Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor in Economics and Finance of the Built Environment, Economics of the Built Environment, University of London / University College London

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2005
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, University of Pennsylvania
The "Devil's Remedy:" Excise Taxation in the British Isles, 1650-1700

My dissertation will offer the first monograph-length study of excise taxation in the seventeenth-century British Isles from its original imposition during the Civil Wars to the fiscal union of the English and Scottish crowns in 1707. Building upon the 'fiscal sociology' of J.A. Schumpeter, this project will treat excise taxation both as a compelling case study in state formation and as a neglected contributor to the political crisis of late Stuart rule. The first part of the study will be re-constitutive and descriptive; the second will be analytical and interpretative. Chapter One will examine the economic data to reconstruct the history of excise revenue collection over this period. Chapter Two will use cliometric techniques to model the Excise as a regressive consumption tax and to investigate its role as a stimulus or hindrance to macroeconomic growth in the seventeenth-century excisable liquor industries. Chapter Three will investigate the institutional culture of the Excise Commission. Part Two will be organized chronologically. Chapter Four will analyze the parliamentary debates and pamphlet literature to illuminate contemporaries' theoretical understandings of political economy, especially their evaluations of the respective merits of excise taxation and customs duties in the 1660s and 1670s. This chapter will explain how excise taxation went from a hated Dutch import to a shibboleth for French style absolutism. Chapter Five will emphasize the key role the excise revenue played in the 1680s, particularly in fanning concerns about oversupply of Crown revenue. Chapter Six will re-interpret the financial settlement of the Revolution of 1688/89 in light of contemporaries' understandings of the role of excise taxation in promoting non-parliamentary rule. It will also consider the fate of excise taxation in the 1690s. The conclusion will fit the Excise into the larger narrative of early modem state formation in the British Isles.