1910 Finance Act records

What records were collected and what can they tell me?

The 1909 ‘People’s Budget’ introduced by the Liberal government included a controversial new tax of 20% on any increase in the value of both non-agricultural land and properties with more than 50 acres of land. It was rejected by the Lords, and reintroduced the following year after another General Election had provided a fresh mandate. To ensure the tax could be calculated and notwithstanding the stated exemptions, the Finance Act of 1910 ordered a full valuation to be made of every property and every piece of land in the country. Landowners were obliged to complete a form for each, with details of the address of the property, the name of the occupier, the nature of the tenure (with the name of the manor, the term in the case of copyhold tenure or term and rent in the case of leasehold), a description of the land and buildings, their area and use, details of any outgoings relating to the property, such as rates and tithes, whether these were paid by the owner or occupier, any public rights of way and details of price and subsequent expenditure if the property had been on the market at any time in the previous 20 years. Valuation officers and assistants were recruited, who then visited every town, village and hamlet in the land to inspect every property to check the information supplied, to add their own comments within a field book about the condition and sometimes also the age of the buildings, to provide a market value of the whole and to apportion that value between land, buildings, timber and things growing on the land (even hedges).

Each entry in the field books they completed can be up to four pages long. They often specify how many downstairs and upstairs rooms there are in a farm house, how many horses can be stabled and the size of sheds and outbuildings. The boundaries of each property were also carefully marked on large scale Ordnance Survey maps. The process was intrusive and unpopular, but has created a wealth of material for local historians.

Where can I find them?

The working copies of the maps have been deposited in the Record Office for Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland, and these are your starting point. Look for the red catalogue binder labelled 25” OS maps Inland Revenue Series and order the sheet you need. The Inland Revenue reference numbers of each property and piece of land are written on the maps in red ink, and these are the references you will need to look up the information.

You then need to order the Duties on Land Values books, which are catalogued in class DE 2072 by Income Tax parish (which may be one or more civil parishes or, for Leicester itself, a group of streets). These are the books prepared by the Inspector of Taxes for each district valuation office.

The books set out across two pages the basic details all land and property in each Income Tax parish, with one line for each of the red numbers on the maps. For each item the book gives details of:

  • Names of occupiers and name and residence of owner
  • Description and location of property
  • Estimated extent, and extent determined by valuer, to the nearest square yard
  • Gross annual value; rateable value
  • Various deductions, for buildings, machinery, trees and plants growing on the land, any fixed charges, public rights of way or rights of common, easements, restricted covenants, ad in the case of copyhold land, the cost of enfranchising that copyhold
  • Any recent capital expenditure, works executed, site clearance costs or goodwill
  • The assessable site value or the capital value of minerals
  • Value of land for agriculture, if different
  • Comments

The information was taken from the provisional valuation forms, which occasionally give a little more information. If you wish to order those, the references are DE2064 for Leicester itself and DE2065 for Leicestershire and Rutland. The information on these was provided by the landowner, with a penalty of £50 per property for not completing it. The actual forms sent in by the landowners do not survive.

After marking up the map, completing the provisional valuation forms and the Duties on Land Values Books, the Inland Revenue sent valuers to every single property with a field book.  Each field book entry can be up to 4 pages long, contains all the information from the provisional valuation form, and other information collected at the time of the visit, sometimes including sketch maps and drawings.

There are over 95,000 volumes of these field books at Kew, each containing details of up to 100 properties. The final version of the maps are also there, annotated after the visits.

They contain a huge amount of information, much of which is not available elsewhere, and which could easily be matched up with the 1911 census schedules. Yet they are not widely known and little used by local historians. For example, they may clarify the existence of footpaths, where a right of way over a property was claimed as a deduction from the value in 1910. They can also be used to study buildings, including building materials and shared closets, industrial history (a vast amount of information can be given for commercial premises), land ownership and many other topics of both local and national importance.

The field books are also catalogued by Income Tax parish. The key to finding the field book entry for a specific farm or farms is through the maps used by the valuers. The National Archives has a useful online map finder to the final ‘record copies’ of the maps they hold. Enter the name of the parish or village you are interested in, click on the area containing the farm, and the catalogue reference will appear, for example IR 130/4/192 for the southern part of the town of Lutterworth.

The maps themselves are annotated with the valuation district (for example, South Leicestershire and Rutland), the income tax parish (for example, Cotesbach and Lutterworth) and a handwritten assessment number (usually in red ink) for each property or parcel of land (in the case of Lutterworth, the numbers are in the range 1-703). Using either the online catalogue or the paper catalogues at The National Archives, you can then find the reference number for the field book you require, for example Lutterworth property assessment numbers 1-100 are in the field book with the catalogue reference IR 58/77084, numbers 101-200 are in IR 58/77085, and so on. The entries within the field books follow the order of the assessment numbers.

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