size of the land and value of it and the buildings. Notice that there is also a number to the left of the occupants’ names. These numbers are used in reference to the map.
Looking at our original search page, you can choose to view the area by map. Use the + to enlarge and spend some time ensuring that you are in the correct area to view this property. In our case it is listed in capital letters as Raneany East. I have found that choosing to display the town names helps me orient myself on the map and find locations a bit easier. You can view the map at the beginning of this article.
Many of our ancestors leased land from large estates throughout Ireland. A key piece of information on the valuation is the name of the person listed to the right of the tenants. In this case the name is Thomas Conolly. This is important because if people are leasing land from him, there may be private estate records that have that information. We can now go to the National Library of Ireland to see if there are any documents that pertain to this gentleman. Another resource for the estate records at the National Archives of Ireland which has an excellent article detailing estate and lease records and how to search for them. You might also check out the Landed Estates Database.
So, why would you care about estate records when your ancestor was a poor tenant farmer? Well, just like today any land transactions generate records. You might find your ancestor in private estate papers as one of the tenants and even the lease information. Or you may just find them in the list of tenants. Many of the estates in Ireland were sold due to debt and that transaction also generates more records. It is worth spending the time to see if there are records for the landowner that your ancestor leased from. I have not been able to find Thomas Conolly in the above sites but I did find an interesting document related to the Conolly family at the NIDirect.gov.uk. Even though this site is focused on northern Ireland, it is important to check all resources within Ireland…sometimes the records are scattered in various areas. While in this case images of the actual record are not online, it does detail what papers are available so the next step would be to contact the institution.
I hope that this blog on Griffith’s Valuation gives you more ideas about how you can expand your research and find a few more nuggets about your ancestor. Have fun exploring these records!
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With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.