This series contains all the detailed records of taxation of lay people in England from about 1190 to 1690, in Wales from 1543 to about 1690, and of the taxation of clerics in England and Wales from 1269 to 1663, which survive among the public records.
These records can also be searched using the E 179 database. Information about the hearth tax exemption certificates is more detailed within this catalogue.
Information on foreign immigrants paying tax between 1330 and 1550 is available on this partner website.
The earliest records in the series relate to the carucages, a tax on land, levied on several occasions between 1194 and 1224. Records of the taxes imposed on the income and moveable property of more prosperous individuals, the 'lay subsidies', survive from the date of the fifteenth levied in 1225. These taxes supplemented and eventually replaced the income derived by the Crown from the old customary and feudal taxes, such as tallages and scutages; but some records relating to these levies also survive in this series, especially for the late 13th and early 14th centuries. The lay subsidies ceased to be assessed directly on individuals in 1334, and were replaced by fixed quotas paid by individual tax units, charged at a fifteenth on most of the country but at a tenth on the royal demesne and boroughs. From 1291, after the conquest of Wales, there were also occasional taxes levied in Wales. The development of taxation continued with an experimental subsidy on parishes in 1371 and then the initiation of the poll taxes in 1377, which were discontinued after they contributed to the unrest which led to the Peasants' Revolt of 1381, but which were nevertheless revived in the 17th century.
The 15th century saw experiments in the form of income taxes, in 1404, 1411, 1435 and 1449, and a number of levies on aliens from 1439 to 1487. The revised Tudor version of the lay subsidy was created between 1512 and 1515, and subsequently its medieval form, the fifteenth, finally disappeared after 1623. Regular taxation on the English model began in Wales in 1543, and in Cheshire from 1540. The experimental taxes associated with the Civil War and Interregnum, principally weekly or monthly assessments, are well represented by documents in this series, and there are some records of the decimation tax of 1655. The Restoration of 1660 was followed by a variety of kinds of tax, the principal one being the the hearth tax of the reigns of Charles II and James II. It was collected on 54 occasions between 1662 and 1689, although most of the surviving records relating to it belong to the years 1662-6 and 1670-4. In 1689 it was abolished as part of the Revolution Settlement.
Records of royal taxation of the clergy, granted separately by convocation before the mid-14th century, are also in this series. These include some original returns of the new assessment ('taxatio') of the English church ordered by Pope Nicholas IV in 1291-2, which was assisted by the English Crown.
The records in this series comprise a wide variety of types of document, from summaries of accounts, exemptions, abatements, petitions, receipts, inquisitions and schedules of arrears to long, detailed assessments giving the names of taxpayers and the sums with which they were charged. About 120 different types of document have been identified, although some are of types which rightly belong in other series. Together with the formal enrolled or declared accounts of the audit at the Exchequer, which give only summary details, they provide the overwhelming bulk of the information now available about taxes and taxpayers in England during five centuries of English history.