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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 58


The unique local interest of the county lay subsidy rolls in the Public Record Office has long been recognized by local record societies. Since the latter half of the nineteenth century they have been responsible for the publication of selected assessments for more than a dozen counties
1 and these have proved a valuable aid to historical and genealogical research. Until now, however, none of the extant assessments for Kent has appeared in print, and the present edition of the fifteenth and tenth2 of 1334 is an attempt to remedy the deficiency.
   The roll (E179/123/12) consists of twenty-nine parchment membranes, most of which measure one foot by three feet fastened at the top in the form of a file. It contains 11,016 names and assessments arranged in double columns. The roll was chosen from among a number of assessments suitable for publication thus the 1327 subsidy roll is of equal length and the roll of 1338 contains about 17,000 names. Yet the assessment of 1334 is of special interest as a turning point in the history of medieval taxation in the county and as the first in a series of assessments unique among English subsidy rolls after this date.

   The tax on moveables, originally copied from  ecclesiastical practice, was at the time of its inception in the late twelfth century a radical departure from the old cumbersome methods of feudal taxation.3 Although it long retained something of the character of an emergency measure requiring the justification of a war or other crisis it was applied with increasing frequency in the course of the thirteenth century and a regular machinery of assessment and collection was gradually evolved. By the first years of the reign of Edward III the practice was to issue commissions from the exchequer appointing two experienced royal servants as chief taxors to supervise the assessment and collection of the tax in each county. These in turn, acting on specific instructions, were responsible for the appointment of sub-assessors, four or more of
   For a full list see E. L. C. Mullins, Texts and Calendars: an analytical Guide to Serial Publications published by the Royal Historical Society, 1958.
   I.e. a fifteenth of moveable property in the county and a tenth in cities, boroughs and vills.
   3  The following account is largely based on J. F. Willard Parliamentary Taxes on Personal Property, 1290-1334 (Medieval Academy of America, Cambridge, Mass., 1934), the standard work on the English lay subsidies of the period.

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