How to date Griffith’s Valuation precisely

Griffith’s Valuation is an astounding achievement, a masterpiece of Victorian social quantification that measures every property on the island of Ireland with painstaking, pinpoint precision. But it is not a census, and to use it as a census substitute, you have to understand how it works.

Sir Richard Griffith in 1854

Griffith was charged with producing a scientific basis for property taxation in Ireland, and that is exactly what he did. Every building and every field in the country was assessed in meticulous detail to produce a monetary figure that represented the income that property should produce every year. The results were published between 1847 and 1864 in a series of 301 volumes.

These volumes were a public statement of the property tax liabilities of the inhabitants of the areas they cover, and were open to challenge. So accuracy was paramount. And part of this accuracy was precision about the date of publication – property, then as now, was a moving target.

For researchers, those precise dates of publication can be very important: if your William Burke was in Boston in March 1856, that can’t be him in Castlebar on January 26th 1857.

Title page of the Griffith’s volume for Castlebar Poor Law Union

So how do you get that precise date? Every volume has the date on its title page. And you can get to the title page by going through Askaboutireland.

Run a search (e.g. http://goo.gl/JFSkd8 ), then open up a page image in a new tab or browser window. If you want, you can then just click the “previous page” link until you get to the volume title page.

But each volume can have up to 500 pages, making that process mind-numbingly tedious. Here’s a shortcut: in the browser address bar, you’ll see something like “griffiths.askaboutireland.ie/gv4/z/zoomifyDynamicViewer.php?file=210173[…]”

Griffith’s browser address bar

The”file” in that address is made up of two parts, a three-digit volume number and a three-digit page number. The example above therefore refers to volume 210, page 173. If you want to go to page 1 of volume 210, just change that 173 to 001 in the address bar, hit “enter” and there you are. The precise publication date is usually about two-thirds down on the left. In the example, it’s January 26th 1857.

Et voila.

[This post was originally published in March 2016, but got washed away in the Great Delete of June 2016. It's useful enough to republish, I think]

19 thoughts on “How to date Griffith’s Valuation precisely”

  1. When I go to display the image, I get a message saying that I don’t support the plug in. I am not sure what to do next. Any suggestions? Can’t wait to get the date on these images!

  2. Another, incredibly useful piece of info. When you’re faced – as so many of us are – with the proverbial ‘brick walls’, anything that might help with that, is well received!

  3. I would suspect that there is some lag time between the valuation and its publication. Elaines link has County Cork being done 1851 – 1852. The Barony of West Carbery was published in 1853.

  4. Question about Griffiths – a couple entries in my ancestor’s townland list a Felix (Arthur) and a Felix (Patrick). Should I take this to mean Felix son of Arthur and Felix son of Patrick? Thanks

    1. Yes indeed. Griffith’s sometimes uses fathers’ forenames to distinguish between two individuals of the same name in the same townland.

  5. I’d like to know if your tip on accessing the title page of the printed Griffith’s Valuation by manipulating the browser on AskaboutIreland could be applied to the National Archives site featuring the 1,366,275 Valuation Office records i.e. the notebooks used by the VO’s army of valuers and surveyors from 1824.
    If I am not mistaken this site does not even have a ”previous page”/”next page” link for these recently released records and does not allow mind-numbing tedious exercises in going to and fro.

  6. Or you could just get a subscription to Findmypast where all the information is presented in the index. Et voila, half an hour saved each time you want to check a date.

  7. On the immediate lessors column, I have seen listings like Reps. John Hayes. I would like to know what the Reps. means.

    1. It stands for “Representatives of”, meaning “legal representatives of”. In most cases this is because the individual has died and the estate hasn’t cleared probate, but there are other possible circumstances: a minor, a bankrupt, someone adjudged not mentally comepetent …

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