Lancashire hearth tax assessment 1664



Lancashire hearth tax assessment 1664 on Hearth Tax Digital, published in 7 parts.

This is the first occasion that an assessment or return has been published for Lancashire in its entirety. Earlier publications have comprised a partial selection of data for West Derby hundred (TNA E 179/250/6: 1662 Michaelmas return) and Liverpool (TNA E 179/132/355: 1673 Michaelmas return). Details of these publications are in in Jeremy Gibson’s The Hearth Tax and other later Stuart tax lists and the Association Oath Rolls (2nd edn., Birmingham and Roehampton, 1996), p. 36. Neither of these extracts contain data on the non-chargeable and hence are incomplete records.

The assessment is divided into seven parts, of which six relate to the hundreds of Amounderness (part 2), Blackburn (part 3), Leyland (part 4), Lonsdale (part 1), Salford (part 6) and West Derby (part 5), while part 7 contains data on walled up hearths. In parts 1-6 there are data on 31,941 households, divided between 21,694 chargeable households with 35,337 hearths and 10,247 non-chargebable households with 10,754 hearths.

The assessment was the work of county justice of the peace, Richard Whithead, and eight officials, whose individual signatures record the completion of their work between 19th and 30th of April at the end of parts 1-4 and 6. All seven parts are in good condition, although, part 5 had to be put back into its correct order by C.A.F. Meekings, whose comparison with audit records identified the absence of data on Great Crosby, Little Crosby, Ince Blundell and Litherland.

Parts 1 to 6 are identical in format. Each has a two-panel format, with the left-hand panel for the chargeable and the right-hand for the non-chargeable. This pattern is retained across all rotulets, varying in length between 60 and 80 cm, but with a consistent width of 19 cm. The importance of adhering to this model is demonstrated, firstly, by the opening rubric in each part explaining the columns, and, secondly, by a header at the top of each rotulet setting out the distinction between chargeable and non-chargeable, sometimes using an additional header of "the second column" (e.g. part 3, rot. 1). The diligence of Whithead and his colleagues means that readers at each opening can cast their eyes down data from head to foot on the recto and the dorse to read data on chargeable and/or non-chargeable. Readability is further enhanced by personal and place names written in English and hearth numbers in Arabic numbers.

The layout of the 1664 Lady Day assessment, with the exception of the addition of the non-chargeable and part 7 on walled up hearths, follows the pattern of the Lady Day 1663 assessment (TNA E 179/250/8). Both assessments have the same dimensions, each part relating to a hundred, use Arabic numbers and English for personal and place names, and columns are generally unencumbered by extraneous data. Hence the clarity and neatness of the work of Whithead and his team arose from following the template first apparent from a year earlier. A minor improvement arose from taking care to include an explanatory rubric above each hundredal title in the 1664 assessment, in contrast to their absence in parts 3 (Blackburn) and 5 (West Derby) from the 1663 assessment.

Part 7 comprises six rotulets and although undated, layout and the rubrication suggest that it is contemporary to the 1664 Lady Day assessment. Here the use of column headers on "Hearths walled up" above both the left and the right-hand columns, in addition to the opening rubric, are noteworthy evidence in favour of the connection between part 7 and parts 1-6.

Part 7 is an unusual record. There are only single rotulets for Leyland (rot. 1), Lonsdale (rot. 2) and West Derby (rot. 6). As each begins with a rubric and there is space at the bottom for continuation of each list, it seems likely that the walling up of hearths was limited in these three hundreds, in contrast to Blackburn hundred (rots. 2-5). One reading of part 7 would be that this was an effort by householders to evade the tax, mostly by blocking up one or two surplus hearths in each property, but in some places there was more wide scale walling up, as at Dutton (rot. 4), where 13 of the 21 walled up hearths relate to three or four hearths. The data for part 7 are categorised as non-chargeable in the database, with 706 entries relating to 924 hearths, including four illegible entries.
Date made available1 Nov 2023
PublisherCentre for Information Modelling, University of Graz
Date of data production2 May 2023 - 2 Nov 2023
Geographical coverageLancashire, UK

Cite this