Saturday, January 9, 2010

Income Tax

The first English income tax was introduced on January 9, 1799, by Prime Minister William Pitt.  The tax, of two shillings on the Pound, was used to finance the Napoleonic Wars.  Presumably among the items ultimately funded, would be the light-weight carronade naval cannons, produced near Falkirk by the Carron Iron Works, that earned a tremendous amount of credit for defeating Napoleon.

A curious event involving carronades occurred in March of 1792, when the brig Rosamond was seized by the government at Dumfries as a smuggling ship.  One of the officials who boarded the ship was the excise man and poet Robert Burns.  The ship and its contents were subsequently sold.

According to a report by antiquarian Joseph Train, Burns purchased 4 carronades at that sale. Train passed documents relating to the sale of the Rosamond inventory to Sir Walter Scott, in 1825.  According to John Lockhart, Burns later sent the carronades to the French Convention in a show of sympathy.  Train relates that Scott attempted to trace receipt of the guns in France, and learned from Custom House authorities that the carronades had been seized at the port of Dover, never reaching France.

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