Document referenceQFR
TitleRecords of county rates : North Riding Quarter Sessions
DescriptionThis sub-fonds contains records concerned with the financial affairs of the Riding and the Court of Quarter Sessions, and in particular with the County Treasurer or Treasurers. It consists of records relating to county rates, including:

- county rate basis, returns of rateable values [1824-1886]
- county rate basis, returns of property tax assessments [1824-1886]
- county rate basis, assessment books [1848-1896]
- county rate basis, papers [1782-?1860]
- rate or assessment rolls and papers [1854-1889]
- county rate basis, other papers [1797-c1880]
Catalogue statusCatalogued
Administrative historyThe Justices were empowered under various Acts of Parliament, for example, the Statute of Bridges of 1530-1, the Acts of 1593 to 1601 and later Acts to raise yearly rates for various purposes. The County Rates Act of 1738 (12 George II cap. 29) consolidated these rates and empowered the Justices to levy or "estreat" one general rate for county expenses. This was to be collected by the High Constables of wapentakes from the parish overseers and paid out of the poor rate. Until an Act in 1815 (55 George III cap. 51) the Justices had no power to alter rating assessments which were based on the poor rates. This Act provided for reassessments and enabled the Justices in order to make a fair and equal rate to require the churchwardens and overseers to make returns of the annual value of rateable property to the Justices in Petty Sessions or Quarter Sessions. To help them further they could also call for the Property Tax returns (authorised under an Act of 1806, 46 George III cap. 65). An Act of 1845 (8 & 9 Victoria cap. 111) repeated the provisions of the 1815 Act for returns of annual rateable values and authorised the appointment of a committee to assess a fair basis for the County Rate. This Committee had the power to inspect assessments and valuations and to cause new valuations to be made and to hear objections and appeals against rating assessments. These provisions were repeated under an Act of 1852 (15 & 16 Victoria cap. 81) while an Act of 1864 (27 & 28 Victoria cap. 39) provided that Clerks to Assessment Committees of Boards of Guardians should send annually in December totals of gross estimated rentals and rateable values of property of parish in the Union to the Clerk of the Peace to be used for rating assessments. Another Act of 1844 (7 & 8 Victoria cap. 33) transferred the responsibility for the collection of rates from the High Constable to the Clerks to Boards of Guardians. The Court of Quarter Sessions remained the body responsible for the initiation, assessment and collection of County Rates until the formation of County Councils in 1889.

There are hardly any records relating to the collections of rates in the North Riding extant before the 19th century. For the period before this the "Bridge Book" and the "Maimed Soldiers Books" show that rates were being "estreated" or levied for various purposes and collected usually through the High Constables. The Order Books from at least the early part of the 18th century contain orders of the Court that a certain amount should be "estreated" and empowered the Clerk of the Peace to issue out "estreat" warrants. This continued until 1889 and some of these "estreat" warrants have been preserved among the Treasurers' bills and vouchers as evidence or a receipt of payment. Towards the end of the 18th century there is evidence that the Court was trying to discover the amounts of rates paid and ordered returns to be made to the Clerk of the Peace. In 1782 the Court ordered that the printing of the Book of Rates ordered at a previous Session should be suspended and that such returns as had been received should be laid before the Court at the next Sessions. Nothing more, however, is heard of this. There are returns to the Clerk of the Peace following an order of Michaelmas Sessions 1797 and these show the amount of rates paid by each township.

It was not until 1824 that the Court put the provisions of the Act of 1815 into operation. A motion before the Court for the equalisation of rates was adopted at Christmas Sessions 1824. At the next Sessions the Court was concerned with lying down lines of guidance for the Justices who were to receive the returns of rateable values at Petty Sessions and to assess fair rateable values from them. The appointment of a committee to compare and equalise the returns followed at Midsummer Sessions 1824. This Committee, which was to be open to all the Justice who could attend, finished its work and reported to Sessions at Christmas 1825 and at the next Sessions, the Clerk was ordered to make out schedules of assessment.

The Court soon adopted the provisions of the Act of 1845 and appointed a County Rating Committee at Midsummer 1846. Another Committee was appointed in 1859 and again in 1870 and it seems that this was not a standing committee but separate committees appointed to prepare a fair basis for the County Rate and afterwards disbanded. This seems to have been the case in 1846 and 1859 but the Committee appointed in 1870 may have continued. A further reassessment was ordered in 1875 and again in 1879 and the Special Order Books do not record the appointment of a committee in either 1875 or 1879. Another committee was, however, appointed in 1885.
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