Farm horse tax records

Been looking at late 18th century Scottish farm horse tax records, which conveniently are digitised and available freely online. Lots of farming ancestors, so I found quite a few in there, e.g.

  • William Fair, tenant in Horsely, Coldingham parish, Berwickshire, had 8 horses
  • James Usher of Toftfield, Melrose parish, Roxburghshire, had 4 horses
  • John Usher jr of Toftfield, farming at Pirn farm, Stow parish, Midlothian, had 4 horses
  • Thomas Usher, farming Burnhead [later laird of Courthill], Wilton parish, Roxburghshire, had 9 horses
  • James Blaikie of Langhaugh, Melrose parish, Roxburghshire, had 4 horses
  • John Turnbull, tenant of Blackhaugh, Stow parish, Selkirkshire portion, had 3 horses
  • Dr Richard Somner, tenant of Castlemains of Yester, Garvald parish, East Lothian, had 10 horses
  • James Seton of Redside (son-in-law of above), North Berwick, East Lothian, had 6 horses
  • Richard Somner, tenant of Townhead, Gifford parish, East Lothian, had 12 horses
  • James Burnet, smith in Birgham, Eccles parish, Berwickshire, had 2 horses

The Fair ancestor is reached through the Hall side of the family tree. The Ushers, Blaikies, Turnbulls and Somners are reached through Mrs Catherine Dodds nee Irvine. And the Burnett line is reached through the Dodds side too, ancestors of Catherine’s husband Alexander Burnett Dodds.

These farm horse tax records only record the people who were liable for the tax i.e. the farmers. Farm servants, of which there are many in the family tree, don’t generally appear in these records, though they show up in others.

I intend to transcribe the farm horse tax records for Coldingham and Melrose parishes, for my one-place studies. These records date from 1797-8, and since my one-place studies focus on the 18th century and earlier this is ideal.

There are also clock and watch tax records on the free website, though they are very incomplete in terms of counties surviving, and even in terms of coverage inside parishes, especially inside towns.

There are many other late 18th century Scottish tax records which haven’t been digitised yet. I looked at an awful lot of these in their original manuscript form in the National Archives of Scotland, in Edinburgh, while I worked for a year as a Research Assistant on a university research project. Examples include the female servants tax, the shop tax, and the hair powder tax.

About vivdunstan

Academic historian, genealogist, former computer scientist, and Doctor Who fan.
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