Catalogue description Exchequer: King's Remembrancer: Certificates of Residence

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Details of E 115
Reference: E 115
Title: Exchequer: King's Remembrancer: Certificates of Residence

Certificates of residence were issued so an individual was not liable for the payment of a tax more than once, whether through change of residence or through lands held across different localities. They were first introduced as a provision in the lay subsidy act of 1514, part of the Tudor revival of taxes that were assessed on individuals.

Certificates of residence are held in their tens of thousands at The National Archives: the wording of the certificates is formulaic, but almost every document gives the names of the commissioners in charge of assessing the tax in each locality, the parliament at which the act to grant the tax was passed, the name of the taxpayer in question, their current residence, the part of the tax in question - for example, the 'second payment of the second subsidy' or 'second payment of the fourth and last of the four subsidies' - and the date of the issue of the certificate. The E 115 series also includes the pouches in which the certificates were originally stored.

Date: c1547-c1685

The certificates were stored in leather pouches in the Exchequer. This method of storage began in the medieval period. On each pouch was written contemporary information about the tax in question, usually including which instalment of the tax was being paid, the name of the area (town of Ipswich, hundred of Chichester, or wapentake of Newark, for example), the name of the collector, and the regnal year.

Some time before 1932, this medieval system of storage was changed because there was no easy way to access the information in the certificates of residence, then still stored in the pouches. The certificates were therefore removed from the pouches and indexed and arranged in alphabetical order of persons. They were afterwards stored in boxes.

To retain the link between the pouches and the certificates, the pouches were numbered and each certificate taken from a pouch had the number of the pouch from which it was taken stamped on its dorse. [This pouch number is now given as a former reference, where relevant.] In this way, the taxation information recorded on the pouch could be traced to any certificate that had been stored therein, and it became possible to link each person with two localities: current, and former or other.

This linked information was presented within eleven bound typescript vols (typed 1932-34): the alphabetical Index of Names (volumes 2-11) and the Key linking the pouch numbers to the certificates (volume 1). The Index volumes give the name of the person, the reference used to order the document, the place of residence, and the number of the pouch in which the certificate was stored in the Exchequer. The Key gives information about the pouches: pouch numbers and anything written on the pouch contemporary with the tax. These volumes are now superseded as finding aids.

The sorting of E 115 took place substantially before 1932. The 1921-38 Reports of the Deputy Keeper give no notice of this work, although it may have taken place and simply not been reported but the introduction to the Key records that the sorting took place 'many years ago' and that the information presented in the Key was but a copy of an original 'numbered list or register'.

The introduction to the Key also notes '[i]n some cases the files of Certificates had been removed from the Pouches before the general re-arrangement of them was undertaken', showing that various certificates and their correspondent pouches had irretrievably been separated at some earlier time (many certificates are certainly without correspondent pouches). The Key also tells us that, where the pouches were themselves illegible, information was also 'obtained from the old Descriptive Slips referring to them'. The descriptive slips were thus the first method by which the pouches were catalogued.

The pouches and certificates of residence are now stored and produced separately. The pouches are packed together in several boxes and are ordered en masse as such but the pre-1932 numbering system has been lost (i.e. the pouch numbers are not recorded on the pouches themselves) so specific pouches cannot at present easily be retrieved.

Held by: The National Archives, Kew
Legal status: Public Record(s)
Language: English
Physical description: 484 bundles and files
Access conditions: Open unless otherwise stated
Publication note:

See also Richard Hoyle, 'Tudor Taxation Records: A Guide for Users' (London, 1994), and R G Lang (ed.), 'Two Tudor subsidy assessment rolls for the City of London, 1541 and 1582', London Record Society 29, (London, 1993).

Administrative / biographical background:

It was the responsibility of the taxpayer to start and see through the processes by which he would be liable for taxation in one place only. The taxpayer obtained the certificate of residence from the tax commissioners of the locality of current residence, and sent the certificate or had it sent to the commissioners of the former or other locality in question.

Depending on the timing, one of two things might then happen. If a certificate was received by the commissioners in time, the taxpayer's name would be deleted from the assessment roll. If a certificate did not arrived in time, it was then 'passed to the head collector of the hundred [in which the taxpayer was seeking not to pay tax] and presented by him to the Exchequer where it was used to exonerate him of the uncollected sum [still noted on the assessment roll]' [Richard Hoyle, Tudor Taxation Records (London, 1994), page 33]. The only input had by the commissioners or collectors, therefore, was to generate a certificate of residence, or receive it and act upon it (the collectors were those who physically handled the moneys while the commissioners performed the assessments).

The introduction to the Key notes that the '[c]ertificates were originally placed in pouches and sent to the Exchequer by the collectors of the districts from which the persons named in them had migrated'. The implication here is that the pouches in which the certificates were stored in the Exchequer were provided by the collectors.

Whether or not pouches were used by tax collectors to return the paperwork associated with a tax to the Exchequer, it seems that the pouches in which the certificates were actually stored originated in the Exchequer: their mode of construction was uniform across the Exchequer, as was the handwriting upon them.

The assessment roll and the certificates of residence were returned to the Exchequer together. Once arrived and processed, the certificates were generally removed from the assessment roll to which they related and stored in the pouches described above. The assessment rolls became part of the E 179 series (Records of Lay and Clerical Taxation), and the certificates of residence eventually turned in the E 115 series.

It seems that all certificates of residence were returned to the Exchequer, whether or not the certificate was received by a commissioner in time for the taxpayer's name to be deleted from the assessment roll. In E 179, there are assessment rolls to which certificates of residence remain attached: see E 179/79/244, for example (Buckinghamshire, 43 Elizabeth). Four certificates are attached to this roll and three of the four names are still recorded thereon. As well as being used in an interaction between the taxpayer and commissioners to waive taxation liability, therefore, a certificate of residence was also used in an interaction between commissioners or collectors, and the Exchequer, to account for the exoneration of an individual from paying tax.

It should be noted that those certificates of residence that remain with their original rolls of assessment in E 179 are not listed in E 115. E 115 is a class based on the Exchequer system of storing the certificates separately in pouches. The names on any certificates in E 179 are, however, listed in the database of the E 179 Records of Central Government Taxation, albeit without being searchable as such. They can be located only incidentally as pieces additional to the main tax records.

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