Scotland Taxation

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Introduction

Various records exist for taxes levied throughout Scottish history. Originally, government revenues came from property owned by the crown. The government levied small-scale, national taxes during times of specific financial need. National taxes were separate from the local taxes, or rates, which were collected by the parishes for local services and poor relief (see Scotland Church Records or Scotland Poorhouses, Poor Law, Etc). Separate records may have been created for the assessment and collection of the taxes.

After England and Scotland unified in 1707, Scotland had many of the same taxes as England. However, not all English taxes were levied on the Scottish at the time of union.

Types of Tax Records

Hearth Tax

A tax of 14 shillings on every hearth in the kingdom by both landowners and tenants to raise money for the army, collected between 1690 and 1695. Hospitals and paupers were exempt from the tax. Hearth lists are arranged by county and then by parish or landed estate. This tax indicates the size of the house. While most county hearth lists contain lists of householders, some counties only give the total number of hearths and money collected in each parish or estate and a small number of counties do not have hearth lists. To learn more about this tax, see the Taxation Records research guide.

ScotlandsPlaces has many images and transcriptions of the Hearth tax records 1691-1695. They give the name and number of hearths.

The Family History Library also has a few of these records. Search in the FamilySearch Catalog in the Place Search under SCOTLAND, [COUNTY] - TAXATION.

Land tax rolls

Also called cess rolls or valuation rolls, this tax was collected from 1645 to 1831 in Scotland. These rolls listed the owners of landed estates and assessed the rental value of their lands and were compiled at irregular intervals. To learn more about this tax, see the Taxation Records research guide.

ScotlandsPlaces has many images and transcriptions of the Land tax rolls 1645-1831. Other rolls can be found in local archives.

Poll Tax

This tax was levied in 1694, 1695, and twice in 1698 to pay of the debts of the army and navy. It was levied against all men except for the poor and children under 16. The records are arranged by county and parish. The amount of information on this tax varies from list to list. To learn more about this tax, see the Taxation Records research guide.

ScotlandsPlaces has many images and transcriptions of the Poll tax rolls, 1694-1698.

The Family History Library also has a few of these records. Search in the FamilySearch Catalog in the Place Search under SCOTLAND, [COUNTY] - TAXATION.

Apprenticeship Tax

From 1710 to 1811, a tax was assessed on the money a master received for an apprenticeship indenture. The tax was due within one year after the term of indenture expired. Apprentices put out by a parish or charity were exempt from the tax. These records list the sum received, master’s name and address, trade, apprentice’s name, and date of indenture.

Ancestry has a database of this tax: UK, Register of Duties Paid for Apprentices' Indentures, 1710-1811.

The FamilySearch Catalog has indexes to apprentices, 1710-1774, and indexes to masters, 1710-1762. They are digitized and available online.

The original records are housed at the Public Record Office in Kew. For more information on apprenticeships, see the Occupations.

Death Duties

Estate duty records that relate to the taxes levied on the estates of deceased persons are commonly known as death duties. These began in 1804 and have a privacy period of 75 years. These records provide information such as the relationship to the beneficiaries to the deceased, date of death, and names of executors and lawyers. To learn more, see the Taxation Records research guide.

Indexes to some of these records are available online:

Other Taxes

In the 1700s, many taxes were levied on the people. Images and transcriptions of many of these taxes are available on ScotlandsPlaces. To learn more about these records and how to access them, see the Taxation Records research guide.

List of some of those taxes:

  • Window Tax (1747-1798)
  • Commutation Tax (1784-1798)
  • Inhabited House Tax (1778-1798)
  • Shop Tax (1785-1789)
  • Male Servants' Tax (1777-1798)
  • Female Servants' Tax (1785-1792)
  • Cart Tax (1785-1798)
  • Carriage Tax (1785-1798)
  • Horse Tax (1785-1798)
  • Farm Horse Tax (1797-1798)
  • Dog Tax (1797-1798)
  • Clock and Watch Tax (1797-1798)
  • Aid and Contribution Tax (1797-1798)
  • Income Tax (1799-1802)
  • Consolidated Schedules of Assessed Taxes (1798-1799)

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Family History Library

The Family History Library has microfilmed copies of some of the original tax lists. Look in the Place Search of the FamilySearch Catalog under:

SCOTLAND - TAXATION
SCOTLAND - [COUNTY] - TAXATION
SCOTLAND - [COUNTY] - [PARISH] - TAXATION

For more information, see the following books at the Library:

  • Dowell, Stephen, and A.R. Ilersic. A History of Taxation and Taxes in England. 6 vols. London: Frank Cass & Co., Ltd., 1965. (Family History Library 942 R4d.) These volumes give a detailed history of taxation in England and Scotland and define the relationship between the two countries in terms of tax levying and implementation.
  • Gibson, Jeremy. The Hearth Tax and Other Later Stuart Tax Lists and the Oath Association Rolls. Solihull, England: Federation of Family History Societies, 1986. (Family History Library book 942 R43g.) This reference gives the types of taxes, dates covered, and repository catalog numbers for surviving tax records in Scotland, England, and Wales.

References

  1. National Records of Scotland, "Taxation Records", 2018, www.nrscotland.gov.uk, accessed 2 August 2018.