- Parish maps
- Primary Applications
- Department of Valuer General
- Metropolitan Water Sewerage and Drainage Board
- Related property and asset records
- Records relating to occupants
- Holdings of other organisations
- Further Reading
Property records can be complex and confusing without conveyancing training. This guide provides details about records in our collection relating to historical house and property research and includes a list of other organisations that may hold relevant material.
|NRS 8405||Cancelled parish, county, town, environs, municipality and area maps||1880-1974|
Parish maps can often provide the original owner of the land on which the house was built, the size of the original block, the date that it was granted by or purchased from the Crown.
The former Land and Property Management Authority undertook a project to convert parish, town and pastoral run maps to digital images through its Parish Map Preservation Project. Digitised copies of the maps are available in the reading room on CD ROM and on the NSW Land Registry Services website.
A Primary Application is made to convert land title from what is known as Old System title to registration under the provisions of the Real Property Acts (commonly referred to as Torrens Title).
Primary Application packets can contain:
- the survey plan
- correspondence, including Lands Department working papers and memos
- reports from the Title Examiner's and the Survey Draftsman
- the draft Certificate of Title
- caveats against the Application by adjoining owners or others claiming an interest in the land, and
- deeds, possibly including mortgages, and other dealings with the land.
Even if a packet contains documents relating to a primary application in respect of land in which you interested, it may not contain all the documents referred to in the application, particularly if the land was the result of one or more subdivisions.
Primary Application Packets
The Primary Application packets are progressively being transferred to our custody.
[13/7443-934], Canterbury [13/7563 (pt)-549] Fiche 2355-2475 [13/7550-557] Fiche 2505-2577
These cards provide information on the valuation of properties in the Sydney, Newcastle and Wollongong urban areas and many other urban areas throughout the State. Most cards start in the 1920s.
The cards can contain title details, descriptions of land, locality and improvements such as buildings and fences, owners' names and changes of ownership. The back of the card has information on the valuation.
The cards are arranged alphabetically by valuation district (local government area) and then by wards or localities. Details are arranged by street name or valuation number.
[3/9603-12472 3/14383-789 3/16371-559 3/17479-623 3/17770-933 19/8587-884 19/9233-490 19/10790-11117 19/12718-928 19/13250-434 19/13450-14973 19/15935-16125]
Information contained in these rolls includes owner's name, address and occupation; lessee's name; address of property to be valued; nature of improvements; lot; area; value and remarks.
This series covers most areas of New South Wales. The rolls are arranged by valuation district and within that by wards or ridings and then alphabetically by street.
A detailed listing is available in the reading room.
[11/12011-13994 6/12450-55 10/41660-714 10/41312-30 6/11171-429]
Field books relating to property valuations (and cancelled Field book entries)
The Field books contain entries for property valuations which give the original and subsequent valuations of a particular property.
A detailed listing is available in the reading room.
The Detail Sheets are maps which provide information about buildings which existed at the time of survey. A survey was usually done in preparation for a sewer. Details of houses may include street name, house number and name, lot number, the outline of the ground floor and details of construction material.
For most of the related records listed here you will need the name of the owner in order to locate the records.
Probate packets can include details of property owned by the deceased. Land or building information may be found within the packets, either in the will itself or from 1880 in the Affidavit for Stamp Duty.
Deceased Estate Files
These files can contain a detailed examination of a deceased person's estate and possessions. The files can show occupants, relatives, land and buildings owned at death and inheritors of the land. Information relating to house or property may include:
If a death or fire occurred in a house information relating to the property may have been included in an inquest file. The files might list the address, description of the structure, value, amount of damage and circumstances of what happened.
If the owner of the property was made insolvent or bankrupt there may be a file. This usually provides a list of assets including their value
If a murder or crime occurred in a house or property NRS 10958, Police Gazettes 1862-c.1982 or related records may describe the house or property, as well as circumstances of the murder or crime. The police gazettes are indexed and can be searched by name of offender, house/property owners name, or location.
