Scotch-Irish-L ArchivesArchiver > Scotch-Irish > 1999-04 > 0924574884
Subject: Re: Hearth Rolls
Date: Mon, 19 Apr 1999 22:21:24 EDT
The hearth rolls - as those who read history at Oxford can tell you, these
were the things that Alfred the Great let burn when he was working in the
kitchen as a disguised peasant, but had his mind on more momentous matters.
Just kidding. I am no expert, but basically the hearth rolls were lists of
inhabitants compiled in Ulster (and elsewhere?) so the royal taxcollector
knew who to put the squeeze on, and for how much. In the 1665 list for
Donegal that I have seen, the assessment was for one shilling per hearth in
the dwelling place. Presumably these lists were updated regularly as the need
to generate revenue from reluctant citizenry has not changed over the
centuries. If the hearth rolls of Ulster collected over a period of years
were available today they would tell us a great deal about our ancestors.
For Somerset County Maryland, whose records I have spent some time with,
similar lists are extant from 1723, not for hearths but for "taxables", i.e.
males over 16 and slaves. They are a virtual phone directory of the populace
and if you follow their year-to-year progression they give a time-lapse
picture of the development of the community. It is even possible to associate
the names with the geographical locations of the dwellings, as there is a
regular pattern to the list of taxables. Once you begin to form a picture of
who lived where, the others fall into place. The list includes the
heads-of-household and the other taxables by name. When a son entereds the
list he had just turned 16; when he left it, either he died, migrated or
took up his own trade or land - - - A lot of information.
Follow the money - it works for genealogy too.