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The Kent Lay Subsidy Roll of 1334/5.  By  H.A.Hanley, B.A. and C.W. Chalklin, M.A., B.Litt    Page 67

part of the county was much less densely populated than the east, a contrast only partly accounted for by the lower proportion of easily tilled land west of the Medway.
   The subsidy throws little light on the comparative size of Kentish towns in the early fourteenth century. It has been noticed that Sandwich, Dover, Hythe and New Romney were not included in the assessment, and the first two at least were urban centres of importance. With 267 persons assessed to the tenth Canterbury was by far the largest of the remaining towns. Rochester, with sixty-one people assessed to a tenth and sixty-nine to a fifteenth, was likely to have been less than half its size. Among the ports only the inhabitants of Folkestone (30) and Faversham (56) as members of the Cinque Port of Dover may be distinguished from the taxpayers of the surrounding countryside within their respective hundreds. No evidence can be found for possible inland towns, such as Ashford, Cranbrook, Sevenoaks or Tonbridge, as they all lay within hundreds covering a large surrounding rural area : only in Maidstone hundred was the population so much higher than that of the surrounding hundreds as to suggest an urban population of possibly as much as one thousand people.

   On account of the large size of the county the total tax assessment for Kent was almost the highest among all English counties, being second only to that of Norfolk.1 On 

the other hand, in proportion to its size its wealth was not outstanding. In this respect, Kent, with an average assessment per thousand acres of 39s., came well below a group of Midland counties, including Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Oxfordshire, and Rutland, and Norfolk, with average figures between 45s. and 60s. Considering the unique position of the county, lying across the principal trade route from London to the Continent, and the consequent early development of a money economy in the county; this fact is at first sight surprising. The extensive undeveloped forest lands in the Weald was undoubtedly one cause: another was the considerable area of poorer land in other parts of Kent, especially along the downland ridge. In fact the distribution of wealth within the county was clearly related to the quality of the soil. On the clay and sand of the Weald, where the soil is often both infertile and difficult to work, the average amount paid by the taxpayer, 2s. l1d., was low. On the western half of the sandstone ridge and in the vale of Holmesdale to the north, where the soil is very variable, being very barren on the top of the ridge and fertile in parts of the valley the average payment, 2s. l1d., was almost the same. The regions with the richest lands had also,
  1 W. G. Hoskins and H. P. R. Finberg, Devonshire Studies (London, 1952), p. 215. In the Wealth of Medieval Devon " the 1334 subsidy totals for the rural divisions and boroughs are used to study the distribution of wealth in the county.

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