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Chapter 2 Are We a Nation of Immigrants?

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This is part 4 of a series of articles, to read the others please use the links below.




So are we a nation of immigrants? Well let’s start by having a look at the difference between historical waves of immigration pre WW2 and modern immigration (post 1950’s) . This chapter looks at the historic ones and the reaction of the British to them.

I’m going to go in to a bit more detail than would normally be expected in an article such as this, of course it’s no detail at all compared to any academic text, but I aim to list most of the major, and not so major, influxes, to look at how some of them either influenced the culture or DNA significantly, and then make a comparison to more recent immigration. I also aim to make it clear that we are far less a country of immigrants than seems to be the current consensus as well as demonstrating that we have not been very accepting of immigration historically. That we are told otherwise is part of an agenda which aims to suggest that mass migration is the way forwards along with open borders and freedom of movement.


The Early Britons and Celts


I was going to start at the very beginning but records don’t go back that far, so instead I’m going to start a little bit more recently. The first human species known to have entered Britain did so at least 700,000 years ago. It was only after 7 attempts at colonising the area that is now Britain, throughout period that the ancestors of much of the current population finally settled. The lineage of these people is somewhat debated. Some say that much of the DNA that came from these peoples was from Celtic / German peoples from Central and Northern Europe whilst most of the Mesolithic (6000 B.C. to 3000 B.C.) ancestry arrived from Scandinavia.[1] From further studies[2] some of the most archaic lineages, around 20,000 years ago, suggests a link to the Middle East. Don’t let this make you feel all warm and fuzzy, it wasn’t the same as the Middle East is now. And this is a central point. Yes, we are all humans, and in some ways, we are related, and in many ways we do have a lot in common by just being human, however, when people live in an area over centuries the genetic pool between these people becomes more interrelated and not only does the culture become more identifiable but so does the peoples’ appearance too. They can therefore identify with each other just by looking at each other and are far more “familiar” with each other. So whilst there’s the current trend of popular videos showing how similar we all are from around the globe, they deny the importance of cultural identity and that beyond the surface level of genetic and core human similarities differences in culture can be extremely significant.

There are further confusing elements to the identification of pre-history Britons. For instance, it’s hard to tell whether older strains of Germanic and Scandinavian DNA was present in the first Britons or did it come from the influence of the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons.[3]

There are further more localised genetic strains, for instance, a town in North Wales has a genetic connection to the Balkans[4], whilst the American President, Thomas Jefferson, who may have been of Welsh descent carried the rare Y chromosome marker T which is typically found in East Africa and the Middle East. It is also found in 4.5% of Greek men, 3.5% of Estonian, and 2.5% of Spanish and Italian men. There has been no other documented cases of Haplogroup T occurring in Northern Europe other than those two cases. The presence of diverse European haplotypes is consistent with Jefferson’s patri-lineage being part of an ancient and rare indigenous European type. [5]

Findings published in the science journal PLoS Biology, Dr Patricia Balaresque, says ‘That more than 80 per cent of European Y chromosomes descend from incoming farmers.’ whereas, other studies have shown that DNA passed down through maternal lines can be traced by to hunter-gatherers in Europe. ‘To us, this suggests a reproductive advantage for farming males over indigenous hunter-gatherer males during the switch from hunting and gathering, to farming – maybe, back then, it was just sexier to be a farmer,’ she said. [6]

Ireland also adds some flavour to the prehistory DNA pot. Researchers at Trinity University in Dublin and Queens University performed genome sequencing on the remains of early settlers in Ireland. This revealed at least two waves of migration to the island during the last 5000 years. The remains of a 5,200 year-old Irish farmer suggest that the population of Ireland at that time genetically related to the modern-day populations of southern Europe, especially Spain and Sardinia, once again her ancestors, originally migrated from the Middle East, the cradle of agriculture. Meanwhile, the remains of three 4,000 year-old men from the Bronze Age revealed that another wave of migration to Ireland had occurred but this time from the edges of Eastern Europe. A third of their ancestry came from the Steppe region of Russia and Ukraine, this indicates that their ancestors must have gradually spread westwards across Europe. These remains came from Rathlin Island and share a similarity with the Scottish, Welsh, and modern Irish – unlike the earlier farmer. This in turn suggests that many people living in Ireland today have genetic links to people who were living there at least 4,000 years ago.

Research into both British and Irish DNA suggests that people on the two islands have much genetically in common, meaning that most of us in the British Isles are descended from the same stone age settlers. Later migrations of people to the islands affected the population’s DNA but by this point each area was beginning to take on its own genetic identity anyway.  Some parts of Ireland have been almost untouched by outside genes over the last 5000 years. [7]

Although around 15,000 years ago homo sapiens started to re-colonise these lands. The land was still attached to mainland Europe at that point, but around 11000 years ago sea levels started to rise, a large plain, known as Doggerland, continued to connect Britain to the continent till about 5600 BC. Around 9600 BC as the climate improved there was a more permanent colonisation. By 4000 BC, the island was occupied by people with a Neolithic culture, archaeological data indicates that ancient Britons were involved in widespread seafaring trade and cultural links with the rest of Europe from the Neolithic onwards, especially by exporting tin that was in plentiful supply.


The migrationist interpretation has been questioned in recent years, suggesting a far more complex relationship between Britain and the Continent. Many changes in British society are now purported to be the consequence of the native inhabitants adopting foreign customs rather than by invading populations. There is also debate as to whether there were migrations of the Beaker people (originally from Spain) in to Briton or whether there was just an acceptance of their culture. If there was a migration it was probably only around 2% based on genetic evidence. In contrast to this many people believe that “Beaker People” were living here 2000 years before the first Celts or “Britons” arrived. The Beaker People were followed by other Germanic tribesmen, also from the Rhine Valley, who are known as the “Battle-Axe People” because of their distinctive weapons. It was one of these two groups who built Stonehenge, which was completed a good 1000 years before the first Celts arrived. [8]


The Celts possibly arrived in Britain in two waves:  the Goidelic-speaking Celts between 2000 BC and 1200 BC and the Brythonic-speaking sometime in the period 500 BC to 400 BC. (The modern Welsh and Cornish are descended from Brythonic; modern Scottish and Irish Gaelic from the Goidelic). There was also a smaller wave of settlement of Belgic Celts in Southern England during the first century BC – possibly fleeing from the Roman invasions.


Celts were mainly tall and fair or red-haired. According to the ancient historian Diodorus Siculus, they looked “like wood-demons, their hair thick and shaggy like a horse’s mane.”

Members of the powerful Atrebates tribe lived both in Gaul and Southern Britain. The Parisii tribe of East Yorkshire were probably related to other Celts in the Seine valley, who gave their name to Paris. Celtic society was tribal – each kinship group was ruled by a king. Below the king were nobles who were warriors – some of them even wealthy enough to afford finely decorated amour. The priestly class – Druids – had little political power by the period immediately before the Romans. However, high-class women sometimes played important political roles in Celtic society.[9]

By 750 BC iron working techniques had reached Britain from Southern Europe and by 500 BC most people in the British Isles were speaking Common Brythonic, Tacitus also wrote in his Agricola that the British language differed somewhat from that of the Gauls.


It is also disputed whether Iron Age Britons were “Celts” at all, with some academics such as John Collis and Simon James actively opposing the idea of ‘Celtic Britain’, since the term was only applied at this time to a tribe in Gaul. However, placenames and tribal names from the later part of the period suggest that a Celtic language was spoken. The traveller Pytheas, whose own works are lost, was quoted by later classical authors as calling the people “Pretanoi”, which is cognate with “Britanni” and is apparently Celtic in origin. The term “Celtic” continues to be used by linguists to describe the family that includes many of the ancient languages of Western Europe and modern British languages such as Welsh. The dispute essentially revolves around how the word “Celtic” is defined; it is clear from the archaeological and historical record that Iron Age Britain did have much in common with Iron Age Gaul, but there were also many differences. Many leading academics, such as Barry Cunliffe, still use the term to refer to the pre-Roman inhabitants of Britain for want of a better label.


The last centuries before the Roman invasion saw an influx of mixed GermanicCeltic speaking refugees from Gaul (approximately modern day France and Belgium) known as the Belgae, who were displaced as the Roman Empire expanded around 50 BC. They settled along most of the coastline of Southern Britain between about 200 BC and AD 43, although it is hard to estimate what proportion of the population there they formed.


From around 175 BC, the areas of KentHertfordshire and Essex developed especially advanced pottery-making skills. The tribes of Southeast England became partially Romanised and were responsible for creating the first settlements large enough to be called towns. This period also saw increasing sophistication in British life. About 100 BC, iron bars began to be used as currency, while internal trade and trade with continental Europe flourished, largely due to Britain’s extensive mineral reserves. Coinage was developed, based on continental types but bearing the names of local chieftains. This was used mainly in Southeast England, but not so much in other areas. As the Roman Empire expanded northwards, Rome began to take interest in Britain. This may have been caused by an influx of refugees from Roman occupied Europe, or Britain’s large mineral reserves.[10]


Before going on to the Romans I wanted to end this section on the notion of regional identity. Even now I can sometimes tell where people come from in the UK just by certain features.  One study[11] found that peoples’ ancestry varied considerably across Britain, with people from areas of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland emerging as separate genetic clusters, providing a scientific basis to the idea of regional identity for the first time. Surprisingly, the study showed no genetic basis for a single “Celtic” group, with people living in Scotland, Northern Ireland, Wales and Cornwall being among the most different form each other genetically. As you can see a lot of the information out there is contradictory, however we can be sure that the Britons didn’t just sprout out of England’s green and pleasant lands but migrated from the ascendants from Africa, The Middle East, and Southern and northern Europe. However, over time, due to genetic pooling, they became both identifiable as being from different parts of Britain. [12]



The Romans


By the time the Romans occupied Briton, the population of Britain was as large as it would also be during the Middle Ages, the estimates vary as to its exact size but the main accepted figure was around 4-5 million. When the Romans settled in Briton there were probably 125,000 migrants, which was about 3% of the population. The population of Britain declined markedly after the end of the Roman occupation, perhaps falling to as low as one and a quarter million. The Romans kept themselves to themselves as far as interbreeding with the natives was concerned and left hardly any trace of themselves within our DNA pool, however, in cultural terms the Romans left their mark all over the country. The roads they created then are symbolically followed by many modern ones today. Towns and cities that were either formed or named by the Romans still thrive now, and as well as influencing the type of plants, animals, religion, writing and counting methods, our vocabulary, and even the idea of there being a concept of Britishness, as a more homogenous land, partly stems from this era… Even the word ‘Britain’ became a more distinct term because of the Romans.


