Surveying the People: The interpretation and use of document sources for the study of population in the later seventeenth century edited by Kevin Schurer and Tom Arkell. Leopard's Head Press Ltd., 7 Murray Court, Banbury Road, Oxford OX2 6LQ. Order from Mrs. R. Brigden, Cambridge Group for the History of Population and Social Structure, 27 Trumpington Street, Cambridge CB2 1QA, England. Copyright 1992. Figures, index maps, tables. 308 pp. £10.

This is the best book I have come across that deals with the English seventeenth century records produced by the Hearth tax, Compton's Census, Poll taxes and the Marriage Duty Act. The book analyses in great depth how and why the records were created, why the content varies from one location to another, what records survive and where.

This book was not written for the genealogist but rather for the person wanting to understand population growth and movement. The book has chapters that show how the documents can be used. For example: Household structure in Kings Lynn; a reconstruction based on the Poll Taxes of 1689-1702; The Marriage Duty Act and parochial registration in London, 1695-1706; Non-conformity and the Compton Census in late seventeenth-century Devon.

For anyone doing research in these seventeenth-century documents, this is a book well worth reading.

Reviewed by Paul Milner
BIGWILL v.4 no.1, 1997