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Poll Tax Including Scotland (Tax & Finance)

Nature of Source

Records from a tax levied on heads of population which sometimes listed the entire household including the children. The tax was technically a lay subsidy or income tax and was levied regardless of status and wealth. Parish officials collected and compiled lists of local residents over the age of 15 or 16 depending on which year the tax was levied.

In England the tax was levied in 1377, 1379, 1381, 1513, 1641, 1660, 1677, 1694 and 1698.
In Scotland the tax was levied in 1694, 1695 and 1698.

Unfortunately, very few lists have survived and the poor were exempt so they will not appear in the records. The returns can be especially useful for population counts and for surname distribution analysis. The tax levied in 1377 has one of the best complete collections of names. The tax was widely seen as unfair and proved an unpopular way of raising income and was the major contributory factor of the peasants revolt of 1381.

In Ireland, the Poll Tax ran from 1660 to 1698 and was levied on every person over the age of 12. Also consult the Subsidy Rolls which list the nobility, clergy and laity who paid a grant in aid to the King and Hearth Money Rolls.

Where Found

The National Archives (E 179, Exchequer: Particulars of Account and other records relating to Lay and Clerical Taxation)
County Record Offices
ScotlandsPeople Centre (The ScotlandsPeople Centre is the official government resource for family history research. Holding include Poll Tax rolls from Exchequer records. 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)
Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)
National Archives of Ireland

Period Covered

1377 - 1698

Genealogical Value

Name, occupation and parish address. Family relationships

Further References

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

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Dale, T Cyril. The Inhabitants of Westminster: 1935 (Extracted from lay subsidy rolls 1625-1645 and available at the Society of Genealogists library. Other poll tax transcriptions by Cyril T. Dale are held at the Society of Genealogists library. Includes the poll tax of 1641)


Fenwick, Carolyn. The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381, Part 1: Bedfordshire-Leicestershire: OUP/British Academy, 1998 (Preview available from Google Books)


Fenwick, Carolyn. The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381, Part 2: Lincolnshire-Westmorland: OUP/British Academy, 2001


Fenwick, Carolyn. The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379, and 1381, Part 3 Wiltshire-Yorkshire: OUP/British Academy, 2005


Gibson, Jeremy. The Hearth Tax, Other Later Stuart Tax Lists and the Association Oath Rolls: Federation of Family History Societies, 1996


Jurkowski, Maureen & Smith, C & Crook, David. Lay Taxes in England and Wales, 1188-1688: PRO Publications, 1998


Schürer, Kevin & Arkell, Tom (eds). Surveying the People: the interpretation and use of document sources for the study of population in the later seventeenth century: Local Population Studies, 1992


Websites (Middle Ages Poll Tax, by Chris Nickson) (Public records: Subsidies and other taxes) (National Records of Scotland: Research Guides: Taxation Records with a county listing of the availability of Poll Tax rolls in Exchequer and other records) (National Records of Scotland: Research Guides: Exchequer Records) (Taxation in the 14th Century) (The Poll Tax Returns of 1377, 1379 and 1381) (Seventeenth Century Census Substitutes  including the Poll Tax)

Online Databases (E 179 database: Guide and catalogue descriptions of lay and clerical tax records in England and Wales held in series E 179 at The National Archives, searchable by place name, type of tax and year range. The database shows what tax lists have survived for each area with a reference for ordering the original document. Individual names are not recorded, although the existence of such names is highlighted. Each type of tax has explanatory notes. The database includes Lay Subsidy Rolls, the Hearth Tax and Poll Tax but does not include local assessments held in County Record Offices or those held in the British Library) (London Lives: St Botolph Aldgate Poll Tax Assessments, 1690-1698) (Some coverage containing indexes and images) (Some transcribed returns) (Poll tax rolls, 1694-1698. See website for coverage of other historical tax rolls)

Others published at a local level.

CD Roms

Scottish Genealogy Society (Transcription covering various towns and parishes including 'People and Poll Tax Lists of 1696')