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Valuation Rolls
  Valuation rolls are lists of properties and their owners, compiled for the purposes of taxation. Those compiled between 1855 and 1989 by County and Burgh Assessors constitute one of the most used sources of information by many types of researcher in Scottish archives. For more information about valuation rolls and for answers to frequently asked questions about them see below.



Land Tax Rolls
Valuation rolls have been compiled in Scotland since at least the early 17th century by the Commissioners of Supply, the body of landowners in each county responsible for collecting the land tax. The principal purpose of these land tax rolls was to record who owned which property (worth more than £100 Scots), how much each property was worth in terms of annual rent, and what the ownerís liability was in terms of taxation based on the rental value. Rolls for each county were compiled only sporadically and those for the 17th century and early 18th century normally list the estate names not the names of the owners. From the mid 18th century land tax rolls became more elaborate, recording the name of the estate, the owner, and (sometimes) the tenant or occupier. The holdings of leading landowners were sometimes subdivided into smaller estates in some cases. Some of these rolls can be found in local authority archives among the Commissioners of Supply records for each county. Others are held in the National Archives of Scotland among the records of the Exchequer. Another series of early valuation rolls worth mentioning is the series of valuation rolls among the records of the Inland Revenue in the National Archives of Scotland (reference IRS/4), which covers 9 counties.

Valuation Rolls 1855-1989
The Lands Valuation (Scotland) Act 1854 established a system of Assessorsí offices in each county and royal burgh in Scotland. Until the abolition of counties and burghs in 1975, these Assessors produced annual valuation rolls, listing properties whose actual or theoretical annual rental value was above a statutory minimum. 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, the name of the tenant (if the property was let), and, in some cases, the name of other occupants (if the property was sub-let, for example). Until the mid 20th century the rolls also included the occupation of most tenants and occupiers. County rolls were subdivided by civil parish (and sometimes sub-divided by landowner, rather than address). Burgh rolls, from the early 20th century, were increasingly divided into municipal wards. In 1975 the Local Government (Scotland) Act abolished county and burgh assessors, replacing them with Regional Assessors. The format of the valuation rolls changed. Each regionís rolls were subdivided into local government districts, and these into wards.

Poll Tax and Council Tax Rolls 1990-the present
In 1990 the Community Charge (or ĎPoll Taxí, as it was more popularly known) replaced domestic rates as the principle basis for local taxation. Valuation rolls for commercial property (which paid business rates) continued to be produced annually, but these no longer included details of domestic and other types of non-commercial property. The Community Charge was, in turn, replaced by the present system of Council Tax in 1994. Community Charge rolls (1990-1993) and Council Tax rolls (1994 onwards) are, in historical terms, greatly inferior to valuation rolls, as neither of these successors to valuation rolls contain details of ownership of properties or each propertyís use.

Who uses valuation rolls
Valuation rolls for the period 1855 to 1989 are one of the most widely used record sources in Scotland in terms of the number of users and the use to which they are put. Helping readers search through valuation rolls is bread and butter work in many local authority archives and local studies libraries, and the National Archives of Scotlandís holdings for the entire country present it with storage and production problems. A wide range of researchers uses valuation rolls. They are a key source for local historians and the historians of buildings and are frequently used by economic historians, business historians, and family historians. However, non-historical research probably accounts for greater use than historical, as valuation rolls are used by the owners of buildings to establish a previous use of the building when applying for planning permission; by local authority tenants, when proving length of tenancy to obtain a discount on the purchase price; by credit agencies and prospective employers, in confirming residential status; and even by the police in criminal investigations.

Where to find valuation rolls
Between 1885 and 1989, one copy of each valuation roll produced by every Assessorís office was sent to Edinburgh to be kept for historical and legal research at Register House (what was to become the Scottish Record Office, and, now, the National Archives of Scotland). Other copies were kept by the Assessorís office in each county, burgh or (after 1975) region. As a result, valuation rolls, produced by county, burgh, and regional Assessors for the whole of Scotland are held by the National Archives of Scotland for the period 1855 to 1989. 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, and in some cases from later. One major exception is the case of Lanarkshire, for which very few rolls survive locally and most Lanarkshire valuation roll enquiries therefore end up at the National Archives of Scotland.

Bibliography & Links
The use of valuation rolls for genealogy and local history is discussed in Cecil Sinclair, Tracing Your Scottish Ancestors (HMSO, 1997) and Tracing Scottish Local History (HMSO,1994) both of which can be purchased from the National Archives of Scotland website, which also contains a fact sheet on Valuation Rolls.

Bob Brown, (National Archives of Scotland) Robin Urquhart, Andrew Jackson (both SCAN)


Frequently Asked Questions

1. Were valuation rolls compiled during wartime?

2. Why are valuation rolls for Lanark County (with few exceptions) available only in Edinburgh?

3. If I donít know someoneís address, can I find his or her details in a valuation roll?

4. How do I find an address in a Glasgow valuation roll?

5. What information does a valuation roll contain?

6. Are valuation rolls useful sources of information for family history?

7. How can valuation rolls help me prove I was a council tenant for a number of years (for example, to claim a discount when purchasing a council house)?

8. Are valuation rolls useful for tracing missing persons?

9. If I am having trouble finding an address in a valuation roll, why might this be?

10. Why might a person not appear in a valuation roll at an address he or she was resident at?

11. What is the difference between a votersí roll and a valuation roll?

12. Do valuation rolls tell you who owns land?

13. Why are photocopies of valuation rolls more expensive than other copies of other records?

14. How do I find the valuation roll for an island or a property on an island?

15. Why do some valuation rolls have separate lists of 'service voters' at the end of the rolls for each parish?