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Title: The administration of the land tax in England, 1643-1733
Author: Pierpoint, Stephen John
ISNI:       0000 0004 7225 4878
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2017
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Despite England’s growing international trading wealth, an expanding secondary sector, and more productive agriculture the mid-seventeenth century state with its outdated tax system was politically and militarily weak. Civil war and its aftermath created the urgent and protracted supply need which instigated the creation and honing of radically new effective tax forms and processes which proved indispensable during the Restoration and beyond. Drawing on Kent, London and Bristol case studies this thesis explores how the land tax became a mainstay of an increasingly powerful early modern English state by considering its administration, processes and tax mechanics from its 1643 inception to the excise crisis. Economic development offered fiscal opportunity and whilst the excise exploited product supply chains, the land tax targeted rent and income generated from agricultural, commercial and domestic real estate. Occupiers and landlords shared immediate fiscal burdens. Land taxes exploited cashflows around financial and seasonal production cycles, particularly in the more commercialised South and East, where fresh attempts were made to value and tax land. Effective local governors had for decades bolstered their own authority by delivering national initiatives and now worked in partnership with legislators to nurture the new tax and create resilience. The state’s bargain was that parliament would determine deadlines and fixed tax amounts from each locale, but local governors had immediate process ownership to determine its detailed application. Continued fiscal success required fresh waves of innovation, adaption and involvement including: empowerment, delegation, the deployment of more experienced officials, simplification, and improved stakeholder oversight. As post-Revolutionary conflict drove fiscal burdens higher, land taxes became a permanent fiscal implement of the state, despite regular outbreaks of political angst at the tax’s power. The resulting coordinated collective commitment of tens of thousands of officials, across county, city and country, was the great fiscal achievement of the age; a picture long obscured by institutionalised state narratives.
Supervisor: Muldrew, James ; Coffman, D'Maris Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Fiscal-military state ; Direct taxation ; land tax ; Fiscal innovation ; Early modern Britain