30 July 2020
Discover who owned and lived in a building through the years by using valuation rolls in your street history research.
Would you like to find out who lived in your house before you? Or discover more about the street or house where your ancestors lived? Or perhaps there's an old building in your local area you want to know more about. Valuation rolls can help.
What is a valuation roll?
A property ownership record, originally created for collecting local taxation. Valuation rolls were compiled every year, for every building in Scotland from 1855 through to 1989.
You can use valuation rolls to discover who lived in a property at a given point in time and the name of its owner (if different). Because these records were produced annually they form a great supplement to the ten-yearly census, allowing you to track changes in finer detail and to see details for years where the census data is not yet available, ie beyond 1911. Each property in Scotland is named, along with its owner, tenant and occupier.
How do I explore the valuation rolls?
National Records of Scotland (currently closed due to the Coronavirus restrictions) have a complete set of rolls for 1855 to 1989 which can be viewed in digital format at their Edinburgh premises. The following years are also available to view on ScotlandsPeople: 1855, 1865, 1875, 1885, 1895, 1906, 1915, 1920, 1925, 1930.
Check with your local archives too, as many hold archive rolls for the area they cover.
Because the valuation rolls are not indexed you may need some determination to find your property of choice. Firstly, find out which parish or electoral ward the property lay within and then browse until you find firstly the street and then the building. Researcher Alison Spring advises that census street indexes freely available on ScotlandsPeople can help locate the parish or registration district for a street.
Discover more about the history of the street where your ancestors lived with History Scotland’s #StoryOfOurStreet research kit. The kit has everything you need for a local history project, with print-outs, checklists and research advice. Download here.