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  My ancestor was a house owner

House ownership records

There are several key sources of information relating to house occupancy and ownership. In Scotland censuses were taken every 10 years and household surveys, or returns, listing individuals in each household are accessible from 1841 until 1901. Census returns are held by the General Register Office for Scotland, but microfilm copies of the censuses can be consulted throughout Scotland in local studies libraries, family history societies and genealogical centres. Postal directories are not archival records in the true sense, but they are among the most frequently consulted items in archive search rooms in Scotland, both by archivists and researchers, and they make a very useful back-up to original records, such as valuation rolls, maps and census returns. From 1855 until 1974 Assessors’ offices in each county and royal burgh in Scotland produced annual valuation rolls, listing almost all occupied properties in each parish and burgh. The rolls include the description of the property, what kind of property it was (e.g. dwelling house, shop, warehouse, hospital etc), the name of the owner, and information about any tenants or occupiers. Valuation rolls for the whole of Scotland are held by the National Archives of Scotland from 1855 onwards. Some local authority archives and local studies libraries hold less comprehensive runs of rolls for particular counties and burghs; usually from about 1890 onwards, but in some cases from earlier.

What to do now
The text above is a summary of longer articles on property records, valuation rolls, and postal directories in the SCAN Knowledge Base. The Knowledge Base also contains answers to Frequently Asked Questions. To enter the Knowledge Base click here.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are valuation rolls useful for family history?

2. What is the difference between a valuation roll and a voters' roll?

3. Why might someone go on appearing in a postal directory after they have moved from a property, or even after they have died?

4. Why might a property not be listed in a postal directory?