The Anglo-Saxons (and Jutes of course)


When the Romans left, Britain declined and much of what the Romans had brought to us was either destroyed or withered away. Soon after they left in 440 A.D. the Anglo-Saxons invaded. These were peoples from the Danish and Germanic area of Northern Europe, and consisted mainly of The Angles, Saxons and Jutes. They mainly occupied much of the East of England and engaged far more than the Romans had done. However, and here’s another one of those myths, it is often said that they pushed the existing population out of the area but if the Anglo Saxon influence only accounts for up to 20% of the current population’s DNA in these regions then that suggests that much of the population did, in fact, not move out. The Anglo-Saxons also had a significant impact on Britain, including the naming of England. “The name “England” is derived from the Old English name Englaland, which means “land of the Angles”.”[13]


Although the majority of people remained in these areas and became Anglo Saxon, those who would not assimilate were either massacred or retreated to Wales and Cornwall.  Christianity and literacy survived with them, whilst the rest of England was plunged into the so called Dark Ages. Those Britons who’d escaped and survived remained in contact with each other, communicating between Britany, Cornwall Wales and Ireland. They encouraged the growth of Christianity and the endurance of the written word. The Anglo Saxons, however, were preoccupied with violence, glory, vengeance, fatalism and kinship. All these traits remain definite characteristics of certain strata of British culture today. Both sets of people looked on at each other’s culture and religion with despise. Even today these starkly contrasting cultures continue to exist in Britain and do not regard each other with any less derision. Guardian and Daily Mail readers are a case in pont). In time the Anglo Saxons converted to Christianity, but it did not come about because of the interaction between these two groups but instead it was more likely because of the missionary zeal of the Roman Catholic Church and the Irish. The area from which I’m writing this, Sussex, was one of the last places, along with the Isle of Wight to accept Christianity. One doesn’t ever feel too far from the influence of paganism in Britain, even now, it’s imbued in to the culture, carved in to the hillsides and scattered throughout the land.


In 664 The Synod of Whitby saw the commitment and obedience of the Anglo-Saxon church to the Roman Church. Conversion led to the opening up of Anglo-Saxon England, to a variety of foreign influences, particularly from France and the Mediterranean. Christian Pilgrimages to other lands exposed the Anglo-Saxons to more developed cultures. For instance, glass windows in churches became all the rage, nowadays of course it’s the other way around. The Vikings now influence us with their seductively sleek Ikea styled furnishings.


The Anglo-Saxons tended to view the Bible and the life of Christ from their own perspective for instance in one of the greatest Anglo-Saxon religious poems, The Dream of the Rood, The Crucifixion is seen from the point of view of the cross itself, and represents Christ as a young hero and the leader of a group of followers resembling a Germanic war band.  Even the epic Beowulf whilst written from an explicitly Christian point of view it incorporates influences from the ancient Roman epic, Virgil’s Aeneid.


In time the Anglo-Saxon Church moved away from dependence on outside forces, Irish or Roman, and in the seventh and eighth centuries, they produced their own saints, mostly from the upper classes. One of the highest points of Anglo-Saxon Christian culture was the Northumbrian Renaissance. This was a blossoming of culture and thought in a somewhat borderland and economically backward and primitive society even compared to the rest of early medieval Europe. The Northumbrian Renaissance was based in monasteries, and its most important representative was the monk Bede. Bede’s History of the English People is one of the most central sources for early Anglo-Saxon history. Northumbria also displayed a rich body of Christian art, incorporating Anglo-Saxon and Celtic artistic influences, and some from foreign countries as far away as the Byzantine empire. An enormous amount of monastic labour went into the production of manuscripts. I mention all of this because in terms of cultural evolution it is significant that a religion / ideology can be just as momentous as any incoming army of invaders. Even today is it not the globalist’s intention to influence through example, that via infusion a whole ethos can be subjugated? In many ways some aspects of American culture have been extremely successful at doing this, especially via Hollywood.


The other significance of all of this is somewhat related to how Alfred the Great viewed this era. He saw it as a Golden era that the Vikings (we’ll come to them shortly) had destroyed and in his strivings to resurrect, or at least chronicle it through the creation of a body of Anglo-Saxon literature, which he patronised with zeal, he contributed to the creation of a common Anglo-Saxon or English identity. At the time, there was nothing like it in Europe.


The Anglo-Saxons influenced modern Britain in many ways. For instance, the Witanagemot, a meeting of noblemen and clergy to discuss matters of state, was the precursor to the House of Lords, UK Parliament’s upper house.  Also, the tradition of a leader awarding medals, and the legend of King Arthur also comes from these people. Furthermore, we get our syntax from the Anglo-Saxons, our preference for and greater ease with nouns, the tendencies to simplify grammar and shorten words, and the “law of recessive accent” — the tendency to place the accent on the first syllable and to slur over subsequent syllables. (Later words adopted from outside illustrate: “quantité” is anglicanized to “quántity”; “contraire” to “contrary.”) The Saxon language is the ancestor of modern English and Scots. Little if anything, remains of the Celtic language spoken across most of the country before their arrival. The languages changed from a mix of: Latin, Greek and Byrothic to various Anglo-Saxon dialects, with some Latin creeping back later. The early Anglo-Saxons were pagans and much like the Vikings they believed in many gods. The king of the Anglo-Saxon gods, for example, was Woden – a German version of the Scandinavian god Odin. From his name comes our day of the week Wednesday or ‘Woden’s day’. Other gods were Thunor (Thor), god of thunder; Frige, goddess of love; and Tiw, god of war. Along with their Pagan beliefs they were also very superstitious. They believed in lucky charms. They thought ‘magic’ rhymes, potions, stones or jewels would protect them from evil spirits or sickness. In recent times, as areas gentrified, pubs turned in to Wine bars but back then as areas lost their Roman identity, Ale and Mead replaced Wine as the favourite tipple.


During this period, most of the Roman towns were abandoned, and people opted instead for an agrarian lifestyle. The rural inhabitants went from living in round to rectangular houses which were no longer built of brick and tile. England became pieced together, formed by many mini-Kingdoms established by successful Saxon warlords dominating the existing Romano-Celtic populations and in many places replacing them with settlers from the continent. Kings were introduced, and elected by a ruling oligarchy of Earls (War Lords) but it took the invasion and repulsion of second wave of Germanic settlers – the Vikings – to finish the job of unification of England under Alfred and Athelstan.


The Vikings


The Vikings had first invaded Britain in AD 793 and continued to do so from then until they last invaded in 1066 when William the Conqueror became King of England after the Battle of Hastings. William the Conqueror was technically a Viking because the Normans were derived from a group of Vikings who inhabited that area of France and remained, via a pact with the Francs, to protect the shore line from further invasions. The Normans (North Men) had settled there for around 150 years by the time William became King of England. The Norman attack was caused by Viking blood lines indicating that William was the rightful heir to the English throne. Before the Norman invasion England itself had been unified by the Anglo-Saxons, after Athelstan of Wessex captured York, the last Danish stronghold in 927ad, and became the first King of England.


It has been estimated that the inflows from Viking invasions may have made up as much as 4-8% of the total population during their presence in Britain, but apart from some settlements in Scotland and some Scottish islands, the Vikings did not leave much of a mark in terms of our DNA, even if they did have some major influence on our culture.


Here’s another one of those politically correct quotes about the Vikings, this time it’s from The Independent:


“Scholars will argue that they should be seen as an early example of immigrants who were successfully assimilated into British and Irish culture. Their so-called “invasion” led, to some extent, to the creation of trans-national identities, a process that has particular relevance to modern Britain. Dr Fiona Edmonds, of Cambridge University’s department of Anglo-Saxon, Norse and Celtic, said: “The latest evidence does not point to a simple opposition between Vikings and natives.”

“Within a relatively short space of time – and with lasting effect – the various cultures in Britain and Ireland started to intermingle. Investigating that process provides us with a historical model of how political groups can be absorbed into complex societies, contributing much to those societies in the process. There are important lessons that can be gained from this about cultural assimilation in the modern era.” [14]


However, the following slightly more realistic view doesn’t sound so cosy though.

“Under the reign of Wessex King Edgar the Peaceful, England came to be further politically unified, with Edgar coming to be recognized as the king of all England by both Anglo-Saxon and Norse populations living in the country. However, under the regimes of his son Edward the Martyr, who was murdered in 978, and then Æthelred the Unready, the political strength of the English monarchy waned, and in 980 Viking raiders from Scandinavia once more started making attacks against England. The English government decided that the only way of dealing with these attackers was to pay them protection money, and so in 991 they gave them £10,000. This fee did not prove to be enough, and over the next decade the English kingdom was forced to pay the Viking attackers increasingly large sums of money. Many English began to demand that a more hostile approach be taken against the Vikings, and so, on St Brice’s Day in 1002, King Æthelred proclaimed that all Danes living in England would be executed. It would come to be known as the St. Brice’s Day massacre.

In 1013 King Sweyn Forkbeard of Denmark invaded England with a large army, and Æthelred fled to Normandy, leading Sveinn to take the English throne. Sveinn died within a year however, and so Æthelred returned, but in 1016 another Norse army invaded, this time under the control of the Danish King Cnut. After defeating Anglo–Saxon forces at the Battle of Assandun, Cnut became king of England, subsequently ruling over both the Danish and English kingdoms.  Following Cnut’s death in 1035, the two kingdoms were once more declared independent and remained so apart from a short period from 1040 to 1042 when Cnut’s son Harthacnut ascended the English throne.” [15]

Even so, the Vikings apart from their violence were traders and did have a profound effect on our culture during that period and beyond. Present day place names are often derived from Norse words for example, burh (a fortified dwelling), the suffix –by (meaning ‘homestead’ or ‘village’), e.g. Grimsby (‘Grim’s homestead’), Thurnby (either ‘homestead near a thorn-bush’ or ‘Thyrne’s village’), and Derby (‘village near deer’). Other common Scandinavian place names are those ending in -thorpe (meaning ‘a new village’), as in Scunthorpe (meaning ‘Skuma’s village’), or thwaite (meaning ‘a meadow’, ‘a piece of land’), as in Lothwaite (‘clearing on a hill’). Perhaps the best known words that often come from Old Norse are those such as ‘hustings’, ‘wrong’ and the word ‘law’ itself (Old Norse lagu, Old English æ). The kind of words that came into English from Scandinavian are generally words to do with common-and-garden relations. They are words shared between people who meet through trade (for example, ‘take’, ‘get’, ‘gear’), farming (‘scrape’, ‘skill’, ‘egg’), marriage (‘sister’, ‘husband’) and just getting on with life (‘fellow’, ‘happy’, ‘ill’, ‘muck’). The basic nature of the borrowings, affecting language at every level, suggest that these words entered English gradually. This would be partly because of their similarity with already existent English words, and because using the Scandinavian words would help eliminate any confusion when speaking. This type of word borrowing is quite unlike that seen after the Norman Conquest, when the conquerors imposed their own language at the top levels of society. The native English continued to speak their own language, but gradually French words were used for new ideas, concepts and activities. French was regarded as the language of the élite, and this meant that those conscious of status tried to use French to appear more prestigious, a common practice even today sometimes, not sure why really, but then it does have a certain “Je ne se quoi”.


The Normans


When the Normans invaded, there was relatively little cross fertilisation of DNA with the locals but their culture had a profound influence.  If anything, the ruling classes were influenced more as the influx of Norman military and ecclesiastical aristocracy changed the nature of the ruling class in England, leading to the creation of an Anglo-Norman dynasty within the higher echelons. There was further immigration and emigration during the time of the Angevin Empire from much of the west coast of France. After the loss of much of the Angevin lands in 1202, the strong trade links between Gascony and England led to a flow of people between the lands. But despite the huge significance of the Norman conquest of 1066, the numbers of Normans that followed William the Conqueror to England are accepted by most historians as being small. Indeed, one historian states that ‘only ten thousand or so Frenchmen followed in William’s footsteps, less than one percent of the population.’ Other Historians point to higher inflows, with some estimating that Norman settlers eventually made up as much as 5% of the population. The Norman’s had one of the greatest impacts culturally on Britain but just as with the Romans and Vikings the lineage left a very little mark genes wise. Symbolically the Normans embarked on a massive castle and cathedral building project. Surprisingly there were no large scale stone built castles in England before this time.


