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Land Tax Assessments

Land tax assessment records are valuable to family historians because they list year by year the names of the owners of land in each parish, and (in theory at least) the names of the occupiers. They also give some indication of their social standing.

What was the Land Tax?

One of the innovative schemes of the British government to increase revenue. Introduced in 1692, in the reign of William III and Mary, and finally abolished in 1963. Administered at the local level, and based on a tax quota for each parish which did not vary.

Occupiers’ names

Labourers were usually not named individually: “ e.g. the occupiers of a row of cottages may be listed as "William Soper and others", and tenants of small pieces of land may not be listed individually. Where families shared a cottage or piece of land, only the main occupier was listed. First names are not always recorded: names such as "Lowton and others" or "Widow Weekes" may be used. The word "ditto" can be confusing. Male heads of household are always listed, where they exist, and other members of the household will not be mentioned. The link between one occupier and the next is not often stipulated, so it may be hard to work out the family relationship, if any, without referring to parish registers or other records.

Occupiers could hold land in more than one parish and did not always live in the parish where they are listed in the Land Tax Assessments. Their farmland may have stretched into a neighbouring parish.

Names or descriptions of estates or property

Not always detailed, though the names of individual large properties like farms, mills and inns are usually given. Sometimes the term "house and garden" is the only description used and the property has to be identified from others of the same description, by an initial reference to title deeds or leases, or by the amount of tax assessed on it, which stayed the same from year to year. The position of the property in the list when compared to other properties is usually also consistent from year to year. This is not necessarily true if the property is split up and sold or split between heirs, or if the land tax assessor has decided from a certain year to start arranging the list alphabetically


The land tax assessors often acted as collectors as well, and were often parish office holders – overseers of the poor for example, who collected the poor rates, especially in small parishes. You will be able to see examples of their signatures and perhaps identify ancestors through comparison of the signature with a marriage register entry.

Sums assessed and not exonerated; sums assessed and exonerated

Sums assessed are the amounts of tax charged. Comparison of amounts within a list gives an idea of the size and value of the property. Cottages and gardens are obviously taxed at smaller amounts than farms and estates. Between 1772 and 1909 the rate remained at 4s. in the £. In 1798 properties valued at under 20s. per year were officially exempted from paying land tax.

From 1798, redemption by owners led to exoneration from the tax, and such properties and their owners were listed separately at the end of the assessment. Third parties could also purchase the tax from 1798.

Land Tax Assessments after 1832

From 1832, reform of the voting franchise meant that duplicates no longer had to be collected or retained in Quarter Sessions records. Those from 1832 onwards contain incomplete lists of owners and occupiers, as those redeeming the land tax with a lump sum no longer had to be included on the lists.

Source for this description:

Devon County Council Family History pages

The Glascoed Land Tax Assessments transcribed so far are:

1806 Land Tax Assessments 1823 Land Tax Assessments 1824 Land Tax Assessments 1829 Land Tax Assessments 1831 Land Tax Assessments