Monday, October 21, 2013

Evaluating Griffith's Valuations

Very recently I caught up with a new-found cousin.  We've started exchanging information - as cousins do.  I sent her some stuff with a bit of an apology....."Found this the other day, not sure if it's ours...." - that sort of thing.

"This" happened to be some items from Griffith's Valuations.  "What are Griffith's Valuations?" my cousin replied.

Right then, better get my facts straight hadn't I?


The Griffith's Valuation of Ireland 1847-1864 is an invaluable resource and census substitute because it lists where people lived and what property they held.  This valuation was based on the productive capacity of land and the potential rent of buildings.  It is arranged by county, barony, poor law union, civil parish and townland.  It lists every household head and occupier of land in Ireland.  This site offers a family name search and a place name search.  There is free access to digital images of the original valuation and maps.  These maps include the 1850s Griffith's map, a modern Google map and town plan (if applicable).

from page 14 of Cora Num's Irish Research on the Internet p. 14 - ISBN 978-0-9804372-3-2 published 2011 by Cora Num.  I bought my copy from the QFHS bookshop.

Where ?

So we're talking about Ireland okay?



How do you get them?

Well, I got my results whilst working in the computer room at the Queensland Family History Society Library one Sunday.  I'm embarrassed to confess I don't know which subscription website I was using at the time - probably the subscription website Find My Past.

If you read Peter Christian's The Genealogist's Internet (I've got the 5th edition) he points you in the direction of Irish Origins.   I have a subscription to Origins which expires in November.  It cost me £55 last year for a Total subscription.  

Cora had pointed me in the direction of the Ask About Ireland website which is great - because it's free.

Ask About Ireland is an initiative "of public libraries together with local museums and archives in the digitisation and online publication of the original, the unusual and the unique material from their local studies' collections to create a national Internet resource for culture." From their website here.

Ask About Ireland encourages you to upload information about your family to their website too if you find a connection with the Griffith's Valuations.

What's different about looking at the valuations on each site? 

Well the search results look pretty much the same.  They are presented in a tabulated form.

Ask About Ireland's is set out as follows: 

Surname, First Name, County, Parish, Details, Original Page, Map Views and then a button for uploading your information.

Origins tabulation shows the Townland as well.

The maps on each site are very different.

Ask about Ireland's looks more exciting as there is the opportunity to superimpose the Ordinance Maps over Google or view a hybrid.

It takes a bit of practice to get used to navigating the maps.

I actually found using both sites at the same time quite helpful.  Origins only shows the original ordinance survey maps.  Because it gives you the townland name as well that helps you navigate on the Ask About Ireland maps.  Am I making sense?

But Origins is good because in the Details section it tells you the Ordinance Sheet Number a well as the Map Reference Number and that helps you find your way around Ask About Ireland's maps.  


So who was I looking for?  Well I was looking for Owen McLoughlin - he was my 3rd great-grandfather.  His son Patrick came out to Australia on the Light of the Age 27 January 1864.  According to Patrick's marriage certificate his father was Owen McLoughlin - a labourer.  According to a transcript of his death certificate, his mother was Bridget Sweeney.  I could look for Patrick but there are a few too many.  Owen is a more unusual name.  

There are two entries for an Owen McLoughlin in County Sligo.  This is the image of the one for the Parish of St Johns from 1858 - Map Reference 11 OS Sheet 20 for the Townland Aghamore Near.  

Peter Christian recommends reading a couple of articles which give you guidance to reading Griffith's Valuations.  There's this one , this one and this one.  I like the's longer but really drills down.

Excitingly there's an Owen McLoughlin living it would seem right next door to a Patrick McLoughlin.  But wait, there's another Patrick McLoughlin further down the page too.....

Aghamore Near is I think in the top right hand corner of the page

This is the kind of map you get on Origins.  It's authentic but very hard to read.

The other result I got for Owen McLoughlin Sligo is in the Parish of Kilglass, Townland of Cabragh.  It was published in 1857.  There's no Patrick but there are a few Sweenys - none of them Bridget though.

Map of Cabragh from Origins


Why indeed ?  Oh well, nothing worth finding is easily found is it.? So there's a lot for me to ponder here.  In the first result we have an Owen McLoughlin and a Patrick McLoughlin living in the Townland of Aghamore Near in the Parish of St John.  They are both leasing from John Wynne. Owen is leasing 3 acres, 3 roods and 10 perches.  James Reilly in his article says that "the holder of less than five acres was labeled a "cottier or laborer", small farmers usually held between five and thirty acres. " Having said that, the instructions manual for the Griffith's valuators says that "the farmer's house...should have the italic letter a prefixed to the number of the lot in which it is situated: the cottagers' b, c etc."  Owen and Patrick have "a" next to their lots which indicates that they are considered farmers in their own right.  Patrick has two lots: 15 acres and six perches in one and 2 acres 3 roods and 20 perches in another.  

An office it is important to note "includes factories, mills, shops and farm outbuildings such as a stable, turf shed, cow barn, corn shed, a piggery, and so forth." (Reilly again)

Patrick has another holding further down the page - land and house - 9 acres and 8 perches.  

There are no agnomens used on that page to indicate that the Patrick McLoughlins are different people e.g. sons, fathers, different occupations, cousins.  I have learned today that agnomen means different name in Latin e.g. Junior or Senior or the father's name in brackets. 

The other result for Owen McLoughlin is in the Parish of Kilglass in the Townland of Cabragh.  Here Owen McLoughlin is leasing 13 acres and 33 perches from Robert Orme.  

Which one, if any, is my Owen McLoughlin.  I cannot tell.  I am leaning towards the instance at Aghamore Near only because his holding more accurately fits the description of him as a Labourer.  But then I'm swayed by the Sweenys too.  Could he have moved from Cabragh to Aghamore Near.

Interestingly when you search the Tithe Applotment books there are no Owen McLoughlins in County Sligo.  This is when I realise I need to know much more about Ireland and its counties - there are a couple of Owen McLoughlins in Roscommon, a couple in Meath, a couple in Leitrim and one in Dublin, one in Kings and one in Donegal.

Hmmm....I'm leaning to Leitrim or Donegal.  

Both Origins and Ask About Ireland have some good help articles.  Ask About Ireland has a video on this page too.

Please let me know if you have found other resources helpful or you would like to make comments on any conclusions I have drawn or suggestions for furthering my research.

I am beginning to think more and more that I need John Grenham's excellent new book Tracing Your Irish Ancestors....yes...another book.  Sigh. 

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