Scots and Irish


Waves of immigration from Scotland and Ireland have occurred throughout history to the present. This continuous process of movement of people across the Irish Sea between the islands of Ireland and Great Britain, along with the initial similar roots from pre-history, has resulted in both a close genetic connection whilst also having a discernibly different national identity. Today, millions of residents of Great Britain are either from the island of Ireland or have Irish ancestry. The tendency towards intolerance towards the Irish and Scots has often gone hand in hand with religion and / or the ill treatment of each other throughout history. I won’t be going in to a lot of detail with this section but suffice to say it illustrates clearly how even when the genetic ties are close, cultural and ideological differences have just as much, if not more, influence in terms of divisiveness.



Minor Immigration waves for rest of the second Millennium


So far I’ve touched on the initial migration, 4 major invasions and the movement of people between the mainland, Ireland and local islands. I’m now going to touch on the main significant waves of immigration plus one further invasion over the remaining section of the millennium up to the 1950’s.



Flemish and Dutch


Around 60,000 Flemish / Dutch people came to England in the middle ages, bringing with them knowledge of industries and crafts not present in the country at the time. They also had a significant effect on South Wales. There was toing and froing of both the Flemish to Britain and persecuted protestant British to Flanders and Holland.

It is arguable that the first wave of migrants to the contemporary British Isles arrived in the sixteenth century, as England became a trading power.  This also included the Moors from Spain who were expelled by Elizabeth 1st (another example of our tolerant British nature) Even so, by the beginning of the seventeenth century, England was still largely homogenous. Even London was not particularly diverse. In 1610, it was estimated that about 10,000 of the 300,000 people living in London were born abroad.

In 1690 the Dutch technically invaded England. Whilst they exacted military rule over London for about 15 months they were pretty much welcomed in as the current king, James II, was perceived to be attempting to install a possible changeling baby as a future Catholic heir. Up to this point a mainly protestant country had tolerated the King as it was believed Catholicism would come to an end upon his death. William of Orange saw this as an opportunity to take control and did so. His military might was strong, England was battle weary from the civil war and for many he was seen as a saviour, even if the existence of large numbers of foreign troops on the streets caused some concern among the population. Rather than fight back, the British people settled for a peaceful regime change. They came to accept and even love it, swayed by William’s spin doctors, whose leaflets smoothed over the constitutional issues of what had in effect been a coup d’etat and transformed a military conquest into the “Glorious Revolution” in defence of England’s ancient freedoms. It was this version of events that became the commonly accepted account of history. This was helped, partly because Britain and Holland had for many years shared a common cultural tradition. In the aftermath of the Dutch conquest, that cross-fertilisation pretty much became a one-directional flow from the Dutch to the English for some time. Its effects can be seen in painting, buildings and in the formal gardens that had been a speciality of the Netherlands. They also brought banking methods that renovated London as a commercial centre. The result was that Britain became a rich and powerful nation after 1688, while the Netherlands did less well. Not all the practises that the Dutch brought to Britain were favourable though. Their national drink, gin, quickly became more popular than beer and within 5 decades, half of the drinking establishments in Georgian London were mainly dispensing cheap and lethally strong “mother’s ruin” which resulted in some disastrous social consequences.


GYPSIES from 1500
Small numbers of Gypsies began to arrive from 1500 however Elizabeth I tried to expel them with her 1562 Egyptian Act.





French Protestants facing a new wave of persecution, began arriving in England in numbers around between 1563 to 1685 and in some sense could be seen as one of our first waves of refugees. King Charles II offered them sanctuary, and in all some 40–50,000 arrived. French Protestants, or Huguenots first arrived in numbers from France after the St Bartholomew’s Day massacre in Paris in 1572. After political unrest in France in the late 17th Century Huguenots again migrated to Britain in their thousands, with some sources claiming that 50,000 eventually came from the combined episodes of migration. Many Huguenots settled in Spitalfields in London and had a large impact on local silk industries which in turn effected upper class fashions. From the money that they earned they built large houses in the area. Seen as industrious and inconspicuous they were well received generally, even so they came up against some resentments in terms of depriving Londoners of work and even being termed “the offal of the earth” by Dr Welton, a priest. In time the Huguenots assimilated, and it has been estimated that many Londoners have Huguenot blood. [16]






I was brought up within a culture that looked down on Jews, we didn’t know why, we just didn’t like them. I never met my grandfather but my mum told me that one day while in Brighton he had been very scathing about a Jewish woman passing by. Recently the UK labour party has been identified officially as having an anti-Semitic problem within its ranks, the Internet is full of anti-Zionist theories, Islam seems to have many sections that are anti-Semitic [17], Christianity is still trying its best to not blame the Jews of today for the alleged killing of Jesus and some of his disciples. Also, Israel tends to cause a strong reaction either for or against it.


The main sin that is identified within Biblical texts that the Jews did to deserve being made to lose their homeland was to allow the worshipping of other gods.


Jeremiah 44


“20 Then Jeremiah said to all the people, both men and women, to everyone who answered him, 21 “Doesn’t the Lord remember that you burned incense in the cities of Judah and on the streets of Jerusalem along with your ancestors, your kings and your officials, and the people in the land? 22 The Lord could no longer bear the wicked and detestable things you did. That is why your land has become something ruined, destroyed, and cursed. No one lives in that land today. 23 You burned incense as offerings to other gods, sinned against the Lord, and wouldn’t obey him. You didn’t live by his teachings, decrees, or written instructions. That is why you have met with this disaster as it is today.”


If you want to find out more you can check out Leviticus 26, who also has a lot to say on the matter.


By the second century AD the Romans had pretty much destroyed Jerusalem and either killed or driven out the Jews from Judea who then spread out through the world. The dispersion of Jews around the world was known as the Diaspora. Some scholars posit that the Jewish diaspora had also been occurring more gradually as well arguing that the process occurred over the centuries, starting with the Assyrian destruction of Israel, the Babylonian destruction of Judah, the Roman destruction of Judea, and the subsequent rule of Christians and Muslims. Many Jews had been taken in to slavery and this may also account for their spread throughout the world.


Although of course, it’s possible that some Jews visited Britain before William the Conqueror first invaded Britain, the first recorded Jews to come to England came with the Normans around 1070. Christians were forbidden by the Church to lend money and this being one of the few trades permitted for Jews they got good at developing syndicates for large scale loans. William in Normandy borrowed from Jews to finance his wars including the invasion of England and it was quite natural for him to bring the Jewish bankers into England to help him finance the development of his new colony. Jews, as the only outsiders in an otherwise Christian society, were wards of the king. This meant that Jews came under the jurisdiction and safeguard of the crown. This allowed them, such benefits as freedom of the king’s highways, exemption from tolls, the ability to hold land directly from the king, and physical protection in any of the vast network of royal castles built to assert Norman authority over the kingdom. Perhaps the combination of these privileges, their non-Christian Jewish religion, the Christian resentment due to the perceived complicity in Jesus’s death, as well as resentments towards the Normans meant that Jews were pretty much the target of any angry mob. But to the Normans they were a money source and for quite a long time had Royal protection. After William the conqueror died in 1087 his son William Rufus became king. He was not popular with the Normans, the Anglo-Saxons or the clergy, but maintained the protection of the Jews (at this point there were large scale massacres of Jews throughout Europe). This protection continued under Henry I from 1100 but after 35 years of prosperity a civil war revolving around who should be next ruler resulted in 19 years of unrest. During this time Jews stopped trading and focused mainly on money lending, whilst both sides took money from the Jews as and when needed, and when it ran out persecuted some of them. Eventually an agreement was found and peace was restored. The next King Henry II brought about further stability and with that a very prosperous economy. Once again the Jews excelled and due to taxes and death duties remained popular with the king. It all seemed to be going so well…


In 1144 a Jewish man from Norwich turned against his fellow Jews and perpetuated a libel that Jews abducted and crucified Christian children as part of a Passover rite. Instead of this being kicked to the dirt it became convenient to many people who owed Jews money to play along and basically annul their loans by executing the accused. Over time this spread throughout Europe too, and continues to this day. Even though the next king, Richard the first reiterated that the Jews were protected there were many massacres of Jews to come. The main ones were in London, Norwich, Lynn and York where the entire Jewish population was either killed or committed suicide for fear of being killed. Rabbi Yomtob of Joigney called upon the community to commit suicide rather than be murdered or baptised. Many followed his advice. The father of each family killed the women and children of his household. The Rabbi then took his own knife to those who remained before killing himself. The Jews determined to take their chances with those outside were greeted in the morning with false promises of mercy. On leaving the castle, they were killed by the crowd outside. And of course with the loss of their lives went all records of any debts owed.


After this happened special chests in which records were kept were used to protect the kings interest, the key holders were Jewish but the contents were also monitored by Christians. After Richard died his brother John took over, and in a short time depleted the Jews wealth and soon after lost Norman and Angevin lands which set in motion conflicts that would last for centuries. Henry III was next, and for a decade or so British Jews recovered financially, but then he too demanded so much money from the Jewish population that many of them were forced to sell their homes, mortgages and belonging to do so. Once again, as tensions between the barons and the king mounted Jews were massacred.  The next king, Edward II, tightened his grip on the Jews so much so that they could no longer raise enough money to be of use to the Crown. Some Jews decided to invest in coin debasement which was effected by several methods. This could include clipping (shaving metal from the coin’s circumference) and sweating (shaking the coins in a bag and collecting the dust worn off). as coins were often made of silver or gold, they were quite soft and prone to wear. As a punishment, not only were the offenders executed but so too were many hundreds of innocent victims.


During the 1280’s there was so much crusading zeal (translates to anti-Semitism) and demands to convert Jews to Christianity that by 1290 King Edward ordered all remaining Jews to be expelled in exchange for a payment of £100,000 from his Christian subjects. Those expelled moved to France where they were expelled again in 1306. [18]
Although there’s no documentary evidence of a “cherem”, a Jewish order of excommunication, on York, it is widely accepted within the Jewish community that such an order existed. This cherem forbade Jews from settling within York’s city walls, and reflects the distaste with which Jews viewed the city.


From 1290 until around the mid 1600’s there are no records of Jews living in Britain. However, around this time many Marrano merchants settled in London. These were Jews from Iberia who had been forced to convert to Christianity but still practiced Judaism in secret.  Oliver Cromwell was approached by a Dutch Rabbi asking if Jews could be readmitted to Britain There was a lot of resistance but by 1690 there were about 400 Jews settling in England. Sixty-three years later the Jew Bill was brought to Parliament, this would allow Jews to become naturalised by application to Parliament. It met massive resistance but was eventually passed. Ten years earlier the Jews had shown a lot of loyalty to the government during the Jacobite rising and in some way this bill was a way of thanking them. It would take a further hundred years (1858) before Jewish men could be on an equal footing with Britain’s other emancipated males.


Russian Jews


It was estimated that there were around 6 to 10,000 Jews in England in 1800. During the 1880’s Russian Jews suffered bitter persecutions, and British Jews led fund-raising projects to enable their Russian co-religionists to emigrate to the United States. However, out of some 2,000,000 who left Russia by 1914, around 120,000 settled permanently in Britain. One of the main concentrations was once again in the Spitalfields area, obviously, a popular area for migrants back then given it’s where the Huguenots had congregated too.


