Explanation of the Return of Owners of Land, 1873, page 4


III. Gross Estimated Rental.

         The column in the Valuation Lists as to the gross estimated rental is necessarily filled up with more care, as it is the basis upon which the rateable value is determined.  The amount appearing in the column of gross estimated rental in this Return under the name of each owner is the aggregate of the amounts appearing under his name in the various parochial Lists of the county.

         It must, however, always be borne in mind that the amount of the gross estimated rental as shown in the parish Returns and consequently in this Return, is not the amount of the rent payable to the person under whose name as owner it appears, but the amount of the entire rents which the occupying tenants of the whole property would be presumed to pay to their immediate lessors.


         In the case of purely agricultural land, the column “gross estimated rental” is intended to show the rent at which the property might reasonably be expected to let from year to year, the tenant undertaking to pay all usual tenant’s rates and taxes and tithe commutation rent-charge, if any, and, in the case of agricultural land, the value contained in this column will probably be found not to differ widely from the actual rental of the owner.


         In the case of house of mineral property, the case is totally different, and this column affords no criterion of the rents received by the owners.  This is very obvious on land let on building leases.  The rent received by the owner is, generally speaking, a mere ground rent reserved from the person to whom the land was originally let, of which no account is contained in the valuation lists, whilst the rental shown in those lists is the estimated amount of rent payable by the occupying tenant, to the person from whom he takes the house.  The ground landlord may be in the receipt of a few pounds, whilst the estimated rent of the occupying tenants, which nevertheless appears in the rental column under the name of the ground landlord, may be many thousand pounds.

         There will be considerable discrepancies in the Return in respect of the rental of the owners of house property, arising from the different modes in which the Valuation Lists have been prepared, and which it has been found quite impossible to correct.


IN SOME CASES all the property of one ground landlord, with the amount of the rent payable by the occupying tenants to their intermediate lessors, will appear under the single name of the ground landlord, and a large rental will appear under his name, very far indeed exceeding the amount which he himself receives.  There must be in the Return several such cases of which the Local Government Board can have no knowledge ; but five remarkable instances may be referred to in the cases of Sir John St. Aubyn and Sir L. Palk in Devonshire, Lord Calthorpe in Warwickshire, and the Duke of Norfolk and Sir John William Ramsden in the West Riding of Yorkshire.

         In other cases the names of the lessees will have been entered as owners, or the lessees will have been included in the aggregate number of owners under an acre, and in these cases the number of owners, according to the definition of the word “owner” adopted in this Return, will have been unduly increased.

         It is quite impossible, without considerable local knowledge, and a minute investigation into the returns of town parishes, which would occupy a very long time, to make the Return actually correct in this respect.

         In like manner, where the land includes a coal mine which is leased to a company, the gross rental which appears in the parish lists may represent a sum considerably in excess of the sum which goes into the pockets of the landowner.


         There are other matters in relation to the Return which require to be noticed.


         Property which is not rated does not appear in the parish lists, and consequently not in this Return.


         At the time when the Return was prepared the following kinds of property were not rateable :

1.     Mines other than coal mines ; and with respect to coal mines, it must be observed that in those parishes where there are only underground workings, and no surface occupation with the mine, the valuation lists do not indicate the particular lands under which the workings are carried on, and consequently do not show the enhanced value of the land to the owner.

2.     Woods, except where they consist of or contain saleable underwood.


No notice is taken in the Return of any property of these descriptions.


Waste and Common Land.

There is great uncertainty as to the lands under this heading.  If they yield no profit they are not rated, and are not included in the valuation lists, and it is only where a parish map or survey has shown the extent of these lands that the clerk to the guardians or the parish officers could be expected to state the area accurately.  In other cases an estimate, more or less conjectured, of the actual extent is all the information which could be obtained.


[Note: gas and water mains, tolls and dues from markets, bridges, ferries docks harbours, piers, canals and inland navigation, coal mines in parishes in which the surface workings are not situate, and Crown property in respect of which no Parliamentary subvention is paid, are also omitted from the estimated gross rental in this Return]


         FROM THE foregoing statement it will be seen that the present Return is simply a compilation from public documents, existing in each parish throughout England, corrected with such information as the union and parochial officers might possess, and of which, in the discharge of their public duty, it would be incumbent upon them to avail themselves whenever they might be required to prepare fresh valuation lists.

         It can only be considered as professing to furnish the names of the several persons who, by common repute in each parish, are believed to be the owners of the separate holdings in respect of which the occupiers are liable to be assessed to the local rates.

         In some instances the names of the owners may be found to be improperly given, in some the quantities of the land may be erroneously stated, and in others the gross estimated rental may represent very inaccurately the rent which is received by the reputed owner.  In several cases the name of the same person will be found to be entered more than once in a county, owing to the difficulty of identification.

         But, notwithstanding all the defects which have been adverted to, it is hoped that the Return will be found fairly to answer the purpose for which it is required, as showing with proximate accuracy the manner in which the land of the country is distributed, the names of the reputed owners, and the estimated extent and rental of the property held by each.


         In support of the general accuracy of the Return it may be stated that the total acreage of England, as given in the Census Report, from information furnished by the Ordnance Survey Department, is 37,319,221, and the total acreage, as shown by the present Return, is 34,538,158, being a difference of 2,781,063 acres.  In the latter, however, the metropolis is not included, and no account is taken of those waste lands the area of which could not be ascertained, of woods other than saleable under-woods, of rivers and roads, of Crown property not let, and of churchyards and other lands not rateable.  These circumstances would appear to be sufficient to account for the discrepancy between the acreage stated in the two Returns.”


With reference to the number of reputed owners “it will be seen that the totals are as follows” :-

         Number of owners of one acre and upwards           269,547

         Number of owners below one acre                      703,289

                                                               Total   972,836


“The tabulation and detailed examination of this very voluminous and complicated Return has devolved upon Mr. Thomas Harris of this Department, and in justice to him it should be added that he has discharged the duty with great care, attention, and zeal.

John Lambert”


Local Government Board

         22nd July 1875

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