Four Shillings in the Pound Aid 1693/4: the City of London, the City of Westminster, Middlesex. Originally published by Centre for Metropolitan History, London, 1992.
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The textual source for the database are the assessments housed in the Corporation of London Record Office for the 1693 and 1694 Four Shillings in the Pound Aid: a tax raised by parliament to fund King William's involvement in European war. The surviving assessments cover the city of London, the city of Westminster and a large area of both urban and rural Middlesex. No assessments survive for areas south of the River Thames.
The 4 shilling aid of 1694 imposed tax on three sources of actual or potential income: i) it required that everybody pay 4s in the pound on the yearly profits accruing to any personal estate in the form of ready moneys, debts owing, goods, wares, merchandises, other chattels or personalty belonging to or held in trust for them; ii) those in public service paid 4s on every 20s earned as their official salary; and iii) a tax of 4s in the pound was levied on 'all and every person and persons Bodies Politick and Corporate Guilds Mysteries Fraternities and Brotherhoods whether Corporate or not' based on the rack-rent value of all 'Lands Tenements and Hereditaments'. The act did not, however, set out to collect the tax where rents failed to reach a yearly value of 20s.
Residence was an important factor since the tax was assessed and collected locally. Householders were taxed where they lived, while those known to be abroad were deemed resident at their last known English address. Subject to a fine of £20 householders were also required to supply the assessors with a true record of all lodgers in their homes, and anyone caught trying to defraud the Exchequer by moving house was to be charged double the rate. Although the rent and stock tax elements were charged at the taxpayer's home, official salaries were taxed at the place where the duties were performed. This meant that some taxpayers were assessed at more than one place. For example Richard Hampden, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, was assessed to pay £20 rent tax (that is, calculated on an annual value of £100) and stock tax of £6 (on £500 worth of personal estate) at Gardners Lane, Burgess Norton's Ward in the parish of St Margaret Westminster, while his salary of £400 made him liable to pay £80 at the government's offices at Westminster.
In general, resident tenants paid the tax assessed and deducted the appropriate amounts from their rent payments, although where tenants were foreign ambassadors or ministers the landlords were expected to pay the tax themselves. Where rents were due to charitable bodies (fn. 1) tenants were taxed on the amount by which the true market value of the property they occupied exceeded the rent actually paid. This was noted in the assessments by comments such as "Besides hospital rent". Where a property owner's potential income was decreased by an outgoing charge on the property, such as an annuity, the amounts paid out in respect of the charge could be reduced by 4s in the pound.
All Roman Catholics, indeed all potential taxpayers aged 16 and over who refused to swear the oaths of allegiance and supremacy drawn up at the beginning of the reign, were to pay tax at double the normal rate. Those who refused to swear the oath of allegiance to William and Mary because James II was still alive were noted down as "Non-jurors". The assessments for the metropolitan area in 1694 contain 64 such entries. To circumvent an 8s tax charge it was permissible to swear the oaths within 10 days of the first local commissioners' meeting and only those Quakers who had made a Declaration of Fidelity were able to gain legal exemption from this requirement.
Administration and collection of the tax
The commissioners and assessors held purely administrative and honorific offices, whereas the receivers, collectors and commissioners' clerks were permitted a small fee calculated as poundage on the sums collected.
The tax was administered locally by commissioners. These were men of wealth and social standing, often with business acumen or, sometimes, legal or political expertise. The 1694 act re-appointed the commissioners for the previous 4s aid of 1693. This would minimise delay and capitalise on experience already gained. The men appointed for the City of London in 1693 included "The Lord Mayor Aldermen and Sheriffs of the City...", while among the many appointed for the City of Westminster and its liberties were members of the Privy Council such as Richard Hampden, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Sir Edward Seymour and Sir John Lowther.
The commissioners were responsible for all the local requirements of the act which included swearing in any new commissioners and assessors, adjudicating appeals, authorising certificates and warrants, and examining and punishing negligent tax officers and those who tried to avoid paying it. Although they themselves were named in the 1693 act, it was left to them to select at their discretion the numbers of assessors they thought appropriate for the areas under their control. The assessors were chosen from among local officials such as constables, bailiffs and so on, men familiar with their localities and well known within them.
Once sworn in, the assessors received warrants to use all lawful means to ascertain a full yearly value of property in the area and so make a valid 4s in the pound assessment. In their turn, the assessors, using their local knowledge, nominated two trustworthy men to act as collectors of the tax.
