Northamptonshire:
Relief of sheep and cloth, 1549
E 179/156/267


Copyright Stephen Swailes.

This very short-lived relief (tax) on sheep and cloth was granted in 1549 and stopped in 1550. There is some doubt about how much money was collected and if any ever reached the Treasury.

The lists given here are transcripts of The National Archives roll E 179/156/267. Most parts are clear but some parts are discoloured or obscured. Where possible, contemporary sources such as wills, taxations and parish registers were used to help clarify surnames.

The transcript contains the names of people who, presumably, kept flocks of sheep, along with their status if given, the valuation of their goods and the amount of tax payable. They were taxed at one twentieth of the value of their goods, ie, one shilling in the pound.

Most hundreds are included but Kings Sutton, Chipping Warden, Cleyley and Towcester seem not to have survived or are perhaps classified elsewhere at TNA. However, the town of Northampton is included and a few people in Northampton were classed as 'Alyen' which presumably means 'alien'. This probably means non-native born but excluded Welsh. In a few cases a valuation is followed by 'and paythe' which may mean that the person had paid the amount of tax shown.

No information on the tax on cloth has been found.

This transcript is made possible by the earlier work on sheep farming in Northants carried out by the late Gren Hatton. I think he would be pleased with this outcome.

For further information see, for example:

Beresford, M. (1954). The poll tax and census of sheep ,1549, The Agricultural History Review, vol. 1, pp 9-15.

Beresford, M. (1954). The poll tax and census of sheep, 1549, The Agricultural History Review, vol. 2, pp 15-29.

Martin, J. (1988). Sheep and enclosure in Sixteenth-Century Northamptonshire, Agricultural History Review, Vol. 36, I, pp 39-54.

Stephen Swailes
November 2023


The rolls contain some notes which are transcribed (and modernised) below.

The notes before Spelhoe hundred are very hard to read because they are on the damaged outside of the roll and are not attempted here.

Preceding the listing of Huxloe hundred:

This bill witnesses that Thomas Vaus knight Lord Harrowden, Richard Humfrey (and) Thomas Mulshoo esquires, Robert Catlen, George Lane, John Lane, Walter _____, Giles Isham & Thomas Haddon gent commissioners appointed, assigned and divided for the hundreds of Huxloe, Orlingbury and Higham Ferrers in the county of Northampton for the assessing of a relief to the king's highness granted according to the effect of a commission to them and others for the said county directed to Thomas Saunders of Harrington and Miles Hamden of Rothwell gent by the (collectors) appointed for the same hundred the first day of May in the third year of the reign of our sovereign lord Edward the sixth by the grace of God of England, France and Ireland, king defender of the faith and ___ the supreme head of the Church of England and Ireland the estreats to this bill annexed specifying as well the names and (synonyms) as the remembered of all sums of money taxed and set upon every person chargeable to the said Thomas Sawnders and Miles Hamden to see for their parts the speedy collection and speedy payment of the same into the king's receipt according to the said act at their perils. In witness whereof to this bill the said commissioners have set their seals and subscribed their names the day and year above written.
The (part of ......) of the first payment of the relief to be (received) of Richard Paget subcollector of the hundred of Huxloe and delivered by the aforesaid high collectors for the same appointed.

Preceding the listing for Guilsborough hundred:

The estreats indented made the 26th day of April in the third year of the reign of our sovereign lord Edward the sixth by the grace of God of England, France and Scotland and Ireland king defender of the faith and in earth of the Church of England and also of Ireland supreme head for the first payment of the relief granted unto the king's majesty by his living subjects by act of parliament held at Westminster in the second year of his most gracious reign (by Sir) Valentine Knightley knight, Edward (Saunders) _____ at law, Thomas Cave, Thomas Andrews and Richard Andrews of Daventry esquires commissioners appointed and divided for the hundreds of Guilsborough, Nobottle Grove and Fawlsey within the county of Northampton for the (taxing) and assessing of the said king's subjects witness that the said commissioners have delivered the one part of (the inhabitants) of the said hundred to (Robert) Saunders of Flore and Christofer Bretten of Teton in the said county of Northampton, gentlemen, high collectors named and appointed for the collection of the said first payment of the said relief (within) the hundreds aforesaid which Robert Saunders and Christofer Bretten the said commissioners have charged by those present to receive the whole sum and sums of those persons under written according to those estreats to ___ delivered and to make payment thereof with all expediency ___ the receipt of the king's _____ at Westminster without delay according to the said (act) of relief as the same Robert Saunders and Chrystofer Bretton will answer at their peril. In witness whereof we the said commissioners to either part of the first estreat indented have put their seals and subscribed our names the day and year above.

