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Richard John Griffith started to value land in Scotland, where he spent two years in 1806-1807 valuing terrain through the examination of its soils. He used 'the Scotch system of valuation' and it was a modified version of this that he introduced into Ireland when he assumed the position of Commissioner of Valuation.
Tasks in Ireland
In 1825 Griffith was appointed by the British Government to carry out a boundary survey of Ireland. He was to mark the boundaries of every county, barony, civil parish and townland in preparation for the first Ordnance Survey. He completed the boundary work in 1844.
He was also called upon to assist in the preparation of a Parliamentary bill to provide for the general valuation of Ireland. This Act was passed in 1826, and he was appointed Commissioner of Valuation in 1827, but did not start work until 1830 when the new 6" maps, became available from the Ordnance Survey and which he was required to use as provided for by statute.
He served as Commissioner until 1868, when he was succeeded by Sir John Ball Greene CB, who took charge of the ongoing revisions of the valuation on an annual basis. Griffith also served as Chairman of the Board of Works. He conducted two major valuation surveys. First was the townland valuation, which was completed in the 1840s and which took the townland as the geographical unit of valuation. The second and more extensive, was the tenement survey which valued individual property separately for the first time and which also valued all buildings in the townland for the first time, whereas, previously only the larger houses, principally those of the gentry had been valued in the first valuation. The tenement valuations of County Dublin were the first to be published on 5 May 1853 and the last were the valuations of County Armagh on 1 June 1865.
Contemporary use of and dates of valuation
The valuation is a vital document in genealogical research, since in the absence of census records in Ireland before 1901 the valuation records in many ways can act as a substitute. It is helpful in this to know the precise dates when the individual county components of the survey were completed, as follows:
|County||Date of completion of survey|
|Carlow||28 June 1853|
|Cork County of the City||9 July 1853|
|Cork County||20 July 1853|
|Dublin County||9 July 1853|
|Kerry||19 July 1853|
|Kilkenny County||8 July 1853|
|Kilkenny County of the City||8 July 1853|
|Limerick County||29 June 1853|
|Limerick County of the City||29 June 1853|
|Queen's County||28 June 1853|
|Tipperary||29 June 1853|
|Waterford County||5 July 1853|
|Waterford County of the City||5 July 1853|
|Dublin County of the City||31 Oct 1854|
|Kildare||18 July 1854|
|Wexford||7 July 1854|
|Wicklow||4 July 1854|
|King's County||2 July 1855|
|Longford||6 July 1855|
|Louth||5 July 1855|
|Drogheda County of the Town||6 July 1855|
|Meath||10 July 1855|
|Westmeath||5 July 1855|
|Clare||3 July 1856|
|Galway County of the Town||14 July 1856|
|Cavan||25 June 1857|
|Galway County||29 June 1857|
|Leitrim||6 July 1857|
|Mayo||13 July 1857|
|Donegal||6 July 1858|
|Roscommon||1 July 1858|
|Sligo||7 July 1858|
|Londonderry County and City||16 July 1859|
|Tyrone||13 July 1860|
|Monaghan||1 July 1861|
|Antrim||10 July 1862|
|Carrickfergus County of the Town||10 July 1862|
|Fermanagh||4 July 1864|
|Down||12 July 1864|
|Armagh||1 June 1865|
- "Griffith's Valuation. What It Is, and When and How It ... Made.". Chicago Daily Tribune. January 15, 1881. ""Griffith's Valuation" is a phrase no often heard (but not always understood) ... reference to Irish affairs--the tenant ... of the South and West of Ireland having ... most unanimously resolved not pay ... above the rate fixed by "Griffith's valuation." The origin of the term dates ... nearly fifty years."
- Fitz Gerald, James F. V., Esq. (1881). "XVI: Of the Ordnance or Griffith's Valuation". A Practical Guide to the Valuation of Rent in Ireland. Dublin: E. Ponsonby. p. 105. Retrieved September 13, 2010. "List of Counties and Cities, showing the Dates at which the Valuation of each was completed."
- Search Griffith's Valuation on Ask about Ireland website
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