Land and property records can be a really important element in tracing your family history, particular if your ancestor was a tenant farmer in the countryside or tradesmen tenant in a town. For the average tenant family, the major land record sources begin in the early 1820’s with the Tithe Applotment Books.
Tithes were a tax on one's annual income from farming payable to the Established church - the Church of Ireland. Payment was due irrespective of the religious denomination of the farmer. The Tithe Applotment Books date to a period of standardisation in payment method for tithes. They include a survey of each parish in the country. The surveys date in the main from the period incorporating the early 1820’s to late 1830’s. The form of survey differs from parish to parish but usually lists the individual farmers in each townland (village). We can search these books for your ancestor’s parish at the National Archives of Ireland.
Griffith's Primary Valuation was a survey of land and property holding undertaken in Ireland between 1848 and 1864. Its purpose was to gather information to assist in the calculation and collection of rate payments (a local levy used to finance services). The survey lists each occupier (tenant) in each townland in the country together with the name of their immediate lessor (landlord) and also provides a short description of each holding (acreage of land, buildings etc). The survey is indexed which means you can search for a particular surname without having a location in mind. If you know your ancestor’s place of origin you can of course search this area for a possible match. An online version of the Index to the survey is available through the website www.askaboutireland.ie Once the family homestead is found you can trace developments forward in time using the ‘Revision Books’ of the Valuation Office.
These books can be used to trace developments in the family property from the time of Griffith’s survey forward. They can also be used to examine the land/property holding at any particular location of interest in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. The form of the books is similar to Griffiths Primary Valuation. However the books keep a continuous note of changes in the details for each plot (such as a change in tenant for example). Each amendment/change marked in the books is dated by year. This can be very helpful in researching a family. The changeover from one occupier to another for example often illustrates the process of succession within a family and the date can lead to obtaining death or Will records. The books were maintained in a handwritten colour-coded format. A copy of an ancestor’s listing in the books is a vivid and attractive record in itself – see example below. It is also possible to use the maps of the Valuation Office to identify the exact boundaries of the family property to facilitate a home visit.