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Rottzehnter and Rottzins
The word Rott derives from the German word “roden” = to clear an area.
The less established farmers (Kötner and Brinksitzer) were often in need of land to cultivate in order to better care for their family members and animals. All available land was mostly in use and the remaining parts were usually shared among villagers to use as pastures or other communal properties. However, additional use of shared meadows or grazing areas was not always sufficient for everyone’s needs, and added land for cultivation was necessary. If a farmer was in need of such property, the entire village community had to agree whether this action was indeed called for because no one wanted to have their rights curtailed. To add land to one’s property had to follow a certain process. Villagers had to grant permission and so did the land owner, the manor lord or the ruler. The applicant had to address his petition to the representative official, state his need and confirm the unanimous vote of the community before the request could be forwarded to the land owner. Should the land owner give permission, the applicant had to pay Rodezins also known as Rottzins (interest). Later, after the piece of land had been cultivated, the applicant also owed Rottzehnt (tithing) on all the yield of whatever the land was used for.
The proceedings of such agreements were kept in old records (Amtsbuch) which today are housed in state archives. Land for clearing (Rottland) was available in most villages and names of those who took advantage of availability are recorded with the details of liabilities.
For records see AIDAonline, enter Rottzehnt in the search field and choose the state archive if the description fits. Rottzehnt documents were archived in the jurisdiction of the State Archive Hannover, Wolfenbüttel, and Stade.
Source: Vom Rottzehnten und von dessen Ablösung by Wietze.info
is an old tax form. The number of animals in a village were counted, such as horses, cattle, pigs, sheep and bees and taxed. This way the economical and financial circumstances of a farming community was being assessed. Viehschatz registers are also important for genealogical purposes because the names of the taxpayers are listed. Since these taxes were raised early on (1500s and before) such lists give valuable clues about surnames. Family names are only just forming. A family name can be used as a given name or a given name is used as a surname. Occupants of isolated farms are known by their given names. Craftsmen, shepherds and herdsmen are not even listed by their names, given name or surname.
Source: Hermann Walter Pohlsandel. Viehschatzregister von 1589 der Grossvogtey Celle im Staatsarchiv Hannover
Schossbuch (tax book) of Duderstadt
In cities the population had to pay Schoss. Schoss is a tax which was placed on persons and movable property. Taxable were houses, land, usage of land, etc. and movable objects such as tools of commercial enterprises like barrels, pans, kettles, stored goods like corn or beer, money or silver. According to each object’s worth, the owner had to pay large or minimal amounts. Besides objects, pensions were taxable or one’s ward (Mündelgut).
Each year a new tax book was kept in which lists of names appeared with the amounts due. A financial officer administered the Schossbuch, i.e., he entered the sums as they came in. Members of the city council were elected to observe the officer’s doings so that there would be no mishandling of funds.
The city of Duderstadt kept tax records as described. They called their record Geschossbuch. They divided their books into two parts, the income and expense sections. For the year 1650, for instance, the record lists:
Income from guilds with names and taxes
Income of houses
Interests from city and villages
Income from mills
Income from inns and weddings
Expenses in 1650 were for
Expenses paid to city syndicate
Expenses paid to medical doctor
Repair of streets
The income was added up as well as the expenses. In the year 1650 it was recorded that the city had more income than expenses.
The tax record of Duderstadt is a valuable tool when ancestral research becomes difficult to substantiate. Names are available and events with dates, should the ancestor have married.
The tax records have been filmed and are available through the FamilySearch system. The films are available under the topic Public records for Duderstadt in the FamilySearch Catalog, starting with film number 2254001.
Wilhelm Staude. Die direkten Steuern der Stadt Rostock im Mittelalter in Jahrbuch des Vereins für Mecklenburgische Geschichte und Altertumskunde. Band 77 (1912) S. 127-175
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