It was intended that nominated subcollectors should collect the money according to the certified assessments and hand it on to head collectors on or before 15 March and, then, on 2 June, 4 September and 3 December (or within 20 days of those dates to allow for appeals to be heard). Head collectors were to pay this on to the appropriate receiver general first on 20 March and, subsequently, on 9 June, 12 September and 17 December. In their turn, the receivers general were to pay the money into the Exchequer on or before 26 March, 20 June, 29 September and 25 December.
This was a remarkably tight schedule, especially since the act had only received the Royal Assent on 25 January and the first commissioners' meeting was set for 20 February. The cash book for London's contribution to the 1694 aid, held in the Corporation of London archives, shows that, in practice, money was paid into the Exchequer via the Chamberlain's office continuously throughout the year from 30 March 1694 until 4 May 1695 (fn. 2).
The commissioners' clerks prepared fair copies of the returns, several of which were signed and sealed for delivery to head collectors, subcollectors and the receivers general. One of these copies was signed and sealed by the commissioners and sent to the Exchequer by 20 March (or within 30 days, that is, to allow time for appeals). There the King's Remembrancer made a legible fair copy in a book of parchment to be forwarded within three months to the Auditor of the Receipt of the Exchequer, who was to make a further parchment copy. The paper assessments signed and sealed at the local level were those transcribed in the database.
Defaulters were to have their goods distrained for four days and, if they still refused to pay, the sub-collectors could, with the "appraisal" of two or three other inhabitants sell off the goods to raise the money, returning any surplus to the former owners. To this end it was quite lawful for the sub-collectors, in the hours of daylight and with the appropriate warrants, to break open whatever was required to gain access to such goods.
Some of the assessments are very precise in the way they delineate addresses, although this is not always the case in some of the wards in the City of London, which may simply be divided into smaller precincts, often corresponding to the parishes within the ward. However on the periphery of the City and in some of the western metropolitan parishes street names also appear. In these cases, where there are named main streets, with lanes, alleys and courtyards running off them it is possible to reconstruct the route taken by the assessor and gain some impression of the location of the households visited.
Although the tax rate was set for a year, new assessments were made each quarter. In the present study these quarterly figures were multiplied by four to give a yearly figure for entry into the database. Allowing for the building or evacuation of some buildings and for seasonal fluctuations in the quantity and value of stocks, repayment of debts and so on, some measure of error is therefore inevitable. The addition of 1693 assessments where those for 1694 were either lacking or incomplete compounds this, as does the total lack of assessment for two precincts of St Giles without Cripplegate and for the London area south of the Thames.
In addition, between the dates when the assessments were made and certified and when the collection of the tax fell due some householders moved, died or were otherwise unable to pay; some appealed and were given legitimate certificates of abatement; some refused to pay the tax; and some properties, for which no owners could be found, needed to be certified as such and returns made to the Exchequer.. Moreover, the stocks of the King's Printing House, the water companies and the merchant trading companies were excluded from the general run of the assessments by statute, although their total tax payments were entered in the Chamberlain's cash book for the record of the Corporation (fn. 3).
Yet, given these qualifications the assessments offer a fairly reliable presentation of the situation in 1694. The City of London, Westminster and the built-up part of Middlesex yield an assessed tax sum of £260,666 6s. 8d, representing £4,155,919 in rent, stocks and official salaries. Those for rural Middlesex, which do not form part of the database, show an assessed figure of £40,067 18s 2d (£604,832 7s 2d in rents, stocks and salaries, in the latter case from Hampton Court). The total tax assessed on London, Westminster and Middlesex was therefore £300,734 4s 10d, representing a value of £4,760,751 15s 2d. The tax sum actually collected and entered into the Chamberlain's cash book was £296,160 8s 10 3/4d, that is the assessed figure minus £4,573 5s 11 3/4d (1.52%).
Seventy-one separate manuscript assessments were transcribed. These had a relatively consistent structure but ranged from a single sheet of around 20 names to a 98 page book containing more than 3,000 entries (Fig. 3 shows the manuscript assessment for St Marylebone). The bulk of the assessments employed were from the second quarter of 1694, although where no suitable 1694 assessment survived the assessment for 1693 was substituted. In the case of Bridge Ward assessments for both 1693 and 1694 have survived, and comparison of the two listings indicates generally low levels of disparity.
