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Tithes

law, church, england, support, personal and clergy

TITHES, taxes, either voluntary or com pulsory, consisting of one-tenth of the income taxed. Usually tithes were one-tenth of the annual profit of the land and were paid for purposes of church support. The custom is of extreme antiquity. In Genesis xiv, 20, Abra ham allows a tenth of the spoils taken from four kings to their victor. Moses allowed tithes for the support of thh Levites and for service in the temple (Lev. xxvii, and Num. xviii). In 778 Charlemagne commanded tithes to be collected within all the portions of the old Roman empire over which he ruled; this was for the support of the Christian Church. These tithes were by him 'allotted to four dif ferent uses: one part was for the maintenance of the edifice of the church, and the other three, severally, for the support of the bishop, the clergy and the poor. Ecclesiastical tithes were always more or less oppressive in their opera tion, being unevenly imposed, but after their introduction into Great Britain they were systematized. They were first enjoined in England in 786 and in 794. Offa, king of Mercia, gave the Church all the tithes of his kingdom, and this law was sub sequently made general for all England by Ethelwulf. When dioceses were divided into parishes the tithes of each parish were allotted to its minister, at first by common consent, but afterward, about 1200, by the law of the land in England. The custom of paying tithes be came established in Germany and France about the same time, the 9th century, and in the Scandinavian countries in the 11th century. At first the payment of the tax was always in kind, that is, in grain, livestock, wool, etc., and such tithes were known under three heads, namely, prwdial, or those which arise im mediately from the soil, as grain, fruits and wood; mixed, or those consisting of natural products but nurtured by the care of man, as calves, lambs, eggs, cheeses, wool, etc.; and

personal, or those arising from the profits of personal industry as in the pursuit of some pro fession, or some trade of livelihood. With regard to their value tithes were divided into great and small; great tithes being grain and wood, and belonging to the rector, and small tithes being the other prxdial tithes with the mixed and the personal tithes, and belonging to the vicar.

Tithes proved a source of great trouble in every country in which they were collected and a constant cause of bickering between the clergy and the people. They have, therefore, been aban doned in nearly all countries except England, where they are still retained. There they have been the cause of constant friction between the people on the one hand and the officers of the law and the clergy on the other. Under Henry VIII, the owners of certain great estates were relieved of the duty and this increased the feeling of the tithe-payers that their burden was an unjust one. In three-fourths of Ireland it was found impossible to collect tithes, for long periods at a time, and the enforcement of the law, especially in cases of non-members of the Church, was not infrequently accom panied by riot and revolt. Finally, an act of commutation was passed by which tithes were assessed in money, the value being based on the average price of corn for a preceding term of years. The matter has been the subject of much legislation by Parliament, which has generally established in lieu of the old system a fixed money rent charge payable annually. Con sult Clarke, H. W., 'History of (1891); Degge, S., 'The Parson's Counsellor with the Law of Tithes' (1820), and Selden, J., 'History of Tithes) (1618).