WHAT do timber merchant Benjamin Tait, accountant James Henry and violinist Camillo Ritter have in common?

According to the 1913-1914 Valuation Rolls for Glasgow, they were all neighbours of one of the city’s most famous couples.

Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his wife Margaret Macdonald lived at 78 Ann Street, also known as Florentine Terrace, and Messrs Tait, Henry and Ritter resided nearby.

The Macdonald Mackintoshes left Glasgow shortly after this listing, and the house was later bought by Glasgow University and the interiors reassembled as ‘The Mackintosh House’ at the Hunterian Art Gallery.

Glasgow Times:

This little snippet of information is just one of the many hidden gems contained in the Glasgow City Archives Valuation Rolls, which were produced every year between 1855 and 1989.

Archivist Michael Gallagher explains: “Valuation rolls are essentially lists of properties and their owners and occupiers, which were compiled for the purposes of taxation. Whilst this might sound dry, the detail they contain make them a treasure trove for family and local historians. One of the best things about them is their wide scope - they were produced every year between 1855 and 1989 - which makes them extremely useful for lots of people.

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“In theory, you should be able to track the history of every property between these years, as well as discovering occupants’ jobs and the type of neighbourhood they lived in.”

On Ann Street, Camillo Ritter is listed as a tenant at number one. The talented violinist played at the Royal Academy in London and went on to great acclaim as Scotland’s foremost violin teacher.

Glasgow Times:

Professor William Jack is recorded as the proprietor of number 61. He was a Scottish mathematician and journalist, and editor of our sister newspaper the Glasgow Herald from 1870 to 1876.

Michael also discovered the house where boxer Benny Lynch was born -17 Florence Street in the Gorbals.

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“You can see his father John Lynch listed there as a surfaceman,” he says. “According to the Scotland’s People Glossary of Occupations, a surfaceman is a “worker who keeps the railway bed in good repair; in mining, a person engaged in ancillary work above ground.”

Number 43 Ure Street in Govan is recorded as the home of Mary Barbour, hero of the 1915 rent strike and later councillor – the entry is under her husband’s name, David Barbour.

Glasgow Times:

Michael and his colleagues, senior archivist Irene O’Brien, Barbara Neilson, Lynsey Green and Nerys Tunnicliffe, have launched Ask the Archivist, a fantastic new campaign which gives people the chance to ask them questions about a range of topics based on their collections. More details are available on the Glasgow City Archives Facebook page.

Glasgow Times:

Ask the Archivist is part of #glasgowlifegoeson, a campaign to highlight the services available online from the city’s museums, sports, arts and music facilities.

Michael adds: “The rolls help fill the gaps between (and beyond) census years - they can also provide occupations, tell you whether your ancestors owned or rented their home, and give information about their neighbourhood.

“All you need is an address or rough location, as the rolls are arranged geographically - it’s a great family history resource.”