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Return of Owners of Land (Property) (England, Wales, Scotland & Ireland)

Nature of Source

Register of all landowners in England and Wales who owned more than one acre of land compiled from rate books and published in the Parliamentary Papers. The returns were used to asses rates for the Poor Law Board. The Return is sometimes referred to as the 'Doomsday Book'. Central London was not included in the survey but ii does include Middlesex and Surrey. The returns can be particularly useful for surname distribution analysis.

The Scottish Returns were compiled between 1872 and 1873 and first published in 1874. The return, organised by the Comptroller-General of Inland Revenue for Scotland, consists of the names of every owner of more than one acre of land, although some entries refer to those with less than an acre. An earlier list of landowners is contained in the publication A Directory of Landownership in Scotland, c1770, edited by Loretta Timperley. The lists are compiled using information extracted from valuation rolls and published by the Scottish Record Society.

A further revised and corrected land survey carried out by John Bateman, a landowner, was first published in 1876 as The Acre-Ocracy of England. The final edition of the revised survey was published in 1883 as the Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland. A revised edition covering Scotland was published in 1879 as The Great Landowners. Transcripts of these editions are available online or on CD Rom with some editions available to read online or download at the Internet Archive.

In Ireland, clerks of the poor law unions for each parish compiled listings of individuals who owned one or more acres of land extracted from information contained in rate books and other property valuations. The returns are arranged by county and then by name index and were published in 1876. With the loss of Irish census records, the returns can be used as a census substitute.

Also see
House Histories
Land and Property Records including Title Deeds
Land Tax Assessments & Returns
Rate Books
Valuation Office Field Books & Maps

Where Found

The National Archives
County Record Offices
ScotlandsPeople Centre (The ScotlandsPeople Centre is the official government resource for family history research. ScotlandsPeople Centre is a partnership between the National Records of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon. The National Records of Scotland was created on 1 April 2011 by the amalgamation of the National Archives of Scotland and General Register Office for Scotland)
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)
National Archives of Ireland

Period Covered

1873 - 1873

Genealogical Value

Full name, address (town, village or area in town), amount of land owned and rental yields.

Name of owner and occupier and townland address. Description of property, acreage and gross estimated rental. Name of landowner's father.

Further References

Bateman, John. The Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland - A List of All Owners of Three Thousand Acres and Upwards: Leicester University Press, 1971 (1883)


Bateman, John. The Acre-Ocracy of England - A List of All Owners of Three Thousand Acres and Upwards: Pickering, 1876


Return of Owners of Land 1873, England and Wales: HMSO, 1875


Timperley, Loretta (ed). A Directory of Land Ownership in Scotland c1770: Scottish Record Society, 1976


Websites (Explanatory Statement)
(Who Owns England? A Guide to Modern Domesdays) (Online store selling Returns of Owners of Land from a variety of suppliers) (Irish Genealogy Toolkit: Land records in Ireland) (Irish Archives Resource: The site contains information about archival collections open for public research in Ireland from many organisations, societies, political organisations and businesses) (IreAtlas Townland database) (1851 General Alphabetical Index to the Townlands and Towns, parishes and Baronies of Ireland)
(Public Ownership of Land in Scotland)

Online Databases

Online Catalogues (Listing of online catalogues for the partial whereabouts of records including Access to Archives [A2A]) (TheGenealogist: Returns for England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland) (Return of Owners Land in England 1873; Return of Owners Land in Scotland 1873; Return of Owners Land in Ireland 1876; The Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland by John Bateman, 1883) (Coverage includes Anglesey, Breconshire, Cardiganshire, Derbyshire, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Oxfordshire, Rutlandshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire) (England, Return of Owners of Land, 1873; Wales, Return of Owners of Land, 1873; Return of Owners of Land in Ireland 1876) (Free access to digitised images of all the Welsh returns with links to the Scottish and Irish returns downloadable for a charge) (Land Ownership Commission 1872-1873, digitised images of the report into land ownership, giving the names of every owner of land of one acre or more in each county, outwith major burghs. It was published in 1874 and a copy is held in the National Archives of Scotland's library) (Ulster Ancestry Free Genealogy Pages: 1876 Landowners Co. Donegal) (Free online images of the Welsh returns. Scottish & Irish returns available as an ebook for a small fee) (Land Owners in Ireland 1876)

Many transcripts are freely available online. Search online with the name of the county being searched for. Many are also published and indexed at a local level.

CD Roms

S & N Genealogy Supplies (Including Irish Land Owners of 1876; England & Wales, 1873 Returns of Land; Wales, 1873 Returns of Land; English and Welsh Landowners of 1873)
Archive CD Books (County coverage and full set for all English counties including Bateman's Great Landowners of Great Britain and Ireland)
UK Genealogy Archives (County covereage)
Genealogical Publishing Company (Land Owners in Ireland 1876 included in the Irish Source Records CD)