Durham Land Tax Records

Scope and Content

Mainly Land Tax assessments for Co. Durham, and North Durham and Craikeshire (for which there is some material until 1826). For a number of townships in the Easington Ward (these are North Bailey in Durham City, Bishopwearmouth, Bishopwearmouth Panns, Cassop, Coldhesledon, Easington, Hawthorn, East and Middle Herrington, Hetton le Hole, Houghton-le-Spring, Hutton Henry, Kelloe, Newbottle, Penshaw, Ryhope, Shadforth, Shotton, Silksworth, Sunderland) there is a little other material, mainly correspondence, and for Easington Ward as a whole there are 30 boxes of miscellaneous administrative documents, some of which relate to other taxation such as that on windows, male servants, carriages, horses and dogs.

Before 1780 the assessments give only a single list of names, with owners and occupiers undifferentiated, and amounts at which they are assessed. From 1780 onwards owners and occupiers appear in separate columns, but the property is not identified. The printed forms introduced in 1826 have an additional column for Description of property. This was variously interpreted in the assessments, but they usually give only the briefest indication of the nature of the property (e.g. land, tithes, house, coal mines, public house, sometimes a farm name) and not its location. The revised form introduced in 1899/1900 added a further column for Situation of property, including street and number within it. The twentieth century assessments are therefore considerably more informative, but only of course for the diminishing amount of unredeemed property.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Land Tax was first levied in 1693 in the form of a national poundage rate, replaced in 1698 by a system of county quotas, further subdivided by the local commissioners of the tax into hundred (ward in Co. Durham) and parish or township quotas. A tax on real property, it was paid on tithes, some buildings, and some offices, as well as on land. In 1798 the tax was fixed perpetually at four shillings in the pound, the local quotas were also fixed perpetually, and from that year land owners were able to redeem the tax for a payment equal to fifteen years tax. From 1780 to 1832, when separate electoral registers were introduced, Land Tax assessments were used as the record of qualification to vote in parliamentary elections, and the names of owners of redeemed land therefore remained in the schedules; duplicate assessments had to be lodged with the Clerk of the Peace for electoral purposes. In 1949 redemption was made compulsory when property next changed hands, and the tax was abolished in 1963.

In Durham the tax was collected by ward (Chester, Darlington, Easington and Stockton), and until 1836 the detached parts of the palatinate were also included (Craikeshire [Crayke in Yorkshire] and Bedlington, Norham and Islandshire in Northumberland).


By Ward, subdivided by township, in chronological order.

Access Information

Open for consultation

Acquisition Information

Deposited between 1954 and 1971 by local solicitors and Collectors of Taxes in Durham City and Darlington

Other Finding Aids

Land tax records, 8 vols. (Durham, 1972), available online at online catalogue

Summary list of Land Tax assessments, (Durham, 1972) - this covers assessments only and omits reference numbers for the documents, but includes an index of townships which indicates in which ward a township was put for land tax purposes.

Separated Material

PRO, London: Durham 3/199-201 (copies of Land Tax schedules, 1812-1824).

County Record Office, Durham (Clerk of the Peace's Land Tax assessments duplicates).

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Sub-Librarian, Special Collections (e-mail PG.Library@durham.ac.uk) and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.

Related Material

Smiths-Gore Papers