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The Hearth Tax

The Hearth Tax was introduced in England and Wales in 1662 to provide a regular source of income for the newly restored monarch, King Charles II. Parliament had accepted in 1662 that the King required an annual income of £1.2 million to run the country, much of which came from customs and excise. By 1661 this sum was short by £300,000, a figure that the hearth tax was projected to yield but which proved to be a hopeless overestimate.

Sometimes referred to as 'chimney money', the hearth tax was a property tax on dwellings graded according to the number fireplaces they contained. The 1662 Act introducing the tax stated that '... every dwelling and other House and Edifice shall be chargeable for every firehearth and stove the sum of twoe shillings by the yeare'. The money was to be paid in two equal instalments, at Michaelmas on 29th September, and on Lady Day 25th March, by the occupier or, if the house was empty, by the owner. There were exemptions from the tax for the very poor, if the householder owned no land or if they had less than £10 worth of goods.

The tax was collected according to the administrative units of the time - county, hundred and constabulary or township. As time went on there was a streamlining of the administrative areas with county towns and boroughs being absorbed within their respective counties and some other counties being amalgamated.

The tax fell most heavily on those who occupied the houses with the greatest number of hearths; for example, in 1673 the Earl of Exeter had to pay for 70 hearths at Burghley House. Most householders who were liable to pay the tax had only one or two hearths, although in some cases the levy could represent a significant proportion of their income. The hearth tax was much resented because it often entailed inspection of the interior of dwellings by the sub-collectors and petty constables, who had legal authority to enter every property to check on the number of hearths.

At no time in its life did the tax yield its expected target of £300,000 per annum. The first two collections raised only £115,000 and by 1666 the annual net yield had fallen to just over £100,000.

Although the Hearth Tax continued until 1689, records are generally only available for 1662-1666 and 1669-1674.

Hearth Tax For Goadby Marwood, 1664


Sir George Villiers  16

John Richardson (clerk)  4

John Davies  1

John Kitchin  1

Robert Mayfield  1

John Killingly  1

Zachary Woodcock  2

George Hame  2

Laurence King  1  Now Jane Jonson

John Rimmington  1

Mary Coates  1  Now Marian Hickson

William Nickinson  1

William Villiers  1

John Dalby  1

Mafield Claxton  1

Thomas Hicklin  1

Henry Moore  1

William Timson  1

Richard Glasson  1

Thomas Armston  1

Martha Namton  1

In all 41 (sum paid £2, 3 shillings)


Note: This shows only 21 houses in the village but there may have been some exempt as described above.

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