Looking at the Frederick County Virginia Land Tax Records for 1782 What is this percentage in the Virginia Land Tax Records?

Tax Table Entry with column headers

And another image from the first page of the ledger:

enter image description here

I read the column headers as:

  • Proprietors of the Land (names of landowners)
  • Quantity (presumably acres)
  • ?????
  • Total Value (listed in £)

The unknown quantity is listed as a percentage with values like these:

  • 10%
  • 6%
  • 8%
  • 20%
  • 12%
  • 5%
  • 25%

What is the column header and what are these percentages?


1 Answer 1


The third column is the "Rate / acre" amount in shillings and pence.

(e.g. 10/ is 10 shillings and 0 pence. 7/6 would be 7 shillings and 6 pence ...)

There were 12 pennies in a shilling and 20 shillings in a pound.

For the first row, the rate is 10 shillings per acre on 100 acres = 1000 shillings = £60

For the second row, the rate is 4 shillings / acre on 346 acres = 1,384 shillings = £69 & 4 shillings


There is a helpful guide to using Land Tax Records available from the Library of Virginia.

  • 1
    I'd never thought about there being pounds, shillings and pence in the US before the dollar but just read about early American currency at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Early_American_currency as a result of your post
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 8:21
  • 1
    @JanMurphy Pounds, shillings and pence - we decimalized on 14 Feb 1966 which was 5 years to the day before the U.K. did.
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 21:08
  • 2
    Not only did the US use pounds, shillings and pence, the Spanish dollar (pieces of eight) remained legal tender until 1857. On top of that, the US stock market continued to use prices given in fractions of 1/8 of a dollar (and for a short time 1/16) until 2001. This is because the Spanish dollar was typically cut into 8 12.5 cent pieces for general use. Which is also why a quarter is known as "two bits," because it was equal to two 12.5 cent pieces of eight.
    – Jack
    Commented Sep 9, 2017 at 22:46
  • 1
    @WilliamKF It seems that the tax rate and the procedures for collecting taxes were set by the various revenue acts. I'd guess it would be based on some measure of the "quality" of the land. You should be able to find the details of the acts in the Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 1:39
  • 1
    I would assume that good river bottom agricultural land was valued more highly than forest which was more than rocky hill land and so forth. We still do the same sort of thing today, valuing different land differently.
    – Jack
    Commented Sep 10, 2017 at 19:38

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