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The Land Tax in England and Wales 1798 and landownership and tenancy distribution

The Land Tax in England and Wales 1798 and landownership and tenancy distribution

This project aims to provide the earliest accurate figures for the distribution of landownership in Britain, using the national coverage of the Land Tax assessments for 1798, held by the National Archives. The project team consists of John Broad, Richard Hoyle (University of Reading), and Leigh Shaw-Taylor.

The methodology involves the digitisation of the complete set of records, providing facilities for GIS mapping, and nominal data linkage, and using contemporary comparators to compensate for inter-parish liability differences.

This data will permit the analysis and mapping of landownership patterns across England and Wales showing the extent of concentration and dispersion within each parish. GIS linkage will add mapping potential to bring out regional patterns and differences. Nominal data linkage will provide national coverage of the extent of elite estates, and some potential linkages at county and hundred level. The tenancy information in the assessments will improve our understanding of issues such as farm size, and owner-occupancy at this period.

A further, and novel, aspect of the project is the use of the information in the Land Tax Redemption certificates which provide much fuller information on the residence of landowners, on their county-wide holdings, and on the nature, size, and value of farms.

Currently money from the Fitch Foundation and from the Economic History Society is being used to test the viability of database structures, GIS linkages, and transcription accuracy with a view to a large scale national project submission.

John Broad and Richard Hoyle both gave papers on the initial work on this research at the inaugural Rural History 2010 conference at Brighton, September 2010. Richard Hoyle also published R.W. Hoyle, ‘Who owned Earls Colne in 1798 ... or how to squeeze more from the Land Tax’, Local Historian vol 41 no.4 (Nov. 2011) pp. 267-277.