In the seventeenth century there was no general fund raised for the whole County like the present County Rate. Separate rates or levies were made upon particular Hundreds or parishes for particular items of expenditure.


"Refusal to pay the levy" or "Refusal to pay taxes," were common causes of offence in the seventeenth century, and indictments and presentments are to be found in the records of almost every Sessions.

In 1612, warrants were issued against persons for refusal "to pay certain taxes for the use of the lord the King (viz. gaol and others) imposed upon them."

In 1614, a warrant to distrain was issued against the Inhabitants of Broad-holme for "refusing to pay arrears towards relief of paupers, maimed soldiers, and relief of the poor."

In 1623, the Inhabitants of Kirkby in Ashfield were ordered "to pay the imposition upon their town for the provision and maintenance of the gaol, maimed soldiers, and the keeper of the House of Correction."

In 1635, on complaint of divers Inhabitants of Gringley on the Hill, Thomas James of Gringley "the present farmer of the Parsonage of the said town" was ordered to pay the levy and assessment in respect of the Parsonage.

In 1642, it was ordered that "the tenant to Matthew Lacocke, clerk, Parson of his tythe and glebe" was not chargeable for leys."

On 12th January, 1656-1657, on a complaint by Samuel Brunsill, clerk, Parson of Bingham "that the Inhabitants doe in all levys to the poore assesse him for his parsonage at ye utmost value as they do their owne ffarmes" an order was made "not to assesse Mr. Brunsill above the tenth part of every such Assessment and for his Gleabe and goods according to the proportion of their owne Lands and goods."

In 1688, it was ordered "that ye Parson of Winthorpe shall not be assessed to ye sayd Towne for his Tythes."

In 1694, the Court considered that John Gee, Rector of the Parish of Plumtree, "ought not nor is by law chargeable to pay" towards the following matters in respect of which he had hitherto been rated and charged by the Constable's levy:
     To the Clerke of ye market for exemption of toll, Charges of Stattute bills, Monthly meetings, post horses, gathering ye Bayliffe of ye Hundreds headla . . . Charges in and about ye poll bill and King's taxes, for making ye Constables account booke, serving warrant, Attorneys fee, weights and measures, sealing, constables salary, and for ye killing of Badgers ffulimorts" [polecats].

In 1654, certain Inhabitants of Normanton (on Trent) complained that to the great oppression of themselves and others the Constable of Normanton did not make all his Constables levies by an equal rate of lands and goods throughout the Constabulary.

There were many similar complaints in regard to other parishes.

In 1655, on a "Complaynt of the Inhabitants of fflawborow in the Constabulary of Staunton that the Constable levys quarter Dutyes and other paymts and Towne charges are layd and assessed by the Pound Rent and not according to the ancient way and proporton which ye severall hamletts did formerly pay with Staunton and that the present Rent or rate now proceded upon is very unequall some Lands being vallewed at the extreamest racke or above, and other Lands at an under rate," the Court ordered a survey to be made.

In 1654, the Chief Constables were ordered to make Accounts of all such monies as they have levied and collected in their several divisions for the public uses (except assessments to the Armies) since the year 1648.
      [Note.— There are no records of Quarter Sessions between 1642 and 1652.]

In January, 1654-1655, on a complaint of the Inhabitants of Southwell, "the owners [Mr. Cartwright] and tenants of Hepgrave Parke and certain lands that pay Military Assessments to ye town and constable of Southwell to ye maintenance of ye Army," were ordered "to pay or show cause why they have not yet payd several assessments formerly assessed upon them for collection to ye poore of Southwell."

