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Historical Tax Rolls

When the Crown collected taxes, it collected information about its subjects. Most taxation was levied from landowners until the late 18th century when government sought to broaden the tax base by taxing other forms of property. A by-product of this is a useful series of records for historians, listing different types of people in each of Scotland's parishes and burghs. The farm horse tax and clock and watch tax rolls can be viewed freely. More tax volumes will be added shortly.

  1. Carriage tax rolls, 1785-1798

    Between 1785 and 1798 the owners of 2 or 4-wheeled carriages in Scotland paid tax on their carriages. In carriage tax rolls you will find the names of carriage owners and the types of carriage they owned, as well as the duty paid in tax .
  2. Cart tax rolls 1785-1798

    Between 1785 and 1798 the owners of 2, 3, or 4-wheeled carts in Scotland were taxed. The tax fell mainly on farmers and landowners in the rural areas and carters in the towns. Cart tax rolls list the names of cart owners and the types of cart they owned, as well as the duty paid in tax.
  3. Clock and watch tax rolls 1797-1798

    Clock and watch tax rolls (National Records of Scotland, E326/12) list the names of clock and watch owners as well as the number of clocks and watches they owned. The listing below is that of the original rolls. Only two volumes survive and it is fairly clear that a third volume (containing the counties of Midlothian, Moray, Orkney, Peebles, Perth, Renfrew, Ross, Roxburgh, Selkirk, Shetland, Stirling, Sutherland, West Lothian, and Wigtown) is not extant.
  4. Consolidated Schedules of Assessed Taxes, 1798-1799

    From 1787 taxes were payable to a single consolidated fund. These were entered on a single schedule, which included houses and windows, inhabited houses, male servants, carriages, riding and carriage horses, horses used in husbandry and trade and mules, and dogs. The consolidated schedules survive for the year 5th April 1798 to 5th April 1799 only. County schedules for Nairnshire, Renfrewshire, Roxburghshire, Ross-shire, Selkirkshire, Stirlingshire, and Wigtownshire do not survive
  5. Dog tax rolls 1797-1798

    A tax of 5 shillings on non-working dogs was levied in 1797-8. The resulting dog tax rolls provide information about owners of non-working dogs in Scotland and the number of dogs they owned.
  6. Farm horse tax rolls 1797-1798

    The farm horse tax rolls (National Records of Scotland, E326/10) list the names of the owner and number of horses and mules used in husbandry or trade in 1797-1798. In some rolls the tax inspectors made repeat visits to track down non-payers, which explains why some parishes and burghs are repeated. The listing below is that of the original rolls.
  7. Female servant tax rolls 1785-1792

    In Scotland, taxes were levied on households employing 'non-essential' female servants between 1785 and 1792. Most of the servants listed were engaged in domestic work. The tax schedules (National Records of Scotland, E326/6) cover the years 1785-1792 and are divided county by county and then by parish and household, with separate volumes for the royal burghs. The parish and burgh schedules are arranged by household, listing the name of each householder liable for the tax and usually the name and designation of each servant.
  8. Hearth tax records 1691-1695

    Hearth tax rolls list the people who were liable for tax on hearths (including kilns) in Scotland in the 1690s. They provide clues about the size of each building, place, estate or parish in the late 17th century. Heads of households of each building were liable for a tax of 14 shillings, payable at Candlemas 1691, and only hospitals and the poor were exempt. There were huge difficulties in collecting the tax, particularly in the Highlands, and attempts to collect the tax went on in some parts of Scotland went on until 1695. The surviving hearth tax rolls (National Records of Scotland reference E69) are generally arranged by county and then parish or by landed estate. The rolls for the following counties contain lists of householders (some arranged by estate or place): 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. 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. In this series of hearth tax rolls there are none for Orkney, Shetland, Caithness, Ross and Cromarty. For information on hearth tax rolls for Dumfriesshire, Fife, Edinburgh, Shetland and Ross-shire in private records in the NRS see the guide on tax records at www.nas.gov.uk/guides/taxation.asp. Please note that hearth tax records are difficult to read, if you are not familiar with 17th century handwriting. For guidance on 17th century handwriting visit www.scottishhandwriting.com.
  9. Horse tax rolls, 1785-1798

    These volumes provide information on those who paid taxes on carriage and saddle horses in the late 18th century in the Scottish counties and royal burghs between 1785 and 1798.
  10. Inhabited House Tax, 1778-1798

    Duties on inhabited houses were first imposed in 1778. The resulting tax schedules (E326/3/1-65), drawn up by the Exchequer, were bound by counties, with royal burghs included under their respective counties. An exception is the burgh schedules for 1786-87 and 1789-90, which were found several years after the above arrangement was made and which have been bound in alphabetical order for each year (E326/63-64). The schedules for 1793-94, 1795-96 and 1796-97 are entirely wanting, except for the 1793-94 schedules for Inverness-shire and Inverness burgh (vol. 21). After 1798 this duty was incorporated in the comprehensive Assessed Taxes Schedules.
  11. Land tax rolls 1645-1831

    Land tax rolls (often called cess rolls or valuation rolls) were compiled by the Commissioners of Supply in each county to enable the collection of the land tax from 1667 onwards. They list the owners of landed estates and assess the rental value of their lands. Rolls were compiled or revised at irregular intervals. The date of a roll is taken to be that on which the valuation was made or revised, but in many cases the surviving copy of the roll was made at a much later date, which is established by the certificate of the commissioners of supply, their clerk or the collector, authenticating it. The rolls available on this website are the rolls submitted to the Scottish Exchequer, which now survive in the National Records of Scotland (reference E106). Other land tax rolls can be found among Commissioners of Supply records in local archives.
  12. Male servant tax rolls 1777-1798

    The male servant tax was levied on the households employing 'non-essential' male servants from 1777 onwards. This excluded farm labourers, industrial workers and servants in businesses like shops and inns. The tax was aimed primarily at the wealthy in town and country who could afford domestic or personal servants (such as cooks, butlers, valets, grooms, gardeners and coachmen). The tax schedules (National Records of Scotland, E326/5) cover the years 1777-1779, 1785-1795 and 1797-1798 and are divided county by county and then by parish and household, with separate volumes for the royal burghs. The parish and burgh schedules are arranged by household, listing the name of each household liable for the tax and usually the name and designation of each servant.
  13. Shop tax rolls, 1785-1789

    These volumes contain the names of the shopkeepers throughout Scotland in the late 18th century. Occasionally the names of the businesses are included as well as the annual value of shops over £5.
  14. Window tax, 1748-1798

    From 1748 until 1851 taxes were levied on the occupants of buildings with several windows in Scotland. Window tax rolls, listing the householders and the number of windows in their properties, survive for the period 1748-1798 among the records of the Exchequer in the National Records of Scotland (reference E326/1). The window tax had been imposed in England from 1696. The rolls are arranged by county and royal burgh and there are some gaps for particular years for some counties and burghs. Initially the rolls list properties with 10 or more windows but from 1762 onwards they list those with 8 or more windows and from October 1766 they list those with 7 or more.