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My ancestor, George Dutton, was in Cheshire, England, living there around 1800. I noticed he was in Coddington for a few years in the tax records (1796-1798), disappeared for a few years, got married in 1802 and seems to have returned to Coddington in 1803. In order to fully make sense of this, however, I'm trying to figure if there might have been an event that caused him to not be listed on the tax record for the years 1799-1802. I suspect he moved, met his wife to be, and decided to return to Coddington, but I don't understand enough about the Land Tax Assessment to really understand.

Bottom line, can someone explain what it takes to get mentioned in the tax assessment for a year? And are there any events that would cause a person to not be listed for a few years?

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Devon County Council has a good explanation of the Land Tax Assessment.

There are a few possibilities that spring to mind. Firstly, he could have moved out of the area or into a dwelling that wasn't assessed. And then come back.

Secondly, the Devon reference explains that: "From 1798, the tax could be redeemed or exonerated with a lump sum payment equivalent to 15 years’ annual tax. Because of the need to record voting rights, men’s names were retained on the list until 1832, but details of occupiers may be omitted." So another possibility is that the tax was redeemed on that piece of land - it's just so close in date as to be an attractive theory. Then, to reappear, he would have moved onto a piece of land that wasn't redeemed.

Thirdly, again from the Devon information: "In 1798 properties valued at under 20s. per year were officially exempted from paying land tax". So under this scenario, he disappears because it's a low valuation property - then he moves to a higher valuation property to reappear. Again, it's that 1798 date.

I guess it might be possible to reject the low value scenario 3 if the values are in the Land Tax and they're not low. And Ancestry has a "UK, Land Tax Redemption, 1798" collection that might show if scenario 2 applied.

But all these scenarios involve moving - in scenario 1, he moves twice, possibly outside the area. In the other two, he moves once (to reappear), never leaving the parish. So certainly, movement is in there somewhere, I suggest.

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A quick search pointed me to the correct information. First of all, there are two things that the registration could mean.

  1. The person could be a land owner (or renter)
  2. The record doubled as a voter registration record.

I have been able to identify one of the records from Ancestry, which indicated he was a land tenant. It seems likely he was indeed gone for those few years, and returned after he was married.

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    Bear in mind that land tax was only payable by those who were holding land (as proprietor or tenant); anybody who lived in a dwelling place without associated land wouldn't be shown. – user104 Jun 16 '15 at 18:04
  • In addition, only one tenant per holding would be listed. So a plot with tenants "Mr Smith and others" could include George Dutton without naming him. The land tax typically didn't change over time, so many plots of land held the same valuation year after year. So if Dutton inhabited a plot valued at, say, £2.1.6, you may be able to follow that plot by its value (and maybe owner) through the years of his absence and see if the tenants include "and others". That's easy to do for a small rural parish, but harder for a dense city parish, of course... – AndyW Nov 3 '17 at 9:48

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