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Taxation Records for Family and Local History

Taxation records can be useful resources for family and local historians. Many pre-date electoral registers and census records, and they generally contain names and addresses as well as the value of local properties.

However, they are not generally indexed, so navigating them can be more time consuming than searching census records and electoral registers – and the amount of information they give can sometimes be limited.

We have 3 main categories of tax-related records here: records relating to the land tax, records relating to rates, and records relating to the 1910 Finance Act.

All of these records relate to property, so they are generally only useful for people who are searching for someone by address, not by name.

The records can searched on our online catalogue.

There are over a thousand tax-related documents in our collections dating from 1700 to the 1960s, so this is intended as a general overview.

Overview

  • The Land Tax was introduced in 1692 and abolished in 1963.
  • It was levied on land with an annual rental value of more than 20 shillings
  • The most extensive surviving records are from 1780-1832, because during this time they were used to assess a man’s right to vote.
  • Records contain information about landowners and sometimes occupiers
     

Records

  • Land tax assessments were produced annually or quarterly.
  • They are bound volumes which contain the names of landowners and sometimes the names of occupiers
  • When occupiers are named, it is usually only the ‘head of the household’ – so not every resident of a parish will be listed
  • Generally, they are not indexed and do not contain street names. They are arranged by parish.

 

Record series by local authority area

These are the record series – for specific volumes consult the catalogue.

Bethnal Green (hamlet/ parish/ borough)

Land tax                                  1744-1824       L/MBG/C/1

Bow (parish)

Land tax                                  1741-1825       L/SMS/B/1

Bromley (parish)

Land tax                                  1744-1825       L/BSL/B/1

Poplar (hamlet / parish)

Land tax                                  1705-1825       L/ASP/E/1

We have no land tax records for Stepney.

Records held elsewhere

Overview

  • Rates are the longest running of all levies in England (1601-1990), and were the predecessors of the Council Tax
  • They were a local tax on property, paid by the occupier
  • Other names you’ll see include:
    • ‘Poor rates’, as the rates were originally levied to pay for poor relief
    • ‘Church rates’, as additional rates were levied to pay for church upkeep
    • ‘Domestic rates’, to distinguish them from business-related taxes or ‘business rates’

 

Records

  • Rate books and valuation lists were created to document the value of local properties for the purposes of taxation
  • These are generally bound volumes containing:
    • street addresses
    • names of occupiers
    • names of owners (sometimes)
    • property values.
  • Many people paid the rates - not just very wealthy men. However, if people were too poor to pay the rates, they aren’t included in rate book: information might be found in poor relief records instead.
  • The records were created by different bodies:
    • From 1601-1869:
      • Property evaluations were compiled by local parishes or poor law unions.
      • They are usually called ‘Rate Books’ in our catalogue and were compiled by the local parish or (latterly) poor law union.
    • From 1870-1947:
      • Property evaluations legally had to be compiled by the local rating authority every five years.
      • They are usually called ‘Valuation Lists’ in our catalogue and are compiled by the local parish, poor law union, or Borough Council.
    • From 1948 onwards:
      • Property evaluations were handled by the Inland Revenue.
      • They are called ‘Valuation Lists’ in our catalogue and are catalogued under C/INL (for Inland Revenue records).

 

Record series by local authority area

These are the record series – for specific volumes consult the catalogue.

Bethnal Green (hamlet/ parish/ borough)

Valuation lists                         1890-1900       L/MBG/C/10

Valuation returns                    1905-1935       L/BGM/C/1

Valuation lists                         1905-1935       L/BGM/C/2

Valuation lists                         1962-1963       C/INL/C/3

Bow (parish)

Poor rate books                       1773-1867       L/SMS/B/2

Church and Churchyard Rate  1810-1873       L/SMS/B/3

Conjunct Rate Books               1860-1899       L/SMS/B/6

Valuation lists                         1861-1905       L/SMS/B/7

Bromley (parish)

Poor Rate Books                      1783-1836       L/BSL/B/2

Poplar (hamlet / parish)

Poor Rate Books                      1708-1840       L/ASP/E/3

Church Rate Books                  1799-1868       L/ASP/E/5

Conjunct Rate Books               1813-1881       L/ASP/E/6

Valuation lists                         1818-1905       L/ASP/E/8

Poplar (borough)

Valuation lists                         1910-1935       L/PMB/D/1

Stepney (borough)

Spitalfields rate book              1700                L/CCS/4/1
(one volume only)

Valuation lists                         1935                L/SMB/C/1

Valuation lists                         1962                C/INL/C/5

General Rate Books                 1958-1962       L/SMB/C/2

Records held elsewhere: The LMA hold some duplicate valuation lists for Middlesex 1910-1945.

Overview

  • The Finance Act 1910 imposed a tax on the profits made from sales of property in England and Wales, if the profit arose from public amenities (such as roads or drainage).
  • The tax was withdrawn in 1920.
  • The Inland Revenue undertook surveys and valuations of most property in England and Wales before the tax was withdrawn

Records

  • We hold the valuation books here, catalogued under C/INL/B.
  • They contain details of owner, occupier, usage and extent. The address of the owner is sometimes given.
  • In our catalogue almost every record contains a comprehensive street index, with the exception of some of the Stepney volumes: Mile End (Centre), Mile End (East), Whitechapel. These volumes have a handwritten street index at the front of the volume.

 

Record series by local authority area

Bethnal Green (borough)

Valuation lists (Finance Act)   1910                C/INL/B/1

Poplar (borough)

Valuation lists (Finance Act)   1910                C/INL/B/2       

Stepney (borough)

Valuation lists (Finance Act)   1910                C/INL/B/3

 

Records held elsewhere

The National Archives have extensive material relating to the Finance Act 1910, including:

  • Plans: Marked up OS maps showing the locations and boundaries of the Valuation Districts.
  • Field books: Bound books containing the information gathered in the survey, sometimes more detailed than our valuation lists.

For more information about these, see: https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/valuation-office-survey-land-value-ownership-1910-1915/

Mark Herber, Ancestral Trails: The Complete Guide to British Genealogy and Family History (LC14591), esp. 528-541, ‘Oaths, Taxation and Insurance Records’ and 306-307, ‘Maps, Land Registration and Property Records'

Lionel M. Munby, ed. Short Guides to Records (LC13008)

Jonathan Oates, Tracing Your London Ancestors (LC14630), esp. 62-69, ‘Taxing Londoners’

London Lives 1690-1800, website, https://www.londonlives.org/static/ParishRelief.jsp

London Metropolitan Archives Information Leaflet Number 9: Land Tax Assessments for London and Middlesex https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/things-to-do/london-metropolitan-archives/visitor-information/Documents/09-land-tax-assessments-for-london-and-middlesex.pdf

London Metropolitan Archives Research Guide 4: Guide to Poor Law records for London and Middlesex including records held at LMA and other institutions. https://search.lma.gov.uk/SCRIPTS/MWIMAIN.DLL/305487920/2/3/33?RECORD&UNION=Y

The National Archives guide: Land use, value and ownership: Valuation Office Survey 1910-1915 https://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/valuation-office-survey-land-value-ownership-1910-1915/