Numbers and distribution
in Immigrant England, 1300–1550
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The chapter provides a detailed introduction to the so-called ‘alien subsidies’, the taxes imposed on foreign-born people living in England between 1440 and 1487, and whose records form the main evidential basis for the book. It addresses the residency requirements for most of the taxes in question, and then explains the various categories of foreigner who were liable, and exempt, from these taxes. After assessing the possible level of default, it moves on to address how the data arising from these records can be used to reconstruct a statistical profile of the alien population of England in 1440 (the year for which the records are strongest), and posits a figure of 30,000 men, women and children as first-generation immigrants: that is, between 1 and 1.5 per cent of a total population of between 2 and 2.5 million. After considering whether there was any significant emigration from England, and how this might have affected what modern governments call ‘net migration’, the chapter concludes with a detailed analysis of the geographical distribution of the alien population. It notes that, although there were undoubtedly concentrations of aliens in some of the larger towns of England, foreigners were found in all parts of the realm, spread widely and thinly over small towns and rural areas as well. This analysis is facilitated by tables and maps.


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