People on the move in Campden and District in the Middle Ages

Report by Colin Backhouse

Report of the talk on 18th October 2018 by  Christopher Dyer, Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Leicester and CCHS President.

Professor Dyer has carried out much research of available records including Manorial, Ecclesiastical, Lay Subsidy and Inquisitions Post Mortem.  Perhaps surprisingly, only 10% of residents were originally from the town and that proportion holds true to this day. Surnames were often taken from the town or village of residence but they did not necessarily change if the person moved to another area.  Migration distances were often short.

The evidence for reasons of movement was probably biased by the tax payers records, which were a major source, but clearly work availability was a frequent cause.  For example,  people from Wales came here for harvesting and others moved to learn a trade.  Marriage was another reason for migration and was sometimes accompanied by, or resulted from, employment.

A consequence of migration for Campden was to ensure the liveliness of the town, which unified differing types of the countryside by reason of people arriving , for example, from Evesham and, in contrast, from more hilly areas.  Within a few years the incomers were accepted as locals.

Professor Dyer gave some examples of places of origin being the source of a name, such as James Scot and Fleming Holland,  and in concluding his talk said migration was normal and continuous, organised and purposeful.

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