Taxation Records


Taxation records

The National Archives of Scotland (NAS) holds several types of taxation records, which can be useful for researching the history of people and settlements. A brief summary of these records is given below - more information will be found in the Scottish Record Office's, Tracing Scottish Local History: a guide to local history research in the Scottish Record Office (Edinburgh: Mercat Press, 1994).

Inland Revenue Field Books

The Inland Revenue 'field books' were compiled between 1909 and 1915, as part of a national survey to determine the value of all land in the United Kingdom. The field books contain architectural notes on urban and rural buildings of all types, including farm buildings, which were recorded in some detail. They usually also contain sketch plans of buildings. A specially printed set of Ordnance Survey maps acts as a key to the properties and their boundaries.

Land tax: Valuation rolls, 1855-1989

Valuation rolls were compiled annually for every property in Scotland between 1855 and 1989. They record the name and designation of the proprietor of each property, together with the tenant, occupier and annual rateable value. The rolls are arranged by county and then by parish or electoral ward. They are not indexed, but properties are normally arranged geographically within each parish. Many local studies libraries and archives hold duplicate sets of these records for their local areas.

Land tax: Valuation rolls before 1855

Before 1855, the land tax record is much more piecemeal. A land tax was levied in Scotland from 1667, which recorded the value of land for every parish, together with the proprietors' names. However, only some of these records now survive.

Loretta Timperley has used the surviving records to publish A Directory of Scottish Landownership in 1770' (Scottish Record Society, Edinburgh, 1976), which shows all the named landowners for that year together with the names and values of their properties. This is a useful and comprehensive guide and should available in most good reference libraries.

Other taxation records

A variety of other taxes were levied in Scotland during the 17th and 18th centuries. These were mostly 'one offs', intended to raise revenue for specific purposes such as wars or royal marriages. The best known of these are the Hearth tax of 1691-1695 and the poll taxes of 1694, 1695, and 1698. However others include taxes on windows, inhabited houses, carts, carriages, horses and farm houses.

These are very useful in giving an indication of the population of settlements before the agricultural improvements. However, the frequent difficulty experienced in assessing and collecting many of these taxes - particularly in remote rural parts of Scotland - means that they must be used with caution.

© Historic Environment Scotland - Scottish Charity No. SC045925.