The Window Tax
The Window Tax
An indication of Yeovil's housing in 1729
The window tax was a property tax based on the number of windows in a house. It was a significant social, cultural, and architectural force. In England and Wales it was introduced in 1696 and was repealed in 1851. The tax was introduced under "An Act for granting to His Majesty several Rates or Duties upon Houses for making good the Deficiency of the clipped Money".
When the window tax was introduced, it consisted of two parts: a flat-rate house tax of 2 shillings per house per annum and a variable tax for the number of windows above ten windows in the house (a typical three-bedroomed house today has around ten windows). Properties with between ten and twenty windows paid an extra four shillings and those above twenty windows paid an extra eight shillings. In 1709 with the union of England and Scotland, taxes were harmonised and a new top rate of 20s total was introduced for houses with 30 or more windows. At 2017's value one pound would be worth about £126.
A record of the Window Tax for Yeovil for the year 1729, recorded in the Account Book of Wyndham Harbin of Newton Surmaville, is held at the Heritage Centre, Taunton, and is transcribed below. As well as being useful for the names of Yeovilians documented, the tax record gives a good idea of the relative size of typical Yeovil Borough properties at the time. Of the 94 properties recorded 28 (29.8%) had less than ten windows, 54 (57.4%) had between 10 and 20 windows, 10 (10.7%) had more than 30 windows and two (2.1%) weren't taxed since John Mitchell had vacated and Widow Spender was dead. The Window Tax for Yeovil for the year 1729 raised £29 (£2,900 at 2017's value).
It should be noted that of the 30+ window properties only the Mermaid survives, and all current large houses such as Hendford Manor, Hendford House, Penn House, Old Sarum House, for example, were not built at this time.
The Window Tax, Yeovil 1729
The following list is taken from the Account Book of Wyndham Harbin of Newton Surmaville. I have expanded standard name abbreviations, for example Jno to John, Wm to William, Ones to Onesiphorus, etc. in order to assist with internet searches.
A Rate made ye 22nd day of Aprill 1729 for ye Burrough of Yeovill for ye duty on Windows to be paid for one whole Year Ending at Lady Day next.
|William. Donn for Mr Olds||0||6|
|Oc[cupiers] of ye Maremaid||1||0|
|Mr John Boucher||0||6|
|Mr William Rowe||0||2|
|Mr Edward Mines||0||6|
|John Tayler Snr||0||2|
|John. Mullens Shumaker||0||2|
|George King Snr.||0||6|
|Mr Pittard for Boseys||0||6|
|Mr Samuel Daniell||1||0|
|John Geare for Marsh||0||2|
|Mr Samuel Daniell Harris||0||2|
|Mr Samuel Daniell Snr.||0||6|
|Henry Rooks Bell||0||6|
|Widow Perry or Oc[cupiers]||0||6|
|Oc[cupiers] of Jeremiah Atkins||0||6|
|Widow Spender dead||0||0|
|Shearstone for ye Sunn||0||6|
|John Mitchell Va. [vacated?]||0||0|
|George King Junr.||0||2|
|John Boucher or Oc[cupiers]||0||6|