Property Research Rate Books
Rate books are records of property taxes levied by local council. They will give you the names of the owners and/or the occupiers of a property and sometimes also a description of the building eg ‘timber cottage’. We currently hold rate books for:
Annandale, Leichhardt and Lilyfield 1880-1920
Balmain, Birchgrove and Rozelle 1908-1920
Unfortunately, rate books prior to 1908 for Balmain, Birchgrove and Rozelle were destroyed many years ago.
The books are set out by wards, and then by street address. If you do not know the street in which a person lived, try checking the Sands Sydney Directory which is available on microfiche for the years 1858-1933. A search of Sands prior to using the rate books may save you time by providing clues to the neighbouring properties. Ward boundaries have changed. Look at the map of ward boundaries below and you may need to consult maps held at Leichhardt and Balmain libraries to determine the ward your property was located in.
People researching Annandale should note that the suburb was part of Leichhardt Council between 1880 and 1894. From 1894 Annandale had its own local administration which continued until 1948 when the suburb once more became part of Leichhardt Council. For those researching Leichhardt and Lilyfield, note that ward boundaries were revised in 1894 and again in 1913 when the whole council area comprised just one ward.
1984 Historical Ward Boundaries Map (PDF 1.3MB)
Work back in time, from the known to the unknown.
Try five year intervals until some detail does not make sense; then you'll need to take smaller "jumps". Often this will lead you to an amended entry - perhaps a change of ownership, with the new name hand written over the old one, or a new street number written next to the old one.
Do not rely solely on house numbers as your search progresses - street numbers did change in some areas during this period. For this reason, it's worth transcribing the details as you work back in time so that you can double check your trail later. Apart from the owner/occupier details of the specific house you are tracing, keep a vigilant eye on the neighbours to make sure that you are still looking at the "right" place.
Keep an eye on local landmarks - your house may be, for example, the fourth rateable property after a certain intersection, bearing in mind that land sub-divisions over time will increase the number of rateable properties.
Conducting a rate search is a time-consuming task. Local History staff at Leichhardt Library can conduct your search for you for an hourly rate. We can be contacted on 9367 9335 or email@example.com