There was a lot of resistance to this influx so, in our traditionally welcoming way, immigration was reduced by the Aliens Act 1905 and pretty much totally curtailed by the 1914 Aliens Restriction Act. In addition to those Russian Jews who settled permanently in the UK an estimated 500,000 Eastern European Jews passed through British ports between 1881 and 1924. Most were bound for the United States whilst others migrated to Canada, South Africa, Latin America and the Antipodes. Another wave from Nazi Germany came in the 1930s, with perhaps as many as 100,000 coming to Britain so by the 1940s, the Jewish population here was about 400,000.[19] Since then the number of Jews has fallen to just under 300,000, around 0.4% of the total UK population. It’s always struck me that such a small proportion of the world’s population could have so much significance, both in terms of positive contributions and how much attention is focused upon them.


Whilst researching for this section I came across a lot of websites that show open hostility towards Jews, the other day someone made a joke to me when I said I’d have to charge them for something, saying “Why, are you a fuckin’ Jew?”, in a café in London I overheard a group of men swearing about Jews. Even to point out that there’s anti-Semitisms can be greeted with exasperations of “of course, they’re always the victim” and so it goes on… Black people, Jews and Muslims are all ripe for hatred nowadays, and it’s not just from the mob, many educated people have their favourite group to hate, and generally for Jews it’s under the guise of being anti-Zionist. One of the reasons for bringing this up is that it is often Labour MP’s who bring out the “We’ve always been a tolerant nation”, which, as I think you’re beginning to see, is not particularly true. Yet it is the Labour party that has recently been found to have a problem with anti-Semitism. The Rothschild’s, the Goldman’s, The Lehman Brothers, Murdoch, sit on the tips of conspiracy theorist’s tongues, along with many others, but to me, White Anglo Saxons Protestants (WASPs) are far more likely to be controlling more of the world than the other ethnic groups, whilst the majority of Jews live their normal lives within societies and controlling very little. Disproportionately the Jews seem to have given much to the world [20] [21]  whilst allegations of them controlling the media would signify that they are uncharacteristically not doing a very god job. I mean given they’ve got such bad press.


I’m going to put a few links here for you to explore before going on to the next section… I need a nice cup of tea!


And a couple of positive ones for good measure:







Well appropriately tea links nicely to this next section, although cotton, silk, indigo dye, salt, saltpetre and opium would have done just as well as these were the main products behind the trade that brought many people from the Indian subcontinent to Great Britain from the 16th century onwards. If you read my article on Globalisation you would have seen how most of the developed world used protectionist policies to gain their strength. Even as far back as the Elizabethan era this was true. After numerous attempts to sail to and exploit the East Indies success was attained and on 32 December 1600. Elizabeth granted a Royal Charter to “George, Earl of Cumberland” as well as 215 Knights, Aldermen and Burgesses, under the name of Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading with the East Indies. For a period of fifteen years the charter awarded the newly formed company a monopoly on trade with all countries east of the Cape of Good Hope and west of the Straits of Magellan. Anybody who traded in breach of the charter without a licence from the Company was liable to forfeiture of their ships and cargo (half of which went to the Crown and the other half to the Company), as well as imprisonment at the “royal pleasure”.[22] Of course, other countries vied for control and frequent skirmishes occurred between the Dutch and Portuguese but as time went on the British dominated the region. For the next 400 years Britain exacted control over much of the region and plundered much of its wealth, something in the region equal to $475 trillion. [23] Even if that figure is wrong it was still a lot.

The East India Company (EIC) recruited sailors or militiaman from South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Arab world, and other territories located to the east of the Cape of Good Hope, known as lascars, to replace vacancies in their crews on East Indiamen whilst on voyages in India. Many were then refused passage back, and were marooned in London. There were also some ayahsdomestic servants and nannies of wealthy British families, who accompanied their employers back to “Blighty” when their stay in Asia came to an end. The number of seamen from the East Indies working on English ships was so great that the English tried to curb their numbers by the Navigation Act of 1660. This restricted the employment of overseas sailors to a quarter of the crew on returning East India Company ships. The East India Company brought over thousands of South Asian scholars, lascars, and other workers (who were mostly Bengali and / or Muslim) to England, most of whom settled down and took local European wives, due to a lack of Asian women in the British Isles at the time. Due to the majority of early Asian immigrants being lascars, the earliest Asian communities were found in port towns. Naval cooks, many of them from the Sylhet Division of what is now Bangladesh, also came. One of the most famous 18th-century Bengali immigrants to Britain was Sake Dean Mahomed, a captain of the East India Company. In 1810, he founded London’s first Indian restaurant, the Hindoostane Coffee House. He is also claimed as the person who introduced shampoo and therapeutic massage to Britain. By the mid-19th century, there were at least 40,000 Indian seamen, diplomats, scholars, soldiers, officials, tourists, businessmen and students in Great Britain. In 1855 more than 25,000 of these were lascar seamen. By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were around 70,000 South Asians in Britain, 51,616 of whom were lascar seamen at the beginning of the First World War.


The Industrial Revolution saw a need to bring people in to work, in fact during the 1800’s incentives such as the Californian gold rush meant there was a lot of emigration, however when the economy turned workers were discarded in to abject poverty. Attempts were made to secure better conditions but parliament reacted with the 1905 Aliens Act which pretty much laid the blame for the economic hardship on immigrants. Sound familiar? Even the trade unions joined in, adding an element of acceptability to racism within the working classes. Ben Tillett, the dockers’ leader, told migrant workers, ‘Yes, you are our brothers, and we will do our duty by you. But we wish you had not come’. Also, Liberal and Tory politicians endeavoured to disguise their dismal failures by accusing immigrants for the mounting housing crisis. As Liberal MP Cathcart Wilson stated, ‘What is the use of spending thousands of pounds on building beautiful workmen’s dwellings if the places of our own workpeople, the backbone of the country, are to be taken over by the refuse scum of other nations?’ Much of this was focused on Jews but Indians and other migrants were fair pickings for the disgruntled masses too.


In India during the late 1800’s, British settlers had contempt for the Indians and did not believe they were fit to run their own country. The British empire was at its peak and the idea that its colonised citizens were of equal standing was not a commonplace notion. Having said this, British imperialists loathed Indians no more or less than they loathed the great majority of Englishmen. They were far more willing to work with maharajahs, kings and chiefs of whatever colour than with white settlers, whom they generally considered to be uneducated trash. Just as Jamaican peasants and East End costermongers were viewed as equally inferior, so Indian princes and West African tribal chiefs were often understood as the social equivalent of English gentlemen. Indeed, British rulers were often amused at the inability of lower-class white settlers to comprehend that aristocratic breeding cut across differences of colour. Lady Gordon, the wife of Sir Arthur Hamilton-Gordon, the governor of Fiji from 1875 to 1880, thought the native high-ranking Fijians “such an undoubted aristocracy”. She wrote: “Their manners are so perfectly easy and well bred . . . Nurse can’t understand it at all, she looks down on them as an inferior race. I don’t like to tell her that these ladies are my equals, which she is not!” [24] In fact, Queen Victoria needed a title that out ranked Indian nobles, as being just a mere Queen wasn’t going to cut.


Generally speaking though, the British were ruthless in their dealings with Indians in India and were not much better to them in Britain either. It is sometimes said that the Victorians were the proto-type for the Nazis and set the ground work in motion for them to build upon. The Victorians were part of the cause of a holocaust when in 1876 famine broke out in southern India claiming 5.5 million lives. The British administration pushed the Anti-Charitable Contributions Act of 1877 in England prohibiting private relief and charitable donations for starving Indians illegal & threatened imprisonment and in 1878, it passed the Vernacular Press Act that gave them the power to confiscate the press and paper of a local language newspaper in India if it was deemed to be publishing ‘seditious material’. [25]


Unsurprisingly, the more the British tightened the thumbscrews the more the Indians marched on the road for independence. There were attacks and massacres on both sides but Britain showed its darker side during these times which no doubt spurred on the desire for independence. Meanwhile this ruthlessness was transposed back to Britain. On top of this the Indian Caste system also found its way to Britain so that not only were Indians oppressed by the British but also by themselves and of course between their religions. Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims had a history of conflict and whilst this rarely erupted in Britain it would no doubt influence individuals within a community. We will come back to Indians in the post 1950’s section later however it is clearly correct to state that Britain generally did not show signs of tolerance and generosity to Indian immigrants but instead racism, ruthlessness, exploitation and intolerance.


“God forbid that India should ever take to industrialism after the manner of the West. The economic imperialism of [England] is today keeping the world in chains. If [a country as large as India] took to similar economic exploitation, it would strip the world bare like locusts.” Mahatma Gandhi.










Black people have been living in Britain since at least Roman times. One legionary went down in history for making fun of the black Roman Emperor Septimius Severus outside Carlisle around the year 210 AD. In 862 AD Vikings returning from raids on Spain and North Africa and landed in Ireland with black slaves. A young black girl’s skull was found in a tenth-century Anglo-Saxon burial site at North Elmham in Norfolk.


A small black community is recorded in the account books of the Scottish court at Holyrood shortly after 1500. Mention is made of two women, Ellen / Helenor More and Margery Lindsay, and to a number of men – Peter, Nageir and Taubronar, who had a child at Court. They, or at least some of them, may have come from Portugal, where trading in Africans had been going on throughout the previous century. In 1505 a payment is recorded in the accounts to William Wood, one of the Scottish king’s principal ship’s-captains, ‘for a dance-entertainment organised by Taubronar ‘be the Kingis command’… not only for the black ladies but for their personal maidservants too. In 1513 the King’s New Year gift is recorded, ‘to the twa blak ladeis, X Franche crounis’, and one of the poems of William Dunbar, ‘Of ane blak moir’, is about the part played by Helenor in a parody tournament of around 1506-7 called ‘the turnament of the black knicht and the black lady’.


Africans also come to light during the era of the familiars of witches. In the trial of Alice Kyteler of Kilkenny in 1423, she was accused of having sex with an ‘Ethiop’ who could also turn into a black cat or black dog. [26]


When thinking of Tudor England, black Africans do not tend to figure as being part of that society. Yet there were Africans here at that time, and they were considered numerous enough that in 1596 Queen Elizabeth wrote that ‘these kind of people should be sent forth from the land. The Queen issued licences to deport Africans mainly on two grounds: because of economic pressures ‘in these hard times of dearth’, and because ‘most of them are infidels, having no understanding of Christ or his Gospel’. These commands sought these Africans to be treated as slaves and exchanged for English prisoners held captive in Spain and Portugal. Yet these were to meet with disappointment. They failed, “to get any” of the Africans – mainly because Robert Cecil, the most influential man in Elizabeth’s court, did not like a “commission of that nature” and it would have been difficult to extract them from their homes, families and communities.


