National Records of Scotland

Preserving the past, Recording the present, Informing the future

Valuation Roll Indexes

Valuation Roll Indexes

A project is underway at the National Records of Scotland (NRS) to index valuation rolls for selected years and to make the indexes (linked to digital images of relevant pages within the rolls) available online, as well as in the search rooms of the NRS.

The indexes for 1875, 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915, 1920, 1925, 1930 and 1935 are currently available in the NRS Search Rooms (the Historical Search Room and the ScotlandsPeople Centre) and on the ScotlandsPeople website. Indexes for further years will follow.

The indexes can be searched according to person, group or place (including property type, settlement name, burgh or county). The information contained in the index consists of the description and situation of each property and its proprietor, tenant and occupier. Each index entry is linked to the digital image of the original page in the valuation roll.

What problems will I face when searching the valuation rolls?

An example from an 1855 valuation rolls entry for the parish of Auchindoir

An example from an 1855 valuation rolls entry for the parish of Auchindoir in the county of Aberdeen highlighting properties that have not been numbered and are described the same (click on image to view the full size).

Valuation rolls can be an amazing source for family and local historians, people interested in the history of buildings and people interested in the social and economic history of Scotland, but care is needed when searching the valuation roll indexes.

It was not until the mid-20th century that the production of valuation rolls became standardised across the whole of Scotland. Prior to this each county and burgh produced its own rolls and they were all recorded slightly differently, especially between 1855 and the late 19th century. Some rolls include information for several years on one page, while others record information for only a single year. Each roll can vary in the quality and quantity of information given and this can depend on a number of factors including the assessor recording the information, when it was recorded and in which county or burgh.

Here are a few things to bare in mind when attempting search the valuation rolls:

  • Valuation rolls are not like census returns. Their purpose is not to list everyone resident at a property. In most cases they only record the name(s) of the owner(s) and the tenant and/or occupier. For the occupier, in most cases only the head of the household will be listed, not members of his or her family. There are exceptions, for example sometimes a husband and wife might be listed.
  • The head of household listed in a census return may not always be the person listed as the tenant or occupier. You will find in many cases that it may be the wife not the husband in a census return that is listed as the tenant or occupier.
  • The forename of the proprietor, occupier or tenant may not have been recorded, instead, only the surname and title is recorded. This is especially the case with married and widowed females.
  • Married and widowed females owning or renting property can be entered in the rolls as for example 'Mrs John Smith' rather than under their own name.
  • Many street names have changed over the years and street numbering has often been changed.
  • Early rolls may not include property numbers or street names, especially in rural areas.
  • Many of the rolls have been hand written and some are difficult to read.
  • Many names are recorded in the rolls which have not been indexed. For example factors, company secretaries, managers, solicitors and agents.

There are abbreviations in the valuations rolls for occupations, marital status, buildings, status and many more. The assessors themselves did not provide a list of what the abbreviations meant but we have compiled a list of the more common abbreviations.

Screenshot showing the valuation roll search page on the ScotlandsPeople website

Surname Field

The spelling of a surname might not be as you expect due to:

  • Mis-spelling, phonetic spelling or other misinterpretation by an assessor
  • Surname variants
  • The surname may have been altered or anglicised on arrival in Scotland
  • People from the Highlands and Western Isles may have anglicised their Gaelic surname, for example, MacIan to Johnston
  • All Mc surnames have been expanded to Mac
  • Use of Tee-names – these are most prevalent in fishing towns and hamlets in the north east of Scotland, families of fishermen are known by their boat names rather than their surname. Depending on how these names have been captured you will find a fisherman's boat name captured as part of his surname (for example John Brown 'Beauty' or George Cowie-Helldom). In some circumstance only the boat name has been captured as the surname by the assessor (for example George Helldom, John Beauty).
  • Surnames of noble families are often different from the names in their titles. For example the surname of the Dukes of Buccleuch is Montague Douglas Scott. It is more likely that the title will appear in the surname field than the family name for example Buccleuch will appear in the surname field and Duke will appear in the title field, you may not find Montague Douglas Scott in any of the fields. The family name appears in the surname field and the title in the description field

Forename Field

Spelling of a forename might not be as you expect due to:

  • Mis-spelling, phonetic spelling or other misinterpretation by an assessor
  • Forename variations including abbreviations (for example William, Wm., Willm), use of diminutives (for example Margaret, Maggie, Meg, Peggy) nicknames/pet names or middle names as first names.

