The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14
39.—Change of Fiscal Methods at the Revolution
39.—Change of Fiscal Methods at the Revolution.
It was impossible that the abolition of the feudal services without any equitable equivalent, which amounted to the abandonment of about one-half of the public revenue, without any compensation whatever therefrom, should not have been most grievously felt by all classes of the community, except the landholders. Accordingly we find that during the reigns of Charles II. and James II., not only the system of taxation was complained of, but also that the amount was greater than the country could bear; and the partizans of William III. having held forth the alteration and reduction of taxation as a strong motive for a change in the Government, it became necessary, when the Revolution was accomplished, to return to the principle of a direct assessment on property, and to gratify the people with the abolition of the obnoxious duty of hearth money b.
The Convention Parliament assembled February 13th, 1689, and on the 18th resolved to grant a present aid of 6 monthly assessments (on real and personal property), at £68,820 19s. a month, making together £412,925, to be levied according to the proportions in 31 Car. II. c. 1, 1679, which received the royal assent March 21st, and became the Statute 1 W. & M. c. 3. And as a further proof that it was again intended to raise the revenue chiefly from property, Parliament next proceeded to frame a new principle of assessment that for the first time exempted stock on land from being rated as other chattels personal, which sufficiently exhibits the influence of the landed interest at that time. By the Statute 1 W. & M., Sess. 1 c. 20, ss. 1, 2, an aid was granted of 12d. in the pound on the yearly value of all personal estate ("except debts and the stock upon hinds, and such goods as were used for household stuff") c, and also upon offices or employments (except offices in the army or navy) d; and all lands, tenements, and hereditaments were charged for one year with the sum of 12d. for every 20s. of the true yearly value, " And all and every person and persons, bodies public and corporate, guilds, mysteries, fraternities and brotherhoods, whether corporate or not corporate, having or holding in his, her, or their actual pos- page 192 session any manors, measures, lands, tenements, or other the lands or premiss, shall yield and pay unto their majesties the sum of 12d. for every 20s. by the year, which the said maors, messuages, lands, tenements, hereditaments, aid other the premises are now worth to be leased, of the same were truly and bonâ fide leased or demied, at a rack rent and according to the full true yearly value thereof, without any respect had to the present rents reserved for the same, if such rents have been reserved upon such leases, or estates made, for which any fine or income hath been paid or secured, and without any respect had to any former rates or taxes thereupon imposed" e.
The Commissioners apponted for putting the act into execution were directed to issue warrants "to two at the least of the most able and sufficient inhabitants of each parish township, or place within their respective districts, thereby appointing and requiring them to be assessors of all and every the rates and duties by the set imposed and the said assessors were "to ascertain and inform themselves, by all lawful ways and means they could, of the true and full rate and valuation of the true yearly rents and profits of all manors, messuages, lands, and tenements, as also all quarries, mines of coal, tin, or lead, all ironworks and salt works, allom mines or works, parks, chases, warrens, woods, underwoods, and coppices, fishings, tithes, tolls, and other hereditaments of what nature or kind soever, situate, lying, and being, happening and arising within the limits of those places with which they should be charged; and being so thereof ascertained," they were "to assess all and every the said manors, messuages, lands, tenements, and premises before appointed to be charg'd after the rate of 12d. for every 20s. of the true yearly value, as the same were let for or were worth to be let for at the time of the assessing thereof as aforesaid" f.
And by the 1 W. & M., Sess. 2 c. 1, an aid of 2s. in the pound for one year was granted. This grant was in the same terms and words as those quoted above of the Stat. 1 W. & M., Sess. 1 c. 20, only with the substitution of 2s. in the pound for 12d. or one shilling in the pound, and in the first-mentioned act the names of the Commissioners for putting the act in execution are not inserted, only they are to be persons resident, having real estates to the value of £100 a year, in the counties or shires for which they should be nominated Commissioners g, whereas in the latter, as in most, or all subsequent acts, they are inserted at full length, and it may be added that they are usually very numerous, forming apparently a majority of the wealthier landholders of each county.
By the 1 W. & M., Sess. 2 c. 5, an additional aid of 12d. in the pound was granted in the same terms as the last mentioned aid of 2s. in the pound.
The above three aids, then, together would amount to a tax for the year 1689-90 of 4s. in the pound on the true yearly rental of real property, and 24s. for every £100 of personal property (except debts, stock on land, and household goods); or 4s. in the pound on £6, the then legal interest of money, thus rating both descriptions of property alike, which produced £2,018,704 h.