Land Tax Assessments for London and Middlesex | London Metropolitan Archives

RESEARCH GUIDE

Land Tax Assessments for London and Middlesex

LMA Research Guide 9: Land Tax Assessments for London and Middlesex

Introduction

London Metropolitan Archives holds land tax assessments for the City of London, the county of Middlesex (including most Westminster parishes), and certain parishes in Kent and Surrey now in inner London. Almost all of these assessments have been digitised and made available on the Ancestry website. Please see the database titled London, England, Land Tax Records, 1692-1932.

Background

The first assessments of 1692-3 were made under the terms of 'An Act for granting to their Majesties an aid of four shillings in the pound for one year for carrying on a vigorous war against France'[4 William & Mary c.1, 1692/3]. The Act specified that real estate and personal property, that is buildings and moveable goods as well as land, were to be taxed. It nominated for each borough and county in England and Wales the local commissioners who were to supervise the assessments and local collection. The tax was voted annually, usually in the spring, until 1798 when it was transformed into a permanent tax but was redeemable on payment of a lump sum. It was levied on a number of different bases: as a pound rate between 1693 and 1696, as a 4 shillings assessment supplemented by a poll tax in 1697 and from 1698-1798 on the system whereby each county or borough was given a fixed sum to collect. In 1949 redemption became compulsory on property changing hands and in 1963 all unredeemed land tax was abolished. The assessors for each county are listed in the annual Acts of Parliament, until 1798. The sums collected for the counties of London and Middlesex (and the City of Westminster) appear, until at least 1760, to have been passed to the Chamber of London and subsequently to the Exchequer.

Information recorded in the assessments

The only information recorded consistently is:

  • The name of the owner and/or occupier of each premises
  • The amount at which each person was assessed in respect of his/her property, personal and real

In addition the following details may or may not be included:

  • The name of the parish, street or precinct (a subdivision of a City of London ward) in which the real property is located
  • Street numbers
  • A description of the real property, e.g. house, stable, warehouse
  • Annual rental value of the real property
  • A breakdown of the assessment on real and personal property

Problems in the use of assessments

  • The main difficulties stem from the inconsistent way in which the assessments were compiled.
  • Only heads of households, as either landlord or tenant, are listed in the assessments.
  • For much of the period street and precinct names are not recorded in any systematic way.
  • Some numbers which look like street numbers are in fact assessment numbers.
  • The order of entries depended on the route taken by the assessor which varied as he moved from main street to side street to alley and back to main street. This means that entries for a single street are often spread over two or three pages.
  • Few descriptions are included of the real property being assessed before the mid 19th century.
  • Before the advent of printed returns in c.1815, the layout and content of assessments is highly idiosyncratic. Clerks occasionally failed to put a heading to, or reversed the usual order of, the columns of names and figures. It is not always clear whether landlord or tenant is named as the 'inhabitant' and this information is sometimes out of date.
  • The assessment of a tax on personal income soon disappeared from the estimates. By the early 18th century most tax collected related to land, hence its popular title, the 'Land Tax'. However, where assessments are recorded as a single column of undifferentiated figures, it is worth remembering that an assessment of moveable property continued to be an element in the amount until 1833.
  • In most cases no revaluation of the property was made after 1698. Thereafter both rentals and assessments become increasingly inaccurate as guides to the actual value of the property.
  • After 1798 it was possible to avoid further yearly instalments of Land Tax by paying a lump sum. From 1798 therefore the returns tend to become less reliable as registers of local inhabitants as the assessors lost interest in the owners of 'redeemed' land (but see also section below concerning Middlesex)

Records at LMA

Please see the following resources for a list of our holdings:

  • London Generations family history database on our website - Arranged by modern London Borough
  • LMA Catalogue - Available online and on the open shelves at LMA
  • London Rate Assessments and Inhabitants Lists in Guildhall Library and the Corporation of London Records Office (Corporation of London, 2nd ed. rev., 1968) - Copy available from staff in the Information Area

City of London

The following records are available on Ancestry:

  • City of London Land Tax Assessments, 1692-1694 and 1703-1831 (CLC/525/MS11316/001-398)
  • City of London Land Tax Assessments, 1832-1930 (CLC/525/MS11316/399-522)

The assessments have been bound alphabetically by ward, and for each ward they are grouped by parish, precinct or liberty. Within this grouping they are arranged chronologically. It should be noted that between 1703 and 1838 each year's assessments occupy three volumes.

In the assessments the boundaries of the precincts usually correspond to the portions of the different parishes in each ward. There are however numerous exceptions - for clarification, see John Smart's A short account of the several wards...1741 (a copy is available at Guildhall Library).

An index to streets and wards is available from the Information Desk.

The following records are not available online and must be viewed at LMA:

  • Land tax assessments in City parish records - please see London Rate Assessments and Inhabitants Lists
  • Assessments and accounts for the City of London ca. 1696-1760 in the records of the Chamberlain's Department (COL/CHD/LA/02).

Middlesex

The following records are available on Ancestry:

  • Middlesex Sessions: Duplicate land tax assessments for most parishes in Middlesex for 1767 (incomplete) and 1780-1832 (MR/PLT)
  • Westminster Sessions: Duplicate land tax assessments for most Westminster parishes 1767, 1781 (incomplete), 1797-1832 (WR/PLT) Ancestry
  • Land tax commissioners for the Tower Division of Middlesex, 1729-1930 (CLC/525/MS03640, MS05285, MS05387-05390, MS05392, MS06001-06020)
  • Land tax assessments until 1932 for some parishes in the London Boroughs of Westminster, Barnet, Islington and Haringey (LMA/4263)

The following records are not available online and must be viewed at LMA:

  • Land tax assessments and accounts for Middlesex ca. 1696-1760 in records of the Chamberlain's Department(COL/CHD/LA/02)
  • Assessments for the Brentford Division 1917-1949 (TC/B), Gore Division 1801-1949 (TC/G) and Spelthorne Division 1934-1946 (TC/S)
  • Land tax assessments post 1932

Kent

The following records are available on Ancestry:

Land tax assessments (LMA/4263) for Erith (1868-1869), Charlton (1868-1897, with gaps), Eltham (1793, 1799-1806, 1837, 1857, 1869-1910), Kidbrooke (1857-1860, 1868-1910), Mottingham (1734-1735, 1763-1767, 1870-1892), Plumstead (1725, 1747, 1779, 1782-1783, 1788, 1857-1860, 1868-1910), Woolwich (1735-1737, 1747, 1757, 1762-1763, 1774, 1868-1910)

For duplicate land tax assessments for Kent returned to the clerk of the peace until 1832 as a record of those qualified to vote please contact Kent Archives

Surrey

The following records are available on Ancestry:

Land tax assessments (LMA/4263) for Clapham (1860-1910), Lambeth (1804-1915, with gaps), Newington (1807-1930), Southwark, Christ Church (1815-1936), Southwark, Liberty of the Clink (1804-1935), Southwark, St George the Martyr, St John, St Olave, St Saviour and St Thomas (1798-1912)

For duplicate land tax assessments for Surrey returned to the clerk of the peace until 1832 as a record of those qualified to vote please contact the Surrey History Centre.

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