Ireland Taxation

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Online Databases[edit | edit source]

Tithe Applotment Books:

Griffith's Primary Valuation:

Valuation Office Books:

Introduction[edit | edit source]

In most countries, tax records are difficult to locate, are rarely indexed, and give limited information. They are usually searched only after other sources have been exhausted. However, because so many Irish records (including tax records) were lost in 1922 when the Public Records Office burned, surviving tax records are particularly significant to Irish research.

Tax records are useful in Irish research because they reveal an individual's place of residence at a given time. As mentioned, knowing place and date of residence is extremely helpful in Irish research.

Irish tax records fall into two classes: pre- and post-1661 records. Pre-1661 records are of taxes created under the English feudal system and extracted by the crown. Post-1661 records are of taxes assessed and extracted by the local districts.

Many types of Irish taxes were assessed prior to the nineteenth century. The most important Irish tax records, however, are Tithe Applotment books and Griffith's Primary Valuation. Both are nineteenth-century sources and serve, to some extent, as census substitutes. Both are extremely useful in locating people and identifying the townland and parish in which they lived. Griffith's Primary Valuation can also be used to determine names of estate owners, making it possible to access estate records (see Ireland Land and Property).  See also Ireland Census Substitutes.

Hearth Tax[edit | edit source]

Hearth in Luogh, Ireland.jpg

Initiated in 1662, the Hearth Tax was collected and recorded on Hearth Money Rolls within the Court of the Exchequer. They were collected throughout the decade of the 1660's as a result of the Hearth Money Act of 1662 and additional amending legislation. The basis for the tax was the number of hearths in each household, therefore they cross the economic social classes. This tax led to the open hearth architecture in Irish cottages where there was intentionally no hearth built and the fire was placed on the floor directly below the chimney.

The rolls were enumerated by parish and usually record the name of the head of the household, the number of hearths, and the amount of the tax levied.
The Hearth Money Rolls for Northern Ireland were transcribed primarily by Tenison Groves. Copies of his transcripts are available in the Family History Library collection. A few surviving copies are also available for counties in the Republic of Ireland, namely for counties Dublin (1663), Louth (1664), Sligo (1662), Tipperary (1666-1668), and Wicklow (1669).

Tithe Applotment Books[edit | edit source]

The tithe was a land-based tax exacted from rural Ireland between 1823 and 1837. The tax did not apply to inhabitants of the cities or larger towns. Though taken from people of all faiths, the tithe was used to support the Church of Ireland in rural areas. Tithe Applotment books record the name of the head of the household and the value of the property.

These records have been digitized and free indexes and images are now available online at:

Griffith's Primary Valuation[edit | edit source]

Between 1848 and 1864, a valuation, called Griffith's Primary Valuation, was made of taxable property in every parish in Ireland. The Griffith's Valuation records list the name of each head of the household, the name of the landowner ('immediate lessor'), the acreage of the plot, the value of the property, and the amount of tax assessed. The tax based on the property valuation was used to support the poor.

These records have been digitized and free indexes and images are now available online at:

  • Griffith's Primary Valuation (Ask about Ireland) - free search and display of individual summary information, "field book" manuscript entries and survey maps

Indexes and images are also available online at subscription websites:

Using These Records to Find Ireland Birth Origins:

When an Irish emigrant's birth origin cannot be determined from records in U.S., Canada, Australia, and/or to whatever country the emigrant came to settle, here's an excellent work-around to this problem: You can specifically locate the last place of residence or birth origins in Ireland, by searching for that surname using Griffith's Valuation. This is especially possible when searching uncommon surnames. Even then, because many valuators recorded the given name of the householder's father (in cases of those with very a common surname). The first step in a case when you know another Irish surname such as a wife's maiden name (i.e. the couple married before emigrating Ireland), be sure to search the less common of the two surnames, first, to see if you can localize that surname somewhere in Ireland; then perform the same search with other more common surname and take careful notes of those in-common counties and/or parishes where both these surnames appear. Use a good spread-sheet program like Excel, to help you more quickly determine that area or areas where occurrences appear, By using Griffith's in this manner, can help you determine the best area, region, or place to first begin searches in the records in Ireland.

Valuation Office Revision Books[edit | edit source]

After the primary valuation, later valuations were made throughout Ireland approximately every decade. Changes in ownership or tenancy as well as the types of information recorded in the original valuation (name of the head of the household, name of the landowner, acreage, and property value) were noted in the valuation books using different colored pencils for each revision.

