Migrants have arrived in England from overseas for centuries, but it is often difficult to find out where they came from, particularly prior to the nineteenth century censuses. A database called "England's Immigrants 1330-1550" offers help, even to researchers who have not traced an unbroken line back as far as the 16th century.
This resource contains over 64,000 names of people known to have migrated to England during the period. It includes details drawn mainly from alien subsidy returns and letters of denization. The sources used and their limitations are clearly explained. Maps and charts display the pattern of origins and destinations for the people concerned.
The database can be searched in a wide variety of ways. As well as name and date, you can filter its records by origins, county of residence and even go down to town and village level. This is a major boon for local historians and also if you are interested in the origins of an unusual name that does not seem to be based on an obvious place name or occupation.
An example of a surname that this source has helped to explore is "Lawndon" and its variations, which can be found in villages north of Northampton from the 16th century onwards. The earliest probate references in that area are to John Landen and Joan Laundon, both of Pitsford and both in 1518. It seems likely that they were related either to:
- John Launder from Ireland, a householder at Moulton (3 miles from Pitsford) in 1440, or
- William Launder from Flanders, a householder at Duston (5 miles from Pitsford) when he was assessed for tax as an alien in 1456, 1458 and 1459.
Do visit our Free Websites page for links to other sites that can help you discover more about your roots.
FFHS Archives Liaison
1 February 2016