The Assessment upon which the levy was based was often the cause of dispute and difference, and orders on the subject frequently occur in the records. The following Order made on 20th April, 1628, is an instance:

"Forasmuch as at this Sessions some of the Inhabitants of East Stoke were complayning before us of divers in that parish that refuse to pay their leys duely according to the assessments and that ye parishioners often meeting doe seldome agree how to make and gather their leys It is thought meet and most indifferent by the Court and so ordered that every Inhabitant parishioner and occupant of land or owner of horses beasts or sheepe wch shall at any time of the yeare be kept within that lordship shall be alwaies taxed and pay for all their land and all their cattell wch shall arise to the greatest some, and be most behooful and beneficiall to the towne after the rate of a peny a beast, foure pence a score of sheepe, and a peny an acre of land, and that every man pay the same within a fortnight after notice by the officer of the parish needing a ley, and give a true account of all his horses beasts and sheepe when he is to pay the same, or els to pay a double ley upon complaynt to any Justice of peace that he is negligent or obstinate herin."

On 14th April, 1697, it was ordered "That the Mills neare Newarke in ye parish of East Stoake be exempt from payings to the Overseers of the poore thereof any Assessment the Mills not being chargeable according to the Act 43 Eliz."

Notice of the making of the levy was essential, and on 1st October, 1655, there was a complaint "that the Churchwardens and Overseers of Lenton had made a levy for the relief of the poore without giveing any publique notice to the parishioners and that the complainants had been overrated."

There were many presentments against Constables and others for "detaining money"; "for detaining the townes money in his hands." &c, &c.

In 1626, a warrant was issued against William Byrd of Worksop, for "that he unjustly detains divers sums of money in his hands which he, when he was a tithing man of the same town, in the time of his office, collected for the use of the lord the King and of the same town, and did not render account of it with the inhabitants of the same town."

On 2nd October, 1637, Richard Trueman of Stoke Bardolph, gentleman, was presented "for intercepting and detaining three seals."


On 2nd May, 1690, John Flower was presented "for taking taxes in the King's way at Everton."


There were a number of Indictments and presentments for "Extortion." The nature of the extortion is very rarely mentioned.

On the 13th July, 1604, Michael Purefye of Nottingham, gentleman, was presented "for extortion against the Ordinary." (Extors vers ordinar).

There were several presentments "for extortion as Clerk of the Market," the markets in question apparently being at Kirklington and at Plumtree. The Clerk of the Market was formerly an important functionary in every legally constituted market, his office being, amongst other things, to see that the weights and measures in use were just.

There were also presentments for "Extortion as Bailiff," "Extortion by Clergymen," against millers "for demanding excess toll," and "for taking excessive toll and for moving and exchanging [mutand] grain," also "for extorsive taking of 2s. 3d. from three people"; "for demanding and receiving sums of money unjustly from divers persons," "for assessing £20 to ye army, of the Inhabitants of Cuckney instead of £14," in 1658.

In 1677, the pinder of South Muskham was presented "for taking greater Rates than the Inhabitants allowed."

On 11th October, 1695, Wm. Hickman of Mooregate, in the parish of Clareboro, was presented "for extortionately receiving a fee of 8 /- for execution of the office of Under Bailiff of Simon . . . . . Steward of the Court of Peverall."

The meaning of an Order made on 9th July, 1677, "that Mr. Paise returne all ye money hee has received for smiths forges," is obscure. Very likely it was a case of illegal assessment.


There are two entries showing that the Court of Quarter Sessions was resorted to for the recovery of tithes:

On 20th April, 1658, in the time of the Commonwealth, on complaint by "John Kirk, Viccar of the parish of Eaton, that one Robt Murfin detaynes from him severall small tythes and dues unto him for diverse yeares last past amounting to ye sum of 26/10," an order was made for payment of the same.

On 14th April, 1697, in the reign of William and Mary, John Camme of Maplebeck was ordered to pay "Robt Parker, Curate of Maplebeck, the sum of £126 being an arrear of small Tythes for foure yeares."


On the 8th October, 1652, the Court was informed that all Constable levies for the tolles of Blyth "have annciently been paid to and wth the towne of Blyth only and not wth Barnby and that of right the same ought to be so paid." An Order was made accordingly.


