The 1672 Hearth Tax Assessment for Gloucestershire online edition provides a transcription of the most complete surviving hearth tax assessment for the county, supplemented by additional information from other archival sources. The transcription is being made available for the benefit of researchers, while the full online edition with supporting materials is developed.

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Background to the Hearth Tax

The hearth tax was introduced in 1662, to make up a £300,000 annual shortfall in revenue. Unjustified optimism about the number and size of houses in the country led politicians to hope the income would cover the deficit completely. It never came close to doing so. The tax was levied at 2 shillings a year per hearth, collected in two instalments at Lady Day (25 March) and Michaelmas (29 September) Those people who were too poor to pay church and poor rates or who possessed property worth no more than £10 were exempt, as were hospitals and almhouses.

The first list of eligible householders liable to pay the tax was drawn up in the summer of 1662, in readiness for the first collection at Michaelmas. Initially the constable for each township was responsible for assessing and collecting the tax, which was forwarded by the high constable to the sheriff who was responsible to the Exchequer for the county's contribution. The difficulties experienced in collection led the government to farm out the tax to 3 London merchants for 7 years in 1666, but they abandoned the farm in 1669. Between 1670 and 1674 the tax was collected by receivers appointed for each county. Although this second attempt at direct collection was more successful than the first, it was abandoned in 1674 and the tax was again farmed until it was abolished in 1689.

The assessment and collection of the tax was organised by hundred. The receiver appointed by the Treasury Commissioners appointed one or more collectors for each hundred, who were responsible for drawing up the lists of taxpayers with the number of eligible hearths and of exempted householders with the help of the constable or tithingmam, and for collecting the two payments. Certificates listing those claiming exemption on the grounds of poverty in a parish were prepared and signed by the minister and parish officers, and submitted to two local justices of the peace for their approval.

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Sources and Editorial Method

The 1672 Hearth Tax Assessment for Gloucestershire online edition is based on two hearth tax assessments and a set of exemption certificates preserved at The National Archives in Kew. The first assessment (E179/247/13) was drawn up for the collection of the 19/20 collections of the tax (Michaelmas 1671/Lady Day 1672). As assessment excluded smiths' forges and furnaces and bakers' ovens, the Treasury Commissioners ordered a new assessment (E179/247/14) to be prepared for the 20/21 collections (Lady Day/Michaelmas 1672). This later assessment, which is the better preserved, includes smiths' forges and arrears for the tax not collected on them at Michaelmas 1671, but there are very few references to bakers' ovens. The exemption certificates relate to this second assessment. The transcription is based on the 1672 assessment, except where the original is too badly damaged or missing. The 1671 assessment is used, where possible, to supply deficiencies in the later assessment.

Thomas Haynes/John JaynesJohn JaynesThomas Haynes
Jonas/Joseph CrewJoseph CrewJonas Crew

Indicating minor differences between the assessments.

Abbreviated given names have been expanded in the transcription. Additional information from the earlier assessment or an exemption certificate has been used to supplement the 1672 transcription, where appropriate:

A '/' is used to indicate differences in the 1672 assessment from 1671, with the 1672 name preceding.

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