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Land Tax Assessments & Returns, including Scotland (Tax & Property)

Nature of Source

Records from a tax levied year-by-year on all land held by landowners with an annual value of more than 20 shillings. The surviving documents consist of assessments and returns and show the owners of real estate in each parish, organised by county, hundred and then parish. The tax replaced a number of levies and subsidies most notably the Hearth Tax. From 1772, the returns were altered to include not just the owners but all occupiers/tenants of land and property in the parish with the exception of paupers.

Most documents survive from 1780 to 1832, a period when the returns were used to establish a person's entitlement to vote (see Poll Books) and were in effect electoral registers. From 1780, duplicate copies were lodged with Clerk of the Peace and are now found amongst Quarter Session records housed in County Record Offices. Therefore owners and tenants not subject to the tax should appear. Few records exist after 1832 following the Reform Act which widened the voting franchise and introduced electoral registers so the necessity to record land holdings diminished. Voting arrangements in Boroughs were different so no returns were made for these areas. By 1813 about one third of land was no longer subject to the tax and therefore does not appear in the returns.

From 1788 land owners were able to commute their tax payments into a one off payment but their names were still recorded each year. As part of the process a near complete listing of all occupiers and owners for the whole country was compiled in 1798 and can be found at The National Archives in series IR 23. Those that commuted their tax can be found in IR 22 and IR 24. Commutation was made compulsory in 1949 and the tax finally abolished in 1963. Roman Catholics were forced to pay double the rate from 1693 until Catholic emancipation in 1831.

Unfortunately very little transcription or indexing work has been undertaken and the records in county record offices are often found in bundles which makes searching for names an onerous task. Often the records fail to provide any name or description of the property and often fail to identify all the occupiers. Caution is needed as sometimes headings were omitted with the clerks reversing the names of proprietors and occupiers.

In Scotland a land tax was levied from 1667 until the introduction of Valuation Rolls in1855. The surviving records recorded the value of land for each parish together with the names of the owners. The records are now held at the National Records of Scotland in the Exchequer series. However, very few returns exist and those that do only include a very small percentage of the population as so few people owned landed property. The usefulness of the records are also undermined as the returns do not list occupiers or tenants.

See also
House Histories
Land and Property Records including Title Deeds
Rate Books
Return of Owners of Land
Valuation Office Field Books & Maps
Valuation Rolls & Stent Rolls (Scotland)

Where Found

County Record Offices (Duplicates lodged with the Clerks of the Peace-1780-1832. Pre 1780 assessments can be found in Quarter Session records, estate papers and parish records)
The National Archives (IR 23, Land Tax Redemption Office: Quotas and Assessments including an enumeration of all occupiers and owners of property in England and Wales; IR 22, Parish Books of Redemptions; IR 24, Registers of Redemption Certificates)
Guildhall Library (City of London records)
ScotlandsPeople Centre (The ScotlandsPeople Centre is the official government resource for family history research. Holding include: Exchequer Records and Taxation Accounts for records on land tax. ScotlandsPeople Centre is a partnership between the National Records of Scotland and the Court of the Lord Lyon. The National Records of Scotland was created on 1 April 2011 by the amalgamation of the National Archives of Scotland and General Register Office for Scotland)

Period Covered

1693 - 1963

Genealogical Value

The names of owners; The names of tenants and occupiers are listed between 1772-1832; The name and parish address of the property; The rental value and amount payable. Useful for house histories.

Further References

Chapman, Colin. Pre-1841 Censuses & Population Listings in the British Isles: Lochin Publishing, 2002 (Preview available from Google Books) Buy Now on Amazon

Gibson, Jeremy & Medlycott, Mervyn & Mills, Dennis. Land and Window Tax Assessments. 2nd ed.: Federation of Family History Societies, 1998


Munby, Lionel M. & Thompson, Kathryn (eds) Short Guides to Records: First Series-Guides 1-24: The Historical Association, 1994


Oates, Jonathan. Tracing Your Ancestors from 1066 to 1837: Pen and Sword Books, 2012


Unwin, R. W. Search Guide to the English Land Tax: West Yorkshire County Record Office, 1982


Ward, Reginald. The English Land Tax in the Eighteenth Century: Oxford University Press, 1953