In 1662 a tax of two shillings a year was ordered to be levied on every chimney in the country "as a constant revenue for ever to the Crowne"; and Mr. Pepys tells us in his diary that there was "much clamour against the chimney money, and the people say they will not pay it without force."

The following entries appear in the Notts. Records in regard to this tax:

On 10th July, 1676, it was ordered that ye goods belonging to John Hodges of Nuttall shall remain in ye Constable's handes till ye business be decided concerning Chimney money.

On 3rd October, 1677, it was ordered that Miles Knutton shall not pay ye charges in ye prosecution of ye Collector of ye Chimney money.


On 6th October, 1652, there was a presentment for "abusing ye officers of Excise."

On 9th July, 1677, an order was made to "apprehend ffran Snow Exciseman and for to appeare at Retford Sessions, to ye Sheriff, for distraining Mathew Mariotes cow."

On 28th April, 1679, Edward Browne was ordered to "pay to the Officers of Excise 10/- his duty of Excise."

On 11th July, 1683, John Osborne was sworn General Surveyor; John Kiffin, Collector of Excise; and Richd. Gilman, Surveyor of ye Excise.


On the 17th July, 1696, it was ordered "pursuant to an Act of Parliament in ye 7 and 8 yeare of ye reigne of His Majesty that now is, entitled an Act for continuing to His Majesty certain Duties upon Salt, Glass Wares, Store or Earthen Wares & for granteing several Duties upon certain Pipes and other earthenwares for carrying on ye warr agt France and for establishing a N ational Land Banke and for taking all ye Duties upon Tunnage of Shipps and upon Coale" that all persons from henceforth" selling or exposing to sale any Salt (except foraign Salt) made for use and sold within the County of Notts shall sell ye same after the rate of 56 lbs. weight to ye Bushel and so in proportion for every greater or lesser quantity, and not any rate or price exceeding ye rate and price of two shillings sixpence of lawful English money for every such Bushel of salt so to be sold and so in proportion for every greater or lesser quantity." The Order was to be proclaimed in every market place throughout the County before the first August next.


The plague appears to have pressed somewhat heavily upon parts of the county in the early portion of the century. There are no references to the subject after 1637.

It has already been mentioned that the place of holding Quarter Sessions had to be changed on two occasions owing to the plague, viz.:

In January, 1604-1605, when the Quarter Sessions were held at Rolston, and not at Newark, evidently on account of the plague, for on the 11th April, 1605, an order was made " that £10 a week for a month be levied "of the Shire for the relief of Newark in consideration of their extraordinary charges with watchmen to kepe the late visited people and houses free from the . . . . . . and alsoe the country from enteringe into any houses of danger."

On the 30th September, 1611, when "the Sessions were opened at Nottingham and adjourned to Burton Joyce adjoining the Town of Nottingham because in the said town of Nottingham are persons affected with plague."

From the above-mentioned Order in regard to Newark and from other entries, it would appear that a system of quarantine was established. Infected persons were confined to their own houses.

On 9th July, 1604, a warrant was granted directing the Constable of Linby to "detain and keep Thomas Lambe and his wife in his house, he being visited with the plague."

On 15th July, 1631, a warrant was granted to restrain Inhabitants of Misterton, "being infected with the plague, from wandering to other townships but that they should remain at home."

As such persons were not able to get to work, relief to them was necessary, and the statute of I. Jas. 1, c. 31 gave power to the Justices to assess any parish within five miles of a town or place in which there was an outbreak, at so much a week.

On the 19th July, 1605, an Order of the Court was made for the relief of men infected with the plague in Worksopp and a levy was made on several parishes as follows:

Laneham 10/- Eckeringe 6/8
Claworth cum Weston 10/- Est Drayton 6/8
Gringley on the Hill 13/4 Dunham cum Raggenyll 10/-
Blyth 13/4 Welley 5/-
Hodsock 6/8 Darlton 6 /8
Scroobye 10/- Headon cum Upton 6/8
South Wheatley 6/8 Grove 5/-
Laxton 1/4 Billesthorpe 3/4
Egmonton 6/8 Little Markham cum Milneton 3/4

On 13th January, 1631-1632, the Inhabitants of Boale were ordered to pay a levy of 2/- per week "on account of adjacent townes and places infected with plague."

