Immigrants from the British Isles
in Immigrant England, 1300–1550
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Chapter 4 is the first of two chapters that deal with immigrants to England under the various ‘national’ labels that were ascribed to them by the English crown and its agents. It assesses the numbers, social profile and geographical distribution of Welsh, Irish, ‘Islander’ and Scottish immigrants to England. The data for the Welsh is poor; although it seems likely that the highest concentrations of Welsh migrants settled close to the Welsh border in the English West Midlands and South-West, there is some evidence for Welsh settlement further afield, too. The Irish evidence is stronger, and reveals that a significant proportion of Irish migrants to England may have been skilled and prosperous people who made targeted decisions about the optimal places to settle. The ‘Islanders’ were people from the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man and the Orkney Islands (the latter being treated separately from Scotland because, at the time, they were still under the jurisdiction of the king of Norway). They appear in small numbers. Finally, the evidence for the Scots presence in England is the strongest of all, and reveals significant numbers of Scots migrating across the border into the northern counties of England, many of them transient agricultural workers but some of them being higher-status individuals such as merchants and members of the clergy. These higher-status Scots also settled more generally around England, and were a recognised presence in the South and East.

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