Bristol Hearth Tax 1662-1673

Edited by: Roger Leech   Jonathan Barry   Alison Brown   Catherine Ferguson and Elizabeth Parkinson

British Record Society, vol. 135, Hearth Tax Series vol XI

Due to be published autumn 2018.


This edition publishes three transcripts of hearth tax material for Bristol: the 1670 Michaelmas hearth tax return from The National Archives in London (TNA) and the 1662 and 1668 listings from the Bristol Chimney Book housed in the Bristol Archives (BA). Alongside these are appendices contain supporting hearth tax transcripts covering outparishes within Gloucestershire in 1672 (TNA) and a Bristol Archives exemption certificate. This is the eleventh volume in the Hearth Tax Series produced on a county basis, published by the British Record Society in partnership with the British Academy Hearth Tax Project based at the Centre for Hearth Tax Research at the University of Roehampton. This edition is a co-publication with the Bristol Record Society.


The survival of several hearth tax listings for Bristol between 1662 and 1673 offers a detailed insight into the people and places of one of England’s leading provincial cities as it began a renewed period of growth and prosperity as an Atlantic trading port and manufacturing centre. With a wealth of names and topographical information about Bristolians, supplemented by several appendices with further documentary evidence and biographical data, this is an essential text for the local and early modern historian. The introductory essays also bring out the importance of these documents for understanding the workings of the hearth tax and government policy in Restoration England and draw valuable comparisons between Bristol and London and other towns and cities. The distribution of population and wealth across the city, and in particular its varied types of housing stock, can be closely analysed, revealing a city with a large and prosperous middling sort, but also substantial problems of poverty in some of its suburbs and back streets. Professor Roger Leech’s extensive research identifies the actual buildings inhabited by the heads of households listed in the hearth tax, making this volume of particular interest to vernacular architecture historians.



Professor Roger Leech is a graduate of the universities of Cambridge and Bristol, whose career in rescue archaeology in south-west and north-west England was followed by posts at the Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England (now part of English Heritage), first as Head of the former Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division and then as Head of Archaeology. A former President of the Society for Post Medieval Archaeology, he is now Visiting Professor of Archaeology in the University of Southampton, with his principal research interests in the historical archaeology of the early modern Atlantic world, focussing especially on Bristol, London and the Caribbean. He has so far published two of a series of topographical volumes on Bristol for the Bristol Record Society, as well as The Town House in Medieval and Early Modern Bristol (English Heritage, 2014).

Professor Jonathan Barry is Professor of Early Modern History at the University of Exeter and has published extensively on the history of Bristol and South-West England c.1500-1800. He currently holds a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator Award for his project on ‘The Medical World of Early Modern England, Wales and Ireland’, which will include a forthcoming book on medical practice in early modern Bristol.

Alison Brown was Archives Officer at Bristol Record Office for 24 years, during which she immersed herself in the history of Bristol and its archives and developed a keen interest in palaeography.

Dr Elizabeth Parkinson is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Hearth Tax Research at the University of Roehampton and has been involved with the Hearth Tax Project there since its adoption by the British Academy in 2004.  She has contributed to most of the British Record Society’s Hearth Tax Series, produced in collaboration with the Hearth Tax Project, and is the acknowledged expert on the administration of the hearth tax 1662-1689.  Her publications include The Establishment of the Hearth Tax 1662-1666 (List and Index Society, 2008).

Dr Catherine Ferguson is General Editor of the British Record Society’s Hearth Tax Series and a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Hearth Tax Research at the University of Roehampton. This is the sixth Hearth Tax Series volume she has edited.