Find your ancestors in Rate Books

Rate books are an excellent census substitute and a fascinating window into civic life in England.

Search for your ancestor in these local tax records and discover if they rented or owned property.

Rates were local taxes. The money collected was used for the upkeep of the churches, water supply, gaols, roads and hospitals. The Poor Law Act of 1601 introduced rates for the maintenance of the poor. Rate payers were also entitled to vote for committee members who oversaw the distribution of poor relief.

The amount payable was based on the value of the property and was collected at Midsummer (June), Michaelmas (October) and Christmas (January).

Rate books are arranged by street and the images can be used to discover who was living on a street when your ancestors were there.

These records can also be used to trace house histories and to learn the names of previous generations who lived in your home.