The London and Middlesex Hearth Tax: an analysis of the status and wealth of neighbourhoods and households on the eve of the Great Fire

Lead Research Organisation: Roehampton University
Department Name: Drama, Theatre and Performance

Abstract

The Project arises from the recent completion in early 2006 by volunteer transcribers of the transcript of the London and Middlesex Lady Day hearth tax return. Breaking with the established practices of the British Academy Hearth Tax Project, the London Hearth Tax Project is seeking both to broaden and to narrow academic approaches: the former through the application of Information & Communications Technologies, and the latter through the posing of precise historical questions. This initiative requires a level of funding and an academic support network far beyond the resources of the funders which have supported the British Academy Hearth Project hitherto (please see 'Other Support' section). The London Hearth Tax Project would meet its objectives (please see 'Objectives' section) through the completion of two major outputs:

1. a two-volume hard-copy edition of the 1666 return, which would also include a series of historical essays addressing the Project's research questions, as well as a critical edition of the 1666 text; and
2. an online database and Historical Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for London and Middlesex in 1666, which will be integrated with other online historical resources hosted by British History Online .

In order to complete this work, the London Hearth Tax Project will employ its own professional consultants who specialize in palaeography, archival research, statistics and Historical GIS, complemented by the expertise of the Centre for Metropolitan History at the Institute of Historical Research and the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck College, University of London. The Project would be able to deliver value for money while guaranteeing the highest academic standards because of the combination of the work of volunteers (who are committed to genealogy and family history) with historical auditing processes as set out in the attached Project plan. In short, the Project will enrich understanding of people and places in early modern London through the combination of hard-copy and electronic analyses, which would be highly valued by professional and non-professional historians.

Publications


10 25 50
Harding, V (2013) Between Plague and Fire in History Today
 
Description The Project has been able to show that earlier understanding of the London hearth tax was flawed in its use of data methods. The use of means to calculate distributions of wealth and poverty failed to take account of outliers, the small sizes in the data set, and variations in the assumptions which lay behind the compilation of the texts. A new understanding has meant that it is not only be possible to correct these views, but also to open up new areas of research focusing upon house history, enviroment and health, corruption and bribery in public finances.
Exploitation Route The work is being used by many members of the general public who are interested in family and local history, has been shared with economists working in USA (Harvard, University of California), UK (LSE) and various European partners.
Sectors Education,Environment,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
URL http://www.history.ac.uk/events/seminars/112
 
Description The Project was dedicated to widening access to non-academic historians to research, and providing a new analysis of questions relating social and economic integration in Restoration London. The principal means of public engagement was through British History Online and Hearth Tax Online; this has provided access to the Project's research, including transcriptions, introductions, analyses, maps and indexes. Reaching national and international audiences, the London Hearth Tax Project has stimulated considerable public interest and has attracted 35,000 individual visitors since 2010 to Hearth Tax Online. A Hearth Tax Online weblog provides an additional forum where excerpts from this research project were published. Since July 2011 a total of 17 data releases were viewed 4,226 times, including during the 2012 Olympics, when releases relating the Olympic venues at Stratford and Wimbledon were show pieced. The hard-copy offspin of the project (with materials available on Hearth Tax Online) has meant that the Project's conclusions can be accessed by a range of users, including those with access to libraries but without IT skills.
First Year Of Impact 2010
Sector Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services
 
Description Scoloudi Historical Awards
Amount £10,000 (GBP)
Organisation Scouloudi Foundation 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 07/2012 
End 06/2014
 
Title First online searchable database dedicated to analysing the hearth tax 
Description The Access database created by CMH was converted into a MySQL database which is hosted on the Hearth Tax Online website. Hearth Tax Online is aimed at a non-academic audience and the search interface through which users are able to interrogate this database has been designed to be straightforward to navigate. Users of the website can search by surname or place name and have the option of limiting their search to particular geographical areas within the database. 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Provided To Others? No  
Impact It has contribued to discussions with colleagues working in the digital humanities, and interest from genealogy magazines. 
URL http://www.hearthtax.org.uk/search/ldnsearch.html
 
Title CMH created MS Access database for analysis purposes 
Description Once complete, the database created by the Centre for Metropolitan History (CMH) formed the basis of the digital edition of the returns that was made available on British History Online in 2011.This provides a 'stripped-down' edition in tabular form, with the basic information about inhabitants and assessments. It is possible to browse the returns by street within each parish, and to search the entire text. A particular advantage of its location on British History Online is the presence on the site of many other sources for British history and the history of London in this period, including other taxation data from the late seventeenth century. However, it does not contain the full array of fields in the original database, which is online in the School of Advanced Study's institutional repository (SAS-Space). When the database was completed the research team used as the basis for a full analysis of the data from which statistical tables and geographical percentage maps were produced. The database therefore fulfilled as dual role; to provide a reliable dataset for online publication and for generating statistical analyses for the London and Middle 1666L Hearth Tax Return volume while also providing a fully-searchable database for generating complex research queries. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2010 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The static version of the dataset had been made available on the British History Online website where it is freely accessible to the public and the dataset facilitated the geographical percentage maps and other data which has been made freely available via the Hearth Tax Online website. 
URL http://www.british-history.ac.uk/source.aspx?pubid=15
 
