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The alien subsidies, a unique fiscal phenomenon in both English and European history, were a series of taxes levied upon first-generation immigrants during the second half of the fifteenth century.

Parliament, sitting in Reading in January and February 1440, agreed that a poll tax should be paid by all non-native born people residing in England over twelve years of age, payable at two different rates – ‘householders’ (generally artisans, tradesmen and other relatively settled people) were to pay 16d. each per year, while ‘non-householders’ (mainly servants, apprentices, agricultural and general labourers or other migrant workers) were to pay 6d. per year.

In 1453, following the expiration of the 1449 tax, the subsidy was again re-granted, this time to last for the remainder of Henry VI’s life [1471]

Document Date: 22 Sep 1441
Tax Collections 1440 Alien Subsidy, 3rd and 4th collections
John Sterre
Place of Residence: Bread Street ward, London
Taxation Status: non-householder
Ref: E 179/144/42, m.21
Notes: Bread Street. m. 35d shows the assessed aliens for this ward all defaulted.

Document Date: 7 Jan 1443
Tax Collections: 1440 alien subsidy, 5th and 6th collections
Britte ___[?]
Place of Residence: Dorset
Occupation: servant to John Sterre
Taxation Status: non-householder
Ref: E 179/235/14, mm 12-13, m. 13d
Notes: Schedule of taxpayers for Dorset. A section is missing from the foot of the roll, and approximately 50 names are now missing.

Document Date: 8 Aug 1456
Tax Collections 1453 alien subsidy, 7th and 8th collections
Peter Sterre
Taxation Status: non-householder
Ref: E 179/235/58, m. 1
Notes: Assessment for the City of London. Lists are given for status (householders, non-householders, various merchant strangers) rather than by wards. The merchant strangers are five groups: Lombard and Esterling merchant stranger householders (40s), Lombard merchant stranger non-householders (20s), Esterling, Hansard and Prussian merchant stranger non-householders (20s), broker housholders (40s) and broker non-householders (20s). A note is made on those who paid, had moved or had died, and if applicable what stranger class they were in. Some of the Italians have been identified by Bradley in her PhD thesis, appendix 4.

[England’s Immigrants 1330 – 1550 Resident Aliens in the Late Middle Ages:; archive: The National Archives]