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In The Oxford Companion to Family and Local History, on the subject of the Marriage Duty Act (1695), David Hey writes:

A tax on 'Marriages, Births and Burials and upon Bachelors and Widowers for the term of five years' lasted eleven years, from 1695 to 1706. The tax on vital events was charged as and when they occurred. Bachelors aged over 25 and childless widowers made an annual payment. Members of families in receipt of alms were exempt. A complete enumeration of the population was required for the efficient administration of this tax. A comprehensive listing of surviving returns by Christine Vialls is available at the Institute of Heraldic and Genealogical Studies, Canterbury.

The parish registers and other transcripts for a particular Nottinghamshire parish of interest to me do not survive before about 1710, so I am eager to learn if other sources exist which may be helpful in tracing a particular pair of ancestors who married in about 1700.

I understand that the survival of returns under the Marriage Duty Act is quite poor, but I am unsure how to determine if returns exist for my parish of interest. As far as I am aware, the returns would be archived locally, however I have had no success finding any mention of these returns in the Nottinghamshire Archives Catalogue.

The next obvious step is looking at that "comprehensive listing of surviving returns by Christine Vialls" mentioned in the above book. However at present I have no opportunity to visit IHGS to look at this listing.

How can I locate Marriage Duty Act tax returns for Notts? Or alternatively, how might I access Vialls's listing without visiting IHGS – in other words is it accessible elsewhere?

  • Have you searched the catalogs accessible via TNA? A simple search on "Marriage Duty Act" throws up 369 results including 307 at other archives -- refining it by your parish of interest might help. – user104 May 1 '16 at 12:42
  • Hi @ColeValleyGirl – yes I have tried the TNA Discovery catalogue but couldn't see anything for Notts. – Harry Vervet May 1 '16 at 13:42
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Vaguely remember Christine Viall's list coming in when I was librarian at IHGS over 20 years ago. Think it may have been part of her IHGS exams thesis. Worth emailing librarian at IHGS to see if they can supply copy of the Notts section. No copy of this work at SoG sadly

  • 1
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  • Hi Else, I have emailed IHGS and await their response. :) – Harry Vervet May 8 '16 at 1:04
  • @ElseChurchill I followed up with IHGS per your advice. They did not have Viall's listing to hand but checked in Gibson's guide to Stuart tax listings, and the only Marriage Tax entry for Notts was Hucknall Torkard in 1696, held at Notts Archives (ref PR5363) – Harry Vervet Apr 1 '17 at 15:35

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