Male Servants Tax 1780 added to SoG Data Online

The reign of William and Mary introduced a number of inventive ways of raising income such as levying duties on births, marriages and deaths; window and land taxes. The Government of George II, heavily engaged in the Seven Years War and in need to finance their war with France was equally as inventive.  The Board of Stamps, established in 1694, imposed charges on legal documents and a whole host of other papers – from newspapers, pamphlets, lottery tickets, apprentice indentures, advertisements, playing cards, dice, insurance policies, gold and silver plate, hair powder, armorial bearings and legacies.

The Board also oversaw licences on hawkers and pedlars, hackney carriages, pawnbrokers, horse-dealers, attorneys, patent medicine vendors, plate dealers, appraisers, bankers, post-horses, stage coaches and game. Generally records relating to these taxes at The National Archives do not include names but there are exceptions eg. The records generated by the duty on Apprentices imposed from 1710 indexed online through the Society of Genealogists website and on  The records of the legacy duties from 1796 in TNA series IR 26 can supplement information in wills. These are partially indexed through The National Archives catalogue Discovery, and on findmypast. and the SoG holds a microfilm copy of the manuscript calendars to these records (TNA IR 27). The stamped indentures of articled clerkships of attorneys and solicitors start in 1729 and are indexed on which can be searched free of charge in the Society’s Library.

The Treasury papers at The National Archives include yearly lists of persons paying duty on:–

Coaches, Berlins, landaus, chariots, chaise, chairs or caravans from 1753-1766 (T47/2-4)

Silver Pate 1756-1762 (T47/5-7)

Male Servants 1780 (T/47/8)

The Society of Genealogists has now digitised and made available online a manuscript index to the Male Servants Tax return of 1780 compiled by its members and typed by Norma Ashworth. This lists the employers and the number of servants they had, but does not include the names of the latter.

In her book Family Roots. Discovering the Past in the Public Record Office (Weidenfield and Nicolson, 1991) Stella Colwell makes extensive use of the assessed taxes at TNA in her genealogy of the Garrick family. David Garrick of Southampton Street, Covent Garden paid six pounds in tax for the year ended 5 April 1765 on his four wheeled chaise. The index to tax on male servants 1780 shows Mrs Garrick of the Adelphi employed four servants. 

For a fuller exposition of the tax and with special regard to its workings for Berkshire taxpayers you might wish to read the article by SoG member Emmy Eustace on her Berkshire Research blog

Emmy notes that employers were expected to pay a guinea per year for each male servant, including butlers, footmen, grooms, gamekeepers and coachmen. The tax did not apply to people who employed agricultural labourers, shop assistants, apprentices or factory workers as long as they were not involved with domestic duties. It is not a comprehensive listing as there was much evasion of the tax, which was finally repealed in 1937.

A free basic search  can be carried out here but to view the full record  you will need to be a member of the Society of Genealogists.

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