London Marriage Duty Assessment 1695. Originally published by Centre for Metropolitan History, London, 2011.

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'Introduction', in London Marriage Duty Assessment 1695, (London, 2011) pp. . British History Online [accessed 25 April 2024]

The Marriage Duty Act: an introduction

Marriage duty assessments were the product of a form of taxation on the event of births, marriages and burials, and of annual payments by bachelors aged over 25 and childless widowers. The tax was in force from 1695 to 1706, and imposed a standard charge for vital events and annual payments, and additionally enforced a graduated system of surcharges based on wealth and social status. (fn. 1) By the provisions of the Marriage Duty Act, assessors were to obtain 'the names sirnames estates degrees titles and qualifications of all and every the persons dwelling or residing within the limits' of an area, with servants and lodgers to be taxed where they lived. Lists were therefore compiled of all the inhabitants within a specific locale, indicating the duties for which they were or would become liable (with those in receipt of alms exempt from the financial provisions of the act). (fn. 2) The result was a series of parish assessments that resembles census-like lists of inhabitants. Unfortunately, the survival of these lists is extremely patchy nationwide, and the only extant assessment returns for London are those for 1695. There is also some variety in the nature of the assessments, attributable perhaps to the different decisions individual enumerators made in their compilation. Nevertheless, the vast majority of the returns group people together in distinct blocks of names, taken to indicate all those inhabiting the same house, and often describe the nature of the relationship between individuals. In addition, they frequently provide indicators of personal social and marital status, economic standing and, in some instances, age. (fn. 3)

The records appearing here are transcripts mirroring the tabular format of the manuscripts

Prop No. An ID value assigned to each property to represent the demarcation between distinct properties in the listings. Note that a property usually houses more than one household.
Forename Forename of listed individual
Surname Surname of listed individual
Grouped Visual indication of whether listed individuals are bracketed together in the source
Rel'ship/status For the first named individual in a household (not property), a value will be an indicator of social status or wealth (as per the graduated bands of the tax). For other individuals a value here will be an indicator of their relationship to the head of household.
Burials The amount due under the tax in the event of the individual dying (and being buried).
Births The amount due under the tax in the event of the individual having a child.
Marriages The amount due under the tax in the event of the individual marrying.
Bach/widowers The amount due under the tax for the individual being a childless widower or a bachelor over the age of 25 years.
Notes Any notes made by the transcriber of the source.


  • 1. For a detailed discussion of the marriage duty assessments and their surcharge categories, see Glass, London Inhabitants, ix-xviii and T. Arkell, 'An Examination of the Poll Taxes of the Later Seventeenth Century, the Marriage Duty Act and Gregory King', in Schurer and Arkell, Surveying the People, 142-77, at 163-71.
  • 2. 6 & 7 Wm and M., c. 6: Statutes of the Realm, VI, 1685-94 (1819), 568-89, at 574.
  • 3. Glass, London Inhabitants, xv-xvi, xviii-xix, xxxviii discusses the nature of the London assessments and provides a name index of all those listed as living within the walls in 1695 at 1-332.