If you look around Dublin at old Georgian buildings particular old tenements, you will notice bricked up areas where windows should be. This was because from 1696 to 1851, the English govt implemented a window tax. This was a property tax based on the no. of windows in a house. It was intended to be a progressive tax. Houses with 10 of fewer windows were only subject to a 2 shilling house tax & exempt from the window tax. Houses with more than 10 windows were liable for additional taxes which increased in line with the no. of windows. In theory, the poorest, who most likely lived in houses with fewer windows, were taxed less. However, the urban poor, who lived in large tenement buildings (despite being subdivided, these tenements were considered to be one dwelling house under the terms of the tax), were subject to heavy window tax penalties. This was because the landlord, as the property owner, was the one subject to the tax, so they subsidised the tax by increasing the rent. As a result, windows in tenement buildings were often boarded up. Newer buildings, in order to avoid tax, were built with bricked-up window-spaces ready to be glazed at a later date.
Overlapping this period, the Glass tax, was introduced in 1745. This was a tax on all glass items particularly window panes. As a result of this, windows were also boarded up, and rooms at the top of the house, those of lesser importance, such as servant quarters, were built with smaller windows. Thus maintaining a pleasant appearance from the outside but not using much glass.
These taxes were a pointless & cruel form of tax imposed by the government on its citizens. Not only did it decrease health & life expectancy due to poor ventilation & lack of sunlight, it actually resulted in lower revenue in both glass & window production due to windows being boarded or bricked up. Despite being deeply unpopular for all involved, both taxes survived until the mid nineteenth century. The glass tax wasnt abolished until 1845 & the window tax until 1851. So for a period of 155 years, the mostly poorest people of the British Empire were robbed of their sunlight because of this tax. Hence the phrase, DAYLIGHT ROBBERY!