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About the Taxatio Database Project

The taxatio database was the brainchild of Jeffrey Denton, Manchester University Professor of Medieval History until 1997, and it began life in 1986. The project was directed by Professor Denton, who was assisted by a group of his former students who had successfully completed a part-time MA course in Medieval Settlement and Society.

The database was designed by the group and stored at Manchester University’s Computing Centre. Using the 1802 Record Commission edition of the taxatio [Taxatio Ecclesiastica Angliae et Walliae Auctoritate P. Nicholas IV, ed T. Astle, S. Ayscough and J. Caley], the group proceeded to input all the detailed material concerning the valuations of the ecclesiastical benefices listed in this volume (that is, the 'spiritualities' as distinct from the 'temporalities') in order to provide a base text on which to work towards a new, updated version. Working in their spare time (all the group had jobs and other commitments), the inputting of the basic data for 9,086 benefices was completed by May 1991. This turned out to be only the beginning.

The phase which followed had two distinct parts. Firstly, Professor Denton carried out detailed research on all the extant hand-written scripts surviving in diocesan record offices and other archives. From these he selected the best Latin core text of the assessment for each diocese, creating a new online edition, with particular attention to 'spiritual' income but also including variant readings, items such as extra chapels found, and textual corrections. Full details of this research can be found in the Prose Introductions he wrote for each diocese.

At the same time other research was undertaken to identify each medieval-named church with its modern place-name, dedication and OS grid reference and add these to the database. In 1997, with funding from the Leverhulme Trust, a full-time researcher was appointed for three years to research and input information regarding ownership, patronage and appropriation where available.

In 2003, the taxatio database was transferred to the Digital Humanities Institute of the University of Sheffield. Research and data addition continued there until Professor Denton's death in 2009. Subsequently, the Institute was funded to create the current Web interface, which was launched in November 2014.

The database remained in the hands of the DHI under the supervision of a Steering Committee of academic colleagues. The original Manchester group continued to be involved until 2023, their main work being to identify and correct problems with the underlying data.

Sadly, Professor Denton died before he could carry out his detailed research work for the three dioceses of the York Province, York, Durham and Carlisle. The database records for these churches remain as listed in the Record Commission's edition of the taxatio. The dioceses of the Canterbury Province are, however, fully edited, and form a magnificent testament to Professor Denton’s vision, and his painstaking labour over many years to bring it to fruition.

You can also browse the Taxatio database: