Tithes in Country Life

Alan Wharham describes how the tithing system, by which the Anglican Church took a regular share of the hard-working farmer’s produce, was not finally abolished until 1936.

‘A Relique of Popish Tyranny, not only Iniquitous, Oppressive and Incompatible with the Spirit of the British Constitution, but also destructive to the Ardour of Agriculture and Improvement.’

An anonymous layman: 1773.

A few barns in the countryside; a few lines in the current edition of Halsbury’s Laws of England: that is all that is left.

The Tithe Acts of 1836 and 1936 abolished the old system, but two hundred years ago tithes were engraved upon the lives of the entire population: a source of income, luxury and avarice for the privileged; a tax at 2s. in the £, and a source of anger and resentment for everyone else.

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