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The Griffith Valuation of Ireland

Back to James Bowles of Silvermines References in the Griffith Workbooks and Survey or use the Back icon in your browser to return to your previous page.

Some Background and the Mechanics of the Survey

In 1826 Parliament passes an Act providing for the general valuation of every property in Ireland.  Richard John Griffith was appointed as the first Commissioner of Valuation in 1827 but the valuations could only start when the first maps made by the Ordnance Survey were completed in 1830.  The Ordnance Survey of Ireland was carried out between 1825 and 1846 by Royal Engineers from the British Army and showed the lots making up every townland in every county in Ireland.  They are also referred to as the Petrie Surveys as they were coordinated by George Petrie head of the Survey's Topographical Department.  Griffith's valuation teams were sent out to every county once the Ordnance map for that county became available.  They then visited every townland in the county, verified the layout of the lots in each townland and then numbered them to aid their record keeping. 

The valuations started in the north and initially only recorded the land information for each lot with another team returning later to valuate the buildings.  This work took so long that by 1844 only 27 of the 32 counties had been surveyed with Munster not yet started.   So we do not have the earlier workbooks for Munster that exist for some of the northern counties.  As an example, the earliest of the team's workbooks available to us to help sort out the James Bowles line is the  House Book made when the team first reached Silvermines in 1846.  On a first visit the team used the lot as they were marked on the Ordnance map and added the acreage and nature of the land and a physical measurement and classification for every building on every lot.  In some cases such as the town of Silvermines a large amount of building and sub-dividing had been going on since the Ordnance team had visited resulting in an unmanageable number of landholders being assigned to the same lot.  When the team returned to Dublin the clerks copying out the team's finding would assign new lot numbers for each landholder for record keeping purposes. The team would then have to return to that site again to confirm the new lot numbers.  If they found further development they would have to renumber the lots again.  That makes it very hard for us to map lots on the published Griffith survey to the lot numbers on the commonly available Ordnance Survey maps or even on earlier versions of the Griffiths survey maps.

One of the most valuable pieces of information given in the survey work books which was not included with the published survey was the building code set for every building they examined.  That and the buildings measurements tell us a lot about the relative wealth of the landholder to his neighbours.

The Classifications used were:

New or Nearly New Houses

A+          Built or ornamented with cut stone, and of superior solidity and finish.

A.            Very substantial building and finish, without cut stone ornament.

A-           Ordinary Building and finish or either of the above when built 20 or 25 years.


Houses of Medium Age (25+?)

B+           Medium but not new, but in sound order and in good repair.

B.            Medium, slightly decayed by age, but in good repair.

B-            Medium, deteriorated by age, and not in perfect repair.


Old Houses (Older than 25 years)

C+           Old but in good repair.

C             Old and out of repair.

C-            Old and dilapidated, scarcely habitable.


Numbers for Dwellings

1. Includes all slated dwelling houses, built with stone or brick and lime and mortar.

2. Thatches houses built with stone or lime and mortar.

3. Thatched houses having stone walls, with mud or puddle mortar; dry stone walls pointed, or mud walls of the best kind.

4. Basement stories of slated houses used as dwellings.


Table for Offices

1. Includes all slated offices built with stone, or brick walls with good lime mortar.

2. Thatched offices built with stone or brick walls and lime mortar.

3. Thatched offices having stone walls with mud or puddle mortar, dry stone walls pointed, or good mud walls.

4. Thatched offices built with stone walls.



This site was last updated 10/19/18