Before Willybrook hundred:

Northampton
... Wyllm Parr knight of the most noble Order of the Garter Earl of Essex Lord Parr Lord (Marmyon) Lord Say___ntyn & of Kendall ... of North' Sir Thomas Tresham knight Edward Gryffyn esquire the king's Solicitor General & Wyllm Dudley esquire commissioners of our sovereign lord the king named and appointed (within) the several hundreds of Willybrook, Navisford & Polebrook in the county of Northampton for the assessment, taxing, levying & gathering of the first part of the relief of goods and chattels to be levied within the said several hundreds to the use of our sovereign lord the king according to the Act of Parliament ___ at Westminster in the second and third years of his most gracious reign do courtesy unto (this) honourable cause the exchequer by this our certificate (tripartite) indented to remain in the said exchequer the names and surnames of every particular person with the names of the towns where the said persons do dwell and the very certainty of every sum of money upon every of them assessed according to the tone of the say Act do hereafter do that particularly ___ of the which estreats indented the second part therefore delivered the day of the ___ hereof unto Thomas Saunders esquire and Myles Hamden gentlemen high collectors named and appointed for east part of the said county of fear Northampton for the collection and payment of the p_sser to be made before the sixth day of May next ensuing the date hereof into the king's receipt of his exchequer and Westminster according to the tenor form and sense of the said Act. And the third part of the said estreats indented (the) delivered unto Wyllm Everall of Oundle in the said county of Northampton yeoman petty collector named and appointed by the said commissioners within the said several hundreds of Willybrook, Navisford and Polebrook for the collection levying gathering and payment of the p__sser to be made to the said Thomas Saunders & Miles Hampden according to the tone (sense) and effects of the said Act. In witness whereof to every part of this our certificate indented we the said commissioners have set our seals and signs manual dated the six and twentieth day of April in the third year of the reign of our sovereign lord Edward the sixth by the grace of God of England France and Ireland king defender of the faith and in earth of the Church of England and also or Ireland the supreme head.

Before the listing for Corby hundred:

Northampton
The hundred of Corby in the county of Northampton ... the estreats indented made by Sir Edward Mountagu knight ___ justice of the ____ place Sir (Robt Kirkham) knight Frauncis Conyers Humfray Stafford Edward Watson & Thomas (Brokes) esquire commissioners appointed and divided for the hundred of Corby in the county of Northampton for the levying and gathering of the first payment of the relief of goods (lately granted) to the king by authority of his parliament last held at Westminster of every person buying cloth and goods and chattels __ ten pounds and upward (which) estreats containing the name surname and dwelling place with the sum of money (wherewith ) every person (within) the said hundred of Corby is charged ... the said commissioners have the 24th day of April last part delivered to Thomas Saunders of Harrington esquire and Miles Hampden of Rothwell gentleman high collectors appointed as well for the speedy requiring and collection of the same underwritten of Thomas Brokes the younger (gent) subcollector appointed for the said hundred of Corby as also for the speedy collection of the said relief taxed ___ the hundreds of Nassaburgh, Polebrok, Navisford, Willybrook, Huxloe, Higham Ferrers, Orlingbury, Rothwell and Hamfordshoe within the said county being the east part of the said county of Northampton so that they make (the) speedy payment of all the same sums unto the king's exchequer at Westminster before the 6th day of May next (making) deducting and retaining in their own hands 6d of every pound of the said whole and gross sum for the fees of the said high collectors subcollectors and commissioners' clerks. In witness wherof we the said commissioners to either of these effects indented have subscribed our names and put our seals ___ the day and year above said.

Before the list for Northampton town:

The assessment of the inhabitants of the town of Northampton for the first payment concerning the relief granted by session of parliament at Westminster last held to our sovereign lord Edward the sixth by the grace of God of England France and Ireland king defender of the faith and on earth of the Church of England and of Ireland the supreme head Assessed by Henry Clarke mayor of the said town of Northampton Edward Saundres sergeant at the law Edward Griffyn and Robert Chauntrell commissioners appointed by our ___ sovereign lord for that behalf the _th of May the year abovesaid.

Before the listing for Rothwell hundred:

Sir Thomas Tresham knight Sir Thomas Gryffyn knight Edward Gryffyn the king's solicitor general John Hasylwod and Ryc' Gryffyn commissioners of our sovereign lord the king named appointed __ the several hundreds of Rothwell and Hamfordshoe in the county of Northampton for the assessment taxation levying and gathering of the first part of the relief of goods and chattels to be levied __ the said several hundreds to the use of our sovereign lord the king to the said Act of parliament held at Westminster in the second and third years of his most __ reign ...
[part here excluded as it is difficult to read]
... to be made to the said Thomas Saunders and Miles Hampden according to the tenor forme and effect of the said Act witness whereof to every part of this our certificate indented we the said commissioners have set our seals and signs manual (dated) the last day of April in the third year of the reign of our sovereign lord Edward the sixth by the grace of God of England France and of Ireland king defender of the faith and in earth of the Church of England and also or Ireland the supreme head.