Hearth Tax Rolls

The Hearth Tax was introduced by the government of Charles II in 1662 at a time of serious fiscal emergency. The original Act of Parliament was revised in 1663 and 1664, and collection continued until the tax was finally repealed by William and Mary in 1689. Under the terms of the grant, each liable householder was to pay one shilling for each hearth within their property for each collection of the tax. Payments were due twice annually, at Michaelmas (29 September) and Lady Day (25 March), starting at Michaelmas 1662.

For centuries, the hearth was considered an integral part of a home, often its central or most important feature. For many of the poorest families in the land, this was another hardship put upon them by a government far removed from their every day lives, but a tax which had to be paid and was taken by one means or another.

However, the administration of the tax was extremely complex, and assessment and collection methods changed radically over time. As a result, the majority of the surviving documents relate to the periods when the tax was administered directly by royal officials, who returned their records to the Exchequer, namely the periods 1662-1666 and 1669-1674. Outside these periods, the collection of the tax was 'farmed out' to private tax collectors, who paid a fixed sum to the government in return for the privilege of collecting the tax. These farmers were not required to send their assessments into the Exchequer, although a few returns from these periods do survive.

See our Harth Tax records for more information on how this affected the people of Lurgan.

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