Latvians were not only peasants but also townspeople. A significant number of future residents of Riga moved to the city in the late 19th century. If your ancestors lived in Riga since the beginning or middle of the 19th century, you may be able to find them in the taxpayer lists of Riga.
If I happen to research someone born in Riga in the second half of the 19th century, I always check the alphabets of Riga taxpayers on the Ciltskoki.lv website.
Mostly, peasants remained registered as taxpayers in their rural districts for a long time, even though they worked in Riga for years. In the mid-19th century, one could leave their parish only if the tax debts and advance payments in their rural parish were settled. A passport had to be obtained, and a passport tax had to be paid for it, but this procedure was not always strictly followed.
Where Do I find Taxpayer Lists?
On the Ciltskoki.lv under the "Dokumenti no Familysearch" (Documents from Familysearch) choose "Rīgas pilsētas nodokļu pārvalde" (Riga City Tax Administration).
You will see that the lists are organized by classes and genders. When searching for information about family members, both male and female lists need to be checked.
Alphabetic lists are in Russian according to surnames.
Lists are available for these taxpayer classes (from Russian: oklads):
Old Believers (Russian Orthodox Christians who separated from the official Russian Orthodox Church as a protest against church reforms introduced in the mid-17th century.)
Most likely, you will find Latvians in the lists of servants and workers. However, the lists of laborers certainly do not reflect the real number of laborers in Riga. They only include those who managed to register as Riga taxpayers. The majority of workers who came from rural areas still remained registered in their rural parishes.
The classification into tax classes was carried out by a special commission with representatives from various taxpayer categories – merchants, servants, and workers. Depending on the financial situation and family circumstances, a taxpayer class was chosen, i.e., the amount of taxes to be paid. If the situation changed, one could move to another taxpayer category.
In this example, there is a page from the lists of servants. Lācis Indriķis with two sons: Jānis and Aleksandrs Eizens. Later, in the note, Herberts Eizens, the son of Aleksandrs Eizens, is added.
Next is Lācis Miķelis with sons, but this is already a different family.
On the right side, there is the birth year or a notation indicating that the person has passed away (cross). The larger number in the middle column is the taxpayer number, allowing further information to be searched in the archive.
Family lists in the archives
On the internet, only alphabetical lists of taxpayers are available.
Complete lists of taxpayers are stored in the historical archives. Knowing the taxpayer number, one can order family lists of taxpayers from Fund 1394.
In the full lists, information about all family members and their birth years will be available. Women will have their maiden surnames indicated. Often, there are also notes about the marriages of daughters and whether sons have served.
Here is a fragment from the complete family lists. Heinrihs Paegle, the son of Kārlis, born on September 3, 1866, is listed along with his family members.
In the left column is the taxpayer number, based on which people can be searched in the oldest revisions. Additionally, there is an indication here that Heinrihs is a "son of a soldier".
Information about family women is on the right side. The wife Jūle, daughter of Jura, was born in Tamberga. In a small note above the surname, the birthplace is mentioned - Nurmuiža (Germ. Nurmhusen).
Further down, the birth date and marriage date are mentioned.
Below - information about the daughter Leontīne Magdalēna Marija.
Children of soldiers
In the first half of the 19th century, the sons of soldiers (also called cantonists) were a special category of residents. From birth, they were subject to the Ministry of War, and upon reaching a certain age, they had to be handed over to the army.
In 1856, this system was terminated, but apparently, the registration of the sons of soldiers persisted. Heinrihs Paegle was born only in 1866 but was still referred to as a "son of a soldier."
Now it's your turn to check if your ancestors where genuine Riga inhabitants!
Eglīte, Biruta, 1957. Rīga maksā.:,2001.
Urtāns, Aigars. Nodokļu un nodevu vēsture Latvijā.:,2003.