"Among many remarkable objects of taxation, one very quaint one was the beard. A tax on beards was actually levied at one time in England."
I decided to find out a bit more about these beard taxes.
I am not sure what our tax collectors would have made of being given the opportunity to inflict real pain on the poor taxpayer !
We then have to move forward nearly one hundred years to Henry VIII. He had a decidedly regal beard so it is somewhat surprising that in 1535 he introduced a tax on all people with beards. Because wealthy individuals chose to copy the trend set by the King, the tax was graduated so that the more beard you had, the more tax you paid. It was a sign of your social status to have a big beard. The tax raised was presumably used to help Henry pay for the upkeep of his many wives and lovers. This didn't effect Henry as, being King, he was exempt from the payment of any tax !
Finally, in 1913 the Nottingham Evening Post reported that Henry's daughter, Elizabeth I, reintroduced the beard tax during her reign and everyone with more than two weeks growth was obliged to pay a tax of 3s 4d. The article said, "The statutory beard was therefore a very modest appendage — a bare covering of the skin, trimmed with more or less nicety. The beard tax was, however, roundly condemned, and many people literally 'laughed in their beards' and refused to pay". Obviously, Elizabeth, being a woman, was exempt from the tax as it only applied to men !
- whether a moustache or beard had a growth of more than two weeks, or
- how long or bushy your beard was.