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Woodborough’s Heritage

Woodborough, a Sherwood Forest Village, recorded in Domesday



Hearth Taxes levied on Woodborough dwellings - 1662-1689



What was the Hearth Tax? To our 17th  century ancestors it was an offensive tax that brought the taxman right into the most private part of their homes: the fireplace or hearth, the centre of family life. The tax years were between 1662 and 1689.


Following the Restoration of the monarchy with King Charles II in 1660 after the end of the ‘Commonwealth’ ruled over by Oliver Cromwell and, after his death, his son, Richard (1649-1660) Parliament calculated that the Royal Household needed an annual income of £1,200,000. In 1662 Parliament, therefore, imposed a Hearth Tax, also known as hearth money, chimney tax or chimney money. This continued until 1689 and does provide a useful census of heads of families.


Every occupier was required to pay a tax of two shillings a year for each hearth or stove in their property, being collected half-yearly at Lady Day (25th March) and Michaelmas (29th September) by the ‘petty constable’, who had the right of entry if in any doubt. The constable would receive two pence in the pound for their considerable trouble.


There were, however, various exceptions. Poorer people did not pay and were not listed; examples being those who did not pay church or poor rate, or who received poor relief. However, there would be no exception if these were more than two hearths. However, in 1663 all hearths were listed, whether taxed or not, these numbers being estimated as much as 30 to 50 percent. In 1664 local collectors were replaced by ‘sub-collectors’ called ‘chimney men’ who went round with the constable.


The number of hearths will roughly indicate the size of the property and thus one’s position in society, i.e. one hearth equalling a cottage with two rooms; two hearths equals four rooms, three hearths equals five rooms, four hearths equals seven rooms. Those properties up to seven hearths would suggest craftsmen, tradesmen and merchants. More than seven hearths indicate the well-to-do (gentry) in their mansions.


A detailed Hearth Tax of 1674 does exist for Woodborough and the summarised details are as follows. 33 properties surveyed and charged. No uncharged properties were listed so an accurate assessment of the village population is difficult. A total of 80 hearths were taxed made up by:-


A list  is as follows, dwelling occupants with the number of hearths for their properties for the year 1674, there are similar records for other years during the period that this tax was collected:-

Dwelling owner or tenant

Number of hearths

Dwelling owner or tenant

Number of hearths

Mr Foster

6

Richard Gebb

1

Elizabeth Cliffe

3

Matthew Wild

1

William Pickard

2

Francis Gebb

2

Richard Bate

1

Dorothy Morley

1

Joseph Johnson

2

Mountague Wood Esq

6

John Lees

3

William Widnell

2

William Harrop

1

Widow Lees

2

Richard Glover

1

Richard Buck

2

William Johnson

2

Mark Hather

2

Richard Trolley

2

Thomas Lees

3

William Kempe

2

George Snodin

4

Christopher Alvey

3

Mr Lacock Esq

10

Joseph Hopkins

3

Richard Wheeler

1

George Southward

2

Nicholas Lees

1

John Alvey Snr

3

Francis Pepper

1

Robert Scothern

1

Joseph Gebb

2



Jonathon Soresby

1

Acknowledgement:


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What do we know about the occupations of those villagers who inhabited Woodborough during the period of the Hearth Tax. Agriculture was the main pursuit. The greater part of the village land consisted of large green fields divided into strips. The three Manors had already enclosed about one third of the land and needed labourers to work it. The latter were classed as labourers or cottagers but still had a little land surrounding their homes to keep them self-sufficient in basic foods.


The Yeomen farmers were the most prosperous usually caring for about 60 acres of land, and as well as having strips in the Open Fields they had also consolidated some of the strips into small fields. The Husbandmen relied almost entirely on the purchase of the strips with their sheep and cattle grazing in the town meadow or on the fallows.


Tradesmen had their place too, although they had their strips in the open fields to help out with food for themselves. The tradesmen, according to their occupations given in marriage licences, wills and inventories, were varied but provided the services one would see as necessary at the time. Some examples of the codes shown below.  

Robert Ousell was the carpenter. Jonathon Soresby - blacksmith. Robert Scotherne - butcher.

Francis Pepper - cordwinder (shoe maker). Nathaniel Wild - chandler. William Lees - clothier.

Christopher Wild - weavers. Mark Hather - yeaoman and maltster. George Rimington - miller. John Lees - F.W.K.


H

house or hall

P

parlour

K

kitchen

D

dairy

C

chamber

B

buttery

Bh

brew house

Kh

Kiln house

Sh

shop

Ce

cellar

Sc

store/chamber

Cc

corn chamber

Mc

mens/maids chamber

Cl

Closet

C/h

chamber over hall

C/p

chamber over parlour

The list below, which is undated but is thought to pre-date the 1674, gives a greater amount of information about occupations, values of inventories and rooms. For details about the rooms see the above explanation:


Name


Occupation


Hearths


Value of

 

 inventry



Rooms see key

Nathaniel Foster

Gent

6

286

12

6

H. 2P. K. D. Mc.Sc.CcBh.C/p. C/k.

Nathaniel Foster

Gent

6

349

18

4

Not recorded

James Cliffe

Husbandman

3

65

4

10

H.2P.K.C.

Elizabeth Cliffe

Widow

3

12

13

2

P.C. (part house)

William Pickard

Yeoman

3

43

7

4

H.P.K.D.B.C/h.C/p/.C/k.Cr

John Lees

SS. FWK

3

110

17

4

H.P.C.L.C/h.C/p.K.C/k.D.Sc.Cc.e.G.

William Harrope

Husbandman

1

31

6

8

H.P.B.K.C.

William Kempe

Yeoman

2

160

4

10

H.2P/.K.C.Mc.Sc.Ce.

Christopher Alvey

Yeoman/Husbandman

02/03

114

10

0

H.P.K.B.C/h.C/k

Jonathon Soresby

Blacksmith

1

26

15

0

H.P.Sh

Robert Scothorne

Butcher

1

178

17

0

OH.2NH.2C.2P.K.Sc.

Francis Jebb

Husbandman

2

35

12

0

H.2P.R.B.K.C.Sc

William Widnell

Husbandman

2

25

13

6

H.P.B.K.C.

Widow Lees

Widow

2

6

5

0

H.C. (part house)

Mark Hather

Yeoman/maltster

3

275

6

4

H.2P.K.C/h. C/k.Sc.Ce.C/Ce

Mr Lacock (Philip)

Gent

10

475

17

2

Not recorded

Mr Lacock (Charles)

Gent

10

590

12

4

Not recorded

Richard Wheeler

Husbandman

1

128

5

4

H.2P.K.B.c/h.c/p.Ce.

Nicholas Lees

Husbandman

1

210

16

4

H.P.K.C.Kh.Sc.

Nicholas Lees

Yeoman

1

150

14

2

H.2P.K.D.C/p.Sc.

Dorothy Morley

Weaver

1




H.P.sh.