Search through over a million pages of poor rate books from as early as the 1700 through to the 1921. The books recorded the amount of rates paid at each property, ownership of the property, and its location in the parishes of Portsea and Portsmouth. Discover the history of your ancestral home, today.
With each record you will find a transcript of the vital facts and an image of the original rate poor. Many of the early books are in poor condition which may lead to transcription errors or vital details missing because they are not legible. Most of the transcripts will include the following facts:
Role – whether owner or occupier
Year and month
House number and address
County and country
Archive and folio number
The original images can provide you with even more information about your ancestor’s household including,
Description of property
Amount of rates
Amount in arrears
Total to be collected
Poor rate books were records of the amount of rates paid and by whom. Rates were levied annually and collected from both property owners and occupiers. The money was used for local poor relief. The Poor Law Act of 1598 made the parish responsible for the poor. The original records are held at the Portsmouth History Centre.
Not all rate books survived. In 1744, an Act gave residents the right to inspect books, which meant that rate books were kept in better conditions; however, as populations grew and many more rate books were produced, local authorities destroyed some of the older records. In this specific collection, many of the early books are in poor condition which may lead to transcription errors and vital details missing because they are not legible.
Within the records, you can find the home of a Jewish immigrant, Levi Marks. Marks was the father of Hertha Ayrton a distinguished scientist. Hertha Ayrton does not appear in the rate books because the family left Portsea Island when she was a small child. Later in life, she was awarded the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society for original discovery. She was the first woman to be invited by the Institution of Electrical Engineers to present her paper on her work on electric arcs. Also, during the First World War, the Ayrton Fans she invented helped to push the gases produced from toxic weapons away from the trenches.
Arthur Conan Doyle
The records show Arthur Vernon Ford occupying a home owned by Conan Doyle. In the 1880s, Arthur Conan Doyle, or simply known in the records as Conan Doyle, studied until Ford, the chief eye surgeon at the Portsmouth Eye Hospital studying ophthalmology. Later Conan Doyle travelled to Vienna to continue his study of the eye. In later years, Ford and his six children fell on hard times, Conan Doyle bought the house that Ford had been renting. It can be presumed to offer security to a dear friend in a time of need.