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


While the survival rate of the alien subsidy records is quite poor for Surrey, a large number of names have been recorded for the county. This is in part because of the concentration of immigrants who chose to settle in Southwark. However, for the rest of the county the numbers are still quite high. The first and second collections of the 1440 tax show the highest number of identified immigrants, at 688 individuals (445 of which were to be found in Southwark). By the time of the fifth and sixth collections, the number had fallen to 271, and by the first and second collections of the 1442 alien subsidy it had fallen to 176. While the number rose again in the first collection of the 1449 alien subsidy, to 272, suspiciously close to the number assessed in 1442. However, different names were recorded, so it appears to have just been coincidence. Records for only four sets of collections of the 1453 alien subsidy survive, but all show relatively high numbers of resident aliens, when compared to the returns of other counties. While specific details are not given, it is likely that many of these individuals were to be found in Southwark. Indeed, numbers actually rose as the assessments continued, from sixty-three in the ninth and tenth collections, up to 116 in the twenty-fifth and twenty-sixth collections.

1,701 men were assessed in Surrey, while only 164 women were recorded. Of these women, ninety-one were married to alien men, and were therefore not taxed. Of the remainder, fifty women were recorded as servants, and there was one huckster and one capper (both of whom were recorded in Southwark). Two women were recorded as mothers, and both reveal a wider family network. Both mothers lived in Southwark with their respective sons. In 1440 Joan lived with her son Fabianus Swan, an embroiderer, who was married to another Joan. He is recorded as still living in Southwark in 1443, but no further note was taken of his mother or wife. It is possible to speculate that he and his wife had children, and it was probably a modestly sized family unit being supported by the skilled craftsman. Lucia, also living in Southwark in 1440, lived with her son William Feber, a tailor. In his household were also his wife Mariona, and three alien servants John Talbot, Newdyng Reddam and Nicholas Fotoun. Like Fabianus, William was recorded again in 1442 and 1443. Other family groups are recorded in Southwark, such as the Thomas family. Head of the household John Thomas was a tailor, who was living with his wife Katherine and daughter Mariona in Southwark between 1436 and 1443. A similar group was the Yonge family – the father John, a capper, married to Isabella and with a daughter Joan.

The majority of occupations recorded in Surrey were done so in the first and second collections of the 1440 alien subsidy, and most of those were present in Southwark. Many of the occupations offered goods and services to rival those offered in London, and it is not surprising that the City was very concerned about the concentration of aliens on the other end of London Bridge. For further discussion of this, see Martha Carlin’s Medieval Southwark, and J. L. Bolton’s Alien Communities in London in the Fifteenth Century.

The most limited information in Surrey’s alien subsidy records is the origin of its resident aliens. 1,772 individuals had unspecified origins. Of the few for whom we do have a record of their nationality, the majority were French. There were a handful from the Low Countries region – from generic ‘Dutch’, to Gelderlanders, Flemings, Clevelanders, Zeelanders and Hollanders. The remaining few were an eclectic mix of Prussian, Portuguese and Westphalian.

Jessica Lutkin

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-south-east/surrey