England’s Immigrants 1330 – 1550 Resident Aliens in the Late Middle Ages


A complete set of inquisitions survives for Leicestershire for the first year of the 1440 subsidy, showing that 38 householders and 59 non-householders were assessed across the county, and also naming the wives of three taxpayers and two further people from Stockerston who were later added to the inquest for Gartree hundred but seemingly not included in the accounts. Very few occupations are recorded, but the nationality of almost every taxpayer was noted. By far the largest single grouping in the county were the French, with over 40 named specifically as ‘French’, plus other Normans, Picards and a single Gascon. The next largest group were the Irish, with over 20 individuals, followed by ten Flemings, eight Brabanters and one ‘Dutch’ man, and seven Scots. The collection roll does not survive, but the accounts show that 28 householders and 29 non-householders actually paid. This proportion of payment declined drastically the following year, when only 8 of the 43 people assessed actually paid. Rather unusually, every one of the 43 people assessed in 1441 also appeared on the 1440 assessment. However, this is almost certainly a result of administrative laziness, rather than any great stability of the population. Only two people are given occupations in the 1441 list, and these are precisely the same people given occupations in 1440, strongly indicating that the 1441 assessment was effectively copied from the 1440 list. The assessors presumably just looked for the same people who had paid the previous year, and included those they could find in the inquisition. Many of those had evidently disappeared by the time of the collection, hence the very low payment rate. Unfortunately no nominal lists survive for the third year of the tax, theoretically collected in 1442, but the accounts show that 28 of the 66 people assessed actually paid, suggesting that a new assessment was probably taken for that year.

No documents survive for the 1442 subsidy, although the accounts show a similar picture for the first year’s payments, with 31 of the 69 assessed taxpayers actually paying. No figures are extant for the second year. Only partial figures survive for 1449, with 10 people paying the second payment and 15 paying the fourth. The inquest for the second payment gives no details beyond the names of the taxpayers, but the fourth gives much more detail, noting that the 15 taxpayers comprised 7 Scots, 4 Flemings, two Frenchmen and two Brabanters, and that while only one person lived in Leicester, three were residents of Loughborough, and the others lived in various villages across the county. Information from the records for the 1453 tax is also limited. Figures for only two years are missing, but, with one exception, no more than seven people were assessed in any year, most being French, Scots and Flemings, and for at least 5 payments the collectors seemingly found no liable aliens in the county whatsoever. In 1456, however, what was probably a concerted effort from the officials found 23 liable taxpayers, all of whom paid, though again Leicester seems unrepresented with only two. The Scots again dominated, with 10 people assessed, together with 6 Frenchmen and 6 from the Low Countries, but the final person, John Ferrey of Melton Mowbray, was apparently from Iceland – perhaps he was researching the possibilities for marketing frozen pork pies…?

No returns survive for either the 1483 or the 1487 tax.

Jonathan Mackman

Cite this page:

England’s Immigrants 1330 – 1550 (www.englandsimmigrants.com, version 1.0, 10 December 2022), http://www.englandsimmigrants.com/page/sources/alien-subsidies/the-east-midlands/leicestershire