Many Africans born in Britain were often baptised, buried and recorded in parish records in London, Plymouth, Southampton, Barnstaple, Bristol, Leicester, Northampton and other places across the country.  Africans weren’t just found in England’s provinces. In fact, some mixed with the country’s most powerful figures – in the Tudor court. One was the Iberian Moor Catalina de Cardones, who came to England in 1501 with her employer Catherine of Aragon, later Henry VIII’s wife and queen. Catalina served her for 26 years as the lady of the bedchamber and was married to a “Hace ballestas”, a crossbowman also of Moorish origin. Other Africans who were part of the court include John Blanke, the “blacke trumpeter”, he served under both Henry VII and Henry VIII from 1506–12. Blanke is shown twice on the Westminster Tournament Roll.  Elizabeth I also had at least one African in her personal service – “a Blackamoore boy”, who is mentioned in a warrant that ordered the clothes-maker Henry Henre to make the African boy a “garcon coat… of white taphata cutt and lyned… striped with gold and silver with buckeram bayes… knitted stockings [and] white shoes”.[27]


Whilst popular thought tends that Tudor England is often portrayed as being all white, which is somewhat incorrect, as you can now see, there is also a romanticised revisionism by those with a political agenda to greaten the influence of black people on society then. However, as we shall see there were quite a few prominent black people within British society, so once again, it is more a case of keeping a balance and not letting it be exaggerated one way or another. For example, when Emma Mason writes in an article on the History Extra website that:


“Of course, Catalina de Cardones, John Blanke, Mary Fillis of Morisco and Bastien did exist. They are not mere footnotes in our history. Indeed, they are as much a part of England’s story as their employers Catherine of Aragon, Henry VII, Henry VIII, Millicent Porter and William Hawkins.”


I can’t help but laugh, I mean really, as influential as Henry VIII? Whilst indirectly the slaves and peoples from Africa had a profound effect on British fortunes, to say these individuals were as influential is just delusion fuelled by a political agenda. However, when she also writes: “As the historian Marika Sherwood warns us, many black people rightly state that: “In this curriculum I don’t exist.” Yet their absence from modern accounts of the past can’t be explained by the fact that they didn’t live in Tudor England. Rather, we are ignorant of their existence – or have decided to forget or trivialise it.” To me this seems pertinent and truthful.[28]


The European Slave Trade of Africans started in the 15th Century (more about this in the next section) and became far more intense from the mid 17th Century. By the 1700’s there is documented evidence that tens of thousands of people of African descent lived in Britain. Estimates range between 10,000 to 30,000. Some have estimated up to 20,000 for London out of a population of about 675,000. Proportionately the population Black people in London was about 2-4% during this period. Most accept that there is no way of knowing the exact figures. After 1807 it was illegal to import slaves into Britain, which meant the almost total ending of African immigration and the rapid drop of the African populace subsequently.



Before looking at Slavery in more depth I wanted to spend a bit of time on Black people who, throughout this period, were directly consequential within British society.



Most of the black population in the 18th century lived mostly in major port cities – London, Liverpool and Bristol – but also in market towns and villages across the country. The majority worked in domestic service, both paid and “unpaid”. If they escaped their “service”, they were generally doomed to live in poverty. In 1731, the Lord Mayor of London, responding to moral panic about the size of the non-white population in the city, banned them from holding company apprenticeships. Servants who ran away from their masters’ were the subjects of “lost-and-found” ads in the press, and rewards for their capture were offered. They often fled to the East End of London, where they lived in heaving boarding houses with reeking courtyards, surrounded by dens of iniquity.


Few of them were skilled. With no connections in the provinces for support they were often drawn towards often illicit or at best underground livings or begging. A report in 1815 by parliament claimed that one person had been able to return to the West Indies with a fortune of £1,500. Some, such as Billy Waters and Joseph Johnson made a creative spectacle out of their poverty and were so well rewarded that by the 1850s many white beggars had begun to black up.


Just as today, class and culture tend to unite people more so than colour differences divide. The poor, both black and white tended to be friends, not rivals. In fact, a magistrate and brother of the novelist Henry Fielding, Sir John Fielding, complained that when black domestic servants ran away they found that with ‘… the Mob on their side, it makes it not only difficult but dangerous to the Proprietor of these Slaves to recover the Possession of them, when once they are sported away’.


The Black and White poor also shared the same confined communal spaces – from below-deck quarters at sea, to Newgate prison cells. They drank at the same taverns, and danced together at mixed-race dances.[29] The ghettos were less defined by colour but instead by dislocation. But some black people in the latter half of the 18th century became a part of the mainstream society often working as sailors, tradespeople, businessmen and musicians. They married, had families and found some success.


You may wish to skip this non-comprehensive lists of well-known black people pre WW2, however if you can please check it out as it offers a more intimate view of the situation.


Joseph Emidy (about 1775 to 1835) was born in West Africa. As a child, Portuguese traders enslaved him. It is unclear where he learned to play violin, but at the same time as being in Portugal he became a violinist for the Lisbon Opera. In 1795 Emidy was forced to play fiddle for the British Navy for four years when he was ultimately discharged in Falmouth. He then earned his living as a violinist and teacher. In 1802 he married Jane Hutchengs, a local tradesman’s daughter and in 1805 the couple and their daughters moved to Truro. Emidy remained in Cornwall performing, teaching, composing and eventually becoming Leader of the Truro Philharmonic Orchestra. He is celebrated as one of the most influential musical figure in early 19th century Cornwall. His memorial stone is in the churchyard of Kenwyn Church, Kenwyn Church Road, Truro TR1 3DR.


Whilst on the subject of black violinists George Augustus Polgreen Bridgetower (about 1780 to 1860), was a virtuoso violinist, and is famed for his association with Beethoven, who composed the Kreutzer Sonata for him. He’d been a child prodigy and in 1789 he played at The Assembly Rooms, Bennett Street, Bath, BA1 2QH.  From the age of 11, George Bridgetower was first violinist in the Prince of Wales’ (later George IV) private orchestra.

Cesar Picton (about 1755 to 1836) became a prosperous entrepreneur and landlord of a wharf and a malt house. He’d been taken from his family in Senegal as a child. At just six he arrived in England where he worked as a servant. He later became a coal merchant, using inheritances left to him by his employers. From 1790 Picton resided at 52 High Street, Kingston upon Thames, KT1 4DB, currently marked by a history plaque.


Dido Eizabeth Belle (from 1761 to 1804) was the illegitimate daughter of Sir John Lindsay, a Royal Navy officer. Her mother was an African slave called Maria. Sir John openly recognized Dido as his child and, from the 1760s she grew up in Lord Mansfield’s home with her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray at Kenwood House, Hampstead, London NW3 7JR. Dido was educated and literate. As well as supervising the dairy at Kenwood, she facilitated Lord Mansfield with his legal correspondence. A visitor to the house commented that Dido’s great-uncle “called upon (her)…every minute for this and that, and showed the greatest attention to everything she said”. By comparing the salary that Dido received it is clear that her status was higher than a servant but below that of the rest of the family. When he died, Lord Chief Justice, Lord Mansfield, was careful to confirm in his will that Dido was a free woman. He also left her £500 and an annual allowance of £100. In 1793 Dido married John Davinier, a senior servant. They had three sons and lived in Pimlico until her death, aged 43.


George Africanus (from 1763 to 1834) George was brought to England from Sierra Leone as a slave at three years of age. He was given as a present to a wealthy Wolverhampton businessman, Benjamin Molineux. After serving an apprenticeship as a brass founder in one of Molineux’ foundries, George moved to Nottingham where he married Esther, a local woman. George is Nottingham’s first documented black businessman. He’d started an employment agency called the “Africanus Register of Servants”. He went on to own his own home, land and several businesses meaning that he was eligible to vote. He died aged 71 and is buried in St Mary’s Churchyard, High Pavement, Nottingham Lace Market, Nottingham NG1 1HR, where a City of Nottingham plaque commemorates him.


Of course there are the very well known successful black people of that era too. Olaudah Equiano, who was abducted in to slavery  at 11 and by the age of 41 had been emancipated, written an autobiography, and later campaigned against slavery. By 1797, the year of his death, his memoir was on its ninth edition, and had been translated in to many European languages. It was a best seller of the day and a powerful influence in the process that led to the abolition of slavery, especially in Great Britain.


Ignatius Sancho (c1729-1780), was a composer, actor, writer and businessman and first Black person known to have voted in Britain in 1774 and 1780. Sancho was also the first African writer of prose whose work was published in England.


William Cuffay (1788 – 1870) was a Black tailor living in London and one of the leaders and martyrs of the Chartist movement, which was one of the first big political movement of the British working class


Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) was the first African-American woman to have her book published. In 1773, ‘Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral’ was published in London with the help of the Countess of Huntingdon.


Mary Prince (1788 – c.1833). The publication of ‘The History of Mary Prince: A West Indian Slave,’ was the first autobiography by a Black woman. It was published in Britain c.1831. Mary Prince also was the first woman to present a petition to Parliament pertaining to anti-slavery legislation.


Henry Sylvester Williams (1869-1911) was one of the founders of the African-Association, which lobbied for human rights in the colonies and was involved in the first Pan-African Conference in London (1900).


John Richard Archer (1863-1932) was fifty years old when he was elected mayor of Battersea and thus became London’s first Black Mayor on 10th November 1913.


Amy Ashwood Garvey (1897- 1969) Playwright, lecturer, Pan-Africanist and founder of the Nigerian Progress Union in London in 1924. An important figure in the anti-racist movement in England, she chaired an enquiry into race relations following the racially motivated murder of Kelso Cochrane in London in 1959. In the wake of the Notting Hill riots in 1958, she co-founded the Association for the Advancement of Coloured People


Elisabeth Welch (1904-2003) was one of the first Black people to have her own BBC radio series in 1935, Soft Lights and Sweet Music.



OK, lastly, this man was not in the UK but I want to include him anyway. Abraham Gannibal, was a black man who had been born an African prince and was captured and sold as a slave by Arab traders with his sister Lehana who died on the trip, and his brother who was later renamed Alexei. He was sent to Russia by Peter Tolstoy, who had heard of an enslaved prince from the Russian Ambassador Vladislavich-Raguzinsky in Constantinople. The child had been serving in the court of the Sultan. Tolstoy had him sent to Peter The Great as an oddity around 1701. From the age of 8 he and his brother Alexei were brought up with Peter’s children, which meant they received an education. As a teenager he travelled with Peter as his personal valet. A role only those with preferential status could attain, and therefore he was not seen as a servant. Peter became his Godfather when he was baptized in the Russian Orthodox church and when grown up he slept in the royal bedroom and was a secretary (the keeper of secrets) to Peter, who loved him, some say, more than his own son and heir to the throne.


In 1731 he married Evdoxia Andreyevna Dioper, Pushkin wrote when she was told that she was to be married to Gannibal that she fainted. At any rate the marriage was a failure that ended in divorce. They fought and she did not like him. He took her to Estonia where he taught mathematics and drawing and for four years whilst also acting as the Commander of a Russian fortress. She had a child that was very white, which no doubt furthered his suspicions and he asked Evdoxia for a divorce. But she refused. She tried to argue that it was possible for the child to be white. She subsequently started an affair with a man named Jacob Shishkov and it was rumoured she was planning to poison Gannibal and marry her lover. Abraham locked her in her room and tortured her to get a confession. Then he turned her over to authorities, she then spent eleven terrible years in prison under hideous conditions. Evdokia got out of jail on bail in 1743 when she soon became pregnant again. This time she agreed to a divorce. But altogether the divorce took a further ten years to come through. Five years after his marriage in 1736 he married a Swedish girl named Christina Regina von Schöberg. She’d come from a noble but poor family. His first wife was still in prison and as they were not divorced he had therefore committed bigamy. His second wife was very fond him and they had 11 children, seven of whom survived. His son Ivan became a distinguished General whilst the daughter of his son Osip was the mother to the poet Pushkin. Once the divorce came through Evdoxia was sentenced to spend the rest of her life in the Staraya Ladoga Convent and after paying a cash penalty his second marriage was recognized as legal. In 1740 Peter the Great’s daughter, Elizabeth, put him in charge of the fortress at Reval, where he remained for 8 years. He commanded the Corp of Engineers for all of Russia and built forts from Riga to St. Petersburg. He also created hospitals and schools for those working on his projects. He served Russia throughout the 18th century, starting with Peter the Great and ending with his death while working for Catherine the Great. He was made Chief General. Abram Petrovich Gannibal died in 1781. [30]


I tell you this story and the others beforehand because in the next section I’ll be talking about Slavery and Colonialism. I’ll aim to demonstrate that in order to move in to a post racial focused age, that people of all colours should be seen as just as likely to be bad or good as each other, to have been just as prone to have been involved in slavery and theft through colonisation, or to have ancestors who were just as much victims. And to say otherwise, to seek either recrimination or validation through victimhood veers towards racism itself. Don’t agree? Come and see.





