Yesterday, I had a look at the Hearth Tax returns for Gloucestershire. They cover the period from 1671/2 and include a list of names of those people with houses worth more than 20 shillings a year and who also paid church or poor rates. So they are lists of the wealthier people in the county at the time.
The records in Gloucestershire Archives are negative photocopies of the originals which are held in the National Archives at Kew and not all of them are easy to read. I looked at the Badgeworth and Shurdington areas of the county. There I found all four of the Gwinnett men who were around at the time, Richard, George, Isaac and Lawrence, the four sons of George Gwinnett and his wife, Elizabeth nee Lawrence.
The number of hearths was given for each, the more hearths being an indicator of the wealth of the person. Richard had five, Lawrence four and George and Isaac three each. This put three of them in the merchant/yeomen bracket with Richard just into the gentry group. Richard and George were living in Little Shurdington and their two brothers in Great Shurdington. The wealthiest person in the neighbourhood, using this measure, was William Lawrence, with 9 hearths, who lived at the Greenway, now a hotel.
The codes used in Smith’s Men and Armour for Gloucestershire in 1608 are as follows:
The figure (1.) shows the age of that man to be about Twenty.
The figure (2.) shows the age of that man to be about Forty.
The figure (3.) shows the age of that man to be between Fifty and sixty.
The letter (p.) shows that man to be of the tallest stature fit to make a pikeman.
The letter (m.) shows that man to be of the middle stature fit to make a musketeer.
The letters (ca.) show that man to be of a lower stature fit to serve with a caliver.
The letters (py.) show that man to be of the meanest stature either fit for a pyoner or of little other use.
The letters (tr.) show that at the time of taking this view, he was then a trained soldier.
The letters (sub.) show that the said man was then a subsidy man.
Yesterday, I had cause to look at a book entitled ‘Men and Armour for Gloucestershire in 1608’. by John Smith. It is a transcript of the information produced by a military survey of the county of Gloucesteshire in that year. As such, it lists, under hundreds, manors and tithings, the name, occupation or description of each person in the county capable of bearing arms or, if incapacitated, the armour he can contribute. Thus, it contains a list of all the men from the ages of 16 to 60 in Gloucestershire in 1608 and is particularly useful for tracing ancestors in the early 17th century. Also included is a code for the age and another for the stature of the man concerned. For instance, the entry for one man is:
Richard Gwynnett, husbandman, 2, m., tr. hath a musket furnished.
The ‘2’ tells us that he is about 40 years (as opposed to 20 or 50-60)
The ‘m’ means that he is of middle stature ‘fitt to make a musketyer’.
Finally, the ‘tr’ means he was a trained soldier at that time.
The best feature of the book is that it has an excellent index which makes searching for your ancestors in the early seventeenth century very easy.