A rate for this purpose was also levied upon the Hundreds.

On 10th July, 1637, in respect that the burden for relief of the poor in the several towns of Bingham, Codgrave and East Bridgford within the wapentake of Bingham which were and now are infected with the plague was very burdensome to the said Hundred and because the plague increases very much in the townships of East Bridgford and Codgrave and is besides suspected still to be in the township of West Bridgford this Court has thought fit to extend the Assessment for the said towns of Codgrave and East Bridgford upon the several Hundreds of Bingham Rushcliffe Broxtowe Thurgarton Aleigh and Newark allowing to the said two towns £8 weekly for this month viz. at East Bridgford £3 weekly and £5 weekly at Codgrave besides £3 at the town of West Bridgford towards the expenses they have supported and are likely to support.

On 8th January, 1637-1638, an order was made that 5 marks be levied for the three weeks next following from the several Hundreds of Broxtowe Rushcliffe and Bingham for the support of the Inhabitants of Radford now visited with the plague, and that the Hundred of Broxtowe should pay 5 marks the first week the Hundred of Rushcliffe the second week and the Hundred of Bingham the third to the aforesaid use.

Persons were indicted for refusing to pay rates levied on account of the plague.

On 15th July, 1631, a warrant was issued for distraining divers persons Inhabitants of Wyeston and Misterton who refused wholly certain impositions proportionately charged upon them towards the relief of persons there inflicted with the plague, and towards the erection of the pesthouse there.

On 7th October, 1631, a warrant was granted for levying by distraint divers sums of money in arrear and unpaid for the use of the Inhabitants of divers townships infected with plague viz. Gringley on the Hill, Walkeringham, Misterton, Stockwith, and Wyeston. And Wm. Brown, Constable of South Newton, was fined 10/- for refusing to levy money for the use of infected townships.

On 13th January, 1631-1632, Distress Warrants were issued against two men of Stokeham in respect of levy for relief and maintenance of Gringley and other towns infected with plague.

On 9th April, 1632, John Simpson of Mansfield, clerk, and another, were presented for not paying levy for use of persons infected.

With a view to the prevention of the spread of infection:

On 9th October, 1618, a husbandman of Gringley parva was presented for "selling meat detained for plague"; and on 2nd April, 1627, a butcher of Norwell was presented for "killing meat infected with plague" (lue).

On the 8th January, 1637-1638, a warrant was issued against Anne wife of ffrancis Smith of West Bridgford, laborer, "for taking clothes from a house there lately infected with the plague."

The following entries relate to the removal of quarantine:

On 12th April, 1605, "upon certeficat of Sir Henry Pierreponte that none have dyed of the plague for theis two months in Norton Cuckney Therefore by order of the Court ye towne is sett at liberty. And a warrant is to be graunted comanding all the brewers there (except Anthony Hurste and John Allward) to brew no more."
      [Note.—How the latter part of this Minute is connected with the plague is a little obscure.]

On 13th January, 1631-1632, at the humble and serious request of the Inhabitants of Misterton lately infected with the plague the Court decreed (after examination of the condition of the town concerning the infection lately there) that the Inhabitants thereof may come at large henceforth freely into any place in the County about their necessary business without any molestations on that account And that the allowances hitherto made to them by the County for their maintenance shall henceforth cease.

On the same day, at the humble petition of the Inhabitants of Gringley on the Hill, the Court decreed (after proof being given that there had been no visitation of the plague for the space of 6 weeks together last past) that the Inhabitants of Gringley after 1st February next future shall have liberty to go at large in the County without any restriction unless in the meantime any Inhabitants shall appear to be infected; that then upon just suspicion they shall continue to be shut up.

The inhabitants of Gringley had to be compelled to pay for cleansing of houses, &c.