The original assessors for each administrative area interpreted their complex statutory brief in a slightly different manner. The information most consistently-recorded in the returns was the rent assessment. In most cases the family name and forename of the occupant or householder were given, but sometimes an assessed property was incapable of being occupied (as in the case of the incomes from markets), was empty, or its occupant(s) were not named (as in the case of the Royal Exchange or some single assessments which appear to have represented groups of small dwellings belonging to a single landlord). In many cases named occupants were given a title (Mr, Mrs, Widow, Lord, etc.), but very rarely an occupation. When it was appropriate to assess occupants on their stocks (34 per cent of all individuals assessed) or official salary (2 per cent of individuals) the sum was given. In some districts the person assessed was stated to owe the tax on rent on behalf of another individual, who was evidently their immediate landlord. In most areas, however, the assessors listed only one name, presumably that of the occupant. Some such individuals would have been freeholders, but many probably held on lease or at will. The information concerning landlords is valuable, but cannot be used in a systematic fashion. Sometimes, the property itself was described, but in terms (stable, shop, wharf, etc.) which indicate that the descriptions were applied only when the structure was occupied separately from a residence. Normally, properties were not described. In the main built-up area most properties probably consisted of a house or dwelling with appurtenances, which could have included shops, warehouses, stables and other buildings. In the more outlying areas, some properties would have included substantial tracts of agricultural or other land, while others probably consisted of no more than a house on its own. In most of these cases the only guide to the character of the property is the value put upon it. As with the topic of landlords, the returns provide useful information on certain aspects of land-use and buildings, but do not give a comprehensive picture. These and other variations in the meaning or significance of the information in the assessments were established by careful contextual study. That was an important exercise relevant to most aspects of the analyses which can be based on the material.
Explanatory manuscript notes for the 1693-4 Aid database
Aldersgate Ward Within
Aldersgate Ward Without
|02/01||George Westby (£1.2 Per Tax), Fra' Ireland, Thomas Hood (£6 Rent Tax) & Thomas Richardson [All bracketed together].|
|03/01||John Heatly, Mary Moss [Mott?], Widow Edington, William Izard, John Gamball, John Gamball [entered as rent charge paying in database], John Baker, Widow Johnson and Thomas Micklethwaite; £4 rent charge.|
Bishopsgate Ward Within
Bread Street Ward
Bridge Ward Within
Broad Street Ward and the Excise Office
|10/01||The Governor and Company of ye King and Queens Corporation of the Linnen Manufactory ... £96 [stock]|
|10/02||The Governor and Company of the Lute String Makers ... £180 [stock]|
Castle Baynard Ward
Samuel Duboyse and Nathaniel Fowler and Edward Fowler partners
13/02Thomas Tomkins for the rents which the Hospitall pays to Edward Woodward Esq
Coleman Street Ward
|14/01||Thomas Pinder, Henry Travers, Mr Sevarate [All entered under perttax column and bracketed together].|
Cripplegate Ward Within
Cripplegate Without Ward
|19/01||A cellar under Haselwood's house let John Mathewes at Haselwood's|
|19/02||The name Edward Sherwood appears on two separate lines which are bracketed together in relation to the single figure|
|19/03||A house taken into Skinner's Hall|
Farringdon Ward Within
Farringdon Ward Without
Tower Ward (within the City)
St Ann's Westminster
St Clements Danes
St James Westminster
St Margaret Westminster
St Martin in the Fields
St Paul Covent Garden
|35/01||Henry Spelman Esq and Jeremiah Hall Esq for their imployment on ye fire office|
|35/02||Joseph Whiston for his fronthouse, workhouse and tenements over Mr Renier and Cox's cellar|
The Rolls Liberty
|36/01||Mr Holford and Mr Symonds buildings in Symons Inn. [They were Mr John Clements buildings the previous year].|
The officers and offices ... att Westminster
St Leonard Bromley
St Andrew Holborn
[Laid out as follows]:
Thomas Williams )
Wid Cassingale ) 12
Sam Jefferson ------------)- - - - - - - - - 1.20
|46/02||Thomas Townling John Higgot Rose Crocker.20 (£17 abated left out for ye poor)|
St Botoloph without Aldgate
St Dunstan Stepney
St Giles in the Fields
St Giles Cripplegate
St James Clerkenwell
St John Hackney
St Leonard Shoreditch
St Mary Islington
|55/01||For the profits of Canonbury Manor. [The figure column is damaged]|
|55/02||For 1 empty house late Cullefords|
|55/03||For 2 empty tenements to Mr Dye, one late Roberts ye other Momfords|
St Mary Whitechapel
St Pancras, Kentish Town
|58/01||Mr John Horton for Mr R Nicholl and for ye house and field behind it and ye barne|
|58/02||Mr Richard Newman for Mr Trubshaw for Mr Cox's land|
St Paul Shadwell
St Sepulchre Middlesex
Liberty of Norton Folgate
|Salary/rent||Pers estate||Yearly rate|
|[The whole of Tower Intra was laid out in this way].|