Family Research – English, Scottish and Irish Genealogy


Dorset, England, Land Tax Returns, 1780-1832

The Land Tax was introduced in England in 1692 as a means for raising government revenue and was not done away with until 1963. Land Tax records are of value to genealogists because they often list both property owners (proprietors) and tenants, placing them in both a parish and a year.

For a time, land tax records also served as voter records. The Dorset History Centre explains why this came about:

”Originally the Land Tax was a tax on personal estate, public offices and land… After 1698 it was usually levied only on land. From 1745, although in practice from 1780, it was used as a voting qualification—a land owner who paid Land Tax on freehold property worth £2 or more per annum had the right to vote. As a result the [land tax] returns had to be lodged with the Clerk of the Peace.”

”The survival of the early Land Tax records is variable, but most counties have surviving assessments for the years 1780 to 1832, as these were the returns that had to be lodged with the Clerk of the Peace, and they can now be found with the records of the Quarter Sessions.” for more click here

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