Notes by Allen Smith of Braithwell, Micklebring and Clifton History and Heritage Group
After the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660, extra revenue was required, and this unpopular tax was introduced in 1672. It remained in existence until 1689, and under it any owner with property worth in excess of 20 shillings, was liable to pay a tax of 2 shillings for each stove or fireplace in the household. It was thought that the number of fireplaces signified the financial status of the householder. It was so unpopular that it nearly led to a Revolution in 1688.
To the village Constable fell the job of calculating and helping to collect the tax. (Little wonder that nobody in the village wanted the Constable's unpaid job!) There were four collectors for the Strafforth Wappentake, and the one designated to help the Braithwell Constable was Robert Moore. The Collector and the Constable had the power to enter houses and check on the number of hearths in use. In order to be exempt from this tax, the poor had to produce a certificate issued by the Overseers of the Poor.
In the Strafforth Wappentake, 11% of the households were said to be "poor"(those with only one hearth.) but on the returns for Braithwell, none are stated as being Poor, although there are 37 in this category!
|Name||No of Hearths.|
|- more per a Smithy||1|
|- more stopt up||2|
Robert Moore Collector
John Amrey Constable
(It would seem that Mr. Waterhouse was mentioned twice. The Waterhouse family lived at the Manor, and this would be the only residence in the village with eight hearths, and so it would seem safe to assume that this was a mistake.)
The Hearth Tax and Poll Tax may have been hard on the people of the time, and caused much hardship, but to the historian the records are invaluable. The Hearth tax returns prove to be a much more reliable guide to the size of the village, and the importance of residents than those of the earlier Poll Tax. It is thought that there was little or no evasion possible, and so the list can be taken as the relatively true number of households in the Parish at that time. (56)
When attempting to assess the size of village communities in the Middle Ages, Historians tend to agree upon using five as the average size of family. If we use this, it would put the size of the Braithwell Township to be in the region of 280 inhabitants.