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Valuation Rolls

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The Lands Valuation (Scotland) Act, 1854 established a uniform valuation of landed property throughout Scotland, establishing an assessor in each of Scotland’s 35 counties and 83 royal and parliamentary burghs (eventually 90 burghs produced valuation rolls). The assessors compiled annual valuation rolls listing every house or piece of ground, along with the names and designations of the proprietor, tenant and occupier, and the annual rateable value. The rateable value was based on the annual rental value of each property (real, in the case of properties which were actually rented, or notional, in the case of an owner-occupied or otherwise unlet property). Occupations of occupiers are frequently but not always included. Valuation rolls rarely list any other residents in a property. For the early years after 1854, there is little detail about properties whose annual rental value was less than 4 pounds, unless they were on long leases.

The assessor carried out a survey of properties within his county or burgh in the autumn and winter and published a new roll annually on Whitsun (15 May in Scotland). Each year a copy of the published roll was sent to Register House in Edinburgh (to become part of the national series of valuation rolls in the National Archives of Scotland). The local assessor kept a copy, which was used by local authorities (such as county councils, town councils and parochial boards) to levy local rates for services like poor relief, education and public health. The local copy of the valuation roll was amended piecemeal by the assessor in manuscript, as he was notified of changes of ownership and occupancy of buildings.

This time-lag between the survey and the publication of the roll can have a major impact on the date that a change of owner, tenant or occupier appears, or the date that a new building, first appears in the rolls. For example, if a tenant moved into a house in December 1875, after the assessor’s survey had been carried out, he or she would not appear in the 1876-77 roll (published on Whitsun 1876) and would first appear as tenant at this property in the 1877-78 roll (published on Whitsun 1877).

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