Family History Notebook

Lay Subsidy Rolls
& Poll Tax Records

A 'lay subsidy' was a 'tax for a specific purpose, e.g. to subsidize a foreign war, which was distinguished from taxes levied on the clergy. The lay subsidy rolls of 1290-1334 are a major medieval source for the local historian and for those interested in the origins of surnames. The tax was commonly known as the Tenth and Fifteenth because it was levied on one-tenth of movable property in a town and one-fifteenth of similary property in the countryside.' a

A tax on heads, or polls, was first levied in England in 1377, the first year of Richard II. It was levied again in 1379 and 1381, but the hostility aroused by the tax caused the government to abandon it after the Peasants Revolt.

Cheshire and County Durham are not included in these lists due to their Palatinate status - taxes were raised in other ways. (See for example Christian Liddy in "Fourteenth Century England").

Prensence of Swindell (etc.) in the returns

Cumberland 1332-3 Lists individuals assessed for this tax, levied in 1332-3. It is organised by ward or liberty, and then by vill, and includes the assessment of socage tenants. (No Swindell or similar)

Derbyshire 1379, High Peak 1381 No Swindell or similar. One Swayn; one Williemus de Swanyfeld, Henricus Swanvyle. Surnames seem more established than in, for example, Yorkshire       

Kent 1334/5 - Sweyn, Sweyneslonde, Swynefold, Swynefford, Swynglesfenne, Swyth and Swithelmynden

Lancashire 1216 - 1307   - John de Swineburne, Roger de Swynnerton

Lincolnshire 1332 - Sweyn, Swinford/Swynforn, Swynsted, Swynesheued

London 1292 - No Swindell etc
London 1319 - No Swindell etc

Northumberland 1377 No Swindle or similar. A number of the occupational surname Swynhird. nb no Swinburn

Staffordshire 1327  - Sweyn, Swyneshed, Swynsheved, Swynford and many Swinnerton
Staffordshire 1332-3 - Sweyn and Swyn, Swyneshed, Swynsheved, Swynford and many Swinnerton

Sussex 1296, 1327, 1332 - A number of Sweyn, a 'de Swynham' and a 'Swynherd'.

Westmorland 1379 (the Barony, not the whole county; many entries too faded to have been transcribed. Only one page viewable in preview).

Yorkshire 1301 - partial Skelton - De Cecilia Swyn; Grangia de Emthorp - De Priorissa de Swyne pro Grangia de Empthorp'
    (Footnote 24 - Probably for Angulo, or as it is otherwise called in le Wra, or le Hirne. The word wra "being simply the O.N. rį, originally vra [Dan. vraa, Swed. vră], a corner, nook, a word which lends itself as a suffix in not a few old North Yorkshire local names (as Eskouwra or Hescouwra in the parish of Oswaldkirk, Gildhuswra in Kirkby Wiske, Swindalewra at Moursom, etc. The word hirne is the A.S. hyrne, a corner" (North Riding Records, i. 187). )
Yorkshire 1379 Most of the information concerns the West Riding, however there is also most of the Ainsty wapentake and Howdenshire in the East Riding. The only information for the North Riding is for Humburton in Kirby Hill parish in the West Riding.  No Swyndale etc but a number of Swyndens in Staincross Wapentake (Robertus de Swynden, Johannes de Swynden, Willelmus de Swynden, Adam de Swinden and Henricus Swynden, Thomas Swynden. Also Willelmus de Swenden and Ricardus de Swynton). It is noticeable that hereditary surnames are not yet generally established e.g. Willelmus Taylour, Robertus Taylourson, Rogerus Taylourson, Agnes Taylourdoghter. On the other hand Robertus Felisdoghter. York and Kingston on Hull show a high proportion of locative bynames

London Lay Subsidy Returns 1576 and 1582 - No Swindell etc
London1600 St Nicholas Coldabby, St Maye Somersett and sainte Peeters parishes
George Swyndall 3

Printed Sources

The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381: Part 1 Bedfordshire - Leicestershire - Carolyn C. Fenwick, ed. Oxford University Press 1998 (£95) ISBN 978-0197261866

Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgshire, Cornwall, Cumberland, Derbyshire, Devon, Dorset, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Herefordshire, Hertfordshire, Huntingdonshire, Kent, Lancashire, Leicestershire

The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381:Part 2 Lincolnshire to Westmorland Carolyn C. Fenwick, ed. Oxford University Press 2001 (£95) ISBN 978-0197262283

Lincolnshire, London, Moddlesex, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Northumberland, Nottinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Rutland, Shropshire, Somerset, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Surrey, Sussex, Warwickshire, Westmorland

The Poll Taxes of 1377, 1379 and 1381:Part 3 Wiltshire - Yorkshire Carolyn C. Fenwick, ed. Oxford University Press 2005 (£95) ISBN 978-0197263365

Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Yorkshire and 'indexing aids'.

Derbyshire J. C. Cox, "Derbyshire in 1327-8: Being a Lay Subsidy Roll," Der. ANHSJ 30 (1908). Not available on-line

Online Sources

Cumberland 1332-3
Kent 1334/5
Lincolnshire 1332
London 1292
London 1319
Staffordshire 1327
Staffordshire 1332-3
Sussex 1296, 1327, 1332
Yorkshire 1301 - partial
Yorkshire 1379 - Index

London Lay Subsidy Returns 1576 and 1582



a)    The Oxford Companion to Local and Family History: David Hey 1996