I have a question:
One of the farms that was in my family located in the Parish of Cellan, CGN,
was not listed in the Land Tax Assessments for 1814/1815. It said at the
bottom of the record: "This farm is not listed but had probably been bought
the tithe system."
You really need to read the introduction in the Gibson Guides or similar, but
I will do my best without access to them.
First, let's distinguish between the Tithe and the Land Tax - they are quite
separate. Maybe someone else can explain why tithes are mentioned in this
way in a Land Tax assessment.
The Tithe was originally paid for the upkeep of the church and was one tenth
of production (mainly farming). It was paid in kind. When this became a
problem there was piecemeal commutation into money. In 1836 the Tithe
Commutation Act provided for the commutation of all Tithes still paid in kind and
resulted in the Tithe Maps and Schedules of the 1830s and 1840s which are of such
value to us now. Tithes were not abolished in England until the 1930s, but
they would have stopped in Wales when the Church was disestablished in 1919(?).
The Land Tax was introduced in 1693 as a source of revenue to the Government
and continued through the nineteenth century. I don't know exactly when it
ended but its main interest for family historians is for the period 1780-1831
when it provided the qualification for the vote - the Land Tax returns which
survive are mainly the copies sent to the Clerk of the Peace, not those held by
the Inland Revenue.
Now during the Napoleonic Wars (1793-1802; 1803-1813; 1815) there was a need
for extra Government revenue. So they mortgaged future Land Tax revenues by
allowing people to redeem or be exonerated from their liability to the tax.
This seems to be the reference in your quotation.
There must have been some difference between redeeming and being exonerated,
but one of these was done by purchasing a certain amount of Government stock,
Consols or similar, I think. The 1798 Land Tax assessment was used to keep a
record of who had redeemed their tax liability and as a result the records
for this year are now in the PRO at Kew (they show the date of any contract for
redemption). One unexpected result of the purchases was the sharp increase
in the price of Government stock over the next few years!
There are Inland Revenue files of the redemption and exoneration contracts,
from memory I think they are IR 44 and IR 45 at the PRO. I am meaning to take
a look at them - but there always seems to be something more interesting to
In medieval times many of the Welsh Tithes were paid to monasteries, but I do
not have the knowledge to say whether they had owned the tithes from the
start. Anyway, when Henry VIII broke with Rome and dissolved the monasteries in
the 1530s, he sold off their possessions - including the Tithes - because he
needed the money. The Tithes were bought as investments, principally by
Englishmen. Later, "Tithe Farmers".acquired the Tithes of several parishes, by
purchase or as dowries, etc. In North Pembrokeshire many of the Tithes were
owned in the 19th century by William Deedes of Kent, ancestor (I believe) of his
namesake the GOM of the Daily Telegraph of today.
The effects of the sale of the Tithes were religiously and economically
disastrous in Wales:
Firstly there was little other income for the stipend of a clergyman or the
upkeep of the church building, with the result that the quality of curates was
in general very poor and the buildings were barely maintained in a safe
Secondly, the Tithe acted as a tax on the local community since 10% of the
annual income was drained off to be circulated far away, whereas if it had gone
to the church or a local landowner it would have found its way back into the
community through wages or through investment in new equipment, schools, etc.
And that in an area where most of the farmland was poor in the first place -
it's no wonder the people lived in poverty!
That's Enough . . . but it does help to explain why so many of our ancestors
were forced to move away, and we are now making the return journey to find out
how and where they lived.
(exiled to Essex)