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Book title:West Sussex Land Tax, 1785
Author:Alan Readman, Lionel Falconer, Rosie Ritchie & Peter Wilkinson
Date:2000
Volume:Volume 82
ISBN:085445 049 1
Status:In-print
Retail price:£7.50
Member's price:£5.00

This edition of the Land Tax provides the most comprehensive picture of the 18th century inhabitants of West Sussex ever published. It also completes the picture for the whole ancient county of Sussex, providing the counterpart to the East Sussex volume issued by the Record Society in 1991.

The Land Tax, like a rate, was an annual charge on the occupiers of houses and land which for over two centuries in England and Wales formed one of the staple sources of Government income. The records of its assessment and collection have long been recognised as of major importance for a wide range of historical studies. The extensive index, including all personal and place names, enables this edition to provide a comprehensive directory of landowners and tenants - the fullest record of the inhabitants of the county before the compilation of the first Victorian census half a century later. The tax assessments listed anyone who owned or occupied a house or land with a rentable value of upwards of I per year. It consequently includes around half of all the householders - over 6,000 people out of a total population of around 60,000 - and even more units of property. None of the 19th century County Directories approached this figure. It will be invaluable to a wide range of students: to family historians for the personal names, to topographers for the placenames, and to social and economic historians for the details of land holding and ownership.

The year chosen, 1785, has of course been chosen to match the East Sussex volume. It catches West Sussex at the end of the era when it was an almost entirely rural and agricultural community, before the seaside villages blossomed into fashionable coastal resorts. Every rural parish is covered - and of course the urban communities represented by the City of Chichester, the market towns of Arundel, Horsham, Midhurst, Petworth and Steyning, and the port of New Shoreham.

Alan Readman is Assistant County Archivist at the West Sussex Record Office where he has researched and written on a wide range of different aspects of the county, including its agricultural, military and cinematographic history.

8pp & 319 pages including index, 6 illustrations and map, hardback, colour dustjacket.