This database was compiled as part of two projects, the People in Place Project and its successor, the Life in the Suburbs Project. Both are collaborations between Birkbeck, University of London; the Centre for Metropolitan History, Institute of Historical Research, University of London; and the Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure. Project directors are Vanessa Harding, Matthew Davies, and Richard Smith. The research team comprises Mark Merry, Philip Baker, and Gill Newton, with assistance from Olwen Myhill, Administrator at the Centre for Metropolitan History. People in Place was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and ran from 2003 to 2006, while Life in the Suburbs is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, and runs from 2008 to 2011.
The purpose of the People in Place project was to develop ways of identifying and tracking over time the changing characteristics of London families and households between c. 1540 and 1710. It integrated two distinct procedures (family reconstitution and property history reconstruction) in order to develop census-type, cross-sectional data. It created a substantial database of houses, "housefuls", households and householders in three contrasting areas of London: Cheapside, Clerkenwell, and Aldgate. The Life in the Suburbs project seeks to investigate the consequences of demographic and economic growth on the health, domestic arrangements and built environment of the inhabitants of the parishes of London's eastern suburbs, specifically St Botolph Aldgate and Holy Trinity Minories, between 1550 and 1700.
The data included here are from the Marriage Duty Assessments for the part of St Botolph Aldgate which lay within the City of London only (the assessments for the Middlesex part of the parish do not survive). This encompasses five precincts in Portsoken Ward: Barrs, Covent Garden, High Street, Houndsditch, and Tower Hill.
One of three innovative taxes levied in the 1690s to help pay for the expensive war with France (see also the Four Shillings in the Pound Aid (FSP) and the Poll Tax (POL)), the Marriage Duty Tax was authorised by the 1694 statute, An Act for Granting His Majesty Certain Rates and Duties upon Marriages, Births, and Burials, and upon Bachelors and Widows.1 As the title implies, fees were levied on all births, marriages and deaths. In addition, an annual fee was charged on all bachelors over 25 years of age and childless widowers. Fee levels varied according to the social status of the individual: the gentry and nobility, and anyone with a personal estate over £600, or an annual income of £50, paid extra. Persons receiving alms were exempt.
To assess this tax and prevent evasion, it was necessary to have a complete listing of the whole population, in effect a census, specifying names, family and marital status, and titles. The listings created, first in the summer of 1695, constitute the most comprehensive listing of the English population created before the 1801 census, and although not many survive, those for the City of London are relatively comprehensive.
The database has 5,879 entries. Each entry in the database is divided into the following fields:
- Unique Project ID: Unique identification number.
- Forename: Given name, where provided.
- Surname: Surname, where provided.
- Alias: Alias, where provided.
- Relationship or Status: Records the relationship between the individual listed and a householder, such as his wife, child, servant, or his apprentice, or indicates an individual status such as bachelor, widower, lodger, gent, or 600l Estate (indicating possession of a personal wealth greater than £600). Some entries combine relationship and status such as son of a gent. The individual to whom the relationship (such as the husband of his wife) refers is typically listed in the previous entry in the database. See below for a list of abbreviations.
- Precinct: The name of the precinct in which the individual lived.
- Project Property No.: The number assigned to this block of names in the return (indicating a separate house) as indicated by the lines/divisions made by the contemporary compiler of the source.
- Burial Fee: The fee to be assessed for any burial. Recorded as 4s, £1 12s 6d etc. The standard fee was four shillings; the gentry and nobility, and anyone with a personal estate over £600, or an annual income of £50, paid extra. For a full list of these surcharges, see Table 1a in London Inhabitants within the Walls, 1695.
- Birth Fee: The fee assessed for any birth. The standard fee was two shillings; the gentry and nobility, and anyone with a personal estate over £600, or an annual income of £50, paid extra. For a full list of these surcharges, see Table 1a in London Inhabitants within the Walls, 1695.
