A Measure of Wealth: The English Land Tax in Historical by Donald E. Ginter

By Donald E. Ginter

Ginter specializes in the years 1780 to 1832, a interval for which many land tax files live to tell the tale and accurately whilst sleek kinds of political association started to emerge and while industrialization and enclosure are concept to have altered the material of society and the economic climate. via an exam of greater than 5,000 parishes in fifteen old counties -- nearly one-third of britain -- he indicates that inequalities within the burden of nationwide taxation have been some distance more than an individual has expected. Having researched either neighborhood and nationwide taxation strategies, he finds that, at the eve of the nineteenth-century "Revolution in Government," the tenantry and yeomanry have been administratively way more self sustaining of parliamentary statute and in their neighborhood gentry and magistracy than has formerly been urged. Drawing on proof from the 3 ridings of Yorkshire, he discloses different difficulties linked to the land tax duplicates. whereas Ginter argues that the land tax duplicates are completely insufficient for the examine of the fortunes of the small yeoman and that the literature in this topic needs to be essentially reconsidered, he finds a style which may reliably take advantage of the land tax duplicates as a systemic documentation. He contends that the entire power for reviews established centrally at the land tax has scarcely started to be explored.

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And what could be more serendipitous than this systematic documentation covering precisely the period when virtually all moral critics of the decline claimed this decline occurred, namely, during the years 1780 to 1832, when the "factory system" was most intensively penetrating the countryside and parliamentary enclosure, the nefarious instrument of that exploitation, was at its height? The land tax as a source of historical investigation has thus remained throughout this century the most important documentation on questions that are at the heart of our most heated and sophisticated academic and political debates.

In most agricultural townships where tithes are identifiable they probably constituted between 5 and 10 percent of the taxable value by the end of the eighteenth century. 1). In counting acres, then, it is clear that tithes should somehow be excluded. But can they be? Certainly they cannot be excluded systematically in all townships. It is simply incorrect to suggest, as Hunt does, that all clerical proprietor entries represent tithes. Some clergymen were also independently wealthy and held vast estates, and innumberable small holdings, as many duplicates make abundantly clear.

Wordsworth, describing the Lake District, praised its former inhabitants and wrote: "Till within the last sixty years, towards the head of these dales was found a perfect republic of shepherds and agriculturalists, among whom the plough of each man was confined to the maintenance of his own family or to the occasional accommodation of his neighbour. Two or three cows furnished each family with milk and cheese... Neither high-born nobleman, knight, nor esquire, was here, but many of these humble sons of the hills had a consciousness that the lands which they walked over and tilled had for more than five hundred years been possessed by men of their name and blood.

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