Edinburgh Housemails Taxation Book, 1634-1636

October 2014
1 black and white, 1 line illustrations
668 pages
21.6x13.8 cm
Scottish History Society 6th Series
ISBN: 9780906245392
Format: Hardback
Scottish History Society
BISAC HIS015000, HIS037040, REF000000

Edinburgh Housemails Taxation Book, 1634-1636

Edited by Aaron Allen, Cathryn Spence

First printed edition of an inventory of Edinburgh's properties, offering a fascinating snapshot of the fabric of a seventeenth-century European capital city.
In 1633, plans were made for a new one-off tax on house-rent, or "mail", intended to pay the stipends of Edinburgh's clergy. At the request of Charles I, full power and commission was given "for passing through the whole city and trying of what mail every tenement, dwelling house, low tavern, cellar or chamber", and an inventory was taken, which survives in manuscript form in the Edinburgh City Archives. While it would seem that the tax was never actually collected and so was a failure in terms of municipal fund-raising, it left an incredibly detailed record of the socio-economic and political structures of the Scottish capital. Giving information on landlords, tenants, rental and annuity for over 900 businesses and 3,900 houses, the record enables the topographies of Edinburgh down to house-by-house level to be reconstructed; whilst Cardinal Beaton's Lodgings, or the Pudding Market, no longer survive, the inventory sheds important light on these missing structures and allows for a fuller interpretation of the still extant buildings, such as Mary King's Close, or Gladstone's Land.
Now published in its entirety for the first time, this valuable record gives us an exceptional view of an early modern capital and an unprecedented insight into the socio-economic composition and landscape of early modern Edinburgh, forming an invaluable resource for those interested in topics such as the demographic and economic history of preindustrial towns, urban topography and the local and genealogical history of Scotland's capital. It is particularly useful in illuminating those sections of society so often hidden from history, and giving a rare window into the people and property of Edinburgh on the eve of revolution.
The volume also includes an extensive historical introduction explaining the nature, context and utility of the records.

Dr Aaron Allen is a Honorary Postdoctoral Fellow in Scottish History at the University of Edinburgh, where he teaches history for the Office of Lifelong Learning; Dr Cathryn Spence is a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada.

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Edinburgh Housemails Taxation Book, 1634-1636

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