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The Barwick Hearth Tax 1672

Barwicker No. 23
September 1991

When the census was first introduced in this country in 1801, it was looked upon with grave suspicion as the populace thought that the survey would be used for taxation. They may have been justified as most surviving national records which contain the names of a significant number of individuals are used for this purpose. However, what was a painful imposition for people at the time is now a valuable local history source, being in some cases the only means of information we have about the people of the village in the past. 'ie have already made use of the poll tax of 1379 see 'The Barwicker' No.13 and the 16th. and 17th. century lay subsidies (see 'The Barwicker' No.16).

One such list of Barwick inhabitants is the Hearth Tax return of 1672. We are grateful to the late John Stansfield of Woodville, Leeds, who transcribed the Hearth Tax lists for the wapentake of Skyrack, published by the Thoresby Society in their journals (no.2 of 1891 and No.4 of 1895). He was a life member of the society and made significant contributions to the early journals.

The Hearth Tax, which was first imposed in England in the year 1662, consisted of a charge of 2/- upon every hearth or stove, in all dwelling houses. Below is the 1672 list for Barwick township.

19 Sir Thomas Gascoigne
10 Dr Dalton
9 William Ellis Esq.
6 Richard Bevers
5 Thomas Stowing
4 Widow Knapton
Richard Tompson
3 John Hardcastle
John Tayler
Thomas Reaver
Joshua Turner
Mr Richard Vivers
Willliam Bevers
John Erington
Edward Inchcliffe
Lawrence Edmondson
Bartho. Mamond
Ralph Collett
Mr William Hodgson
Widow Settle
Martin Clough
William. Rushton
John Dyneley
Thomas Tayler
Widow Seile
William Briggs
Widow Settle
George Spinke
Thomas Hardwicke
Thomas Shippen
2 Mr Jackson
Richard Green
Robert Dyneley
George Hayste
Richard Burland
Thomas Tate
Richard Daniell
William Massey
Michael Hill
William Breame
John Pitts
Roger Gregson
Widow Taylor
Joseph Strickland
John Ellis
John Lee
Thomas Lee
William Settle
William Constable
Widow. Hill
Widow Gibson
James Hunter
James Prince
John Smith
Mercy Hague
Mr Postgate
John Dodgson
Eliza Settle
William Tayler
Thomas Tompson
Richard Tayler
William Vevers
Martin Cash
1 John Nortas
John Parker
Samuell Stowne
Robert. Collett
Widow Hague
George Browne
Samuell Tate
Richard Potter
Robert Ball
Thomas Potter
William Tate
William Smith
Robert Oddy
Thomas Barden
Thomas Hopwood
John Marston
George Dickinson
Abraham Rushworth
John Shippen
William Breame jun.
Thomas Waumsley
Richard Tate
William Tayler
Henry Haworth
Peter Barker
Richard Collett
Matthew Ingle
John Moore
Leonard Catton
John Bucke
Christopher Smith
Thomas Knapton
John Dodgson
John Hemsworth
Richard Ball
John Senior
Roger Spinke
Andrew Slater
John Dunnill
Richard Tate
William. Oates
Benjamin Place
Robert Brooke
George Clarkson
Widow Crompton
John Smith
Rich Shippen
Thomas Tate
Robert Turner
Marke Brunton
Robert Greene
William Mounser (Monnser?)
Thomas Bird
John Tayler ju.
James Orton
John Burland
George Richmond
Samuell Shenton
Henry Hare
Henry Shann
Mary Settle
Richard Knapton
William Ingle
Richard Jackson
Henry Bodill
John Stocker
Widow Syham
Henry Wright
Robert Shore
Thomas Torrington
John Hardcastle
Mr Devers
Will1am Loftus
William Tate jun.
Dorothy Oddy
John Dunnill
William ffawcitt

Number of occupied and taxed households 141
Number of hearths taxed 278

The return is a list of households, with the number of hearths taxed and the name of the person responsible for paying the tax, usually the occupier, although in a few cases the same name appears more than once. In another list, shown below the dwellings are described as
'Empty; and noe distress to be had'. Note the linking of the words 'tax' with 'distress'!
1 Hearth
2 Hearths
Edward Potter
Widow Johnson
John Horton
William Jackson
Steven Smith
Peter Wi1son

The list below is entitled 'These persons following are discharged by certificate.' The householder was exempted from the tax if he could produce a certificate from the minister and one of the churchwardens and overseers of the poor of the parish to prove the annual value of the house he lived in was not more than 20s., and that neither he or any other person using the house occupied lands, tenements, goods and chattels to the value of £10.

