Great Britain Historical Geographical Information System (GBHGIS)

2. hearth tax, 1664: surrey

The Hearth Tax returns of the 1660s and 1670s are another important historical source. It was levied twice a year at Lady Day and Michaelmas and was based on taxing each hearth at a rate of 2 shillings a year payable in two instalments. In collaboration with Prof. Margaret Spufford and Dr. Susan Rose of the Hearth Tax Centre at the Roehampton Institute, London we have been attempting to systematically map the Hearth Tax at parish level.

This work is still at an early stage but below we have an example of the location of one hearth households in Surrey on Lady Day, 1664. In this case all the data have been assigned to parishes, largely as a result of work done at the Roehampton Institute. On the map Southwark is unshaded as it was treated differently from the rest of the county, the other unshaded areas have no data as a result of damage to the original manuscript.

Having only one hearth was seen as a sign of relative poverty, this map therefore suggests that the area near London was relatively affluent while the areas further away, particularly in the south west of the county were relatively impoverished.

Hearth tax sampler