Sterneana | Sterne in Coxwold

This entry was posted on 5th April 2012

Letter – 20 June 1762


The Right Honble the Earl Fauconberg


Date-stamped 23 July; place stamp YORK

Trace of red wax seal

York 20th June 1762

My Lord

One Hudson who is Tenant to Lady Long for Land <Land> laying within the Township of Sutton, who gave Notice of an Appeal for the Land Tax at this place this time twelve month, when we agreed to take 4l: of his Assessmt: and lay it Equally amongst our Selves without coming before the Comisrs.; on Thursday last one of the Tenants at Sutton came to let me know that the Same Hudson had given Notice to Appeal for the Land Tax at this place as Yesterday, who had taken the Advantage of Mr Harland and Mr Sterne being abroad; so I came here and Waited on Mr Croft Mr Bows and Lawyer Johnson (who were the three Acting Comisioners) Yesterday Morning before the Meeting and laid the Case before them who promised to do the best in their power for your Lordship; and Mr Bows Meeting with our Adversary and talked the affair over to him in Such a Manner as Affrighted him from his Appeal, so that he gave us no further trouble, but I am afraid he’l be a Continual plague to us —-

Lady Long: Lady Long was the fourth largest land-holder in the township of Sutton, being taxed on a valuation of £88. Earl Fauconberg’s valuation was £581-9-6; Philip Harland was assessed at £691-4-0; and Mr Bethell, £90. For purposes of comparison Laurence Sterne was assessed at £69-2-9.

Land Tax: ‘The first assessments of 1692-3 were made under the terms of “An Act for granting to their Majesties an aid of four shillings in the pound for one year for carrying on a vigorous war against France” [4W. & M.c.1,1692/3]. The Act specified that real estate and personal property, that is buildings & moveable goods as well as land, were to be taxed. It nominated for each borough and county in England and Wales the local commissioners who were to supervise the assessments & local collection. The tax was voted annually, usually in the spring, until 1798…. It was levied on a number of different bases : as a pound rate between 1693 & 1696, as a 4 shillings assessment supplemented by a poll tax in 1697 and from 1698-1798 on the system whereby each county or borough was given a fixed sum to collect.’ Land Tax in Sutton was supposed to raise £90 in total and it is suggested here that to accommodate Hudson in 1761 the major tax payers had agreed to spread the cost of his £4 contribution among themselves, but had decided not to continue this benefit.

Mr Harland: Philip Harland (1708-66), a graduate of Queen’s College, Oxford, was the squire of Sutton. He and Sterne did not see eye to eye.

Mr Sterne being abroad: Sterne set off for France in the first week in January 1762. He arrived back in London in early June 1764.

Mr Croft Mr Bows and Lawyer Johnson: Stephen Croft (1712-98) was Lord of the Manor of Stillington, and a close friend of Sterne. Messrs Bowes and Johnson have not been identified: they are both fairly common family names in Yorkshire and Durham.