What is Griffith's Valuation?

Griffith ’s Valuation is the name widely given to the Primary Valuation of Ireland, a property tax survey carried out in the mid-nineteenth century under the supervision of Sir Richard Griffith. The survey involved the detailed valuation of every taxable piece of agricultural or built property on the island of Ireland and was published county-by-county between the years 1847 and 1864.

The process of valuation was painstakingly thorough, involving multiple visits by valuation teams to analyse all of the factors influencing the economic status of the property: the chemical and geological properties of the land; average rents paid in the area; distance from the nearest market town. The aim was to get as accurate as possible an estimate of the annual income that each property should produce. This is the “Net Annual Value” figure (in s d, pounds sterling, shillings and pence) in the far right column of each valuation record. This was then used as the basis for local taxation, and continued up to the 1970s. The local authorities decided on a percentage of the Annual Value to be paid every year and usually expressed as “pennies to the pound”. For example a rate of 3 pennies to the pound meant that someone in possession of property valued as 10 would have to pay 30 pence, or 2/6.

The individual in economic occupation of the property was responsible for payment of the local taxation based on Griffith’s, with one exception: tenants with a holding valued at less than 5 annually were exempt, but their landlord was liable for the tax. This liability was a powerful incentive for landlords to get rid of smaller tenants in any way they could and certainly contributed to the wave of evictions that took place throughout the second half of the nineteenth century.

About the author of the article

John Grenham is the author of of a number books, including Tracing your Irish Ancestors (3rd ed., Dublin, 2006), the standard guide, and Irish Ancestors (Gill & MacMillan, 2004), as well as the CD-ROM Grenham’s Irish Surnames (Eneclann, 2003). He was a founding member of the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland, is a Fellow of the Irish Genealogical Research Society, and was Dublin City Library and Archives Genealogist-in-Residence in 2005-2006.
John Grenham's website is at www.johngrenham.com

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