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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 ($).

House Tax 1696-1834

Imposed at the same time as the window tax, and often collected together, the house tax assessed a flat rate on occupiers of inhabited dwellings who were liable to church and poor rates. This was increased in 1778 with an additional charge based upon rateable value, and the house tax was repealed in 1834. An example for Rotherham is given below , which should be compared with the contemporary window tax for the same area.
Chart: House Tax 1780 for Rotherham, Yorkshire Film 1564694
Extracts from first page only.
An Assessment laid upon the Inhabitants of Rotherham for a Duty upon Houses for the year [1780]
Saml Tooker esq  16 8/-
T. Mirfin Waterhouse  12 6/-
Thos Spencer  6 3/-
Henry Kendrick  7 3/6
Thos Taylor  5 2/6
Wm Leasley  6 3/-
Jos: Midlam  8 4/-
Mr Turner  9 4/6
Mr Jubb  10 5/-
Robt Hunt  10 5/-
Lydia Midlam  5 2/6
Mr Foljambe  15 7/6
Mr Johnson  5/10 2/9*
Mr Cundell  5/10 2/9*
Mr Drake  10/- 5/-
John Turlon  6/- 3/-
George Hoyland  5/- 2/6
Thos Bradley  5/- 2/6
Richd Law -- 5/- 2/6

The columns do not have headings. The check marks on all except one entry are probably for payments received. The third column is in all except two cases (*) double the last one thus I have theorized that they represent the total and semi-annual dues respectively.

Window Tax 1696-1851

In 1696 a new Window Tax replaced the hated Hearth Tax, ostensibly to cover the cost of re-minting the damaged coinage of the realm. At least the assessors did not have to enter dwellings to count the windows, so it was less invasive than the hearth tax. House occupiers were taxed on the number of their windows, as indicated below. Not all windows were liable to tax; for example service rooms such as dairies and shops and businesses attached to dwellings were exempted at various times.
Chart : Window Tax Rates
1696-1746 Basic 2/- per household (0-9 windows) and 10-20 windows paid a further 8/-.
1747-1824 Basic 2/- per household and 10-14 windows paid an extra 6d per window.
15-19 windows paid an extra 9d per window.
20+ windows paid an extra 1/- per window.
1825-1851 Same, except those with 0-7 windows were exempt from window tax.

However, there were problems defining what was a house and what was a window. The Journal of Felix Farley of Bristol 1804 contains this droll entry:

Window Tax: In answer to the enquiry of an old correspondent, whether his spectacles are to be considered as one or two windows, he may rest assured they will be charged as two lights, if the space between them exceeds nine inches.

It was also common to brick up certain windows to avoid the tax, and such cases are still visible today. Cole (Questions and Answers: Land & Window Tax. Family Tree Magazine Vol. 20 #1, page 19) reports that in Devizes, Wiltshire the inhabitants actually painted the bricks in black and white to resemble the missing sash windows! These factors make yearly comparisons difficult, but any sudden large changes in numbers of windows would indicate building or demolition activity of some kind. The window tax was particularly hard on old manor houses pierced with innumerable windows and skylights. Window and house taxes fell only on those liable for church and poor rates and fewer people were liable to window tax than land tax, but they are almost all the occupiers of the dwellings. The window tax is more likely to give us a mental picture of their dwelling and status than the amount of money assessed for the land tax.

Assessments of the window tax have not survived as well as those for the land tax because they were not needed for voting purposes as the latter were from 1780-1832. Two notable Window Tax lists exist in TNA in class T 38 and appear to be a sample of urban and rural districts preserved from the vast quantities previously held by the Treasury archives:

2 St. James Piccadilly, Westminster for 1736 giving 3,600 names.
2 County of Westmorland 1777 with 5,449 names.
In addition there are the window and other tax returns for aliens and Roman Catholics who had to pay double taxes up to 1830, which are in class E 182.

There are many more window tax records in quarter session, city, borough, parish and private archives, (notably those for one-third of Wiltshire for 1748 in the Earl of Pembroke’s Archives), and many have been filmed. The extant window tax lists were listed by county by Gibson (The Hearth Tax, Other Later Stuart Tax Lists and the Association Oath Rolls , 1990), there is a good discussion and list by Medlycott (The Window Tax: A Survey of Holdings in Britain. Genealogists’ Magazine Vol. 24 #5, page 186-189, 1993) and an enhanced list appeared in 1998 (Gibson, Medlycott and Mills). Bristol has an almost complete assessment for 1696, the 1777 Window Tax Assessments for South Westmorland have been published by Lowis (The Window Tax for South Westmorland 1777. A Transcription and Index, 1998), and a 1780 example from Cheshire is given below.

Chart : Window Tax Returns for Capenhurst, Shotwick, Cheshire 1780 Film 1594142
Window Tax Ssesment [sic] for the Township of Capenhurst
for the Year 1780
£ s d
Saml Lewes 6 0...3..0
Saml Edwards 7 0...4..2
Jos Wilbraham 4 0...3..0
Widow Dracott 4 0...3..0
Robt Jones 6 0...3..0
Richd Chalenar 6 0...3..0
Jno Fearnal 6 0...3..0
Wm Brown 10 0..11..4
Edward Spencer 9 0...9..0
Jno Knowles 9 0...9..0
Widow Whealey 8 0...7..0
Jos Jones 10 0..11..4
Wm Washington 6 0...3..0
Wm Milling 4 0...3..0
Richd Brown 7 0...4..2
Jos Street 6 0...3..0
Jno Baxter 7 0...4..2
Jno Humphres 6 0...3..0
[Total] [£]4...5..4
[signed] Saml Reece, Saml Lewes Assesors [sic] Signed & sealed] Jno Glegg

Slightly different headings were used in Rotherham, Yorkshire in 1780 :
Chart : Window Tax 1780 for Rotherham, Yorkshire Film 1564694
Extracts from first page only. The check marks on all except one entry are probably for payments received in two halves.
An Assessment laid upon the Inhabitants of Rotherham for a
Duty upon Houses Windows and Lights [1780]
Mr John Kay Eastwood 14  1..4..0
T. Mirfin Waterhouse 17  1..8..6
Thos Spencer 10  0..1..4
Henry Kendrick 7  0..4..2
Thos Taylor 6  0..3..0
Richd Law 6 0..3..0
Revd Mr Lloid 18  1..10..0
Martha Lewis 7  0..4..2
Lydia Midlam 10  0.11..4
Mr John Foljambe 22  2..1..6

On comparison with the first page of the Rotherham house tax (Chart 17) some of the same names appear, but it is not known whether the same route was taken by the tax collector, or whether some people were exempt from one or other tax. However Richard Law seems to have paid neither tax! Lists of defaulters also survive.

Chart : Window Tax Defaulters Malden, Surrey 1750
Film 1471052
Defaulters 1750
Tho Saunders 0....9..0 Mr Pratt 0....7..0
Wid. Reeves 1..14..0 Anty Sloan 0....2..0
Richd Vincent 0....8..0 Tizzard 0....2..0
Jno Knight 0....9..0

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

We welcome updates and additions to this Wiki page.