Tax lists record names of people who were assessed taxes. They may show a name, the amount assessed, and a place and a date. Tax records are very useful for tracing Welsh families. Records exist for different taxes levied throughout Welsh history.
Originally revenues from property owned by the Crown financed the government. National taxation began on a small scale as an additional source of revenue during specific times of financial need. National taxes were separate from local taxes. Local taxes were called rates and were collected by the parishes for local services and poor relief (see the "Church Records" section of this outline). A few tax records are discussed below:
The hearth tax consisted of a tax of one shilling for each fireplace or stove (except those of paupers). It was collected twice a year from 1662 to 1689. Records exist for much of Wales, showing the name and number of hearths in each residence. The names of those who were exempt were included from 1663. Records of 1662 to 1666 and 1669 to 1674 are in the National Archives, Kew. The other years are among records of quarter sessions.
Land Tax Assessment
Since 1693, the government assessed a tax on all land valued over a fixed annual rent of 20 shillings. Originally, these records contained only the proprietor’s name and the sum assessed. In 1772, the occupier’s name was added. In 1798, the date of contract of commutation (redemption from further payment) was added.
Land tax records are valuable for tracing patronymic name changes. You can usually recognize name changes by tracing the name of a family that lived on the same farm for several generations.
These tax records can also provide you with the name of the proprietor of the land on which your ancestor lived. When you know the proprietor’s name, you can find records pertaining to his estate (see the "Land and Property" section of this outline). Some land tax assessments will be found among the estate records of some large land owners.
To use these records you must know the name of the parish and also the hundred that the parish was in. A Topographical Dictionary of Wales (see the "Gazetteers" section of this outline) will identify the hundred that a parish was in.
While records of this tax are generally found in the county record office, those of 1798, when the national land tax assessment was taken, are kept in the Public Record Office. Copies of the 1798 assessment are available at the Family History Library. (Family History Library films [1483001http://www.familysearch.org/eng/library/fhlcatalog/supermainframeset.asp?display=titledetails&titleno=381583&disp=Land+tax+assessments%2C+England+and+Wale%20%20&columns=*,0,0 1483001–64].)
Tithe apportionments were compiled for most parishes around 1840. They show who owned each piece of land in the parish and who resided on that property at the time the tithe apportionment was made. The tithe apportionments and the maps that accompany them provide a very important index to the land ownership in Wales.
The National Library of Wales has an almost complete set of tithe maps and schedules, and there are copies in most county record offices. The Family History Library has a few of these records on film. Look in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
- WALES, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - LAND AND PROPERTY
For more information about tithe records see:
- Kain. Roger J. P., and Richard R. Oliver. The Tithe Maps of England and Wales: A Cartographic Analysis and County-by-County Catalogue. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1995. (Family History Library book 942 E7k.)
A tax was assessed on the money a master received for an apprenticeship indenture. This tax was also called a stamp duty. From 1710 to 1811 a register of apprenticeships was kept. The tax was due within one year after the term of indenture expired. Apprentices put out by a parish or charity were exempt from the tax.
The original records are at the Public Records Office. The Society of Genealogists in London indexed and abstracted apprenticeship tax records from 1710 to 1774. The Family History Library has a copy of this index (Family History Library films 477624–637).
For more information on apprenticeships, see the "Occupations" section of this outline.
From 1642 to 1680, each parish was assessed a tax called the monthly assessment.
In 1661, the restored monarch improved his poor financial condition with a tax called the free and voluntary present. Records of this tax are arranged by place and are held at the Public Record Office.
From 1695 to 1706, a marriage tax was assessed on bachelors, widowers, and childless couples. It was also charged for parish register entries of baptism, marriage, and burial. Few records survive, but those that do survive have a surname index to parish registers.
A tax on each window in a dwelling was collected from 1696 to 1798. Records of the window tax give the owner’s name and number of windows in his residence. Those that survive are at county record offices. Some are among the papers of the different estates.
Records at the Family History Library
The Family History Library has some tax records including published and original lists. They are listed in the Place Search of the Family History Library Catalog under:
- WALES - TAXATION
- WALES, [COUNTY] - TAXATION
- WALES, [COUNTY], [PARISH] - TAXATION
Some tax records are published by societies in journals or periodicals. Some of these are available in the Family History Library and are referenced in Smith’s Inventory of Genealogical Sources: Wales (see the "Genealogy" section of this outline).
For more information about tax records, see:
- Beresford, M. W. The Lay Subsidies and the Poll Taxes.Canterbury, England: Phillimore & Co., 1963. (FHL book 942 A1 no. 836.) This work explains the history and surviving records of early English taxes.
- Gibson, Jeremy. The Hearth Tax, Other Later Stuart Tax Lists and the Association Oath Rolls. 2nd ed. Birmingham, England: Federation of Family History Societies (Publications) Ltd., 1996. (Family History Library book 942 R43g 1996.) This reference gives the types of taxes, dates covered, and repository catalog numbers by county of surviving tax records.
- Gibson, Jeremy, Mervyn Medlycott, and Dennis Mills. Land and Window Tax Assessments. Birmingham, England: Federation of Family History Societies (Publications) Ltd., 1993 (Family History Library book 942 R4g 1993.) This book gives the dates of records held by each repository, arranged by county name.
- Apprenticeship. Salt Lake City, Utah: Family History Library, 1980. (Family History Library book 942 U27a.) A short discussion of apprenticeship records precedes the library film numbers.
- The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Research Outline: Wales (Salt Lake City: Corporation of the President, 2000), 63-64.