Paying Your Hair Powder Tax...and Chimney...and Brick

The postman brought the forms for the new household charge which has been introduced recently and I was thinking about the window tax brought into force in England in 1696. The government had wanted to begin a form of income tax payments but the public rebelled and said it would be an infringement of their civil liberties if everyone found out what they were earning... So, the window tax was brought in instead with an annual payment of two shillings for each house then four shillings for houses with ten to twenty windows and eight shillings for twenty windows or more... It more or less ensured that people with a lower income and therefore a smaller dwelling paid far less than those in the big houses with higher yearly incomes...but the more wealthy homeowners discovered they could brick up some of their windows with little loss of natural light and so bring the costs of the taxes down... They went one further with the chimney or hearth tax when that came into being in 1662 as a way of producing more money for the Royal Household who were living beyond their means...then people simply blocked their chimneys up. When the government grew wise to this ploy they employed Chimney Men to inspect the houses which were suspected of blocking up their chimneys and they were charged double, eight shillings instead of four. Another tax connected with one's home was the brick tax. George 111 brought that in to help to pay for the wars in the American colonies...it cost four shillings for every thousand bricks. So the brick makers simply made the bricks larger so less were needed... But one of the more obscure taxes was that introduced in 1795 on hair powder. You had to buy a certificate which cost one guinea a year to cover the tax for your hair or wig powder. All the upper classes wore elaborate wigs or hair pieces which were heavily powdered with ground starch...sailors wore their own hair long..tied back in a pigtail or plait which was kept in place with a liberal layer of tallow grease and then the powder was applied on top. The act wasn't repealed until 1869 when the fashion for heavily powdered wigs had long passed. So we'll pay our household charge...we have little choice but to do so street lighting or not...at least it isn't quite as odd as some of the taxes people have had to pay in the past...