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The Hearth Tax – 1788

Title page of "Our Home Cyclopedia," of "grocery and housekeeping - 1889  Mercantile Publishing Company Wikimedia Commons

Title page of “Our Home Cyclopedia,” of “grocery and housekeeping – 1889 Mercantile Publishing Company
Wikimedia Commons

THE TIMES (LONDON)
28TH MARCH, 1788 (abridged)
Mr. Conolly of Ireland has brought forward a motion for abolishing the tax upon HEARTHS, and the Irish Ministry will not oppose it. In Ireland, hearth-money is at this day more oppressive than ever it was in England.

This tax has ever been hateful, and as the subject is again revived- we will give its history. In Doomesday-Book, compiled by order of William I. there existed a tax called fumages or fuage, which common people termed smoke farthings. This tax was paid by custom to the King, and was rated upon every chimney in a house.

Edward, the Black Prince, after his successes in France, in imitation of the English custom, imposed a tax, one florin upon every hearth in his French dominions. This tax is mentioned in the twenty-third volume and four hundred and sixty-third page of the Modern Universal History, and in Spelman’s Glossory under the word Fuage.
In the fourteenth year of the reign of Charles II, a statute was passed in Parliament that all houses liable to church and poor, should pay two shillings for every hearth. This payment was granted as an hereditary revenue to the king for ever. Subsequent statutes allowed a surveyor, appointed by the crown, a constable and two other inhabitants of the parish, to view the inside of every house in the parish.

Hearth-money was eventually abolished by a statute, passed in the first year of King William and Queen Mary. The statute declared-that hearth money is “not only a great oppression to the poorer sort, but a badge of slavery upon the whole people, exposing every man’s house to be entered into, and searched at pleasure, by persons unknown to him. To erect a lasting monument of their Majesty’s goodness in every house in the kingdom, the duty of hearth-money was taken away and abolished.”
Ireland awaits and the Minister will acquire well earned popularity by not opposing its annihilation.

NOTE: The hearth tax was abolished in England in 1689 – It was abolished in Ireland during the 19th Century.

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