If I read one more Facebook post going on about colonialism and slavery being a predominantly white western phenomenon, I may have to scream. What I mean is, when someone goes on about it, I don’t believe that mentioning it is going to make the world better, instead maybe it’s going to make them look like they are fair minded, that they are willing to put the truth before self-interest, which is all very well and good, but let’s face it, if you want to really put being fair and good ahead of self-interest prepare to make some big sacrifices, for instance you’re probably going to have to become very poor, because, in truth, do most of us in the West not live better lives at the expense of others in the world? Our whole society is based on this equation, so transposing the problem to the past and saying how very sorry we are reeks somewhat of hypocrisy. We may or may not have volunteered to be a part of this equation, but if you’re not going to do much about it once you know about it then you have to accept that in your own way you are an accomplice.


Yes, Britain got richer through slavery, through conquest, pillaging, and no doubt many other countries, including those we colonised did the same to others too. Even Africa is dominated by the Bantu peoples[31], who had themselves assimilated or displaced many other peoples, and this had only occurred within the last 3000 years, a lot of it within the last 400 years[32], should they be compensating those they colonised? The guilt and recognition may well have motivated many to take on the ideologies of globalisation and universalism in order to balance out things a little, but as I have already discussed, these have not borne good results. We now live in a world with even worse distribution of wealth than we did 60 years ago, there is less democracy, and far more slavery. That’s right, more than during the West’s enslaving of millions of Africans.


Slavery is defined as “a condition of having to work very hard without proper remuneration or appreciation.” Now we’re not just talking about low wages, but no wages, and often controlled via the threat and application of violence without the facility to get away from the situation. It can mean other things including “the legal property of another” who they are forced to obey. Outside of Islamic State, there are no countries who openly allow slavery in any overt legal sense, however some countries allow slavery to continue pretty openly when it suits them, Dubai is a case in point.[33] [34] [35] [36]


Dubai was partially built upon the unpaid slave labour of foreign nationals tricked in to working there. With their passports removed, living in squalid conditions, health and safety regulations non-existent, loans and violence used to lever free labour, they meet all the criteria that defines slavery. But just as we can detach slavery from us by using time, it’s just as easy to use space too. “Well it’s a long way away and what can we do about it?” That’s probably what many British people said when African slavery was in full swing. But organisations such as “Free the Salves” state that there an estimated 21 million slaves worldwide generating $150 billion for traffickers each year.  78% are in labour slavery, 22% are in sex slavery and 26% are under 18. Let’s halve the numbers, then we’re at around the low end of the estimated African slave trade numbers, but that was over centuries. This number is ongoing and has been so for decades, if not centuries, as in it is multiples of tens of millions. So let’s stop thinking about colonisation and slavery as things of the past, as something we can pretend to apologise for or just a white European phenomenon. As you will probably be getting from what I’ve been writing, we are all in this together, we are all victims, oppressors, advantaged, disadvantaged, no matter our colour, creed, nationality. All people can be any one of these roles.


“Oftentimes have I heard you speak of one who commits a wrong as though he were not one of you, but a stranger unto you and an intruder upon your world.
But I say that even as the holy and the righteous cannot rise beyond the highest which is in each one of you,
So the wicked and the weak cannot fall lower than the lowest which is in you also.
And as a single leaf turns not yellow but with the silent knowledge of the whole tree,
So the wrong-doer cannot do wrong without the hidden will of you all.”

On Crime and Punishment
Kahlil Gibran



Slavery in Britain


The British were still being enslaved by the Romans at least up until the 7th century AD[37]. It is recorded that Pope Gregory spoke with some British slaves in the slave market in Rome. The early Anglo Saxons used the term slave and Briton to mean the same thing and the Vikings saw slavery as a normal part of their society. Around 10% of England were taken as slaves by the Anglo Saxons.[38] At one point Viking’s took female Britons to Iceland as “wives”, so much so that even in Iceland today much of mitochondrial DNA – which we inherit solely from our mothers – shows that much of the female line of present-day Icelanders can be traced back to Britain and Ireland.[39] Although slavery was outlawed in England in 1102, it still continued especially within the context of serfdom’ where serfs were bought and sold with the estate on which they had to work for a fixed number of days a year without payment. They could only marry with their lord’s consent, could not leave the estate and had very few legal rights. However, as they could not be easily replaced, they were not as physically abused as slaves generally had been. The institution of serfdom was not abolished in Britain until 1381. Even so, in the late 12th century King David of Scotland captured so many slaves on a raid into England that it was said that every Scottish household had one.


Soon after Serfdom technically came to an end Britons started to be enslaved by North Africans. Yes, you read that right, Africans took Europeans as slaves. Known as the ‘Barbary’ coast slave trade, it’s something most people don’t know anything about, yet over a million Europeans were taken, most of whom died within 2 years because their conditions were so atrocious too. So, when people complain about black people being erased from Tudor history we also have to ask why the enslavement of Europeans and others was erased from mainstream history too? Most of these slaves were used as galley slaves; others fulfilled the usual tasks allotted to slaves but those who converted to Islam had an easier time. In retaliation, the men seized by the British from Barbary vessels were either sold as slaves, executed as pirates or ransomed.


The enslaving of Africans was of long standing. Even between African Nations (just as Europeans had enslaved each other) there were slavers and enslaved peoples. Even now it still goes on as it did. (Pygmy groups in the Congo are being exploited by the country’s ethnic Bantu people, and are treated like “pets” and sometimes even subject to slavery, according to a Congolese human rights group. The Congo’s indigenous pygmies “are considered by Bantu people as property in the same way that… pets are,” Roch Euloge Nzobo, program director at the Congolese Human Rights Observatory (OCDH), told Agence France-Presse. [40]).


Arab and then Muslim slave traders had been marching Africans, or sailing them across the Red Sea and then the Indian Ocean, from about the sixth century AD. It is probable that at least as many women as men were taken: the women were used as domestic labour and as sex slaves in the harems of the rich; men were also domestics, but most were destined for the military. When some were used – and abused – as plantation labour in the area we now call Iraq, they eventually revolted and weren’t used again for such labour. Interestingly the Africans were not seen as non-human objects, they had some rights and could rise within the ranks of the army and the society. In most Arab societies, they could also intermarry and the resulting children were not always automatically slaves, but often were.[41]


One writer claims that “Slavery in Muslim societies was not so much racial.” [42] However certain texts within Islam, and this may be contested but are still worth checking out, firstly put the Arabs at the top of the pile and some infer that black people are for slavery. Whilst, again this may be contested, there are quite a few negative texts within Islam about black skin colour. For instance:


Ham [Africans] begat all those who are black and curly-haired, while Japheth [Turks] begat all those who are full-faced with small eyes, and Shem [Arabs] begat everyone who is handsome of face with beautiful hair. Noah prayed that the hair of Ham’s descendants would not grow beyond their ears, and that whenever his descendants met Shem’s, the latter would enslave them.


“I have heard the Apostle say: ‘Whoever wants to see Satan should look at Nabtal.’ He was a sturdy black man with long flowing hair, inflamed eyes, and dark ruddy cheeks. He used to come and talk with the Prophet and listen to him. He would carry what he had said to the hypocrites. Nabtal said, ‘Muhammad is all ears. If anyone tells him something he believes it.’ Allah sent down concerning him: ‘To those who annoy the Prophet and say that he is all ears, say, ‘Good ears for you.’ For those who annoy the Apostle there is a painful punishment.”[43]


In defence, here is a counter argument, “As for the Hadeeth about Nabtal, it has not been cited by any of the Sunan compilers (Abu Daawood, An-Nasaa’i, At-Tirmithi and Ibn Maajah). It has been cited only by Ibn Is-haaq in his book Al-Maghaazi. It was quoted from him in some books about the occasions of the Quranic revelations (Asbaab An-Nuzool). The author of As-Saheeh Al-Musnad min Asbaab An-Nuzool (a collection of authenticated Ahaadeeth concerning the occasions of the Quranic revelations) did not list the Hadeeth among the Saheeh Ahaadeeth cited in this chapter. Even if we assume that it is Saheeh (authentic), the Prophet, did not dispraise Nabtal because of his color or appearance but rather his impiety and ill manners.


With regard to the Hadeeth reported by Abu Ad-Dardaa’ it is Dha‘eef (weak); Al-Arnaa’oot classified it as Dha‘eef in his revision of Imaam Ahmad’s Musnad. Even if we assumed that the Hadeeth is Saheeh, it does not imply contempt of black people and does not indicate that all black people will go to Hell. It rather describes that the faces of the inhabitants of the Hellfire will be blackened because of their sins and disbelief. Al-Munaawi said in his commentary on the saying of Ibn Mas‘ood: “A slave (of Allaah) continues to lie until a black spot is scratched on his heart, until his whole heart becomes black”: “He described it as black because black is the color of disbelief; Allaah, The Exalted, described the faces of the disbelievers in the Hereafter as ‘black’; He says (what means): {On the Day [some] faces will turn white and [some] faces will turn black. As for those whose faces turn black, [to them it will be said], “Did you disbelieve after your belief? Then taste the punishment for what you used to reject.”} [Quran 3:106]” [Faydh Al-Qadeer]“[44]


And even today black people are not only more liable to experience inequality in the West but also within less obvious countries such as The Sudan, Libya, Iraq, Algeria, and Mauritania (where even as recently as 2013 slavery was reported to still be prevalent based on skin colour).[45] Just as Muslims could read things in a certain way when it came to slavery so too did Christians. There were many devout Christians who were involved in the slave trade who no doubt found their own loopholes. I mention this because this kind of scripture based justification, even when possibly misinterpreted, did not only allow Muslims and Christians to feed their slavery industry, but likewise even in to the early 20th century, black people were having projected upon them traits that suited those who wished to exploit them and most likely bore little resemblance to reality. Even The De Stijl art movement was quite happy to believe that black people and their art was primitive and more primeval than their white counterparts. But “When the Portuguese first “discovered” the Benin City, in what is now Nigeria, in 1485, they were stunned to find this vast kingdom made of hundreds of interlocked cities and villages in the middle of the African jungle. They called it the “Great City of Benin”, at a time when there were hardly any other places in Africa the Europeans acknowledged as a city. Indeed, they classified Benin City as one of the most beautiful and best planned cities in the world. [46] That, of course, didn’t stop the Europeans from destroying most of the African cities.[47]


But if we are going to accept that most humans around the world are only marginally different (or if they are different it is far less to do with biology than anything else) then we must also accept black African people were just as willing to enslave others as white Europeans were, especially if it meant harnessing more wealth, possessions and power.  So, it was that many black Africans went to other regions to steal away people for the slave trade. Likewise, on the other side of Africa there was also an export of east Africans to India and the intermediate islands. However, the conditions of slavery in India were closer to those in the Muslim world, more akin to serfdom in medieval Europe than to the conditions imposed upon enslaved Africans in the Americas.


