1. The Finance (1909-1910) Act
The Finance (1909-1910) Act (10 Edw. VII, c.8) provided for the levy and collection of a duty on the increment value of all land in the United Kingdom. The main object of the Act was to tax that part of the capital appreciation of real property which was attributable to the site itself, i.e. excluding that arising from crops, buildings and improvements paid for by the owners. In this way, private owners were required to surrender to the State part of the increase in the site value of their land which resulted from the expenditure of public money on communal developments such as roads or public services.
Increment value duty, as this levy was called, was based on the difference between the amount of two valuations. Section 26(1) of the Act required the Board of Inland Revenue to ascertain the site value of all land in the United Kingdom as on 30 April 1909. This value constituted the "datum line" for the purposes of increment value duty. Any subsequent sale or grant of a lease, or transfer of an interest in a piece of land, or the subsequent death of a land-owner, provided the occasion for a potential payment of increment value duty; the site value at that date had then to be determined.
2. Valuation districts
The Valuation Office was set up for the purpose of making the valuations of property for Estate Duty purposes. In 1914 there were 118 valuation districts in England and Wales, each in the charge of a district valuer. Each district comprised a number of income tax divisions, which were considered to be the most convenient units for administrative purposes. It was in the valuation districts that the work of valuation was actually performed. The original valuation was completed, as far as was possible under the conditions then existing, in the autumn of 1915. The assessment of the site value on subsequent occasions was a recurring operation which formed part of the normal functions of the Valuation Office until increment value duty was repealed by the 1920 Finance Act (10 and 11 Geo. V, c.18).
The original valuation exercise resulted in the creation of several series of records which are described below.
Each unit of property was assigned an assessment number (sometimes also called a hereditament number) and plans based on the Ordnance Survey sheet maps were drawn up as the chief means of reference to the other records created in the course of valuation. Two sets of plans were created: the working plans used in the course of the original valuation and the record plans made after that valuation was completed. Those working plans which survive are in the custody of local record offices, to which enquiries about them should be directed. The record plans are now held at The National Archives.
|IR 121/1 to IR 121/11||London Region|
|IR 124/1 to IR 124/9||South-Eastern Region|
|IR 125/1 to IR 125/11||Western Region|
|IR 126/1 to IR 126/10||Central Region|
|IR 127/1 to IR 127/9||East Anglia Region|
|IR 128/1 to IR 128/10||Western Region|
|IR 129/1 to IR 129/9||West Midland Region|
|IR 130/1 to IR 130/9||East Midland Region|
|IR 131/1 to IR 131/11||Wales Region|
|IR 132/1 to IR 132/8||Liverpool Region|
|IR 133/1 to IR 133/8||Manchester Region|
|IR 134/1 to IR 134/10||Yorkshire Region|
|IR 135/1 to IR 135/9||Northern Region|
These maps act as an index to the Field Books ( IR 58 ) and enable the user to identify the assessment numbers of individual properties or parcels of land.
It should be noted that the regions, districts and other divisions of the Valuation Office have been reorganised on a number of occasions since 1910. As district valuation offices have closed down and new ones have opened, maps have been transferred from one office to another. As a result, the arrangement of the maps as now transferred to The National Archives is not identical to that at the time of the original valuation, and readers may need to examine maps in more than one series before identifying the plot(s) in which they are interested. County index maps, which facilitate the identification of individual sheets at the 1:10,560 and 1:2,500 scales, are available on open access at The National Archives.
Two sets of books were created: the so-called Domesday Books and the Field Books. As a first step towards the systematic valuation required by the 1910 Act, copies of the Income Tax Schedule A Registers kept by inspectors of taxes were made available to district valuers (income tax schedule A being payable on income from the ownership of lands, tenements, hereditaments or heritages in the United Kingdom). These copies were produced in the form of bound volumes which became known as Domesday Books. Those which survive are in the custody of local record offices, with the exception of a number for the City of London and City of Westminster which are held at The National Archives in IR 91 .
The final record, compiled after the survey was completed, was written up in small bound volumes called Field Books. These are now in The National Archives and form the series Valuation Office: Field Books (IR 58 ). The amount of information entered in the Field Books varies considerably, but usually includes the names of owner and occupier; the owner's interest (freehold, copyhold, etc.); details of tenancy (term and rent); and the area covered by the property. Other details recorded may include the date of erection of buildings, number of rooms, state of repair, liability for rates, insurance and repairs, date(s) of previous sale(s) and, sometimes, a sketch-plan of the property. Figures entered for the purpose of valuation normally include the market value of fee simple of the whole property and the market value of the site divested of structures, timber and plants.
The Field Books are arranged alphabetically by valuation district and, within districts, by area or Income Tax Parish and assessment number. There is no cumulative index to the names of streets or places. In order to use the Field Books, it is first necessary to know the valuation district, area and assessment number of the property in question. To obtain these particulars, the plans must be consulted. The assessment number must then be keyed up with the IR 58 list. There is a major problem with the IR58 list: it only gives the first named area covered by the Field Book (which may run to several volumes). Each set of Field Books may cover several places, usually in an alphabetical sequence. If the place required does not appear in the IR 58 list, it is necessary to think of other local places, especially those beginning with a letter near the beginning of the alphabet, and look for those.
