The Land and hearth and 18th century tax records are rich in numbers, particularly for financial sums. Before 1971, the UK operated a non-decimal monetary system. Units were based upon the penny, with there being 240 pence in one pound, 12 pence in one shilling, and 20 shillings in one pound. Latin terminology resulted in the terms Lsd being used to convey Libri – pounds, solidi – shillings and denarii – pence.

We have chosen to standardise the recording of currency by using the format £x.x.x, which should make reading financial sums more easy.

Letter forms and handwriting in earlier records, particularly the land and hearth tax can be difficult, so compare and contrast figures wherever you can to ensure you have transcribed the correct amount.


1. How do I know if valuations are in merks (spelling varies, also marks), rather than pounds?
Assume pounds unless specifically stated as merks (for example on this page). In the rare case of valuations in merks, add the following 'Trancriber's note' to each page: "Prior to 1707, 1 merk equalled two thirds of a Scots pound, i.e. £0.13.4, which was equivalent to £0.1.1 sterling."

If the word 'lib' occurs, this means pounds (short for Latin libra).

2. Is the mark/merk a measure of weight or a sum of money?
Both. Originally it was a measure of weight, and it is still used in this way in Orkney and Shetland in the Land Tax rolls. A mark weight of silver was worth £0.13.4, hence the use of the mark as an amount of money.

3. What is a markland/merkland?
This is a measure of land, though the basis of measurement varies. In most of the country, it is a piece of land assessed at a previous point in time to have an annual rental value of one mark. In Orkney and Shetland, it is a piece of land with an original purchase price of a mark.

In some cases, Markland has become a place-name - likewise there are places called Shillingland, etc.