Property Tax

Hearth Tax 1662-1689

For the detail and quality of their contents, the hearth tax records in E179 give an unparalleled insight into the composition and nature of 17th century communities, and are a useful supplement to other local records such as parish registers.

Each liable householder was to pay one shilling, twice a year, for each fire, hearth and stove in each dwelling or house. The tax’s complex administration meant assessment and collection methods changed radically over time.
The suggested classification was into groups according to the number of hearths and Howell suggested the following groupings:

Households with a single hearth

Households with two hearths

Households with three to five hearths

Households with six to nine hearths

Households with ten or more hearths

He further suggested that households of less than three hearths indicate an economic situation below the comfortable lever, whereas more than ten hearths indicate some considerable affluence.
The majority of the surviving documents are from 1662-1666 and 1669-1674 when the tax was administered directly by royal officials rather than private tax collectors. Documentation also varies regionally. The Centre for Hearth Tax Research has produced some selected indexes of names which can be downloaded. See the further reading section for more details.

They contain:
The names of individual householders (sometimes with their status or title). The number of chargeable hearths, often with the amount payable and occasionally comments- potentially names or number of those exempt.

They contain:
The names and assessments of people who were exempt in a given area, providing useful details (to supplement assessments – exempts included those too poor to contribute to poor and church rates, or whose property was worth less than 20 shillings/year

The charge for Lady Day 1664 was 2d per hearth.

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 This was increased in 1778 with an additional charge based upon rateable value, and the house tax was repealed in 1834.

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.

For a fuller explanation on the taxation of property see: