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Northamptonshire Hearth Tax Abstracts  1673-1674  

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About Northamptonshire Hearth Tax Abstracts 1673-1674
This dataset is a complete index to the Northamptonshire Hearth Tax lists 1673–1674 and includes all the legible details relating to individuals that can be found in the original records for the whole county.

The Hearth Tax returns of the second half of the 17th century are a major source of information for local and family historians and provide lists of names midway between the period of surname formation in the Middle Ages and the present day.

Hearth Tax records can provide firm evidence of a family’s residence at a certain place in time. For those seeking ‘lost’ ancestors the distribution of a surname in a specific area may be determined very easily and the location of a particular family quickly revealed. It is also invaluable when researching a specific place, undertaking house history, population movements, patterns of employment, and early modern local government jurisdictions.

The number of hearths in a household is also a clue to a family’s wealth and status.
The History
With a need to raise revenue after the English Civil War, the Interregnum, and the restoration of Charles II as King, it was decided in 1662 to levy hearth money (or chimney money). This was a property tax on buildings worth more than 20 shillings a year in rent. The number of hearths, fires and stoves there were in a building determined the tax due. However there were some exemptions. For instance, people who received poor relief did not have to pay hearth tax. Some industrial buildings were exempt but not forges, locksmiths or bakers’ ovens.

The tax, which was collected twice yearly – (on Lady Day and Michaelmas Day) - was 2 shillings per hearth per year. It was a very unpopular tax because the tax commissioners had for the first time the right to come into the home - to count the hearths. Attempts to avoid paying by blocking up a chimney could, if discovered, be rewarded with a doubling of the tax.

The tax was collected according to the administrative units of the time, namely counties, hundreds, parishes and townships; the last of these usually included only part of a parish. In the cities, towns and boroughs collection was often recorded by wards whose boundaries did not necessarily follow those of the parishes.
Locating the original documents
The original Hearth Tax returns are held at the National Archives Kew. Full details (including costs) on obtaining a copy of the original document can be found at: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/recordcopying/

For more information see About Northamptonshire Hearth Tax Abstracts 1673–1674