Valuation and voters' rolls

If your ancestor owned or occupied property in Scotland, you may be able to use valuation rolls to confirm certain details of their life.

Valuation rolls exist properly from 1855-1989 and record:

  • Name and designation of the owner of a property
  • Tenant
  • Occupier
  • Annual rateable value.

Before 1855 valuation rolls were not compiled in a consistent or comprehensive way and the names of individuals are often missing.


Sets of valuation rolls

At the National Library of Scotland we have an incomplete set of valuation rolls from approximately the 1870's onwards. Most areas are complete from 1946 onwards, while for Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee we only have full sets from 1976.

You may wish to try the National Records of Scotland, where there is a full set for all of Scotland from 1855. Local libraries and archives may also hold original or microfilm copies of valuation rolls for their area.

Searching valuation rolls for individual people can be difficult and time-consuming, as you need to know the county or burgh of Scotland where they lived and an address. Often there will be several volumes for a particular area which you will need to search.


Using street directories

Some street indexes exist, particularly for cities, and these can help you narrow your search to an electoral ward number. However, the arrangement within a particular volume may not be straightforward.

Published post office directories and Ordnance Survey maps can often help you with the location of areas and ward numbers. On this website you can see large scale Ordnance Survey town plans, 1847-1895 covering 62 Scottish towns.


Poll Tax and Council Tax registers

After 1989, the Community Charge or 'Poll Tax' was introduced. Although this does list individuals, we only hold information about commercial properties from 1989 to 1992. The Community Charge was replaced in 1993 by the Council Tax - which is not useful for tracing individuals, as the registers only list property values.


Voters' rolls

Electoral registers, or voters' rolls, are another useful resource for confirming details about an ancestor if you know where they lived.

Modern electoral registers only record the names of those entitled to vote at a particular address. Before 1918, however, they also recorded the person's occupation and details of their property. Except in rare cases, women don't feature in voters' rolls before 1918, as only men were eligible to vote then.

In 1918 there was an Absent Voters' Roll that listed personal details of soldiers who were fighting abroad. Very few of these rolls have survived, and those that do are held by local libraries or archives or the British Library. We do not hold any copies of the 1918 Absent Voters' Roll at the Library.


Electoral registers from 1946

We have almost all electoral registers from 1946 but, as with the valuation rolls, these can be difficult to search. Street directories can help you narrow your search.


Other organisations

The National Archives of Scotland holds some electoral registers, mainly from the 19th century. Local libraries and archives may also hold copies of electoral registers for their area. Some lists of voters have been published by historical clubs and societies.

You can find information about tracing living people on the British Library website.


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