Thoughts and reflections

The Norwich history detectives

The Norwich history detectives felt that their investigations had brought to life the names on the Land Tax Act. It had revealed the types of people that were involved in the business of collecting the tax, and why they had been chosen by Parliament to undertake the task.

The research had also revealed much about the other connections between Parliament and Norwich in the early nineteenth century, and the changes that were taking place in the area. The land tax commissioners were involved in many of these.

"This has been a mind-broadening experience about what is contained in the Parliamentary Archives and the lines of research at Norfolk Record Office", said Chris Basey, one of the group.

And Marion Falkes, another detective, observed that "it was interesting to see how a seemingly remote Act of Parliament enacted in London reached out to the provinces in practical administration".

The research undertaken by the detectives for this case study has revealed much about the nature of the support at a local level that Parliament needed to implement its legislation in the nineteenth century. In the early nineteenth century Norwich relied heavily on a individuals such as the men investigated here who played a vital role in supporting local government. They also contributed to society through their participation in learned societies and their help for the poor. In addition, they were a crucial link between local communities and Parliament when in the case of the land tax legislation their social standing, skills and knowledge of the city they lived in was crucial for the successful collection of the land tax. It is also clear that the land tax was not the only occasion when they came into contact with Parliament - when improvements were required to the city or to improve its economy they became involved in schemes that often required Parliamentary approval, or sometimes they themselves were affected by the schemes. The study shows that Parliament relied heavily on support at a local level and that it was a vital mechanism by which local communities could effect change. (David Prior, Parliamentary Archives)

Project information

Parliamentary Archives and Parliamentary Outreach are partnering with other archive services around the country to run more case study groups. Find out how to join a group in your area and learn more about the connections between Parliament and your community.