Who Paid Tax in Ash in 1523?

King Henry VIII needed money as he wanted to reclaim former English-ruled territory in France. This territory had been lost forever 70 years before, but Henry VIII still added ‘King of France’ to his titles!

May 1523: Parliament granted the King an annual subsidy for 4 years to fund his military campaigns so the English people had to pay up. P.S. Henry VIII’s army “provoked havoc in Northern France” but achieved nothing.

  • Assessments were made by government-appointed tax collectors:
  • Land: 12d per £ of land value
  • Moveable Goods: Over £20 of goods – 12d per £ of value. 40 shillings to £20 of goods – 6d per £ of value (farm equipment, household furniture and cooking vessels, livestock)
  • Annual Wages over 20 shillings (£1): paid 4d
A Selection of Moveable Goods

£1 in 1520 was worth about £500 today. You could have bought 2 cows with £1 but you wouldn’t have been able to afford a horse.

The Government’s Tax Collector
Ash Residents 1523   Tax Paid on Goods OwnedTax Paid on Land Owned
MooneAnne (widow) £10
RussellJohn (Jun)£1 
RussellJohn (Sen)£12 
Surrey Lay Subsidies 1523

Who Were these Ash Residents Who Paid Tax?

  • Ash Parish Registers of births, marriages and deaths do not begin until 1547 so we have to look elsewhere for information on Ash residents.

Only 5 Landowners in the Parish? The 2 biggest landowners were King Henry VIII who owned 2 manors in Ash (Cleygate and Henley) so he wouldn’t tax himself (just the goods owned by his tenant farmers) and Chertsey Abbey who owned both Ash and Frimley Manors; the clergy were taxed through a separate clerical subsidy. So … this left only 5 landowners who are ranked below by amount of land owned in 1523:

Ralph Vyne of Farnham and Poyle Manor in Tongham (which he purchased in 1503) was a member of the wealthy Vyne family who owned land in Oxfordshire as well Farnham and Guildford.   A record in the Cleygate Manorial Rolls mentions him: “Thomas Manory 1499 – Enfeoffed trustees with his estates for the benefit of Ralfe Vyne and his wife Anne Vyne, the daughter of Thomas Manory”. (Enfeoffment was the surrender of property to a group of trustees).  In his will, Ralph mentions that he had purchased ‘land in Ash’. Below is a transcription of his will which makes interesting reading.

Ralph Vyne’s Will 1536

Note that the rent from Ralph Vyne’s Ash property was to be used by his son Henry Vyne to pay for an annual prayer service. Little did Ralph know that, in a few years time, the newly formed Church of England would banish prayers for people’s souls.

Annual obit in Ash for me, my wife Agnes, my former wives Ann Vyne and Rose Vyne, Thomas Manory and his wife Catherine Manory and my father and mother Thomas Vyne and Elizabeth Vyne

Ann Moone (Mone/Moone) was the widow of Edward Moone of Ash Manor. We have some information about Edward Moone from the Cleygate Manorial Rolls:

John Thayre (Thayer/There/Thayre), a farmer of Ash Manor, was a member of the Thayre family died in 1534 and left a will. The Thayre family continue to be recorded in Ash for the next 160 years. Like Ralph Vyne, John was also concerned about his soul:

To be buried in Ash churchyard; to the mother church of Winchester 2d, to the high altar 3s 4d, to rood light of Our Lady 4d, to the Brotherhood of St James 4d, for masses and for parent’s souls 10s.

Joan Monger (Munger/Monger) was the widow of an unknown member of the Monger family of Ash and were likely the parents of John Monger, listed Cleygate Manorial Rolls as “a freeholder of a farm in the manor”. The Monger family was prominent in Ash, some being farmers, others potters making so-called ‘Borderware’ mainly for the ever-growing London market.

John Bedyll (Bedell/Bedyll) owned a small parcel of land as he only paid 10 shillings tax but as he paid £7 tax on his movable goods he must have been a leaseholder of a sizeable farm with just a small property he owned freehold. And here is the Bedyll family confirming they were both tenant farmers of Cleygate Manor and also owners of freehold land:

Cleygate Manorial Rolls

Taxed on Goods: These Ash residents would have mainly been tenant farmers who had farm equipment and held their land by copyhold of the Lord of The Manor of the various manors in Ash Parish. We have specific information on a few of them:

  • Clement Monger: An Ash Museum Newsletter tells us something of this man: “Clement Monger of Ash, potmaker, died in 1544, and his will records that his overseers were his brother John Monger of Guildford and John Monger of Ash, Potter.”
  • Edmund Mabank: Cleygate Manor
  • John and Robert Russell: Cleygate Manor
  • Collins, Gonner, Hedger, Jewer, Kinge, Lagge, Matchwick, Russell, Taylor, Warner, and Woodhatch families all show up in the Ash Parish Records after they begin in 1547.

What about all the other Ash Residents? Assuming a population in the Ash Parish of around 300, why did only 38 pay tax? Most people were farm workers being paid a daily wage for work done. None of the farm workers pictured below probably had land, or sufficient moveable goods, or a decent annual salary to be taxable.

Tudor Farm Scene

Select Sources

  • FindMyPast.com
  • www.exploringsurreyspast.org.uk
  • Discovery | The National Archives
  • Normandy Historians (normandyhistorians.co.uk)
  • London, England, Wills and Probate, 1507-1858
  • England & Wales, Prerogative Court of Canterbury Wills, 1384-1858
  • Enfeoffment’ – https://www.oxfordreference.com
  • Ash Museum Newsletter July 2019
  • Image – http://gallery.nen.gov.uk
  • https://fineartamerica.com