- Marriage Fee: The fee assessed for any marriage. The standard fee was 2s 6d (two shillings sixpence); the gentry and nobility, and anyone with a personal estate over £600, or an annual income of £50, paid extra. For a full list of these surcharges, see Table 1a in London Inhabitants within the Walls, 1695.
- Bachelors or Widower Fee: The fee assessed if a bachelor or childless widower. The standard fee was one shilling; the gentry and nobility, and anyone with a personal estate over £600, or an annual income of £50, paid extra. For a full list of these surcharges, see Table 1b in London Inhabitants within the Walls, 1695.
- Notes: Used to record any extra relevant information about an individual that did not fit into any other field, and to note any further details relevant to an entry, such as deletions, missing values etc.
- Manuscript Page:The relevant page number in the original manuscript.
A typical entry (with the blank fields suppressed) looks like:
- Unique Project ID: n11702
- Forename: Ann
- Surname: Barnes
- Relationship or Status: his Wife
- Precinct: Houndsditch
- Project Property No.: 347
- Burial Fee: 4s
- Manuscript Page: 61
- 50l a year, 50l p an = Has annual income from real estate worth £50 or more
- 600, 600l, 600l Estate = Has personal estate worth £600 or more
- Appren =Apprentice
- Assesr = Assessor
- Bachr, Batch, Batchel = Batchelor
- B 25, Batch 25 = Batchelor over the age of 25
- Daugr, Daughtr = Daughter
- Gent, Gentn, Gents= Gentleman
- Gentwo = Gentlewoman
- Lodgr, Loger = Lodger
- Prent = Apprentice
- Servt, Serts = Servant
- Widdo, Wido = Widow
- Widr = Widower
The listing in this database is of the residents of St Botolph Aldgate, so the names included should also appear in two other databases containing data from this parish from the 1690s created by the Life in the Suburbs Project, the St Botolph's Parish Registers (PAR) for 1681-1709, and the Poll Tax Assessments (POL) for 1690-98. Also relevant are the tax assessments for the Four Shillings in the Pound Aid (FSP) for London in 1693/94.
There is also substantial overlap with the parish's poor relief records. These for the period around 1695 include the Churchwarden's Accounts (AC), Apprenticeship Indentures (IA), and Vestry Minutes (MV). However, while several parish officials and masters appear in both the poor relief and Marriage Duty records, this applies to very few paupers. This suggests that those receiving alms, who were exempt from the financial provisions of the act, were not included in the listings.3
If the very poor were excluded, which seems likely, then the names in the Marriage Duty assessment are more likely to be found in records which include significant numbers of propertied Londoners, including, as victims, witnesses or jurymen, the Old Bailey Proceedings (OBP), and as officers, the administrative records of Bridewell, the Carpenters' Company, and St Thomas's Hospital.
Please bear in mind that the Marriage Duty Assessments for the Middlesex portion of St Botolph Aldgate do not survive. The data included here are from the part of the parish which lay within the City of London only.
The original returns are kept at the London Metropolitan Archives, reference COL/CHD/LA.
- Jones, P. E. and Judges, A. V. London Population in the late Seventeenth Century. Economic History Review, VI (1935), pp. 45-63.
- Merry, Mark and Baker, Philip. "For the house her self and one servant": Family and Household in Later Seventeenth-century London. The London Journal, 34, 3 (2009), pp. 205-233.
- Schurer, Kevin and Arkell, Tom, eds. Surveying the People: The Interpretation and use of Document Sources for the Study of Population in the Later Seventeenth Century. Oxford, 1992.
For further reading on this subject see the London Lives Bibliography.
1 6 & 7 William and Mary, c. 6. ⇑
2 D. V. Glass, ed., London Inhabitants Within the Walls, 1695 (London Record Society, 2, 1966), pp. xxv-xxvii. ⇑
3 Mark Merry and Philip Baker suggest that in Aldgate "poorer residents simply were not enumerated in the assessment": "For the house her self and one servant": Family and Household in Later Seventeenth-century London, The London Journal, 34, 3 (Nov. 2009), p. 216. ⇑