Websites (Land Tax Assessments for the City Of London at Guildhall Library) (The National Archives Podcast: The Land Tax 1692-1963) (Devon Archives and Local Studies Research Guides: Land Tax Records)
(Land Tax Assessments including a Handlist of Land Tax Assessments at Cambridgeshire Archives) (Land Tax Assessment Records) (London Metropolitan Archives Information Leaflet Number 9: Land Tax Assessments For London And Middlesex) (TNA Guide: Land Tax Assessment) (Online store selling land tax assessments from a variety of suppliers) (National Records of Scotland: Research Guides: Exchequer Records) (National Records of Scotland: Research Guides: Taxation Records) (ScotlandsPeople Guide: Property ownership, renting and occupancy) (Taxation records, Scotland) (Land Records in Scotland by Dr Bruce Durie)
(The Dictionary of the Scots Language: Electronic editions of the Older Scottish Tongue [DOST] and the Scottish National Dictionary [SND]) (Scottish Language Dictionaries: The nation's resource for the Scots language) (Translate from Scots to English)

Online Databases

Online Catalogues (Listing of online catalogues for the partial whereabouts of records including Access to Archives [A2A])
(Gloucestershire, England, Land Tax Records, 1713-1833) (UK, Land Tax Redemption, 1798. The records list names of owners and occupants of property in England and Wales that was subject to the national land tax extracted from series IR 23 held at The National Archives)
(London Land Tax Records, 1692-1932. This database contains land tax records for various areas in London from the years 1692 through 1932, produced in association with the London Metropolitan Archives)
(Dorset Records: Land Tax Returns, 1780-1832. Provided in association with the Dorset History Centre)
(Warwickshire Land Tax, 1773-1830. This database contains land tax assessment records for both landowners and tenants produceed in association with Warwickshire County Record Office)
(Surrey, Land Tax Records, 1780-1832. This collection contains land tax books from Surrey, England. Records list all households in the area, who occupied the house, who owned the house, the name or situation or the property, and how much tax was collected) (Federation of Family History Societies data for Billingshurst, Sussex Land Tax, 1780-1832) (Cheshire Land Tax Assessments, 1778-1832; Kent Land Tax Assessments, 1689-1832)
(Westminster, Poor Law and Parish Administration. The database contains over 1.7 million records from the poor law and parish administration records. The records cover Parish apprentices, Bastardy bonds, Settlement examinations, Paupers outdoor relief, Land tax and valuations and Workhouse admission records)
(The Cheshire Collection: Land Tax Records 1778-1832. The original records are held by the Cheshire Archives and Local Studies) (Devon, Plymouth & West Devon Land Tax and Valuation Records 1897-1949. This collection of land tax and valuation records comes from the Plymouth & West Devon Record Office. The records will provide you with a location of your ancestor’s home as well as a description) (Greenwich Land Tax Assessments 1830)
Derbyshire Genealogy (Unstone, Dronfield, Derbyshire Parish Land Tax Assessments 1801-1806, 1809-1813) (Derbyshire Genealogy: Killamarsh, Eckington Parish, Derbyshire, Land Tax Assessments 1801-1806, 1811, 1813;     Eckington and Renishaw, Derbyshire, Land Tax Assessments 1780, 1801-1806, 1810-1813: Troway, Eckington Parish, Derbyshire, Land Tax Assessments 1780, 1801-1806, 1810-1813: Mosborough, Derbyshire Land Tax Assessments 1785-1813, 1829-1832)
(ScotlandsPlaces: Inhabited House Tax Rolls, 1778-1798. The tax rolls include all houses valued over £5 per annum with the names of the householders) (Online Parish Clerks: The project is run by volunteers who collect and transcribe parish records for a chosen Parish and make the data available for free online. The range of information covered includes Apprentice Indentures, Census Returns, Parish Registers, Bastardy Bonds, Settlement Certificates & Removal Orders, Militia/Muster records, Directories, Land Tax Assessments, Workhouse/Poor Law records, Churchwardens Accounts, Tithe Apportionments, Wills, Poor Rate Payers, Lay Subsidies, Protestation Returns, MIs, Church Memorials and Hearth Tax records. Old parish maps and photos are often included)