On 13th July, 1632, complaint was made by Thomas Bullock of Gringley on the Hill, laborer, "that he being requested by warrant of Sir Francis Thornhagh during the time of the visitation of the plague there to cleanse and sweeten divers houses there which had been infected and agreeably to this same warrant he was promised by the Constable and other Inhabitants there the sum of 12d. for each day he should continue in that service and 6d. per day for a month following which several sums had not been paid to him." An Order was made for payment.

Complaint was also made by Matthew Walsham of Gringley, gentleman, that he being requested by the Constable and Inhabitants there to watch the people being visited at the time of the plague there and also to sweeten and cleanse divers houses there which had been infected, and his wages for the work being promised to be paid to him of which a great part is unpaid. An Order was made for payment.


A matter that came within the cognizance of the Court was the relief of such as had their houses burnt. When a fire occurred a petition was presented to Quarter Sessions for authority to make "a collection" in respect of the loss. The Court enquired fully into the matter and if they found that relief was necessary, a Certificate to that effect was sent to the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal of England.

There are a number of such Certificates mentioned.

The Lords Keepers of the Great Seal of England named in such Certificates are—

1631 to 1638 Thomas Lord Coventry.
1640 Lord ffinch.

In the time of the Commonwealth the Certificate is "to ye Right Honble ye Lords Commissioners for ye greate seale of England."

Among the fires mentioned in respect of which Certificates were issued were the following:

19th August, 1631. Three skath fires at Retford. Damage £1,300.

1633. House of John Cowlishaw of Bilborow.

2nd March, 1634, "being the Lord's Day in the night time" farm buildings at Lowdham. Damage £30.

1635. Farm buildings at Scrooby. Damage £250.

1636. Houses and goods of four inhabitants of South Clifton. Damage £1,600,

1637. Fire at Mattersey. Elizabeth Hall widow, Thomas Hall yeoman Edmond Kemp clerk, and 11 others sustained losses to the value of £2,000 and upwards. On the 6th October, 1637, "evidence was given on oath that they are not able to susteyn themselves and their families wthout want uidess they be releeved wth a colleccon and they were bound over not to apply any parte of their colleccon if it shall be granted, to the Landlord or other person of ability nor put over the benefit thereof to any other according to the Lord Keepers direccon And thereupon a Certificate of the premises was made by this Court to the Lord Keeper accordingly."

1638. Laborers house and goods at Bestwood. Damage £150 and more.

1639. House fires at Rempstone. Damage £200 and more.

1640. House and furniture of a blacksmith at Notehall. Damage £100 and more.

9th July, 1655. House and buildings at Worksop. The form of Certificate made on the 18th April, 1656, is as follows:
     "To ye Right Honble ye Lords Commissioners for ye greate Seale of England. May it please yr Honors to be informed yt the bearer hereof Matthew Heakyn of Worksopp shoomaker is a man of good life and conversation, and formerly willing and able to releive those yt were in need and necessity, but now of late impoverished by a lamentable accident of fire which happened on the nynth day of July last past in ye night tyme by ye carelessness of one of his servants in his dwelling house which in a very short space utterly burnt downe and consumed his said dwelling house withall his outhouses adjoyning to ye same, consisting of 8 bayes of building And therein alsoe all his howsehold stuffe, wares leather unwrought up and other his goods amounting to ye some of £150 besides the losse of his howse, by meanes whereof ye bearer is utterly impoverished haveing a wiefe and divers small children and is not able to consist without a collection All wch at ye request of ye bearer wee humbly recomend to yr Honors grave consideration and remaine &c."

1st December, 1658. Fyre att Oxton. Ye dwelling house of Joseph Jackson mercer and ye dwelling house of Mr. William Dawson vicar there and ten bayes of buildings with corne and hay and five bayes of corn hay wares &c. belonging to Joseph Jackson and Wm. Dawson. Damage £178 18 4.

1683. 28 houses at Worksop. Damage £1,226.