1 Hearth
2 Hearths
William Lamb
Thomas Blackburne
Robert Briggs
Widow Bullocke
John Gibson
Isaac Wood
John Tate, sen.
John Tate, jun.
Anthony Wright
Oswald Harrison
Richard EIlis
Richard Styan
Richard Prince
Richard Swales
Robert Sayner
Richard ffarrah
9 households were 'omitted by reason of poverty.' The householders were not taxed because they were too poor to pay church or poor-rates.

The Barwick lists were drawn up by Robert Husband (Collector) and Robert Gregson (Constable).

The Hearth Tax was always very unpopular and was at first collected with great difficulty. It was hated because it was imposed on the poorer classes, who had escaped taxation under the subsidies. The collection of the tax was 'farmed out' and the necessary visits of inspection of the 'chimney men', as they were termed, were deemed invasions of the homes of Englishmen. The tax was assessed on a return made by the occupier after receiving notice from the constable, who was required to enter the house and verify the accounts, and in default was to assess the tax himself.

The total number of households in Barwick township, including those with certificates and those in poverty, is 166. Studies of the population suggest that the average number of people in one household at this time was about 4.25, giving a population for the township of about 706. Roundhay at this time had 20 households so inclusion of this number gives a total population of Barwick parish of about 790. An estimate of the population of the parish in the 1630's of about 900 was made from the parish registers (see 'The Barwicker' No.6), but whether the difference between these very approximate figures is significant cannot be assessed.

The effect the tax had on the poorer elements in the community can be judged by comparing the 141 Hearth Tax payers in 1672 with the 40 householders who paid tax on their land and goods in the Lay Subsidy of 1627. Only 15% of householders in Barwick were exempted from the Hearth Tax. More than half the tax payers paid at the lowest rate of one hearth leaving a substantial number who lived in houses with two or more hearths.

Heading the list is Sir Thomas Gascoigne, the Catholic recusant, who suffered for his religious beliefs throughout his life. The 19 hearths are presumably those at Barnbow Hall. He was also taxed on one hearth in Garforth, and 12 at Parlington, presumably Parlington Hall, and one mill in Parlington (Hillam Mill). He was the greatest taxpayer in the wapentake apart from Lord Irwin of Temple Newsam with a massive 45 hearths. Dr Dalton is the Rector of Barwick, with 10 hearths taxed in the rectory. William Ellis, Esq. of Kiddal Hall also figures prominently with 9 hearths.

The returns indicate the status of the householders in the list. The most important division perhaps is that between the gentry and the lower orders. The gentry can be simply defined as those who could maintain themselves and their families without recourse to manual work. The list includes three levels of gentry, a baronet (Sir Thomas Gascoigne), an esquire (William Ellis) and five 'gentlemen', who are denoted by the style 'Mr'. If a member of the gentry had sufficient means he could apply for a coat of arms. Clergymen were included in this group and would be addressed as 'Reverend'. High status was not necessarily a sign of wealth and a prosperous yeoman farmer could be more affluent than an impoverished baronet. The five 'gentlemen' do not occupy the largest houses in the list.

Those below the level of the gentry were not however without influence in the village community. As ratepayers they could attend and vote at vestry meetings and take their turn in the offices of churchwarden, overseer of the poor, constable and surveyor of the highways. Women in the list are either widows, who derived their status from their dead husbands, or, presumably, unmarried women, who are given their full names.

The returns for the rest of the wapentake show that Leeds with 2681 taxed hearths dominates the rest. The number of hearths indicate that there were no mansions but many substantial houses in Leeds. 'W G Hoskins in 'Local History in England' uses the 1662 Hearth Tax returns to show that Leeds ranks 32nd. in size of the provincial English towns. The census returns show that it rose to 5th. in 1801 and to 4th. in 1861. Bingley with 434 hearths has outstripped Barwick, and Otley with 278 hearths has drawn level. The numbers of hearths for other local townships are shown below

Austrop (Austhorpe)
Temple Newsam
Thornover (Thorner)

The Hearth Tax list give very little extra information. In Otley, the courthouse and the 'ffreeschoole', taxed at one hearth each, stand empty, as does the vicarage in Collingwood (was Mr Gill an absentee?). There are schools taxed at Bardsey and at Leeds and mills at Aberford, Leeds and Poole as well as Hillam Mill, only a small fraction of those operating at the time. Widow Talliford of Headingley-cum-Burley and Samuel Kellett of Rawden are taxed on their ovens!

When William and Mary came to the throne in 1689 (the Glorious Revolution), the Hearth Tax produced a sum of £200,000 per annum. Despite this (for the time) handsome return, the new King, who had pledged to reduce taxation, abolished it. Our rulers have taxed our arable land (Domesday Book), our heads (poll tax), our daylight (window tax), our wages (income tax), our transport (petrol and road tax) and our enjoyments/vices (tobacco and alcohol), amongst other sources. They have constantly sought methods of taxation which are efficient revenue raisers, but which appear to be fair. They are still looking!

Transcribed by JOHN STANSFIELD

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