Devon Subsidy Rolls – Tax Lists

The subsidy rolls of 1524-7 (copied by T L Stoate in DRO ref 19/STO) are accepted with a few exceptions as the first lists of people taxed since 1332. This tax was known as the 1/15th and 1/10th tax as it taxed individuals on their moveable goods at 1/15th in the country and 1/10th in the towns. This method of taxation remained more or less the main way of raising income for the crown until 1623. After 1332 the rules changed to from individuals to each Vill, which would be the lowest administrative unit of either a tithing, a parish or a town or part of a town. There was a fixed sum that the Vill was responsible itself for collecting. There were variations and requests as well as demands for loans to finance wars (often with France) The ‘Amicable Grant’ was a request for a gift of 1/6th of every mans wealth it was withdrawn due to opposition. In 1522 Wolsey ordered an extensive survey of everyone in the country together with a general Muster. When the survey results were known an enforced loan was instituted. Despite no parliamentary sanction it seems to have been successful. Supposedly the loan was to be repaid from following years taxes but never was and an act of 1529 changed the loan to a legal taxation due to the fact that it was spent on military activities. Individuals were assessed under oath each year around Michaelmas. For the 1524-7 subsidy roll the following list survives for Huish and a partial one only for Merton.

Merton Parish
35 illegible
Philip Chidle
Agnes Shepperd wid
Robert Hooper 9 0
Tamsin Heard wid 2 0
Elizabeth Davie wid 3 0
Mathew Ware 7 0
Henry Lobbone 6 0
Philip Cortise 3 0
Christopher Hollamor 2 0
Donstone Stone 1 0
Samuel Goule
John Browne
Richard Langdon
Philip Bery
Alice? Dinis wid

Total £25 5s

Husih Parish
Edmund Yeo G 18
William Bearman W 1
Richard Netheway G 4
William Rowcleve G 4
John Hunte G 6
James Furlonge G 4
John Hacker G 4
John Cuddamore W 1
Pashcha Bowdon G 3
Henry Kenow ? W 1
Thomas Perkyn ? G 3
William Tawton G 3
Richard Davy G 2
John Heywode W 1
John Hoper G 2
John Raynowde W 1
Anthony Horne W 1

Total £1 8s 6d

Subsidy Roll of 1543-45 (copied by T L Stoate in DRO ref 19/STO) indicate that tax was charged by the Crown on income of £1 or more from lands and on goods valued at £5 and over. Paid in 2 instalments in early 1546 and early 1547. Tax on land was 2/- (10p) in the pound in each instalment (that’s was 20% tax on income from land but not every year) Tax on goods was by sliding scale, 8d in the pound for goods valued between £5 and £10 in each instalment. 12d (5p) on value of goods between £10 and £20, and 15d instalments in the pound on goods valued over £20. This tax known as Subsidy was granted by parliament to enable King Henry VIII to continue the war against Scotland. In 1514 the maximum wage rate for a farm labourer living in and paid annual rate was 16s8d plus 4s for clothing. A day labourer’s rate was 3d per worked day in winter and 4d per day in summer. If meat and drink was supplied by their employer then the rate was halved. The average wage for a labourer is estimated at 50s a year. Tax on wages was at a flat rate of 4d irrespective of the amount earned. The tax on wages in 1524 was dropped but as the lower limit on lands and goods was £1, generally much the same number of people had to pay. The 1543 tax was paid over 3 years , lower tax payers paying ½ in 1543, ¼ in 1544 and ¼ in 1545. Higher tax payers paid 1/3 each instalment. Aliens too poor to qualify under the subsidy charges paid a poll tax of 4d over 3 instalments. Administration of the tax was undertaken by commissioners (country gentry) who from 1534 were appointed by the Crown rather than parliament as in 1524. They appointed assessors and petty collectors in each parish who were responsible for assessing a persons wealth and collecting the tax from him.

1544 Merton Parish Subsidy Roll

Anthony Monck ar L 50
Thomas Monck gent L 20
Philip Bennet 20
Walter Downe 18
Thomas Hill 18
William Kelly 6
John Kelly 6
John Hoper 6
John Whytlock 5
Nicholas Whytlock 1
John Hoyg 6
John Pounchard 4
John Shut 8
William Melhewes 7
John Melhewes 1
Henry Morys 4
John Wyndpeny 7
Edmund Medwey 1
Willaim Medwey 1
Robert Hackar 1
William Hacker 4
Joan Gawman 3
John Shute 2
Oliver Rayly 3
William May 1
Thomas May 1
John Hoper 3
Thomas Parnecot 4
William Downe 2
Walter Downe 2
Richard Venton als
Laysbroke 5
Simon Beare 5
Thomas Lake 3
Mathew Ware 2
John Vanston 1
Walter Vanston 1
John Best 5
John Holemore 2
Stephen Walter 2
Richard Walter 1
Walter Leche 2
Humphry Pawe 2
Joan Pawe 3
Joan Parkyn wid 5
Joan Parkyn )
John Parkyn )
William Parkyn )
…. Parkyn )
John Wydlake 4
Elias Berman 2
Joan Hoper 5
Richard Parnecot 8
John Mill 2
Elizabeth Mill 2
John Parkyn 3
John Courtis 2
Roger Pawe 2
Agnes Willyam 5
Elias Chudley 3
William Lech 5
Anthony Saunder 5
Joan Melwhewes 3
William Brounscombe 2
Joan Kellytrey 3
John Colyer 1
Richard Lawrens 1
John Parnecot glover 1
John Parnecot labourer 1
Nicholas Parnecot 1

Total (tax) £7.13s7d


Humphry Leigh 20
Thomas Yeo 18
Richard Davy 16
John Huntte jun 15
John Ryche 4
John Heywode 5
Richard Neithway 5
Henry Kenyck 2
James Furlong 6
William Rowcliff 7
Richard Neynold 5
John Huntte sen 7
Margery Parkyn 5
Leonard Neithway 3
Margery Leigh 6
Thomas Kenyck 1
William Parkyn 5
Henry Parkyn 5
John Parkyn 5
Henry Parkyn jun 3
John Parkyn 2
William Parkyn 2
William Furlong 1
Richard Furlong 1

Total (Tax) £2 1 s 7d

Whilst I find in interesting to know that our forfathers were being taxed so much so many years ago and ‘spin’ appears no new thing, the lists of names from Merton and Huish throw up some interesting possibilities. Many old houses in the parishes some demolished now, have names that could and probably do relate to persons living in them. Sheppards court for instance that we once owned was built around 1480 may well have been first owned or even built by the Shepperd family, Agnes Shepperd widow, is listed above in 1524. Of course names were often spelt differently according to how the scribe thought it would be spelt so no great store can be made of one spelling of a similar name than another. For example in Merton 1524 a Philip Cortise is recorded and in 1543 a John Courtis quite possibly the same family. Is Bowden Park named after the family of Pashcha Bowdon in 1524? And Downs House could easily be named after the Downe families from Merton. The unusual name of Elias Chudley is certainly the reason Chudleys was so named. It certainly went back to well before 1524. Many surnames still survive today in and around the area such as Horne, Hooper, Heard, Ware, Cuddamore, Heywode, Monck, Downe, Vanstone, Kelly and even Hunte although the current Hunts moved to Merton in 1964 I have heard of some familes that without knowledge return back to their roots.