The first European nation to engage in the Transatlantic Slave Trade was Portugal in the mid to late 1400’s.[48]  Europeans needed labourers to work for them in the New World – the Americas. They could not send armies to conquer Africans or to kidnap them. They had to make their purchases from the local kings and chiefs. The enticement of European goods – especially guns and ammunition – also eventually resulted in kidnapping gangs raiding neighbouring peoples (It must be stressed here that it highly unlikely the African sellers had any notion of the horrific practises of slavery that were practised by Europeans in their colonies, but let’s face it, they must have known they were not benefitting their victims.)


Britain first got involved in 1573 when Sir John Hawkins with the support of Elizabeth I. Britain outmanoeuvred its European rivals and became the premier trader in the slavery business from the seventeenth century onwards, and retained this position till 1807. Britain supplied enslaved African women, men and children to all European colonies in the Americas. The formation of the Royal African Company in 1672 formalised the Slave Trade under a royal charter and gave a monopoly to the port of London. The ports of Bristol and Liverpool, particularly lobbied to have the charter changed and, in 1698, the monopoly was rescinded. The trade became very big business. Bristol grew rich on it, as did Liverpool. London also dealt in slaves as did some of the smaller British ports. Specialised vessels were built in many British shipyards, but the majority were constructed in Liverpool. Laden with goods they navigated to the ‘Slave Coast’, exchanged the goods for human beings, packed them into the vessels in inhumane conditions and sailed them across the Atlantic. On arrival, those who survived were made to look healthy and put to auction. The profits gained from slavery helped finance the Industrial Revolution and the Caribbean islands became the hub of the British Empire. The sugar colonies were Britain’s most valuable colonies. By the end of the eighteenth century, four million pounds came into Britain from its West Indian plantations, compared with one million from the rest of the world. Between 1750 and 1780, about 70% of the government’s total income came from taxes on goods from its colonies. The money made via the Slave Trade was vast and poured into Britain and other European countries involved in slavery, changing their landscapes forever. In Britain, those who had made much of their wealth from the trade built fine mansions, established banks such as the Bank of England and funded new industries. It will be no surprise that those who profited most were those who had the capital to invest in the first place, this meant much of the aristocracy, factory owners, ship builders, bankers, benefited the most, followed by those working within the port areas (Liverpool’s population rose from 5,000 to 78,000 between 1700 to 1800) and those supporting industries (e.g. bottle makers, gun makers) and of course the country as a whole via the taxes raised. [49]


Plantation and mine-owners bought the Africans. In the British colonies the slaves were treated as non-human: they were ‘chattels’, to be worked to death as it was cheaper to purchase another slave than to keep one alive. Though seen as non-human, as many of the enslaved women were raped, clearly at one level they were recognised as at least rapeable human beings. There was no shame attached to rape, torture, or to beating your slaves to death. The enslaved in the British colonies had no legal rights as they were not human – they were not permitted to marry and couples and their children were often sold off separately. The enslavement of Africans was justified in Britain by claiming that they were barbaric savages, without laws or religions, and, according to some ‘observers’ and academics, without even a language; they would acquire civilisation on the plantations. In the 1770s, some Christians in Britain began to question this interpretation of the Bible. They began a campaign to convert the population to their perspective and to influence Parliament by forming anti-slavery associations. Slavery was declared a sin. According to some commentators of William Wilberforce, the main abolitionist spokesperson in Parliament, it was this fear of not going to heaven that impelled him to carry on the abolitionist struggle for over 20 years. An Act making it illegal for Britons to participate in the trade in enslaved Africans was passed by Parliament in March 1807, after some 20 years of campaigning. Precisely why so many people signed petitions and why Parliament voted for the Act is debatable. It is somewhat curious that many of the chief abolitionists were importers of slave-grown produce. A few Britons – including the British Africans – were not content with abolition and campaigned for the emancipation of slaves. This was another long struggle. Among the most forceful were the women abolitionists, who, being denied a voice by the men, formed their own organisations and went door-knocking, asking people to stop using slave-grown products such as sugar and tobacco. The most outspoken was probably Elizabeth Heyrick who believed in immediate emancipation, as opposed to the men who supported gradual freedom. This battle was won when Parliament passed the Emancipation Act in 1833; as the struggle was led by men, it was for gradual emancipation. But protests, often violent in the West Indies, resulted in freedom in 1838. The slave trade continued, unabated, as there was no serious implementation of the acts. It was no more difficult to evade the Acts making it illegal for Britons to hold slaves than it was to circumvent the Abolition Act. In India slavery was not outlawed till 1868.


The act, however, did not free enslaved people immediately; they were to become “apprentices” for 6 years. Compensation of 20 million was to be paid to the planters. Protests finally forced the government to abolish the apprenticeship system on 1st August, 1838. [50] In other British colonies emancipation was not granted until almost 100 years after the 1833 Emancipation Act: Malaya in 1915; Burma in 1926; Sierra Leone in 1927. The final slave emancipation colonial ordinance is dated 1928. Britons owned slave-worked mines and plantations and invested in countries which were dependent on slave labour until the 1880s when slavery was finally abolished in the Americas. In fact, the role of slavery in Britain’s wealth did not diminish. Vast amounts of slave-grown tobacco were imported from the southern states in the USA, and then from Cuba and Brazil. Clearly, it was more important economically to the wealth of the UK. Britain, partly due to its new-found wealth, also needed some African products: this ‘legitimate’ trade, producing coffee, cocoa, gold, some minerals and palm oil, was usually supported by various forms of domestic slavery or serfdom. Naturally the European export firms wanted the cheapest possible product! Once colonial administrations were established, labour was needed to construct roads to improve the transport of these products – this was almost invariably what was euphemistically called ‘contract’ or ‘forced’ labour, i.e., temporary enslavement. Support for slavery was also demonstrated during the American Civil War in the 1860s. Some Britons ignored the declared neutrality of the UK and raised millions of pounds to support the pro-slavery Confederates. Many ships, both merchant and war, were built for them with total impunity, despite the official neutrality, which made supporting either side illegal. [51]



The English had one rule at home and another abroad. They had few qualms in trading in slaves in the Atlantic world when it suited them, but maintained that all men in England were free. In the same year as Hawkins’ final voyage, an English court resolved that England had “too pure an air for slaves to breathe in”.” And it really was true that Africans in England were sometimes free. Diogo, an African who had been taken to England by an English pirate in 1614, later reported to the Portuguese Inquisition that when he laid foot on English soil, “he immediately became free, because in that reign nobody is a slave.” It was not legally possible to be a slave in Tudor and Stuart Britain and the hundreds of black people present in these isles during those centuries were generally not treated as slaves either, but of course, some were. Africans such as Jacques Francis and Edward Swarthye were allowed to testify in court – a privilege denied to slaves in ancient Rome and the American south, as well as to English villains. [52]  But whilst the lives of the free black men and women living in this country 500 years ago tell a far more positive story than is usually told, it is clear that even today Black people in Britain are more likely to face inequality, lower wage jobs and be more at risk than other sections of society. Now rather than just look at this as simply a one way cause and effect (although much of which is grounded in truth) I will also be looking at this in cultural terms in a later chapter, so don’t start thinking I’ve suddenly bought in to the traditional narrative. Whilst the legacy of slavery may echo in to today, do we as a society both benefit and not benefit? Those who are poor still, those who enjoy the opportunities, those who lack them, they are not just white or black people, they are most of us. And those who families were made rich from the Slave Trade, e.g. David Cameron, George Orwell, are they only still taking or do they bring some of their richness to the world. Should we have a revolution and redistribute the wealth, should we ask the Scandanavians, Germans, Italians and North African countries to pay us some compensation and will they in turn ask others to compensate them? If you’re wanting compensation for something done over 100 years ago to ancestors you never met, will you pay some to those your ancestors displaced or murdered, or is it time to forget about such claims for compensation and instead focus on the future, on helping to remove the barriers that exist now, on creating a society where we can work together without recrimination, or, actually do you quite like a bit of recrimination? Maybe at times we all feel a bit like that.  But whether it’s justifiable is debatable.




Very small numbers of Chinese people came to Britain from 1860 onwards, with census records showing that they were a tiny community, even by 1901, there were just 387 Chinese nationals in Britain and in 1911, just 1,219.




There was around 18,496 Americans in Britain at the census of 1881and 16,860 in 1891.






In 1709 German refugees known as ‘Poor Palatines’, fleeing French invasion, began to move to England with perhaps as many as 13,000 arriving. Most of these ‘Palatines’ wanted to travel on to America rather than stay in Britain. Instead, the majority ended up housed in temporary camps on Blackheath and in Camberwell. Queen Anne and her government initially offered help and support to those perceived as Protestant refugees fleeing oppression by Catholic rulers, but soon critics were pointing out that some had come from Protestant-ruled states and others were themselves Catholics (although most of the latter were offered a choice between conversion or repatriation). The refugees were soon arriving in too large numbers for the state to be able to provide for them. Apprehensions were also expressed about the risk the refugees might pose if allowed to remain in Britain. Many were poor and unskilled labourers and it was argued that they would add nothing to the nation’s prosperity but instead reduce work and wages for their British equivalents. A contemporary pamphlet, The Palatines Catechism, set out the debate in an imagined dialogue between an ‘English tradesman’ and a ‘High-Dutchman’. Visiting the refugees’ camp, the ‘High-Dutchman’ admired their ‘Diligence and Industry’ and argued that Christian charity stresses they should be supported to settle in Britain. The Englishman saw only disorder and bizarre habits in the camp and was suspicious of their motives for coming; he declared that, ‘charity ought to begin at home,’ and that Britain should help her own poor before taking in those of other countries. He also feared that, if the Palatines were given assistance, they would repay it by exploiting their benefactors once they were settled. Eventually some 3,000 Palatines were granted the long-awaited passage to America. Other groups were settled in the British Isles, counting over 2,000 sent to Ireland. In the 1709 a new government banned further German immigrants from coming to Britain, and in the following months those that remained in the camps steadily either found their way to new homes in Britain or America, whilst others gave up their hope of a better life in a new country and returned to Germany.[53] [54] So yet again, another example of tradition of welcoming in migrants.


Even so, a substantial population of German immigrants throughout the 19th century eventually numbered around 28,644 in 1861, half of whom resided in London with other significant populations existed in Manchester and Bradford as well as other places. This community remained large until the First World War when unsurprisingly public anti-German feeling became very strong. The Government then enacted a policy of forced internment and repatriation. The German community had reached 53,324, in 1911, but declined to just around 20,000 post WW1.



