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There remains in the tax-office * a particular account of the money, which each county paid in 1701, for the before-mentioned tax of 1696, from the affefsments of Lady-day 1709, and which amounted to
kr 115,226. But, the oldest list of houses, which specifically paid the tax of 1696, is “ an account made up, for 1708, from an old survey book," but from prior affeflments: And this account stands thus : Houses at 25. 248,784, produced £: 24,878. 6s. 165,856,
508,516, producủng £. 121,033.
He who does not fee a marvellous coincidence t, between this official document and the previous calculation of Gregory King, must be blind indeed. The folvent houses of King, and the charged houses of 1708, are of the same kind, both being those houses, which actually paid, or were supposed to have paid, the tax. And, Ms. Henry Reid, a
. I have ransacked the tax-office for information on this litigated but important subject; and I was aflisted in my researches by the intelligent officers of this department, with an alacrity, which shewed, that, having fully performed their duty to the public, they did not fear minute inspection.
+ The houses having upwards of twenty windows, in the tax-office account of 1781, are 52,373. The number of the . same kind allowed by King is 50,000: But he is not so fortunate in his other calculations. 8
comptroller of the tax-office, who was noted for his minute diligence, and attentive accuracy, reported to the Treasury, in October 1754, that the old duties, on an average, produced yearly, from 1696 to 1709
£. 118,839*. But, there must have necessarily been a great many more houses, in 1708, than tho 508,516, charged, and paying fo. 121,033.
In the twelve years from 1696, there could have been no great waste of houses, however powerful the destructive cause might have been. And Gregory King, in order to make up his thirteen hundred thousand houses, calculated the dwellings of the poor, in 1696, at
710,000; and of defaulters, &c, at
750,000. Davenant + stated, in 1695, from the hearth-books, the cottages, inhabited by the poorer fort, at 500,000 ; and he afterwards asserts, as Doctor Price observed, that there were, in 168g, houses, called cottages, having one '
hearth, to the number of 554,631 ; whence we may equally suppose, that there were dwellings, having two hearths, a very considerable number, whose inhabitants, either receiving alms, or paying nothing, did not contribute to the tax of 1696: so that, in 1708, there must have certainly existed 710,000 dwellings of the poor ; as this number had certainly existed in 1696.
. Gregory King calculated the tax beforehand at 4.119,000, + Vol. i. edit. ift, p. 5.
Mr. Henry Reid moreover reported to the Treasury, in 1754, that in the year 1710, when an additional duty took place, it became an universal practice to stop up lights; so that, in 1710, the old duties yielded only £. 115,675:- And for some years, both the old, and the new, duty suffered much from this cause, as there was no penalty for the stopping of windows. Other duties, continues he, were imposed in 1747 *; so that from Lady-day 1747, to Lady-day 1748, the whole duties yielded £.208,093: and, an explanatory act having passed in 1748, the duties yielded, for the year ending at Lady-day 1749, £. 220,890: But, other modes of evading the Jaw being soon found, the duties decreased year after year.-And thus much from the intelligent Mr. Henry Reid, who never dreamed of houses falling into non-existence.
The first account of houses, which now appears to have been made up, subsequent to that of 1708, is the account of 1750, and the last is that of 1781. With the foregoing data before us, we may now
* By the 20 Geo. II. ch. 3 ; whịch recites, that whereas it hath often been found from experience, that the duties granted by former acts of parliament have been greatly lessened by means of persons frequently stopping up windows in their dwelling houses, in order to evade payment; and it hath often happened, that several afiessments have not been made in due time; and that persons' remove to other parishes without paying the duty for the houses fo quitted, to the prejudice of the Revenue. But the legislature do not recite, that houses daily fell down, or that the numbers of the people yearly declined.
form a judgment fufficiently precise, in respect to the progress of our houses, charged and chargeable with the house and window tax:
The charged, in 1696, according to King, 550,000 The chargeable, according to him,
608,516 The charged, and chargeable, in 1781, 721,351
Increase in 73 years
Here, then, is a solution of the difficult problem, in political economy, which has engaged so many able pens,
Whether there exist as many houses, at present, as there certainly were, in England and Wales, at the Revolution; at least, the question is decided, as to the number of houses, charged and chargeable with the window and house tax; And, of consequence, the middling and higher ranks of
* This high number, in 1750, was probably owing to the act of parliament, 20 Geo. II. which had just past, when new modes of circumvention had not yet taken place.
men muft, with the number of their dwellings, have necessarily increased.
A great difficulty, it must be admitted, still remains, which cannot be altogether removed, though many obstructions may be cleared away. The difficulty consists, in ascertaining, with 'equal precision, the number of dwellings, which have been exempted, by law, from every tax, since 1690, on account of the poverty of the dwellers. The litigated point must at last be determined by an answer to the question, Whether the lower orders are more numerous in the present day, than they were in 1690?
A modern society has been compared, with equal elegance and truth, to a pyramid, having the higher ranks for its point, and the lower orders for its base. Gregory King left us an account of the people, minutely divided into their several classes, which, though formed for a different purpose, contains sufficient accuracy for the present argument *.
* Davenant's works, 6 vol. Scheme D, which was copied from Gregory King's Observations, p. 15, with some inaccuyacias.