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Guide to Searching the Taxatio database

The information in the taxatio database has been entered mainly from the ecclesiastical taxation assessment of 1291-2, known as Pope Nicholas’ Taxatio. The database also contains additional information from contemporary or near-contemporary sources to give as full a picture as possible of the churches and parishes in England and Wales at that date.

The simplest way to search the database is by place name, using the main option at the top of the screen. Simply type in the modern name of the place and press your Enter key or click on the Go button. This will bring up a list of all the database entries containing that name (often there will be only one), together with their diocese, archdeaconry and rural deanery names. Select the entry for the place you want in order to bring up the full benefice display.

If your search produces no results, or the church you want is not in the list displayed, there can be several reasons for this.

(i) The church is not in the database. This is the case for benefices that were too poor to be taxed (ie, valued at less than 6 marks [£4] in 1291-2) and for which no other contemporary or near-contemporary record has so far been found. In addition, there are churches that did not come into being until later. This is especially so for parishes in the northern towns that developed during the Industrial Revolution.

(ii) The name of the church is spelled differently in the database. For example, if the name includes the word “saint”, the database always uses the abbreviation “st”. The database also includes apostrophes where appropriate. So, for example, the London cathedral dedicated to Saint Paul is named in the database as “St Paul’s Cathedral”.

(iii) If the name has multiple components, especially if non-alphabetical characters are involved, the search can fail. Try entering just the first component. For example, the search for Chester-le-Street fails, so enter "Chester" and the benefice will be included in the list displayed.

(iv) Although great care has been taken to identify the modern place names of the taxatio benefices, a spelling variation other than those mentioned above may have occurred.

If you suspect that there might be some variation between your spelling and that in the database, you can use the Search button to the left of the main search option, as this will give you a screen that allows you to use the “wild-card” asterisk in place of one or more characters in the name. For example, typing Lambo* into the place name field will bring up records for Lambourn and Lambourne.

If you are sure that the church existed in 1291-2, and you know its place in the ecclesiastical hierarchy, then you can use one of the various browse options to find it. The simplest of these uses the Browse button to the left of the main search option.

This will take you to a list of the Dioceses. Select the taxatio listing option for your chosen Diocese to bring up a list of its Archdeaconries. Select the one you want to bring up a list of its Deaneries, and from that list select the Deanery you want in order to bring up a list of all its benefices. You can browse this list to try to identify the church you are seeking.

You can go more directly to the Archdeaconry or Deanery level using the appropriate browse option listed on the right hand side of the screen.

Note: for each Diocese in the Canterbury Province, there is a prose introduction, accessible via the Diocese list. These were written by Professor Jeffrey Denton while he was working on the taxatio data, and describe what benefice lists he found and how he dealt with them. This may be useful if you are having difficulty tracking down a church.

Another option on the right-hand side of the screen allows you to browse the database by benkey. This can be useful if you are following a cross-reference from a benefice note that gives a benkey but not the benefice name. (A benkeys help file describes the various forms of benkey if you need this information.) The benkeys are listed in ascending alphanumeric order, so you will need to scroll down the list for the one you want. Then click the Go button to bring up the full benefice display. (Note that this benkeys list loads from the database at the time of asking, which can take some moments. Be patient!)

If you know the benkey and which county the benefice is in, then you may find it quicker to use the County browse option on the right hand side. Note that these county lists can be long, and they list the benefices in ascending order of benkey, so you may have to scroll down quite a long way to find the place you want.

An option to browse by Episcopal income is also provided. In this option, select the Bishop you are interested in and click the Go button to bring up the information. As stated for this browse option, no separate listing of episcopal income was made in the taxatio. The information has been assembled manually from the details scattered throughout the taxatio texts, including income among the temporalities and income from appropriated churches.

You can also browse the Taxatio database: