Tithes

TITHES. A certain portion, or allotment, for the maintenance of the priesthood, being the tenth part of the produce of land, cattle, or other branches of wealth. It is an income, or revenue, common both to the Jewish and Christian priesthood. (Gen. xiv. 20; Lev. xxvii. 30-33; &c.) The origin of tithes, in the Christian Church, was something of this kind: When a benefactor was not able or not willing to part with an estate out and out, he settled on the Church which he was endowing a certain portion of the income arising out of the estate. The ratio which this portion bore to the whole amount varied enormously, and so one man gave a tithe of corn only, another a tithe of wood, another a tithe of meadow land, another a tithe of stock, another tithes of all these together. There is a very common mistake made that tithes are a kind of tax, levied on the whole country by Act of Parliament. They are nothing of the kind, being simply a certain portion of the income arising out of lands settled by the former owners of those lands for the maintenance of the parson of the parish. They date back to the 4th century.

Although the Church is disestablished in Ireland, tithes are still paid, not to the clergy, but to the Government. Disestablishment, therefore, is small gain to the farmer.

Tithe Redemption Trust. In the year 1846 a very excellent Society was formed, called "The Tithe Redemption Trust," the object of which is the very opposite of that at which the Liberation Society aims. It has been quietly at work for some years, endeavouring, with some success, to get back, either by redemption or by voluntary donation, the tithes which have been alienated by appropriation or impropriation. What portion of Church property has been long enjoyed by private families, or by Corporations, has, of course, become inalienable; but it would be a reasonable and a righteous thing (and all the more blessed for being voluntary) that every person who receives tithes, or possesses glebe land in a parish, for which no spiritual service is rendered, should give in some way or other to the Church a very liberal percentage of what was never meant to be raised for the purpose of private emolument, but for the fitting discharge of ecclesiastical duties. (Webb's "England's Inheritance in her Church.")