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Chrishall Hearth Tax

by | Oct 13, 2017 | Written Records | 2 comments

brewhouse gents farm chrishall

(Picture above: the old brewhouse at Gents Farm, now Broad Green Farm).

Forasmuch as nothing conduceth more to the peace and prosperity of a nation, and the protection of every single person therein, than that the public revenue thereof may be in some measure proportioned to the public charges and expenses, we therefore, your Majesty’s most loyal and obedient subjects the Commons assembled in Parliament, having duly considered the premises, do give and grant unto your most excellent Majesty, your heirs and successors, the rate and duties hereinafter mentioned, and do most humbly beseech your Majesty that it may be enacted, and be it enacted … that from and after the five and twentieth day of March in the year of our Lord God one thousand six hundred and sixty and two every dwelling and other house and edifice, and all lodgings and chambers in the Inns of Court, Inns of Chancery, colleges and other societies that are or hereafter shall be erected within the kingdom of England, dominion of Wales and town of Berwick-upon-Tweed (other than such as in this Act are hereafter excepted and declared), shall be chargeable, and by his present Act be and are charged, with the annual payment to the king’s Majesty, his heirs and successors, for every fire-hearth and stove within every such house, edifice, chambers and lodgings as aforesaid, the sum of two shillings by the year, to be paid yearly and every year at the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel [1. 29 September] and the Feast of the Annunciation of the blessed Virgin St. Mary[2. 25 March], by even and equal portions, the first payment thereof to be paid upon the Feast day of St. Michael the Archangel which shall be in the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and sixty and two…

And so it was that the inhabitants of Chrishall in 1662 heard that they were going to have to pay a tax on every hearth in their house.  Finding at least another two shillings for tax in 1662 was obviously not good news and must have been a struggle for some people, but the good news for us is that it means there are records from this time.  They are sketchy, just showing a name and the number of hearths but it’s another clue to add to the history of the village at that time.  The church records were just starting so we have the first few births, marriages and deaths being officially recorded and here the curtain of time is parted just a little more to start to reveal what the houses were like of the people who were coming to church.

Some of the names that appear here persist through the years.  Coleman, Greenhill and Potterell; Abrahams and James are all familiar.  I think we can probably take some of the first names into a more known style: ‘Johes’ I think would be John, ‘Robtus’, Robert, ‘Willus’, William for example.  But please correct me if I am wrong there.

So here are the Hearth Tax records for Chrishall from that first collection in 1662:

Abraham Franciscus 01
Abraham Johes 01
Aylett Johes 02
Beale Thomas 01
Blowse Thomas 04
Brice Stephus 01
Chessey Thomas 03
Coldham — vid 01
Coldham Robtus 03
Coleman Ricus 02

Mowle Henr 07
Mowle Willus 04
(Mowle) ‘Idem Johes Mowle in vac domo’ 03
Moyses Jacobus 01
Page Willus 01
Parker Johes 01
Pluckrose Mathews 01
Potterell Henr sen 03
Potterell Henr jun 04
(Potterell, Henr) Idem in duabus vac domi bus 02

Coleman Robtus 02
Coleman Roger 02
Cross Jeremia 01
Debnam Johes 03
Doegood Johes 01
Fortescue Robtus 03
Gibbs Franciscus 02
Greenehill Seth 01
Griffin – vid 01
Hopper Ricus 02

Potterell Johes 01
Read Georgius 01
(Read) Idem Georgius 03
Rowley Michael 05
Runnam Willus 01
Rutland Stephus 01
Scott Johes 01
Sherman Roger 08
Smith Thomas 01
Stern Thomas 03

James Johes Ar 05
Jegins Thomas 01
King – vid 01
King Robtus 03
Lambert Johes 02
Lucas Johes 02
Marshall Willus 01
Mathew Johes 02
Miles Ricus 04
Miller Johes 01

Stock Johes 05
(Stock) Idem Johes in Cottagis 01
Sutton Robtus 02
Thorne Willus 02
Watson Johes 02
Watson Willus 01
Woodcock Johes 01
Woodcock Thomas 01

Relief from the Hearth Tax came 27 years later in 1689 when the King graciously “… having been informed that the revenue of Hearth Money was grievous to the people, was pleased by his gracious message sent to the Commons assembled in Parliament to signify his pleasure either to agree to a regulation of it or to the taking it wholly away….”.  It was abolished and hearths were once more genuinely ‘heart warming’!  However the Window Tax was on the horizon…


  1. Alan Knight

    An excellent article and most helpful to me in my researches, Am I right in thinking the number after the name is the number of hearths in the village? Three of my ancestors that I know of feature in the list, ROBERT FORTESCUE, 03, JOHN LUCAS, 02, and JOHN MILLER, 01. I suppose this indicates their wealth at this time? So SHERMAN ROGER, 08 would have been the wealthiest? I think my FORTESCUE forefather came from a “Recusant” family so would not be popular among the village population, or is this just me being too clever?

    • Rosemarie Gant

      Hello Alan – I find the Hearth tax records fascinating – the fact that we know something about the people and their houses in the village from so long ago. Yes the number is the number of hearths and yes it would indicate their wealth. So yes Roger Sherman would presumably have been the wealthiest. I’m not sure whether your Recusant relation would have been unpopular. It was the large number of people refusing to attend church that led to the building of the chapel in the village (we really need to get that history written up as it is another fascinating story) – so I think he was probably in good company!


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