In England, hearth tax, also known as hearth money, chimney tax, or chimney money, was a tax imposed by Parliament in 1662, to support the Royal Household of King Charles II. Following the Restoration of the monarchy in 1660, Parliament calculated that the Royal Household needed an annual income of £1,200,000. The hearth tax was a supplemental tax to make up the shortfall. It was considered easier to establish the number of hearths than the number of heads, hearths forming a more stationary subject for taxation than people. This form of taxation was new to England, but had precedents abroad. It generated considerable debate, but was supported by the economist Sir William Petty. The bill received Royal Assent on 19 May 1662, with the first payment due on 29 September 1662, Michaelmas.
Being a tax collector was an unpleasant job, and got worse after the second Anglo-Dutch War when people heartily disliked Charles II and his entourage, and the Court Party.
This report from Dorset shows how information regularly got to London:
Feb. 10. 1668
Anth. Thorold to Hickes.
The Lily Rose and Jane, arrived from Morlaix with linen,
say that the French King is raising more soldiers to prosecute the war in Flanders, intending to gain it all except Ostend, this summer:
that they are troubled at the close alliance between England and Holland, and do not express so much kindness for England as formerly;
and that the Ostenders still take upon them, and hinder their trading.
The collectors of the hearth money at Bridport were followed about the town by men, women, and children, who threw stones at them;
there was little appearance of the magistrates to quell the tumult.
One Mr. Knight was hit on the head twice, and has since died of his wound.
The plot is said to have been arranged beforehand.
[S.P. Dom., Car. II. 234, No. 135.]
'Charles II: February 1668', in Calendar of State Papers Domestic: Charles II, 1667-8, ed. Mary Anne Everett Green (London, 1893), pp. 204-261. British History Online http://www.british-history.ac.uk/cal-state-papers…
Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.