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ship money

ship money was an occasional tax on property, traditionally levied in port towns for their protection by the navy. Because Parliament, together with its power to grant taxes, had been dissolved in 1629, Charles I lacked money both for the fleet and for other expenses. In 1634 he therefore levied ship money in London, extending the tax in the following year to the whole country. In 1635, 1636, and 1637 it produced a high yield, but resistance developed and in 1638 it produced only one-third of the assessed amount. John Hampden, a Buckinghamshire squire, and others refused to pay on principle. There followed a test case on the legality of non-parliamentary taxation, including ship money. To the perturbation of the property-owning classes, the judges found for the king, though by a majority of only 7:5. In 1641 Parliament declared ship money illegal.

Margaret Wilkinson

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