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A photocopy of the return for 1662
A photocopy of the return for 1662

Hearth Tax Return made by the inhabitants of Beckett

After the chaos of the Civil War, the restored monarch, Charles II, was in much need of money. Parliament agreed that he must have some form of income and on 19 May, 1662, the bill for laying an imposition upon chimney hearths received royal assent. The tax was to serve as a source of income for the king, whereby twice a year, (Michaelmas 29 Sept & Lady Day 25 March) one shilling was to be paid for every fire, hearth and stove within each dwelling. It was intended to be a fair tax in that those with grander properties paid more money. But, like all taxes, it was far from popular. Houses worth less than 20 shillings (£1) in annual rent, or containing no more than £10 worth of moveable goods, were exempt, as were the poorest inhabitants of each parish. However, they were obliged to obtain a certificate from numerous sources in order to qualify. The lists that survive provide us today with an insight as to some of the people who were living in Beckett Park 350 years ago.

This Listing shows two examples of Returns made by the Tythingman of the Liberty known as Beckett. (For further information on Beckett please go to ) They are only photocopies of the originals courtesy of Berkshire County Archives at Reading, hence they have been written on to make them more legible to the reader.

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