Online Tuition in the Palaeography of Scottish Documents

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    / List of places (Arran)
    / List of people and place (Maybole)
    / Summary of hearths (Kildrummy)
    / List of people (Lanark)
    / List of paupers (Inverness-shire)
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In 1690 Parliament granted a tax of 14 shillings on every hearth within the kingdom, for one year in order to raise money for the army. The tax was payable at Candlemas 1691 by the inhabitants of all houses in the kingdom having hearths. Only hospitals and poor persons living on the charity of the parish were exempt.

There were huge difficulties in collecting the tax, particularly in highland or remote areas. Collection carried on for several years until August 1694 when a proclamation called for all hearth lists to be sent to the treasury before 1 October.

The content of hearth tax rolls varies from county to county. Hearth lists are generally arranged by county and then parish or by landed estate. The rolls for Angus, Ayr, Argyll (but with some areas missing), Bute, Berwick, Clackmannan, Dumbarton, East Lothian, Fife, Kincardine, Lanark, Midlothian, Perth, Renfrew, Roxburgh, Stirling, Sutherland, West Lothian and Wigtown contain lists of householders (some arranged by estate or place).

The rolls for the counties of Aberdeen, Banff, Dumfries, Kirkcudbright, Moray, Nairn, Peebles and Selkirk give only the total number of hearths surveyed and money collected in each parish or estate.

The roll for Inverness-shire consists mainly of a summary of a small number of parishes without listing inhabitants but includes a list of burgesses or inhabitants of the town of Inverness and a list of poor in the parishes surveyed.

There are no rolls for Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, Ross and Cromarty in Exchequer records. Some hearth books were never handed to the Exchequer and a few survive among collections of private papers. The Leven and Melville papers (NRS reference GD26/7/300-391) contain lists for parishes in Dumfriesshire, Fife, Edinburgh, and Shetland. Lists for parishes in Ross-shire are in the Cromartie papers (NRS reference GD305/1/164).

This short introductory tutorial will show you examples of the fife main formats of hearth tax rolls. In addition, it will allow you to get some practice in testing your handwriting skills of hearth tax records at the end of the tutorial..

List of places
List of people and place
Summary of hearths
List of people
List of paupers
Practice your skills