Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Virginia Tithables 1624 - 1704

All researchers should use tithable lists, which were annual head taxes that were levied on residents. Because land and personal property were generally NOT taxed in the early colonies, the tithable lists are about the only colonial period tax records we can use.

There were acts setting the amount of tax in 1629, 1632 and 1639 and the word "tithable" does not appear in the law statutes until 1643. As counties and parishes were established, there was naturally a need to collect revenue, therefore making subsequent statutes necessary, in order to define all factors. There were various acts from 1643 through 1748 and the main thing was to identify the people, not in a physical household, but rather a taxable one.

Still, existing lists may be county lists or even parish lists which could be originals, copies, or lists that were actually entered by the county or vestry clerk. The origins of the list, therefore, determines the likely accuracy and we must keep in mind a justice's list or a clerk's list may very well spell the same name differently.

As the colonies became independent, the tax system changed to taxing mainly males over 16 as well as to taxes on personal property and land. If you are researching Virginia, it is a good idea to check "The Statutes at Large: Being a Collection of All the Laws of Virginia" by Wm. W. Hening, editor. Vol. 1, p. 128. You need to carefully check the applicable laws and the county clerk records to interpret tithables lists made during the period of interest.

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