Valuation Revision books for Northern Ireland have been digitized and images are now available online for free at www.proni.gov.uk. After clicking the above link and reading the introduction, click the magnifying glass at the right of the screen with the words "Search Valuation Revision Books." The Republic of Ireland announced in 2014 plans for digitizing these records for the twenty-six counties within their borders.

To start a search for the Valuation Office Revision Books, a researcher should know the name of the townland where the ancestor lived. With the name of the townland, it is best to use the following steps to find a microfilm number for the revision books. These records are available on microfilm at the Family History Library and some family history centres for the Republic of Ireland only. Researchers should note that these records are often mistakenly referred to as 'Cancelled Books' or the 'Cancel Books' as they denote the cancellation of previous owners when a new owner is assigned.

Steps for locating Valuation Office Revision Books or "Cancel books":

  1. Determine which townland you will be searching (e.g. Gortnatona).
  2. Find the townland in the 1901 edition of General alphabetical index to the townlands and towns of Ireland (Family History Library microfilm number 865092) and write down the parish (Kilcummin), county (Kerry), Poor Law Union/ Rural District (Killarney), and District Electoral Division (Kilcummin).
  3. Go to the FamilySearch Catalog and do a Place Search for the country and county (e.g. Ireland, Kerry) and click Search. On the Search Results page select the Land and Property subject entry, (e.g. Ireland, Kerry - Land and Property). Then select the entry for the rural district where your townland was situated, such as: “Valuation Lists for Kerry County, Killarney Rural District, 1859-1946.”
  4. The Catalog Record will show publication and other details for the record with microfilm numbers.
  5. Find the entry in the "Film/Digital Notes" that lists the District Electoral Division (DED) that your townland was in, such as: v. 18-19 Electoral division: Kilcummin Kilfelim. This is the record that should cover the Townland of Gortnatona.

Further Information[edit | edit source]

For more information on Tithe Applotment records, Griffith's Primary Valuation, and other valuation sources, see:

  • Grenham, John. Tracing Your Irish Ancestors: The Complete Guide. 3rd ed. Dublin, Ireland: Gill and Macmillan, 2006. (FHL book Ref 941.5 D27gj 2006.)
  • McCarthy, Tony. "Twelve Major Sources." The Irish Roots Guide. Dublin, Ireland: Lilliput Press, 1991. (FHL book 941.5 D27mt.)

For more information about Irish taxes and surviving tax records, see:

  • Falley, Margaret Dickson. Irish and Scotch-Irish Ancestral Research. 2 vols. Evanston, Illinois: Margaret Dickson Falley, 1961-62. (FHL book Ref 941.5 D27f, 2 vols.)

The Family History Library's copies of Tithe Applotment books and Griffith's Primary Valuation are listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:

  • IRELAND - LAND AND PROPERTY

Other valuation records are listed in the Place Search under:

  • IRELAND, [COUNTY] - LAND AND PROPERTY

The library's other taxation records are listed in the Place Search under the following headings:

  • IRELAND - TAXATION
  • IRELAND, [COUNTY] - TAXATION
  • IRELAND, [COUNTY], [TOWN or PARISH] - TAXATION

Indexes[edit | edit source]

The following work was compiled by the staff at the National Library in Dublin, Ireland, and is available at the Family History Library. Arranged by county, this index lists surnames found in the Tithe Applotment Records and in Griffith's Valuation:

  • An Index of Surnames of Householders in Griffith's Primary Valuation and Tithe Applotment Books. 14 vols. Typescript. Dublin, Ireland: National Library, 1960-70. (FHL book Ref 941.5 R22i, 14 vols.; film 919,001-7.) This work is often referred to as the Householders Index.

A brief aid produced by the Family History Library, The Ireland Householders Index (item 34070), contains step-by-step instructions on how to use the Householders Index and its corresponding records at the library. This aid is available at the library and through Family History Centers.

The Irish Land Commission (dissolved in 1992) produced an index to the Tithe Applotment records for the counties in Northern Ireland: Northern Ireland, Public Record Office, Land Commission Archive index. This index is listed in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:

  • IRELAND - LAND AND PROPERTY - INVENTORIES, REGISTERS, CATALOGS

Several indexes, by full name, to the Griffith's Primary Valuation records for specific counties have also been compiled and are available on microfiche at the Family History Library. These indexes cannot be circulated to Family History Centers. The indexes are listed in the Place Search of the catalog under:

  • IRELAND - LAND AND PROPERTY - INDEXES