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AskAboutIreland - Griffith’s Valuation

   Have you found your family in Griffith’s Valuation? Published between 1847 and 1864 the Primary Valuation of Ireland (better known as Griffith’s Valuation) was done to standardize the basis for taxation across all of Ireland and lists every householder in Ireland.   Last week I discussed census records and the fact that the oldest surviving census for Ireland is 1901.  Because Griffith’s is the only major list of those living just before, during and after the famine, it is a critical resource and frequently referred to as a “census substitute.”  But remember, it is a tax list.  It names those responsible for paying the taxes on the property.  You might find your ancestor listed multiple times on Griffith’s if he/she leased multiple pieces of land.  I frequently have people tell me there are too many people by the same name in a townland to determine their ancestor.  Because people of the same name within a townland had to be identified differently a second name or agnomen (found in parenthesis after the name) would indicate different individuals.  If no agnomen appears within the same townland, then it is the same person.  For more information on Griffith’s you can read one of my earlier blogs, check out the FindMyPast.ie, or John Grenham’s IrishAncestor’s website.  

   Griffith’s was compiled by county, barony, Poor Law Union, civil parish and townland.  The more you know about your ancestor’s location in Ireland the easier it will be to identify them.  If your name is uncommon (like mine <g>) it will be easier to find.  However, if you have a common surname and you don’t know the townland it will be more difficult to find.  Griffith’s was done county by county and you can find a list of the dates each county was done here.1.  Even if your ancestor’s left Ireland prior to Griffith’s, the chances are that other family members remained in Ireland so you should still look.   If you don’t know the townland, but have a couple who married in Ireland and you know the wife’s maiden name, you can search for those areas when the two names overlap.  Our ancestors were not very mobile in Ireland and the liklihood is that they married someone from the same townland.  Grenham’s Irish Surnames CD allows you to put in the two names and look at the localities where the names overlap. 

   Griffith’s Valuation is available to search on many websites however, AskAboutIreland.ie is free.

The basic search is pretty straight forward although not as robust as some of the pay sites.  Because there tends to be a number of spellings of surnames, if you don’t find what you’re looking for, check the box “Include similar names” and try again.  Limiting your search by county, or even better by (civil) parish will give you better results.  

   If you know the locality you can search by Place Name to view a list of all of the inhabitants of a town or parish.  This can be helpful if you aren’t finding a particular name.

   Once you find an individual you can use the map feature.  What is unique about this site is the ability to change the transparency of the map to overlay the older maps with current maps showing the main roads.  This can help to pinpoint where the property is currently located.

#6 is the location of Michael Daly in 1856

With transparency you can see the roads today.

   As I mentioned, there are many sites that provide access to Griffith’s Valuation including Ancestry, FindMyPast and IrishOrigins (all of which have subscription fees).  

   Happy Hunting!

1.  Reilly, James R. CGRS, Richard Griffith and His Valuations of Ireland, Genealogical Publishing Co., 2000.


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© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2013