While very prominent in the contemporary world, anxiety about the potentially negative impact that immigrants might have on their host communities has deep historical roots. In a British context, such fears were particularly heightened following the regal union of 1603 when large numbers of Scots began settling in England. This article offers a fresh perspective on these issues by exploring the experiences and reception of poor, deviant or otherwise ‘undesirable’ Scottish migrants to England during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Focusing in particular on chapmen, vagrants and criminals, it suggests that, while in general Scots were able to integrate relatively easily into English society, there existed an unwelcome subset surviving by dubious means. Though not usually attracting unduly severe treatment on account of their nationality, these unwelcome migrants had a disproportionate effect on English perceptions of and attitudes towards the broader cohort of Scottish migrants in their midst.
- 17 century