Discover your 17th century Northamptonshire ancestor through the Hearth Tax returns. Search the tax records of over 22,000 individuals across 300 parishes. They are a major source of information for family historians. You will find out where your ancestor was living and the number of hearths found within his/her home will give you a clue to the family’s wealth and status.
Each record includes a transcript of the original tax records. The transcripts can differ but most will include:
This dataset is a complete index to the Northamptonshire Hearth Tax lists 1673–1674 and includes all the legible details relating to individuals that can be found in the original records for the whole county.
The Hearth Tax returns of the second half of the 17th century are a major source of information for local and family historians and provide lists of names midway between the period of surname formation in the Middle Ages and the present day.
Hearth Tax records can provide firm evidence of a family’s residence at a certain place in time. For those seeking ‘lost’ ancestors, the distribution of a surname in a specific area may be determined very easily and the location of a particular family quickly revealed. It is also invaluable when researching a specific place, undertaking house history, population movements, patterns of employment and early modern local government jurisdictions.
The number of hearths in a household is also a clue to a family’s wealth and status.
Explore all the parishes included in the Northamptonshire Hearth Tax records through the Useful Links and Resources section.
With a need to raise revenue after the English Civil War, the Interregnum and the restoration of Charles II as King, it was decided in 1662 to levy hearth money (or chimney money). This was a property tax on buildings worth more than 20 shillings a year in rent. The number of hearths, fires and stoves there were in a building determined the tax due. However there were some exemptions. For instance, people who received poor relief did not have to pay hearth tax. Some industrial buildings were exempt but not forges, locksmiths or bakers’ ovens.
The tax, which was collected twice yearly –on Lady Day and Michaelmas Day – was 2 shillings per hearth per year. It was a very unpopular tax because the tax commissioners had for the first time the right to come into the home in order to count the hearths. Attempts to avoid paying by blocking up a chimney could, if discovered, be rewarded with a doubling of the tax.
The tax was collected according to the administrative units of the time, namely counties, hundreds, parishes and townships; the last of these usually included only part of a parish. In the cities, towns and boroughs, collection was often recorded by wards whose boundaries did not necessarily follow those of the parishes.
The Hearth Tax was repealed in 1689 at the beginning of William and Mary’s reign.
The Northamptonshire Hearth Tax records have been abstracted and indexed by Francis Howcutt.
Where are the originals held?
The original Hearth Tax returns are held at The National Archives, Kew (NA ref: E179/254/14). Full details (including costs) on obtaining a copy of the original document can be found at: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/recordcopying/
What information from the Index do I need to locate the original?
As well as the document reference, you should use the 'Column' code that appears in the Index. It has a 'number-letter-number' format that identifies the membrane, side of the membrane and column where the entry appears. Two examples are:
'08A1' means the entry is on Membrane 8; on its front (or recto) side; in the first column reading from left to right.
'29B2' means the entry is on Membrane 29; on its back (or verso) side; in the second column reading from left to right.