Some forty forms were created by the Valuation Office in the course of this operation. A set of these forms is preserved in the series Various Specimen Forms (IR 9/62 , IR 9/63 and IR 9/64 ). Only Form 37 has been retained. This was a form on which were entered certain details extracted from the Field Books and of which a copy was given to the owner of the property to which it related. Those sets of Form 37 which survive are in the custody of local record offices or remain in district valuation offices. A few examples of Form 36-Land are in RAIL 1057/1714 .
'See Form 4'. Form 4 was the form originally filled in by the owners. Details of large properties were sometimes too extensive to be entered fully in the Field Books and Form 4 appears to have been retained for reference. They have not been preserved among the records of the Valuation Office, but copies retained by landowners for their own use are sometimes to be found among estate records, solicitors' papers and similar accumulations in local archives. Some government departments also retained copies for reference. Sets of Form 4-Land are known to survive among the records of the Admiralty ( ADM 116/1279 ), the Forestry Commission (F 6/16 ) and the Rhymney Railway Company (RAIL 1057/1714 ), and there may be others among the records of other departments.
6. Records on the work of the Valuation Office
A number of files about the work of the Valuation Office and the interpretation of the Act have been identified. Some files of the Valuation office itself are in IR 40 . A set of papers about the land tax proposals and discussions prior to the 1909 Budget is in IR 73/6 . Draft notes about the organisation of the Land Valuation Department were drawn up in June 1910: these are in IR 74/146 . Reports on the progress of the original valuation are in IR 74/148 . Several other relevant files are in IR 74 . IR 40/2878 contains lists of addresses of district valuation offices and illustrates the changing distribution of offices between 1913 and 1919.
A number of Treasury files in T 1 , T 170 , T 171 and T 172 contain papers on the subject. Particularly noteworthy are papers explaining the mathematics of increment value duty calculations, and copies of the Rules made by the Inland Revenue Commissioners (T 1/11209 and T 170/4 ). Inland Revenue memoranda are in T 171/28 and T 39 . Some instructions to valuers are in IR 40 .
Records of the Land Value Reference Committee set up under the Act to regulate procedure in appeals against assessment are in LT 5 . They include registers of appeals and a few sample case files. Most of the latter appear to relate to minerals and include copies of Form 76-Land (mineral rights) and Form 77-Land (notice of appeal).
Press cuttings about individual legal cases, c.1914, are in IR 83/54 . Other memoranda about court cases are in T 171/39 . A few petitions (including special cases, awards etc.) are in E 186 . Reports of the Inland Revenue Solicitor are in IR 99/29B to IR 99/42 . Papers relating to one celebrated test case, Lady Emily Frances Smyth v Commissioners of Inland Revenue, are in IR 40/2502 . Papers on the consequences of another case, Commissioners of Inland Revenue v Lumsden, are in T 172/100 .
In 1920, a Committee was appointed to inquire into the organisation of the Valuation Office: a copy of its report is in IR 75/114 . In the same year, an account of the Office's history and functions was compiled, which is preserved as IR 74/218 .
As early as August 1918, an Inland Revenue destruction schedule provided for the destruction, after a specified period, of routine increment value duty forms and of the surveyors' copies of assessments in respect of worked minerals. A schedule of September 1942 provided for the immediate destruction of a mass of routine documents, including registers of cases presented for the increment value duty stamp, registers of objections to assessments and registers of provisional valuations made on the occasion of landowners' deaths.
7. Scotland and Ireland
Enquiries relating to the records of the Valuation Office in Scotland should be addressed to:
National Archives of Scotland,
HM General Register House,
2 Princes Street,
Edinburgh EH1 3YY,
Telephone +44 (0) 131 535 1334
and those relating to the records of the Valuation Office in Ireland to:
The Public Record of Northern Ireland,
66 Balmoral Avenue,
Belfast BT9 6NY,
Telephone +44 (0) 28 9025 5905
8. Further reading
Geraldine Beech and Rose Mitchell, Maps for Family and Local History (2004); there is a chapter on how to use the Valuation Office Survey records and what information they may provide.
Brian Short and Mick Reed, An Edwardian Land Survey: the Finance (1909-10) Act 1910 Records (Journal of the Society of Archivists, 8(1), pp. 82-3, and 8(2), 1986, pp. 95-103)
Brian Short and Mick Reed, Landownership and Society in Edwardian England and Wales: The Finance (1909-10) Act 1910 Records (University of Sussex, 1987)
Brian Short and Mick Reed and Bill Cauldwell, The County of Sussex in 1910: Sources for a New Analysis, (Sussex Archaeological Collections, vol. 125, 1987, pp. 199-224)