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Monday 24 November 2014

Valuation Rolls

Valuation rolls before 1855

Local and central government gathered information about the ownership and tenancy of land and houses in order to raise property taxes. Before 1855, only a very few records of such taxes survive. There were several poll and hearth taxes levied at the end of the 17th century and from 1667 there was a Land Tax. The surviving records of this land tax are held at the National Records of Scotland (NRS) in the Exchequer series, NRS refrence E106. They record the value of land for each county down to parish level, together with the names of the proprietors. Remember that until well into the 20th century very few Scots owned landed property. These records therefore relate to only a tiny proportion of the populace (perhaps as little as 3 per cent of the population in the 18th century) and they do not list either tenants or occupiers. This national land tax was also levied on the royal burghs but the collection records do not list burgh inhabitants.

Rolls submitted to the Scottish Exchequer (NRS reference E106) are now available online on the ScotlandsPlaces website. Other land tax rolls can be found among Commissioners of Supply records in local archives.

Title page of the valuation roll for Argyll County, 1911-12, NAS ref. VR89/57

Loretta Timperley used the land tax records to publish 'A Directory of Scottish Landownership in 1770' (Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh, 1976). This shows all the named landowners for that year together with the names and values of their properties, in so far as these can be gleaned from the record. This publication is available in the NRS search rooms and also in good reference libraries. It gives an accurate sense of the type of information available from the original record.

Some local land valuations may also be found in heritors' records (NRS reference HR) and among private Gifts and Deposits of family papers (NRS reference GD) held in the NRS.

Valuation rolls from 1855-1989

The Lands Valuation (Scotland) Act, 1854 established a uniform valuation of landed property throughout Scotland, with separate rolls compiled for each burgh and county. The NRS holds copies of all valuation rolls until 1989 (NRS reference VR) when the Community Charge ('Poll Tax') for domestic ratepayers was introduced and replaced the previous system. The valuation rolls that continue after 1989 are only for businesses that pay non-domestic rates. Again, the NRS has copies of these.

The rolls from 1854 to 1988 were collected annually and for each property record the name and designation of the proprietor, the tenant, the occupier and the annual rateable value. They do not list any other residents in a property. For the early years after 1854, there is little detail about properties rented at under 4 pounds annually unless they were on long leases. The rolls run from Whitsunday (one of the Scottish term days, usually around 25 May) of one year to Whitsunday of the next, roughly speaking a financial year.

Using valuation rolls for 1855-1957

The valuation rolls for 1855-56 to 1957-1958 have all been digitised and are available in the search rooms on the Virtual Volumes system. Now that all the valuation rolls have been digitised we do not provide access to the originals. However we do provide access to the valuation rolls for Public Undertakings (NRS reference VR121) which have not been digitised.

Also available in the search rooms is the valuation roll index. This index covers the valuation rolls for all of Scotland for the following years: 1855-1856; 1865-1866; 1875-1876; 1885-1886; 1895-1896; 1905-1906; 1915-1916; 1920-1921; 1925-1926; 1930-1931; 1935-1936; 1940-1941; 1945-1946; 1950-1951 and 1955-1956. The index can be searched according to person, group or place (including property type, settlement name, burgh or county). The information contained in the index consists of the description and situation of each property and its proprietor, tenant and occupier. Each index entry is linked to the digital image of the original page in the valuation roll.

The valuation rolls that have been indexed with images will be made avaliable online via ScotlandsPeople during 2012-2014. Currently available to search are the rolls for 1885-1886, 1895-1896, 1905-1906, 1915-1916 and 1920-1921. Further years will follow. Please consult the ScotlandsPeople website for further information.

For valuation rolls which are unindexed some rolls, particularly for the more populous areas such as Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow, can be awkward to search. For these areas there will often be several volumes covering each year. This can often mean a time-consuming search through the volumes in question before you find the entry for the property concerned.

Within each volume, the entries are arranged either by parish or (in cities and larger towns) by electoral ward, and below that level, by street and then by door number or house name. Consequently you may need to find out in which parish and/or electoral ward the property concerned was situated, before being able to identify the correct valuation roll for the relevant year. A local archive or library may have old Post Office directories or local gazetteers, which will often help you to obtain this information.

Because of the time-consuming detective work needed, staff at the NRS cannot search valuation rolls on behalf of correspondents. Duplicate original valuation rolls for specific areas may also be held locally on microfilm. You should check this with local libraries and archives.

Using valuation rolls for 1958 onwards

With the exception of valuation rolls which were on microfilm and were converted to digital images, the valuation rolls for 1958 onwards are consulted in volume form and are currently held at our off-site storage facility, Thomas Thomson House. Before coming to see these records it is advisable to notify us beforehand, so that the appropriate records can be produced in advance of your arrival.

Community charge ('poll tax') records, 1989-1993

The NRS has copies of all the registers of people registered to pay the domestic community charge (NRS reference CCH).

Council tax valuation lists, 1993-date

The NRS has a full set of copies of these lists (NRS reference CTA). They are not very informative, however, since they list addresses only and give no details of the residents or owners of property.

Other records showing landownership

The records of the Inland Revenue Valuation Office provide a snapshot of landownership in Scotland in 1911-1912. Their staff surveyed every property, recording the names of owners, tenants and occupiers, charges on the land, valuations and other particulars. Each property's boundaries and assessment number were marked on specially printed Ordnance Survey maps. The field books and maps resulting from this work are held by the NRS (NRS reference IRS51-88 and IRS101-133). More information on using these records is given in Cecil Sinclair's, ‘Tracing Scottish Local History’, pp28-9.

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