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The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Taxes, Lists, Business, Electoral and Insurance Records  by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).

Land Tax 1692-1963

A tax on income from land, typically 20%, collected by county authorities from 1692 and 1963. The records for 1780-1832 are the most useful for genealogists as they were better written and preserved since they were also used as electoral registers (Pearl 1991 Part III). Generally there are more people occurring on the land tax lists than for window taxes, but a disadvantage is that the term occupier can mean owner, owner-occupier or tenant in the land tax.
Surviving Land Tax records were listed by county by Gibson (The Hearth Tax, Other Later Stuart Tax Lists and the Association Oath Rolls , 1996), and an enhanced list appeared in 1998 (Gibson, Medlycott and Mills’, Land and Window Tax Assessments, 1993) which has an excellent introduction. Dorothy R. M. Downs (Death and Taxes. Devon Family Historian #110, page 4.) gives a lovely example of using these assessments to verify her pedigree.

Registration (or Marriage) Tax 1695-1706

This tax on parish register entries was levied for carrying on the war with France. It was on a sliding scale according to status, with a basic rate of 2/- for a christening, 2/6d for a marriage and 4/- for a burial. This rose to the considerable sum of £30 for the baptism of a duke’s eldest son, and £50 for a duke’s marriage or burial. All births (not just those being christened in the Church of England) were to be notified to the parish incumbent for a fee of 6d - because of loss of income to the parish priest by those baptized by Dissenting ministers. Such books are rare but notifications can often be found in the parish registers. It has been suggested that the regulations were too complex and defied the abilities of many parish clerks; it was found to be unenforceable and repealed after a few years. Genuine paupers were exempt from paying, so during these periods the letter P for pauper appears next to many christening or birth entries. Another effect was that when the tax was lifted, whole families of children came for baptism together.

Annual dues were also imposed on bachelors over the age of 25 and childless widowers by this act. Few records survive but those known are listed by county by Jeremy Gibson.

The Registration Tax effectively required a complete enumeration of the population as of 1695. Survival of these records is poor for most parts of the country, however the largest and most important return, from the city of London contains 80 of the 97 ancient parishes within the walls (Glass) and 13 parishes within the City but outside the walls (typescript index at Guildhall Library). Each household is recorded showing the relationship of each person to the head, and in some parishes occupations and streets are also given (Harvey 1998). An example from the reign of Queen Anne is shown below where it can be seen that it enables entries from parish register to be grouped into families.
Chart : Registration (Marriage) Tax 1704 St. Benet Sherehog, City of London FHL film 0569946

St. Benet Sherehog
An Assesment made upon the Inhabitants of the Parish aforesaid ... ...
to an Act of Parlament Intituled an Act for granting to Her Majesty ...
Rates and Duties upon Marriages, Births, and Burialls, and upon Batchelors, and Widdowers, for the terme of Five Years for Carrying on War against France wth Vigour, as of severall other Acts of Parliamt relating Thereunto

Names, Sir Names and Degrees
Wm Gilbourne Batchlr £600
Mary Gilbourne


Ann Gilbourne


Margarett Smith servant


Elizth Gittings servant


Wm Bearcorft


Jos: Walter Batchelr


Charles Brown £600
0..12..0 1..04..0
Elizth his Wife

John his child

James his child

Elizabeth his child

James Hubbert

Jno Skinner servant

Hannah Alderson servant

Rebeccah Dedderidge


Jonathn Wintrup
0..2..0 04..0
Ann his wife

Jonathan his child

Waite his child

Elizabeth his child

Susann Johnson a servant


Tho: Brookes Batchelr £600 1..2..6
1..04..0 00..06..0
Christian Brookes

Frances Brookes

Thomas Tubb servant

Sarah Turner servant


1696 returns for the whole of the city of Bristol have been published by the Bristol Record Society (Ralph and Williams). Other survivals (for example Leicester, Shrewsbury, Southampton, and 16 Wiltshire parishes) are listed by Gibson (The Hearth Tax, Other Later Stuart Tax Lists and the Association Oath Rolls, 1996), and Medlycott (Comment on Lichfield Population List. Genealogists’ Magazine Vol. 23 #9, page 340, 1991) reports on those for 1698 for Buckfastleigh and Ringmore in Devon.

There would seem to have been a renewal of government interest in taxing bachelors in 1815 according to the following item from The Examiner, Sunday 26 Feb 1815.

Marriages: Lately at Croydon, Surrey, Mr. Wheelwright of Prospect Row, Birmingham aged 66 to Miss Eliz. Goodman of Mitcham, Surrey aged 59, after a courtship of 39 years.......It is a well-known fact [adds our correspondent] that this match was finally settled in haste, in consequence of the proposed increase of taxes on bachelors.
[Note: IGI extracted entry 25 Feb 1815 St. John the Baptist, Croydon. William Wheelwright and Elizabeth Goodman.]


Information in this Wiki page is excerpted from the online course English: Taxes, Lists, Business, Electoral and Insurance Records offered by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies. To learn more about this course or other courses available from the Institute, see our website. We can be contacted at

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