An unprecedented database containing the names of 65,000 immigrants resident in England between 1330 and 1550 is being studied by The National Archives and the University of York’s Centre for Medieval Studies. It gives important insights into the longer-term role of immigration in UK society and the economy. The research has been praised for providing "a deep historical context for modern debates about the movement of peoples and the state’s responsibilities to regulate immigration” (Professor Ormrod, University of York).

It reveals evidence about the names, origins, occupations and households of a significant number of foreign nationals who chose to live and work in England in the era of the Hundred Years War, the Black Death and the Wars of the Roses. The project contributes to debates about the longer-term history of immigration to Britain, helping to provide a deep historical and cultural context to contemporary debates over ethnicity, multiculturalism and national identity.

Taking into account gaps in the records, the researchers estimated that one person in every hundred was a foreign national. In one year, 1440, the names of 14,500 individuals were recorded – this at a time when the population of England was approximately two million. They were found in all counties, from Cornwall to Northumberland, in hamlets as well as in major ports. Their nationalities ranged from people from other parts of the British Isles, including Scots, Irish and Channel Islanders, to mainland Europeans from Portugal to Sweden, from Greece to Iceland.

The database is accessible to all at www.englandsimmigrants.com and is a fully searchable and interactive resource, from which data can be downloaded.