the "best men " in each city, borough and viii (or, as was
more usual in Kent, in each hundred) to assess the property of their
The names of the taxpayers in each local district and
the amounts were set down on rolls, copies of which were handed to
the chief taxors. From them was compiled the formal county roll
which was returned to the exchequer.
In the 1334 the whole character of the tax was altered.
The collection of the previous subsidy of a fifteenth and tenth
granted in 1332 had been accompanied by more than the usual measure
of popular discontent and there were widespread charges of extortion
against the chief taxors, many of whom were eventually brought to
trial. When parliament was asked again to grant a subsidy in
September 1334, there was a general demand that there should be no
recurrence of such abuses. As a result certain changes in the mode
of assessment and collection were decided upon. In each county the
two chief taxors, of whom one was to be a Religious, were instructed
to treat with the men of each local district and to agree upon a
lump sum or fine for their share of the subsidy. If no agreement
could be reached they were to make the assessment themselves ; the
amount levied in any district was not to fall below that raised by
the 1332 assessment. Collection of the money was entrusted to the
In Kent the chief taxors appointed by a writ dated 4th
13411 were Thomas Bacoun and the Abbot of St.
Augustine, Canterbury. Bacoun, a royal servant of long standing, was
a judge of Kings Bench and in September 1334 was the justice of
assize in Kent.2 In the following year he was appointed
as one of the three investigators of suspected irregularities by the
chief taxors and collectors of the 1332 subsidy in the counties of
Kent, Surrey, Sussex, Essex, Hertford and Middlesex.3 His
colleague Thomas Poucyn, Abbot of St. Augustine had been a simple
monk before his election earlier in the same year and his
appointment was presumable solely on account of his office. He also
acted as collector for the Canterbury diocese of the clerical tenth
granted in October 1334.4
The new arrangement which set the pattern for all
future subsidies meant the "freezing" of what had formerly
been a variable tax. In succeeding "fifteenths and tenths"
the amounts agreed upon in 1334 continued to be charged against each
locality. The allocation of the charge within the locality was a
matter for the inhabitants themselves and was no concern of the
chief taxors. As a result, the returns of the 1334 and of later
subsidies for the country as a whole contain, with one exception,
only the amounts contributed by each district.
1334-38. pp. 38.40., 3 Ibid., p.
C.P.R. 1334-38, p.
4 C.C.R. 1333-37, p.