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


The survival rate of documents for Westmorland for the 1440 and1442 alien subsidies is unusually good. Assessments survive for all but the first year of the 1442 tax, and even then the names of the householders (albeit only two people) are recorded on the account roll. As ever, the assessment for the first year of the 1440 tax is by far the fullest, containing the names of 105 people, but of those only 49 actually paid, and the numbers soon fell dramatically, to 34 the following year, and only 13 by the time the second payment of the 1442 subsidy was collected. Nationalities were not systematically recorded, but of those whose origins can be assumed from their names, the overwhelming majority were, not surprisingly, Scots, with just a few French and Irish people also noted. The most striking observation is that, like in neighbouring Northumberland, a large proportion of the assessed non-householders were Scottish women, seemingly domestic servants who had journeyed south in search of work. However, large numbers either went home or disappeared after the initial assessment, not paying the first collection and not being recorded thereafter.

Numbers thereafter were consistently low, with only between 5 and 7 people paying each collection of the 1449 and 1453 taxes up to the those due in 1459. Many of these people were the same, but from 1460 onwards no assessments or accounts survive, contrasting sharply to the period up to that date, for which some details survive for every single payment. A similar situation was occurring in neighbouring Northumberland and Lancashire, which might suggest that no collections were being made in the northern counties, but at least some collections clearly were being made in Cumberland, and there is no obvious reason why collections should be made there and not elsewhere in the North. Further investigation is needed.

Jonathan Mackman

Citation: Jonathan Mackman, ‘Westmorland’, England’s Immigrants 1330-1550 website, January 2013 [https://www.englandsimmigrants.com/page/sources/alien-subsidies/the-north/westmorland]

Cite this page:

England’s Immigrants 1330 – 1550 (www.englandsimmigrants.com, version 1.0, 25 February 2017), https://www.englandsimmigrants.com/page/sources/alien-subsidies/the-north/westmorland