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
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
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)
Were valuation rolls compiled during wartime?
Why are valuation rolls for Lanark County (with few exceptions)
available only in Edinburgh?
If I donít know someoneís address, can I find his or her details
in a valuation roll?
How do I find an address in a Glasgow valuation roll?
What information does a valuation roll contain?
Are valuation rolls useful sources of information for family history?
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)?
Are valuation rolls useful for tracing missing persons?
If I am having trouble finding an address in a valuation roll, why
might this be?
Why might a person not appear in a valuation roll at an address
he or she was resident at?
What is the difference between a votersí roll and a valuation roll?
Do valuation rolls tell you who owns land?
Why are photocopies of valuation rolls more expensive than other
copies of other records?
How do I find the valuation roll for an island or a property on
Why do some valuation rolls have separate lists of 'service voters'
at the end of the rolls for each parish?