About the hearth tax

The hearth tax was levied between 1662 and 1689 on each householder according to the number of hearths in his or her dwelling. The administrators were required to compile lists of householders with the number of their hearths according to county.

Early demographers and political arithmeticians, such as Gregory King (d. 1712), recognized that returns to the hearth tax were a rich store of data, but it was not until the late 1960s that modern historians really focused on the value of the hearth tax for a range of enquiries. Historians have continued to draw upon it to assess distributions of population and the divisions between rich and poor in national and local contexts, and in association with other sources it can also be used to assess vernacular architecture, life cycles, population movements, patterns of employment, kinship and the family, and early modern local government jurisdictions.

About the Hearth Tax Online website

Hearth Tax Online is a platform for the publication and dissemination of research and analysis on hearth tax records and other associated documents. It acts not only as a portal through which the Centre for Hearth Tax Research can circulate data and findings, but also as a forum for other research centres, historical groups or individuals to publish work allied to hearth tax studies.

The on-going work of the Centre for Hearth Tax Research means that new transcripts and analyses are being continually produced and, consequently, Hearth Tax Online will be frequently updated as new counties are completed. This blog will feature the latest news on updates, events and progress on new material.

The primary objective of the Centre for Hearth Tax Research is to publish, in a hard-copy volume, the best surviving hearth tax return or returns for every county in England where a satisfactory return has not already been published. However, this represents a long-term project and it will be several years before some county volumes are completed. Hearth Tax Online, therefore, provides the opportunity to publish limited access to the personal name data for previously published and forthcoming counties as well as analysis about the distribution of both population and wealth and poverty in county communities.


2 responses to “About

  1. debi birkin

    hello, I have a very old postcard of a strange Folkestone gravestone that mentions the chimney tax, it’s like a poem or riddle and i’d love to know why the person was exempt from the tax, I can email you a scan if you like, the gravestone is dated 1688

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