By Helen Watt
North American Journal of Welsh Studies Vol. 6:1 (Winter 2006)
Introduction: In 1620, Sir William Thomas, one of the commissioners for a subsidy in Caernarfonshire, writing to Sir William Maurice, his father-in-law and a fellow commissioner, emphasised the huge task with which the collector of the subsidy had been burdened at short notice. According to Thomas, the collector was not only to gather the subsidy instalment, but in addition was expected to provide the tax commissioners with “three long estreats on parchment, … the collector’s bond and the certificate letters to all the commissioners, ten warrants to summon the meeting, ten more warrants to have the subsidy rated, and ten further schedules thereunto annexed,” a task which would occupy him “day and night without respite or rest.” Given that this was the documentation for one subsidy collection, and that as many as four subsidies could be granted together at any one time, to be collected in anything up to seven separate payments, that amounts to a great deal of parchment! Not only, as Thomas pointed out, would such documentation have taken a substantial time to create, but, had it all survived, it would clearly also have taken quite some considerable time to catalogue!