Almost two years after the Hearth Tax Online website was taken down after a cyber attack, the 17th century tax records have returned online with a new website called Hearth Tax Digital.
Launched at an event in London on Tuesday 2 July, the new website enables researchers to explore records held for Durham, York, parts of Yorkshire and Westmorland as well as the City of London and Middlesex, with other areas, including Bristol, Essex, Kent and Surrey, in the pipeline.
The Hearth Tax was introduced in 1662 to help fill the depleted coffers of King Charles II after the restoration of the monarchy and ran in England and Wales until 1689 (Scotland’s Hearth Tax was collected between 1691 and 1695 and surviving records can be viewed at ScotlandsPlaces).
The rate was one shilling for every hearth, collected twice a year, with various amendments and exemptions that developed over time. Records for many areas are fairly complete making the Hearth Tax the nearest family historians have to a nationwide census for the 17th century.
The head of household was noted alongside the number of taxable hearths and whether money had been collected or not. In later records the names of those exempt are also included making Hearth Tax records useful for tracing poorer ancestors.
Project Director Dr Andrew Wareham said, “We are delighted to share this resource with family and local historians as well as the academic community and we hope to see it grow over the coming years.”
The site is run and maintained by the Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities (University of Graz, Austra) and the Centre for Hearth Tax Research at Roehampton University and supported by the British Academy.