Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Philadelphia (Pa.) Commissioners Records, 1774-1775

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, October 1996

Summary Information
Title: Philadelphia (Pa.) Commissioners records
Creator: Philadelphia (Pa.) Commissioners
Inclusive dates: 1774-1775
Extent: 464 pages
Philadelphia (Pa.) Commissioners records contains records of property taxes collected in Philadelphia county on the eve of the American Revolution.
Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1992. M-2833.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Philadelphia (Pa.) Commissioners Records, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


In 1704, Philadelphia was organized into ten wards, that ever since have functioned as the basic administrative units of the city. A revision of the city statute in 1754 provided for a tax of two pence per pound and six shillings per head on the property of all freeholders and inhabitants "for regulating and paving several bad places in the streets, discharging certain debts due from the city..." and other expenses.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This volume contains records of property taxes collected in Philadelphia County on the eve of the Revolution. Entries are arranged block by block within the ten wards of the city, and community by community, alphabetically, in the surrounding region, including Cheltenham, Franconia, Germantown, the Northern Liberties, Passyunk, Southward, and Upper Merion.

Each entry in the record book includes the property owner's, valuation of the property in pounds, notice of abatement (when relevant), and -- in many cases -- the taxpayer's occupation. Since few outside the very poor evade taxes, the lists include mariners, milkmen, tinkers and tailors, and other members of the working class, producing a sort of surrogate census of taxables in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. Although the city tax regulations of 1754 specified a rate of 2 pence per pound and 6 shillings per head, the levy in this volume appears to have been 3 pence per pound, with no indication of a per capita addition. Listings for many individuals include the notation "Phd.," in place of the property valuation, with a higher than average standard levy of 9 shillings. It is possible, though far from certain, that Phd. stands for "Per head."

There are no ownership markings in the volume, however each section of the list ends with a notation signed by the "Commissioners." In the 19th century, Philadelphia City Commissioners were entrusted with the responsibility of lists of taxables.

Subject Terms

    • Philadelphia (Pa.)--History--Colonial period, ca.1600-1775
    • Taxation.
    Genre Terms:
    • Tax records.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    Philadelphia (Pa.) Commissioners records,  1774-1775 [series]