Hearth Taxes

A bill for imposing a tax on chimney hearths was first passed by parliament in 1662. The reason was, of course, to try to provide a regular source of income for the king. In this it was not successful, as in the early stages there were difficulties over hearth registration and collection of the dues. Later the collection was ‘farmed’, i.e. put out to contractors who hoped to collect more than they had offered for the privilege. This was not particularly successful either, especially given the prevalence of plague in the 1660s. The last collection was made in 1689.