_Information in wills and Probate Inventories and Accounts can sometimes provide important information about houses and their fixtures and fittings and how people lived.
The information in inventories varies greatly in the amount of detail provided, but sometimes they contain room-by-room descriptions of houses and their contents.
A really good article explaining all about wills and probate can be found at the National Archives Web site.
Since January 1858 English and Welsh wills and administrations (admons) have been held at the Principal Registry in London and these are to be found at the Principal Registry (now part of the Family Division of the High Court of Justice).Read their guide on Probate
A useful article about Welsh wills can be found at the National Library of Wales.
Information about Irish wills and indexes can be found at the National Archives and Public Record Office of Northern Ireland.
Read about Scottish wills at the Scotlands People site.
Prior to 1858,it takes a lot more hunting down to find a will or admon because the probate was granted by a number of ecclesiastical courts. If you can find the court you should find the will.
Remember that as you go back wills become more difficult to read and understand as they are handwritten and sometimes in Latin..
An excellent source for more information can be found at the National Archives
This is another useful source of information and was produced as a result of the 1910 Finance Act which required a survey of land ownership. As a result, a large and complex set of documentation, including maps and field books survive, which tell us about the early 20th century land use and ownership and tenure and provides information about housing conditions in both rural areas and towns.
To find out more go to useful article at the National Archives, Valuation Rolls Scotland or Northern Ireland
To find a map go to the National Archives Map finder site
Since the middle years of the 19th century, local councils took advantage of new powers available to them to require developers to submit plans for approval before building could take place.
Not all these plans survive and it varies greatly from area to area. Some plans remain with council planning departments or borough engineers, and many have been lost or destroyed over the years.
Local record offices have collections of plans, or microfilm copies of them which can provide exceptionally good evidence of how nineteenth century buildings might have looked when new.
Most towns and many villages have written histories and these can be found in local studies collections in libraries in the local studies area.
Are available on SotlandsPeople
This is an index of names/addresses of every kind of property that was assessed in 1885, 1895, 1905, 1915 and 1920 as having a rateable value.
You should find the names of owners, tenants and occupiers of each property and in many cases, occupations are also listed.
The seventeenth-century Hearth Tax provides us with a legacy of documents which are particularly useful for tracing householders' names and details about their properties.
The hearth tax records are found in the National Archives' Map and Large Documents Reading Room at Kew. A two-year project to microfilm hearth tax returns and copy them to local record offices is under way by the University of Surrey at Roehampton.
Hearth Tax was established in 1662, but it was frequently evaded and finally abolished in 1688. The returns list all householders liable to pay, with the number of hearths taxed.
The occupier of every house in the parish had to submit a written statement of the number of hearths in his house to the parish constable. The constable made out a parish assessment and collected in the tax half-yearly. He then drew up a return of the money collected, or made notes on the assessment that the money had been paid.
These parish returns were submitted to the Clerk of the Peace who made a county roll which was sent to the Exchequer. The original copies made by the constables are likely to be the most accurate because the constable was familiar with the names of local people.
Before visiting the National Archives to look at hearth tax returns, it is worth consulting Jeremy Gibson's The Hearth Tax and other later Stuart Tax Lists, published by the Federation of Family History Societies to see what records might be available for your area or which returns are available in published editions.
Also read the article on the National Archives site
The Federation of Family History Societies has also published a guide, edited by Jeremy Gibson, Mervyn Medlycott and Dennis Mills, to surviving Land and Window Tax assessments, which are also useful for tracing the owners or occupiers of older houses.
Rate books contain lists of owners and occupiers of properties. These can be found amongst parish and later, local authority collections.Ask at the couty record office
Land Tax was established in 1692. Between 1780 and 1831 the assessments were used as the record of qualification to vote. The tax was administered locally and original records will usually be located at the County Record Office
Standard forms were introduced for assessments and the follwing information may be provided.:
Rentals:- the annual value of the property where it has been completed
Names of proprietors and copyholders -: names are often abbreviated and no indication given of residence or profession.
Names of occupiers:- all tenants may not be specifically mentioned
Names or description of Estates or Property: - house numbers or street names are rarely provided, property is most commonly described simply as ‘House’ or ‘Land’ although public houses, shops, mills, etc. may be identified.
Window Tax was imposed in 1696, replacing the Hearth Tax. The records show the name of the occupier, the number of windows.
If the house has been listed scheduled for preservation, its architecture and approximate age will be briefly noted in the Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest which is issued by the Department of the Environment. See our help pages for more detais of where to veiw these records.