Finding out about the people who lived there
Estate and solicitors' collections held in archives often include a large number of title deeds. Sometimes early title deeds can be difficult to use because they don't describe the property they deal with clearly - or at least it isn't clear to us now. But you may be lucky and find deeds to your house or to the land it stands on, and discover who owned it or who was leasing it. If you find the original lease or sale of land to the builder of the property, you will know that you have taken your research as far back as it can go!
Available mainly for the period from the mid nineteenth to the mid twentieth centuries, street and county directories list the principal inhabitants of towns and villages, although for villages they may not give precise addresses. For large towns, the directories will list most of the heads of households, with the lists arranged street by street, so that it is easy to find out who lived in a particular house. Almost all archives (and many libraries) hold copies of directories.
Registers of Electors
Registers of Electors list all those eligible to vote. Most series of registers start in 1832 and continue up to date. It wasn't until 1918 that all men got the right to vote, while all women were able to vote from 1928. Registers of electors are usually held in local authority archives, and can be a useful way of finding out who used to live in your house. In the twentieth century, the date an address first appears in a register can indicate when the house was built (before 1918, a house may not appear in the register because none of the people who lived there was entitled to vote).
There are a number of different types of rate books, reflecting the numerous different types of rates that were collected, especially in the nineteenth century. They usually list all properties on which rates had to be paid, and give the name of the ratepayer - sometimes they record the names of both the owner and the tenant of the property. They also give the rateable value, or the amount of rates to be paid, indicating the value of the property. Rate books in some areas date back to the late eighteenth century, but the survival of early rate books is very patchy. Some twentieth century series of rate books are very large, and only books for certain years have been kept. Rate books are to be found mainly in local authority archives.
Most sources will tell you only the name of the head of the household, or possibly the names of the adults living in the house. Find an entry for the house on the census returns, though, and you will discover the names of all the people who lived there at the time the census was taken - and find out how old they were, where they were born, and what they did for a living. Censuses recording names have been taken every ten years from 1841; all the returns for 1841-1901 are available now, and some of the 1911 census returns are also available.
You can look at the census returns for all of Wales for 1841-1901 on microfiche at the National Library of Wales, and most local authority archives have the returns for their own areas.