Wold Newton Archives‎ > ‎Domesday‎ > ‎


GELT or GELD is a Saxon word, signifying tribute, tax, amerciament, payment of money, and even money itself, from whence we have gold, the best sort of money.  In Latin it is geldum.  Webb in his account of Gelt , or Danegely, says it was first imposed as a tax upon England by the Danes, in the reign of Ethelred, about 991, and was an annual tax of 2s. on every hide or carucate of arable land in the kingdom.  Every town was to bear a proportion according to the taxation laid on the Hundred.  Sir Henry Spelman in his Glossary, makes the number of hides or carucates of land in England amount to 243,600, which, taxed at 2s. each, would produce £24,360.  Cities and towns, which had no arable lands within their boundaries, paid gelt in proportion to a certain number of hides.  The produce of this tax was, however, greatly diminished by many claims of exemption from it.  The demesne lands of the King and Queen, and those of their tenants, although assessed, paid nothing, and in the course of years the lands of many other persons were exempted, while the demesne lands of churchmen and religious houses were excused from it in consequence of their elemosinary grants, by which they held such lands from the crown, or by virtue of some general grant prior to the levying of gelt.  The demesne lands of the great lords and barons, who held their lands by performing military service, were in like manner exempted from paying the tax, owing, probably, to the fact that as they were by tenure liable to serve in the wars, it were unreasonable to pay taxes for the same service aswell.  The demsene lands, or part of them, belonging to the Barons of the Exchequer, Sheriffs of counties, and assessors and collectors of this tax, were also freed from its payment, as were others by order of the King.  When the tax was first levied in Englandin 991 it produce 10,000l.;  in 1002, it produced 24,000l.; in 1007, it produced 30,000l.;  in 1012, 8,000l.;  in 1014, 21,000l.; in 1016, ...;  in 1018, 72,000l. exclusive of 10,000l. levied from the city of London;  in 1039, enough for the maintenance of sixteen ships, at eight marks for each sailor, and again the same year for the maintenance of sixty-two ships at the same rate;  and in 1040, 21,099l., and for thirty-two ships 11,048l.