Cumberland Lay Subsidy Fifteenth and Tenth, 6 Edw. III. Originally published by T Wilsom, Kendal, 1912.
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This Volume contains particulars of the account of Robert de Barton and Clement de Skelton, the Commissioners appointed by the Crown for the raising of a subsidy of a fifteenth and a tenth granted to the King, Edward III., by the laity of Cumberland in the 6th year of his reign.
The following extract from a "Guide to the Public Records," by S. R. Scargill Bird, explains more fully the nature of the records of which this forms, so far as Cumberland is concerned, the first of the series: "Subsidy Rolls (Exchequer K.R.), Henry III. to William and Mary.—These are divided into 'Clerical' and 'Lay,' and consist of the Rolls of Accounts, Assessments, etc., of subsidies granted to the King by the Clergy in Convocation or the Laity in Parliament. The most ancient forms of direct taxation were the Hidage (fn. 1) and Carucage (fn. 2) assessed on such lands as were not held by military service, the Tallages (fn. 3) paid by the Kings' Ancient Demesnes and by the Cities and Towns, and the Scutages (fn. 4) or compositions for non-performance of military service, which at first merely arbitrary payments came eventually to be levied by a regular assessment at so much for every Knight's Fee. A new kind of Tax in the form of a Tenth, Fifteenth, or other part of all moveables belonging to the subject is said to have been introduced by Henry II. in order to defray the expenses of an expedition to Palestine, from which circumstance the first of such Taxes has been described as the Saladin Tithe."
Grants to the King of Tenths and Fifteenths or other proportions were made from time to time by the Commons in Parliament, new assessments being generally made at each fresh grant. In the early part of the reign of Edward III., the period with which this volume deals, a new valuation is said to have been made, which remained for some time a standard for future assessments. Some of the later subsidy Rolls contains a special imposition on aliens (fn. 5) at double the rate of the ordinary inhabitants.
It has been mentioned that Subsidies were of two kinds, "Clerical" and "Lay." In the former case the assessment was made on Ecclesiastical preferments, the latter on persons according to the reputed value of their estates or their personal property. Many of the Rolls contain the names of the persons assessed towards the payment of each subsidy, and they are consequently of great value to the students of surnames, they are also valuable in the compilation of pedigrees as showing the part of the county in which the family lived at that time and to a certain extent their rank and position, which may be deduced from the valuation of their property. The Subsidies on aliens have a peculiar value to the genealogist, as they help him to remove one of the greatest difficulties in his path by enabling him to trace the migration of a family or branch of a family, if not from the county of origin at all events to that of adoption.
For reasons which have been fully explained in the various histories of Cumberland, early records are practically non-existent and afford no basis for an estimate as to the condition of the county or its inhabitants. The Pipe Rolls give scanty and partial information, and the Testa de Nevill, compiled in the reign of King Edward II., which is based on inquisitions taken in each county, contains an account of all Fees holden either immediately of the King, or of others who held of him in Capite, etc.; as a record of the King's possessions in each County, it is a valuable document, but it gives no indication of the condition or number of the inhabitants.
The original from which this is taken is in the Public Record Office; the Calendar of Lay Subsidies for Cumberland commences with 90/1 Temp Ed. I., "Fragment of a roll of Knights' Service"; The next record is 90/2 contained in the present volume, it consists of 29 rolls in good order, and is therefore the earliest record of its kind for this county. At first sight it would seem as if the entire area was not included, and that some of the manors in the Liberty of Egremont and elsewhere were omitted; in order to test this I have had all the names of places in the next document of the series 90/6 (fn. 6) taken out for the sake of comparison. It will be observed that the two documents disclose some difference in nomenclature and grouping, but the number of places apparently omitted does not agree with the difference in the total number; this will be more clearly shown from the tabular statement of the names taken from each document and placed in alphabetical order. It may be noted that both documents purport to cover the same ground and refer to practically the same period. The Commissioners in the first case are Robert de Barton and Clement de Skelton, and in the second Clement de Skelton and Thomas de Skelton. It will be sufficient for the present purpose to place the lists in juxta position without attempting to explain or reconcile them, but in the document printed it may fairly be assumed that some portion has been lost or gone astray, because independently of the omission of the names in the Liberty of Egremont, the totals of the several fifteenths in that Liberty is only £17 0s. 10d., while the total stated at the end (p. 60) is £39 10s. 11d.
As it stands, assuming that the entire county has been assessed and taking six persons to each household, a rough estimate of the population (fn. 7) approaches 30,000. If it be assumed that the list is incomplete some further allowance may be made. The City of Carlisle, about this time, only contained 1,017 lay persons, and of these 678 above 14 years (fn. 8) in the same proportion the number 30,000 would represent about 20,000 adults. Taking into consideration that this period—the first half of the 14th century—was one of the most disastrous in the history of Cumberland, it may seem surprising that there should have been so many well-to-do people, and the names and relative importance of such a large number of people at that date will, it is believed, give the document an interest and importance to others besides antiquarians and historians.
The original document contains the assessment as well as the amount payable by each individual householder assessed. In the present volume the assessment has been printed in each case, but the total only for the parish or vill.