The 1723 oath of allegiance rolls presented here provide a valuable resource for researching the history of Devon during the eighteenth century. As a directory of inhabitants of the county, they fall midway between the better known hearth tax returns of 1674 and the land tax assessments from 1780 onwards.141 Whilst the proportion of the population represented is no more than one in five, it may still be possible to locate some of those who did not swear through members of their family who did. Moreover, as the foregoing discussion demonstrates, the transcripts represent more than a simple directory of eighteenth century Devonians. They are intended to provide the starting point for research into the history of Devon communities during the eighteenth century. Thus, they can be used as the basis for investigations into levels of literacy during the eighteenth century, patterns of population movement, the relationship between urban centres and their rural hinterlands and the nature of political engagement during the eighteenth century. A more detailed study of the proportion of local populations who swore might also unlock the rolls as a source for local population studies during the early eighteenth century. Thus the publication of the oath rolls can be viewed as a starting point for a variety of future research projects.

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  1. T.L. Stoate (ed.), Devon Hearth Tax Return Lady Day 1674, (Bristol, 1982). DHC, Devon Quarter Sessions, Land Tax Assessment Schedules 1747-1832. [back]