GENEALOGY-DNA-L ArchivesArchiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2006-05 > 1148090319
From: "James V. Elliott" <>
Subject: Bloody Foreigners: The History Of Immigration To Britain
Date: Fri, 19 May 2006 21:59:15 -0400
I've read an interesting book lately that summarizes the story of immigration to Britain from ancient times right up to the present day. The first few chapters review the usual suspects in the founding of early Britain - Celts, Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Romans, etc. And the last several chapters discuss immigration to Britain since the nineteenth century. The book is well-written and interesting overall, but the parts that I found most valuable discuss immigration to Britain after the Normans, and prior to the Industrial Revolution - say, between 1150 and 1750 A.D. Many people assume there was little to no immigration during this period, but they are wrong. These immigrants also arrived early enough such that most of their descendants would have been thoroughly Anglicized before they emigrated to America and elsewhere, and therefore the memory of their ancestry might have been muted if not entirely lost.
Late medieval England drew immigrants to its shores for different reasons at different times. There was a wave of immigration in the late 14th century in the wake of The Black Death, when labor shortages were endemic. Once of the uglier aspects of Wat Tyler's "Peasants' Rebellion" of 1381 was a rampant xenophobia that caused native Englishmen to assault anyone who spoke with a foreign accent. When the English economy started to boom during the Elizabethan period, it drew artists and entrepreneurs as well as laborers. Immigration only increased during The Reformation, when England became an asylum for Protestant dissidents from all over Europe. The immigrants of this period included many nationalities, but the most populous seem to have been Flemish, Dutch, Germans and Huguenots. At one point, according to the book, 1 percent of the population consisted of recent Flemish immigrants. The input of more or less Teutonic immigrants alone during this period was enough to ma!
ke one rethink the actual sources of I and Frisian R1b in England. Clearly, it didn't all come from Angles, Saxons and Danes. And there were also Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese Jews, Gypsies and many others. This book documents it all through vivid anecdotes, chronicling the lives of individual immigrants and their families.
Both of my American born great-grandparents had English names of late medieval Flemish origin, so I have always been curious about immigrants to England during this period. I highly recommend the book as an introduction to this subject. It also provides a seven page bibliography of books and monographs for those who wish to explore specific areas in depth.
The book was published in 2004 and is entitled "Bloody Foreigners: The History of Immigration to Britain" by Robert Winder. I ended up inadvertently ordering it in hardcover, but it is available in paperback from online bookshops in the UK, such as the one at this link:
Some caveats about the first few chapters though. Many of you have read quite a lot about the various groups in early Britain, so you won't learn anything new here - you may even spot a few misconceptions and inaccuracies. It is the subsequent chapters that have the freshest information.
|Bloody Foreigners: The History Of Immigration To Britain by "James V. Elliott" <>|