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Tracing the history of your house

Compiling a list of owners and occupiers

There are various ways to identify the names of owners and occupiers for key dates, such as by checking the tithe map of the 1830s-1840s or the registers of duties on land values, c1910 (described below).

Work forwards and backwards from these dates to build up a list of inhabitants - the following sources may prove useful to your research.

Directories (NHC and NRO)

These were published intermittently for Norfolk from the early 19th century onwards and for Norwich from 1783. They include selective lists of the principal residents and tradesmen of each place.

They are most useful for urban areas, where street names and numbering make it easier to identify a particular property.

Census records, 1841-1911 (NRO and NHC)

These list the names and occupations of those present in the building on census night. They were taken every 10 years and are arranged by place and then by street.

The Norfolk censuses are available at NRO and NHC. You can also search the 1841-1911 censuses on various genealogy websites.

See our guide on Tracing Your Family Tree for how to use and access these records.   

Electoral registers

These begin in the 1830s and record the names of people qualified to vote. They are arranged by electoral division, polling district and then either alphabetically by voter or by street.
The NRO has the following electoral registers (see list C/ERO):

  • Norfolk County, 1845-1975 (on microform).
  • Norwich, 1832, 1920-80 (original registers; see series N/TC 66 in the online catalogue).
  • King's Lynn, 1834-1901, 1918-75 (on microform; King's Lynn is included in the Norfolk County electoral registers from 1918 onwards).
  • Great Yarmouth, 1832-1975 (on microform, 1832-1915, 1949-75.For original registers, 1918-39, see series Y/TC 20 in the online catalogue. Yarmouth is included in the Norfolk County electoral registers from 1949 onwards).

The NRO holds electoral registers for the county, 1974 to the present, among district council records (see series DC in the catalogue). These include Yarmouth, but not King's Lynn and West Norfolk or Norwich.

The post-1974 registers have not been bound into volumes so it is much easier to use the copies at the NHC, which has Norwich registers from 1834 to the present and county registers, 1832 to the present. King's Lynn Library holds Lynn registers, 1846 to the present.

Taxation and rating records

These may help you to establish when different individuals lived in the house. Changes in the assessment levied on the property may reflect the extension or division of the building. The following sources will help with your research:

  • Land tax records (NRO) are arranged by parish and list the names of owners and occupiers and the amount of tax paid. However, land tax could be redeemed on payment of a lump sum from 1798 onwards, so the records may not include all properties. The NRO has the following land tax returns:
    • Norfolk County, 1767-1832 (on microfiche)
    • Norfolk County, 1831-1963, with some strays from 1797 onwards (not on microfilm/fiche; see series P/LT in the online catalogue, which includes a useful introduction to land tax records)
    • Norwich, 1710-1832 (on microfiche)
    • King's Lynn, 1693, 1702-5 (on microfiche)
    • Great Yarmouth various dates, 1750-1949 (not on microfilm/fiche; see Guide to the Great Yarmouth Borough records p53, available in the searchroom).
  • Registers of duties on land values (also called the 'Domesday Books') c1910 (NRO). Under the 1910 Finance Act, a valuation was made of all properties in England and Wales. The Domesday Books give a brief description of each property, the names of its owner and occupier and a note of its value. Properties are shown on large scale OS maps, but these are only available for the western half of the county. For more information, see series P/DLV 1 in the online catalogue for the Domesday Books; the maps are not included in the online catalogue, but a draft list is available in the searchroom. More detailed records and maps are held by TNA.
  • Rate assessments (NRO) survive for some places from the late 17th century until the mid-20th century. They are mainly found among parish records (see PD lists). Early poor rate lists generally record only the occupier's name and the sum assessed. Descriptions of properties may not be given and even in later rate books may be imprecise. The names of owners appear after 1834 and rate assessments are commonly entered in separate books. Rate books may be arranged alphabetically by owner or street: the latter is more common from the late 19th century. For further information see catalogues for Norwich City, Great Yarmouth Borough, Poor Law Unions, district councils, parish councils and parish records.
  • Hearth tax assessments survive for various dates between 1662 and 1674. For each parish, they list the names of each householder and the number of hearths in the house. The records are held by TNA, but the NRO holds copies of the Norfolk hearth tax returns on microfilm. A 1671 assessment for Norwich is also on microfilm. The returns for 1664 and 1666 are published in Norfolk Genealogy volumes 15 and 20, available in the searchroom. Hearth tax exemption certificates for Norwich, Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn and Thetford, 1670-4, are published in Norfolk Hearth Tax, eds. Peter Seaman, John Pound and Robert Smith (British Record Society and Norfolk Record Society, 2001). This volume is also available in the searchroom.