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A Guide to the Griffith’s Valuation: Unlocking Irish Land Records for Genealogy

When it comes to Irish genealogy, the Griffith’s Valuation is a treasure trove of information that should not be overlooked. This invaluable resource not only provides a snapshot of property ownership and occupancy but also aids in filling gaps where other historical records may be missing. This comprehensive guide aims to help you navigate the labyrinth of Griffith’s Valuation, understand its significance in Irish genealogy research, and maximize its utility in uncovering your Irish roots.

What is the Griffith’s Valuation?

Griffith’s Valuation, officially known as the Primary Valuation of Ireland, was a land survey conducted between 1847 and 1864. Named after its commissioner, Sir Richard Griffith, this extensive work was intended to assess property taxes based on land value. It is the single most important source for tracing Irish ancestors during the mid-19th century, especially given the scarcity of other key genealogical records for that period.

Why is Griffith’s Valuation Crucial for Irish Genealogy?

Filling the Gap in Census Records

Many Irish census records have been lost or destroyed, creating a significant void in genealogical data. Griffith’s Valuation comes to the rescue by providing a detailed account of who lived where during the time period it covers.

Understanding Family Economics

The Valuation records not only the names of occupants and landowners but also provides financial details about the land and buildings. This can offer insights into the economic status of your ancestors.

Mapping Ancestral Lands

Griffith’s Valuation includes maps that can be used to physically locate where your ancestors lived, offering a tangible connection to your Irish heritage.

Components of Griffith’s Valuation: What Information Can You Find?

Tenant’s and Landowner’s Names

This is the most direct piece of genealogical information, linking a name to a specific piece of land or property.

Description of Property

Griffith’s Valuation gives a description of the property, often indicating whether it was a house, office, land, or other types of buildings like mills or stables.

Land Measurements

The acreage of each property is usually listed, often broken down into arable, pasture, and meadow lands.


Both the land and buildings are given a monetary valuation, which can provide an idea of the economic circumstances of the tenant or owner.

Accessing Griffith’s Valuation Records

Online Databases

Websites like AskAboutIreland and FindMyPast offer searchable databases where you can access Griffith’s Valuation for free or with a subscription, respectively.

National Archives of Ireland

The National Archives hold microfilm copies of Griffith’s Valuation, accessible to those who can visit in person.

Local Irish Libraries and Heritage Centers

Some local libraries in Ireland have copies of Griffith’s Valuation for their specific counties.

Land Valuation Office

The Land Valuation Office in Dublin has revision books that update the original Griffith’s Valuation data, which can be useful for tracking property changes over time.

Tips for Navigating Griffith’s Valuation in Your Irish Genealogy Research

1. Search Variations of Surnames

Spellings of Irish surnames can vary widely. Make sure to search for all possible variations to ensure you don’t miss any valuable information.

2. Look for Adjacent Entries

Sometimes, family members occupy adjacent lands but are listed separately in the Valuation. Always check a few entries above and below your ancestor’s name.

3. Cross-reference with Other Records

Combine information from Griffith’s Valuation with other records like birth, marriage, and death certificates or church records to get a fuller picture of your family history.

4. Use the Maps

Don’t ignore the accompanying Griffith’s Valuation maps. They can provide a visual context for your ancestor’s life, indicating proximity to important locations like churches, schools, or marketplaces.

Common Challenges and Solutions in Using Griffith’s Valuation

Name Abundance

If your ancestor has a common Irish surname like Murphy or O’Brien, you may find hundreds of entries. Use additional details like occupation or spousal name to narrow down your search.

Confusing Land Terms

The Valuation uses specific terms to describe the land and its use. A glossary or guidebook can help you decipher these terms.

Temporary Occupants

Sometimes, tenants listed in Griffith’s Valuation were temporary occupants. Cross-reference with other sources to confirm the duration of their stay.

Missing or Illegible Information

Age, wear, and the quality of original documentation can result in missing or illegible information. Check multiple sources or databases to ensure you get the most accurate data.

Special Types of Records Related to Griffith’s Valuation

Cancelled Books or Revision Books

These books are follow-ups to the original Griffith’s Valuation, indicating changes in land occupation and ownership. They can be particularly useful for tracking family movements and land transfers over time.

Field Books

Field Books contain the surveyors’ preliminary notes and can sometimes offer additional genealogical information not included in the final Valuation.

House Books and Tenure Books

These provide more in-depth details about individual properties, including the construction materials and quality of the buildings.

By understanding the Griffith’s Valuation and leveraging its utility, you open a gateway to ancestral Ireland that might otherwise remain closed. Its detailed records and insights into property ownership and occupation provide a robust foundation for anyone interested in tracing their Irish lineage. Therefore, Griffith’s Valuation is more than just a land survey; it’s a map to your past, illuminating the lives of your ancestors in a time and place from which few other records have survived. So delve deep into Griffith’s Valuation and uncover the pieces of your Irish genealogical puzzle that await discovery.

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