Government Property Record
If a house or property was part of a government structure e.g. railway gatehouse, school building or police station, there may be relevant maps and plans, photographs or files. Search our catalogue under the name of station or school for associated records.
The census collectors' books provide street number (if used), name of head of household, and the number of people in the household divided by age and sex. Individuals' names are available only for the 1841, 1891 and 1901 censuses. They are arranged by town or suburb.
Electoral rolls can be useful for establishing where a person lived over a period of time.
NSW Land Registry Services
NSW Land Registry Services (formerly LPI and the Department of Lands) maintains current and historic title records in a number of public registers.'The largest register is the Torrens Title register, introduced in 1863. Torrens titles are protected by State Government Guarantee and contain information in relation to current ownership and encumbrances on the land such as mortgages, leases and easements.
The General Register of Deeds was the first land registry in NSW established on 16 November 1825 under the Registration of Deeds Act 1825. It contains common law (old system) deeds for land transactions and incorporates the register of Causes Writs and Orders, Bills of Sale, Register of Resumptions, Powers of Attorney and all other miscellaneous deeds registered in the LPMA.
Since March 2006 access is electronic for all items entered in the General Register of Deeds since November 1992. You can search historical parish maps, Crown plans, Old Form Torrens Title Registers and Plan Lodgement Books on NSW LRS Historical Land Records Viewer.
The website has a number of publications which researchers may find helpful relating to:
- First Stop Guide to the Records of the Registrar General (Apr 2011, PDF)
- Old System Information and Search Guide (Apr 2011, PDF)
- Searching the Registrar General's Maps and Plans (Apr 2011, PDF)
- Torrens Title Information and Search Guide (Apr 2011, PDF)
Local Council Records
Where to find council records
The majority of council records are held by the relevant council. You will need to contact the council to access the records.
For a list of the council records we hold see the Local Government Research Guide. Confirm the location of the records with our staff before visiting as some records may also be held at Regional Archives Centres.
The publication Local government - local history: a guide to NSW local government minute books and rate records edited by Joy Hughes, is available in the reading room and may also be of assistance in identifying the location of council records.
Rate books and local valuation records can provide valuable information.
What's in a rate book
Rate books primarily provide information on rates such as amount of rates due, amounts paid, arrears and when rates were abandoned.
Rate books can also provide a variety of other information including the location of buildings and other townscape features; the names of owners and occupiers of homes and businesses and evidence of former land use practices. The amount of detail provided can vary considerably from year to year.
How to use rate books
The books are divided into wards and within each ward the streets are listed alphabetically. Be aware that some streets have changed names and some have been renumbered. Knowing the estate name, lot and section number of a property is useful when using the rate and valuation records.
Development and Building Applications
Development and Building Applications provide the most basic evidence of property development within an area. They mostly date from the 1920s.
In varying degrees of detail, these documents generally contain written design specifications as well as maps and plans relating to proposed property developments, including demolitions. They can contain applications for buildings, garages, fences, alterations and additions to structures.
Local studies collections
The local studies section of the local public library might also hold photographs, drawings, local history books and oral histories. Local newspapers and magazines might also include stories about the house or former residents.
Baskerville, Bruce, Historical research for heritage, Parramatta, NSW: NSW Heritage Office, 2000
Hughes, Joy N (ed.), Local government - local history: a guide to NSW local government minute books and rate records, Sydney, Royal Australian Historical Society, 1990
Irving, Robert, How old is my house, Royal Australian Historical Society technical information service leaflet no. 17, Sydney, Royal Australian Historical Society, 1988
Knight, Janet, 'Pieces in the puzzle', Vital Signs Magazine issue 4, March 2003, p. 10
Liston, Carol, Researching old buildings, Royal Australian Historical Society technical information service leaflet no. 4, Royal Australian Historical Society, 1986
Sagazio, Celestina (ed.), The National Trust research manual: trace the history of your house or other places Broadway, NSW, Halstead Press, 2004
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This content first appeared in Archives in Brief 116 - Researching your house and property
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