Eastern Europeans


There has also been a long standing history of Eastern European immigration in to the UK, especially from Poland. Polabian Slavs (Wends) settled in parts of the Danelaw (north-eastern England ruled by the Danes), apparently as Danish allies.[55] Later small numbers of Polish merchants began arriving in England in the sixteenth century, and then during the eighteenth century, a number of Polish Protestants also immigrated to England. After the unsuccessful insurrection against the Russian Empire in 1831, several thousand Polish insurrectionaries moved to London. Pushkin, (I mentioned him earlier, remember?) together with three other poets, published a pamphlet called “On the Taking of Warsaw” to celebrate the crushing of the revolt. His contribution to the frenzy of anti-Polish writing comprised poems in which he saluted the capitulation of Warsaw as a new “triumph” of imperial Russia.[56] Many Poles were killed during this era, so many tried to escape, some ending up in Britain. By the 1901 Census there were 82,844 Eastern Europeans living in Britain. During the Second World War, hundreds of thousands of Poles were stationed in Britain and the Polish resettlement Act of 1947 offered citizenship to 200,000 Polish soldiers who did not wish to return to a Soviet dominated Poland. The 1951 Census subsequently recorded 162,339 Poles living in Britain. After the Second World War quite large numbers of other Eastern Europeans were allowed to settle in Britain many of whom were actively recruited to work in Britain as part of an overseas workers scheme – one of the very few episodes of a ‘guest workers’ scheme in British history.



The Romans from Italy were the first main body of Italians to settle in Britain along with other people from various parts of the Roman Empire. Theodore Mommsen calculated that in the five centuries of Roman presence in the British isles, more than 50,000 Roman soldiers (mainly from The Balkans) moved to live permanently in Roman Britain. Even after the conquest of Britain by the Anglo-Saxons there was a small but steady presence of people from Italy here, mainly consisting of merchants, men of culture and Catholic clerics. From 1250 to 1598 very small numbers of merchants from Lombardy in Italy, and trading associations of German and Baltic towns commonly known as the Hanseatic League came to live in London and gradually replaced Jews as the country’s financiers during this period.[57] The famous “Lombard Street” in London took its name from this small but powerful group. The Napoleonic wars left northern Italy decimated so many farmers were forced to emigrate. A few thousand moved to the British isles in the first half of the nineteenth century. Like other poor immigrants, especially in overcrowded areas of the late-Victorian city, Italian immigrants were sometimes charged with bringing in disease and crime, and in the 1870s the issue of noise from street musicians briefly became a problem. But, generally, the relatively small numbers of Italian migrants combined with their niche employment patterns meant they did not experience the hostility encountered by other migrants of the time, including Jewish people and those from Ireland. [58]


As their numbers increased, rivalry grew stronger, so many moved to the north of England, Wales and Scotland. However there still wasn’t many in the northern cities. The Italian Consul General in Liverpool, in 1891, was quoted as saying that the majority of the 80-100 Italians in the city were organ grinders and sellers of ice-cream and plaster statues. 500-600 Italians in Manchester comprised mainly of Terrazzo specialists, plasterers and modellers working on the prestigious, new town hall. In Sheffield 100-150 Italians made cutlery whilst of the 1000 or so Italians in Wales at the end of the 19th century they tended to work either as seamen, or in jobs that serviced shipping, or in the coal mines. In 1861 there were just over 100 Italians in Scotland, the majority were in Glasgow. By 1901 the Italian population had grown to 4051. By this time the Italian communities were becoming more well to do and the Italian community in Scotland was  pretty much all engaged in small food shops, selling ice cream or fish and chips.” By the time WWI started, there were nearly 20,000 Italians in the United Kingdom.[59] [60]  Things were going quite well for the Italians, that was, of course, until Italy declared war on Britain in 1940. After which Italians were declared alien enemies and with Churchill’s instruction to imprison almost every Italian male of fighting age there was panic and an amount of hatred bestowed upon them. Some Italians had their shops vandalised by angry crowds and some were imprisoned whilst others were deported. Thousands of men were separated from their wives and were confined on the Isle of Man. However, after the war things settled down again. As for those in the catering trade, at first they rarely went in for fancy Mediterranean cuisine, in fact many adapted their style to British tastes, instead mainly serving pork pies, fish and chips and beans on toast but as time passed some transformed into the typical British Italian restaurants serving up pasta and Chianti, followed by tiramisu. More and more Italian restaurants and shops opened after the war and became a regular feature of British towns all over the UK. Italian pizza became very popular too. Pizza Express was started in 1965, Pizzaland in the 1970s and Pizza Hut from USA in 1973.


The seventies were a real boom time for Italian restaurants and by 1998 there were some 5,000 Italian restaurants in Britain, 2,900 of which were pasta or pizza establishments with an annual turnover approaching £1 billion. Gradually the quality of the food improved with the use of fresh produce and the finest Italian ingredients and finally the Italian craze swept London and other large British towns. The region of the country containing the most Italian Britons is London, where over 50,000 people of Italian origin live, followed by Manchester, Bedford, and Glasgow. Along with Italian culture came the Italian’s own brand of organised crime, the ice-cream wars were, excuse the pun, just the tip of the cornetto. But needless to say, this is somewhat of an apt illustration of the pros and cons of immigration.







Commonwealth Migration

Negligible quantities of people born in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa also migrated to Britain but hese people were often themselves the descendants of British immigrants in the first place.







Census data shows that the foreign-born population grew gradually between 1851 and 1931. Although it increased from 100,000 to 700,000, the general population of the country also saw a large increase, more than doubling from 18 million to 40 million. Therefore the percentage of the population that was foreign born increased from 0.5% in 1851 to just 1.75% in 1931. This underscores the point that, pre-WW2, immigration levels were very low.


Here’s a list of the major waves of immigration and their proportional size to the main population


Romans 50,000 3%

Anglo Saxons  up to 20% of the population in certain areas of England

4-8% but hardly any DNA

Normans – negligible

Scots and Irish are of the same pot mainly

Flemish 60,000 1.5%

Gypsies negligible

Huguenots 1%

Jews Negligible

Russian Jews 10k in 1800

120k by 1914

Indians by 1900 75000 in 38 million population, about 0.2%

Africans 30,000 max 0.2%

Chinese negligible

Americans 0.1%

Germans  0.15%

Polish 0.2% by 1901 and 0.5% by 1947

Italians 0.5% by 1915

On average the foreign born population rarely ever topped more than 4% throughout history, often under 1%.



In the next section, I’ll be looking at immigration from WW2 to the present day, but as you can see from this long chapter the waves of immigration pre WW2 were so small as to be almost insignificant in terms of numbers, ranging from 2-6%, except of course when it came to being invaded by the Anglo-Saxons. In terms of changing the gene pool of the British the inflows, including invasions, made hardly any difference either, except when it came to the Anglo-Saxons, of course. Culturally and economically there were very significant changes due even to this low level amount of immigration, some for the better, some not. We also saw that reaction to immigration was very rarely tolerant, in fact, quite the opposite. So, given that for the last few thousand years  pre WW2 we have hardly seen any significant immigration nor have we been tolerant it seems safe to say that anyone who proposes the opposite is either mistaken or is speaking with an agenda, probably one to justify further mass immigration. Over the next few chapters we will be looking at when and why mass immigration has taken place, its positive and negative effects on society, the issues surrounding nationalism and where to go next.

[1] In 2007 Bryan Sykes produced an analysis of 6,000 samples from the OGAP project in his book Blood of the Isles. Later, Stephen Oppenheimer in his 2006 book The Origins of the British used the data from Weale et al. (2002)Capelli et al. (2003) and Rosser et al. (2000) for Europe. In opposition to Mesolithic origin theories, Sykes and Oppenheimer argued for significant immigration from the Iberian Peninsula into Britain and Ireland. Much of this argument depended on paternal Y chromosome DNA evidence. By 2010 several major Y DNA studies presented more complete data, showing that nearly all of the Y DNA subclades in Britain arrived very recently through Celtic and Germanic migrations from Central and Northern Europe during the Bronze Age, with most of the Mesolithic ancestry (I-M253) arriving from Scandinavia.


[2] In 2012, from a highly enlarged whole-genome mitochondrial database published, the authors concluded that the most archaic maternal mtDNA lineages in Europe came from a Middle Eastern migration into Europe during the Late Glacial period, ~19–12 thousand years ago and not as late as the Neolithic as was previously proposed. They argued that this population came from a contracted European population refugium on the Anatolian Plateau which spread to three refugia, Franco-Cantabria, the Italian Peninsula and the East European Plain. From these three areas the lineages would then have repopulated Europe.



[3] Another subject in the literature which has been widely discussed is whether genetics can show signs of Germanic invasions particularly in England. In a widely cited article through DNA testing, Weale et al. (2002) argued that the Y DNA data showed signs of a racial “apartheid” in Anglo-Saxon England. The signatures of Germanic influx to England is now widely accepted and has been shown in other studies, such as Capelli et al. (2003). The Capelli study, with higher sample numbers, gave much lower frequencies of “Germanic” genetic markers in England than did Weale. They describe such markers as typically ranging between 20% and 40%, with York forming an outlier at 60%. Most of Scotland showed a very similar genetic composition to England. North German/Danish genetic frequencies were indistinguishable, thus precluding any ability to distinguish between the genetic influence of the Anglo-Saxon source populations and the later, and better documented, influx of Danish Vikings.


[4] The North Wales town of Abergele has a very high percentage of haplogroup E1b1b1 (33%), which is thought to have dispersed around Europe from the Balkans.


























































[32] Between the 14th and 15th centuries, Bantu states began to emerge in the Great Lakes region in the savanna south of the Central African rain-forest. In Southern Africa on the Zambezi river, the Monomatapa kings built the famous Great Zimbabwe complex, the largest of over 200 such sites in Southern Africa, such as Bumbusi in Zimbabwe and Manyikeni in Mozambique. From the 16th century onward, the processes of state formation among Bantu peoples increased in frequency. Some examples of such Bantu states include: in Central Africa, the Kingdom of Kongo, Lunda Empire, and Luba Empire[23] of Angola, the Republic of Congo, and the Democratic Republic of Congo; in the Great Lakes Region, the Buganda and Karagwe Kingdoms of Uganda and Tanzania; and in Southern Africa, the Mutapa Empire, Rozwi Empire, and the DanamombeKhami, and Naletale Kingdoms of Zimbabwe and Mozambique.











[37] G.M. Trevelyan, History of England (1912)








[41] “A man married a maid-slave who bore him a child. Would that child be free or would he be an owned slave?” “Her child whom she bore from him would be the property of her master according to all the Imams (heads of the four Islamic schools of law) because the child follows the (status) of his mother in freedom or slavery. If the child is not of the race of Arabs, then he is definitely an owned slave according to the scholars, but the scholars disputed (his status) among themselves if he was from the Arabs – whether he must be enslaved or not because when A’isha (Muhammad’s wife) had a maid-slave who was an Arab, Muhammad said to A’isha, `Set this maid free because she is from the children of Ishmael.'”

Ibn Timiyya, Vol. 31, pp. 376-377


[42] The fact that Allah Most High has chosen the Arabs over other nations is affirmed in rigorously authenticated hadiths of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and give him peace; related by Bukhari and Muslim in their “Sahih” in the beginning of the chapter of merits, # 5897, on the authority of Wathilah ibn al-Asqa` who said, “I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, ‘Verily Allah has chosen Kinanah from the son of Isma`il, and He has chosen Quraysh from among Kinanah and He has chosen Hashim from among Quraysh and He has chosen me from the Bani Hashim.’”










































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