Economics and Politics: Revenue and Taxes in Ewyas Lacy

Income from Land

In feudal times all land was owned by the crown. The king then distributed it to his nobles, as tenants-in chief, in exchange for rents and services. Under the manorial system the money, known as the Chief Rent, was paid to the king by the lord of the manor and the related services could include a wide variety of obligations of a military, religious or official nature. The lord of the manor then used the same principles to distribute land to sub-tenants, collecting rents and other income from them as well as demanding services to offset his own obligations to the crown in exchange for tenure. Income from ownership of the land arose principally from ground rents, paid at different rates for different forms of tenure, from 'fines' paid for the renewal or transfer of tenancies in the manorial courts when required, and from heriots paid to the lord [often in kind rather than cash] on the death of a tenant. Quit rents were also sometimes paid by tenants to release themselves from feudal obligations of service by means of a cash settlement.

The feudal rents were fixed and gradually lost their value in real terms, forcing landowners to find new ways to generate income from their land. Different kinds of leasehold arrangements were devised to yield higher rents, and these eventually led to the demise of the old feudal arrangements.
 Follow the links below for references to income from land in Ewyas Lacy
 All Incomes Fine


Prior to the 11th century, taxation centred around the king's household and was levied mainly on the king's own estates with special wider levies for emergencies. After the Norman conquest, however, a much more widespread system of taxation, levied through a central Exchequer, was introduced. Many new sources of tax revenue were created, including feudal land rents and other obligations, fees for the administration of justice, crown rights to profits from religious houses in periods when key posts were vacant, and arbitrary, often punitive, taxation of moneylenders [principally the Jews].

As the feudal system decayed and Royal demesne revenues declined through the 12th, 13th and 14th centuries the cost of central government continued to grow, creating the need for new forms of taxation. By the 15th and 16th centuries a variety of direct taxes on goods and property were being imposed as well as significant customs duties on imports and exports. The dissolution of the monasteries also led to the ancient system of tithes for support of the Church being dispersed into lay as well as ecclesiastical ownership. Later, the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836  introduced standardised cash values replacing payments ‘in kind’, and tithes were abolished in 1936.

When the English civil war broke out in the 17th century, Parliament introduced new inland excise duties on ale, beer and spirits to finance their cause. These were soon extended to other goods, and after the restoration were retained by the king, who also formally abolished feudal dues but replaced them with a variety of new forms of property taxes such as the 'hearth tax'. The subsequent transfer of tax raising powers to Parliament from the crown in 1688 added further impetus to the rapid growth of direct taxation of goods, until by the 18th century most articles of common consumption were subject to excise duties.

The Napoleonic wars of the late 18th century saw the introduction of a new general income tax, ostensibly as a temporary measure. However, the inexorable growth of the state as the modern concepts of government continued to evolve meant that by 1842 income tax had been reintroduced as a permanent measure, and the imposition of Estate duty [Inheritance tax] in 1894 completed the structure of central taxation that still broadly applies today.
The Great Seal of the Exchequer
 The Great Seal of the Exchequer
Follow the links below for references to central taxation in Ewyas Lacy
All Taxes
Hearth Tax
Land Tax

Land Tax in Newton
Details of Land tax charges, the occupiers and the owners of the 14 main farms in Newton

Ewyas Lacy Manorial Accounts
Transcription of the Bailiffs' accounts of income from the Manor for the years from 1594 to 1600

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