Sunday, January 3, 2016

15th Century Immigration Crisis

 The website 'England’s Immigrants 1330-1550' is described as 'a fully-searchable database containing over 64,000 names of people known to have migrated to England during the period of the Hundred Years’ War and the Black Death, the Wars of the Roses and the Reformation.'

It contains records of 1139 'Flemings' resident in England in this period, 34 of whom where from Bruges.
Part of a letter of denization
It is interesting to wonder what John Hughson (clearly an anglicised name) was escaping when he left Bruges. His occupation is described as a 'spicer' and his letters of denization, granting legal rights and protections, where made on 26th July 1475, ten years prior to the Battle of Bosworth which established the Tudor dynasty. Was it war, politics, religion or economics in the low countries that brought this skilled immigrant to England?  It is not recorded in which town or city he was resident or other details of his life. Was he married, did he have children or establish a business or trade in spices, did he prosper and integrate or meet with prejudice as a stranger ?

As as English immigrant in Bruges I feel a certain empathy for John Hughson and his ilk.

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