Title CMH created static dataset of hearth tax data 
Description The project broke new ground through the creation of an Access database from the manuscript transcriptions; this was achieved through the collaboration with the Centre for Metropolitan History. The creation of the database was a key step towards making the hearth tax returns available online, and allowing historians to browse and interrogate the data in new ways. Full documentation concerning the design and structure of the Access database is available online together with the database itself. (http://www.british-history.ac.uk/catalogue.aspx?gid=54). The database constitutes three tables, the primary one containing the principal data from the transcriptions. Two other two tables were created; one to house archival information, textual preambles and postscripts, and links to the full transcription of the source, and another to contain information about the individual parishes, towns and places listed in the hearth tax returns. The listings from the hearth tax returns were processed in such a way as to maintain maximum flexibility in terms of research potential, whilst at the same time providing for consistency between books, without losing any information. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2010 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The creation of the database allowed the manuscript transcription to be made freely available online via British History Online which can be accessed by academics and the general public. The CMH created database also underpinned the creation of a user-friendly searchable database hosted on the Hearth Tax Online website (http://www.hearthtax.org.uk) which is principally targeted at non academic audiences. 
URL http://www.british-history.ac.uk/catalogue.aspx?gid=54
 
Title Hearth Tax Online 
Description The Access database created by CMH was converted into a MySQL database which is hosted on the Hearth Tax Online website. Hearth Tax Online is aimed at a non-academic audience and the search interface through which users are able to interrogate this database has been designed to be straightforward to navigate. Users of the website can search by surname or place name and have the option of limiting their search to particular geographical areas within the database. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The database was released via Hearth Tax Online in 2014 and so it is difficult to judge impact at this time. 
URL http://hearthtax.org.uk/search/ldnsearch.html
 
Description Birkbeck 
Organisation Birkbeck University of London
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution The Project established a formal salaried collaboration with the Department of History, Classics and Archaeology at Birkbeck, University of London to support Prof. Harding's work on the London and Middlesex hearth tax and assist her with writing her chapter 'London and Middlesex in the 1660s' for the London and Middlesex 1666 Lady Day Hearth Tax Return volume.
Collaborator Contribution Prof. Harding contributed to the collaboration by providing research support, editorial input and her chapter 'London and Middlesex in the 1660s' for the London and Middlesex 1666 Lady Day Hearth Tax Return volume.
Impact Harding, V., 'London and Middlesex in the 1660s' in London and Middlesex 1666 Lady Day Hearth Tax Return (London: British Record Society, 2014)
Start Year 2007
 
Description British Record Society 
Organisation British Record Society
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The British Record Society is the publishing partner for the Centre for Hearth Tax Research and, as such, it published the London and Middlesex 1666 Lady Day Hearth Tax Return volume. The British Record Society, a registered charity, edits and publishes indexes, calendars and transcripts of historical records in public or private custody throughout Great Britain.
Collaborator Contribution The General Editor of the British Record Society contributed to the project through providing editorial assistance during the preparation of the volume as well as contributing materials to the final publication. Through its c. 200 subscribers (who received the publication) it established links between members of the general public and the London Hearth Tax Project.
Impact Davies, M., Ferguson, C., Harding, V., Parkinson, E., Wareham, A., eds., London and Middlesex 1666 Hearth Tax (London: British Record Society, 2014)
 
Description Institute of Historical Research 
Organisation School of Advanced Study
Department Institute of Historical Research
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution At the Institute of Historical Research, the Centre for Metropolitan History provided the London Hearth Tax Project with transcriptions of manuscript documents, other ancillary documents and expertise to assist with the digital aspects of the London Hearth Tax Project.
Collaborator Contribution The Centre for Metropolitan History provided a database from which a dataset and statistics were produced and analysed, which have been made available via British History Online for download.
Impact Online text of transcribed manuscript and access to database of material.
Start Year 2007
 
Description Early Modern Ancestors 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The presentation stimulated questions and discussion on the research being undertaken as part of the Project and engaged a public audience with that research in a very practical way as it was part of a larger 'workshop' event.

Questionnaires circulated to participants indicated that the event had changed their views, opinions and behaviours.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011
URL http://www.societyofgenealogists.com/early-modern-ancestors-day-at-roehampton-university-special-off...
 
Description Historical Association 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? Yes
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The talk prompted a whole series of questions about the parrallel experiences between taxpayers today in the audience and the experiences of householders in paying the hearth tax in the late 17th century.

Members of the London branch of the Historical Association developed a more informed understanding of the problems associated with the collection of taxation, and hence the event contributed to citizenship.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.victoriacountyhistory.ac.uk/counties/middlesex-london/news/historical-association-lecture...
 
Description Launch event 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact A launch event for the London and Middlesex 1666 Lady Day Hearth Tax Return volume was staged at the British Academy in June 2014. Around 80 people attended event which included talks on the topic and the work undertaken by the project. The event brought together a full range of Project participants, professionals and members of the general public. The event was introduced by Dame Glynne Evans DBE CMG.

The launch party for the London and Middlesex project provided an opportunity for members of the general public to engage with the work and interests of the British Academy, and has further served to strengthen the outreach and public engagement work of the British Academy Hearth Tax Project and the Centre for Hearth Tax Research.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.roehampton.ac.uk/Courses/Humanities/Calendar---Humanities/Launch-of-the-London-and-Middle...
 
Description Restoration London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Participants in your research and patient groups
Results and Impact The presentation shared initial research findings from the Project with an audience of academics, scholars and students which stimulated further questions and discussions as well as stimulating avenues for further research and research data dissemination.

Members of the general public attended this event, and connections were established betwen the Centre for Hearth Tax Research with volunteer groups including the East London History Society.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
URL http://www.history.ac.uk/restoration-london