Valuation rolls give you: a description and location for the house or property, the name of the proprietor (owner), the name of the tenant and/or occupier and the yearly rent or value. Doesn’t sound very exciting? Read on…

I was researching someone last week and what I found in the valuation rolls changed the picture of him that I was beginning to build up. Firstly, I found that he owned his house, the adjoining smithy and he had “two small tenants” (their rent was too low for them to be listed individually).  Secondly, his occupation was different from that stated in most censuses and his death registration.  (The occupier’s occupation was frequently but not always included.) Thirdly, looking at the properties nearby, I have probably identified a brother. And that was only one year’s entry. Looking on ten years, someone else appeared to be managing the property for my person and he was no longer living there himself. I then found him as tenant and occupier of a house in another parish, the parish where he died, so the loose ends were beginning to come together. All that from one line in each of two valuation rolls.

Valuation rolls can be a great way of tracking your ancestors in between censuses but you will generally need to have a fairly good idea of where they were living. Only the main owner, tenant or occupier will normally be listed, not the whole household. The digitised versions make searching easier but if you are looking for a common name, it may be hard to identify your ancestor definitely.

The valuation rolls at ten year intervals from 1875-1925, plus 1920, are available online on the ScotlandsPeople website. Update: 1855, 1865 and 1930 Valuation rolls are now online too. You can search rolls for other years in the Historical Search Room at the National Records of Scotland in Edinburgh.  Local archives or the main library may have microfilm copies of some or all of the rolls for their area. More about valuation rolls and how they were compiled

Oh and one other thing, the address of the man managing my person’s property was “Turkish Baths”. 1865, Scotland. I had to find out more…

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