Forenames are captured as they are spelt on the valuation roll.

Group Field

You would use this search if you are looking for a company (for example John Brown Ltd), multiple tenants, public authorities, churches, multiples owners (for example Mr and Mrs Smith, John and Jean MacDonald), trustees or heirs to individuals (for example the heirs of the late Robert MacKay or the trustees of Miss Elizabeth Black).

Not all names listed in a roll will be included in the group field. Where the names of heirs are listed along with the name of the deceased only the name of the deceased is captured for example (the heirs of the late Robert MacKay), where there is a list of multiple tenants or proprietors only the first one or two names are captured. This is due to the limited number of characters allowed per field.

Spelling of words in the group field may not be as you might expect due to:

  • Names and other words being captured as they are spelt on the valuation rolls
  • Abbreviations of some words for example (TRS or TRUST for Trustees, EXCS or EXECS for Executors) – see our list of the more common abbreviations.

Place Field

This is a description of the property, usually an address. The level of description in each roll varies depending on who the assessor was; when and where the information was taken.

You will get more detail in the later years such as 1905, 1915 than in the earlier years such as 1855 or 1865; you may also get more information depending on whether the property in question is in the countryside or part of a town.

For example County of Ayr, parish of Ardrossan for the year 1905 one property is described as SHOP 59 GLASGOW STREET BURGH OF ARDROSSAN whereas a property in the more rural areas is describes as FARM AND HOUSE DYKESMAINS.

You can use this field to search for a street, property type, for example a shop, house or croft. You can also search using the number of the property if it has been captured.

This field is limited, it is not a free text search. You have to use wildcards to extend your search parameters

For instance United Free Churches may be captured as 'U.F Church' or 'United Free Church' or 'UF Church'. In order to find all United Free Churches in a particular county or burgh, you will have to use a wildcard search such as 'U*F* Church' which will find terms that match the following -

United Free Church
United F. Church
United F Church
UF Church
U.F Church

Area Field

This option allows you to narrow your search by a county or burgh (for an explanation of these see our page on Counties and Burghs).

If you have no idea where a person lived you could select 'All records', but if you are searching using a very common surname this search will bring back too many results and you will be asked to narrow your search.

If you know which parish your ancestor lived in but not the burgh or county select 'All records' but then use the parish option to narrow your search, this will then result in all entries for that parish whether it existed in as part of burgh or county.

If you select a burgh or county option it will reduce the number of results returned. If you narrow your search by a burgh or county then your search will only bring back results for entries in that burgh or county.

Ross and Cromarty were separate counties until 1889 but the way they are treated in the valuation rolls is complex. There is no separate valuation roll for Cromarty County in 1855: it is included with Ross County. From 1865-1885 Ross County and Cromarty County each produced a separate valuation roll. From 1895 Ross and Cromarty was a unified county and produced a single county valuation roll.

Parish Field

Select a specific parish to refine your search further. Alternatively, select up to five parishes at one time by holding down the control (Ctrl) key and clicking them.
If you know which parish your ancestor lived in but are not sure whether it was in a particular county or burgh, select 'All records' in the area field, then narrow your search by the particular parish in this field. This will return all entries matching your search criteria for that parish in all counties and burghs it appears.

If you select a parish from this drop down menu after selecting a particular Burgh or County in the 'Area' field, your page of results will be limited to parishes that appear in that Burgh or County.

For example, if you search for 'John Smith' in Kirkcaldy and Dysart parish, it will return all entries matching this search criteria from Kirkcaldy Burgh, Dysart Burgh and Fife County.

Place Name Spellings

The spelling of place names varies throughout the valuation rolls but where possible we have standardised them.