English diaspora

From Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

English diaspora
Total population
c. 100 million worldwide
Regions with significant populations
 England 37.6 million
(67.1% identified with English identity)[1]
Significant English diaspora in
 United States25.9M[2]
 New Zealand44,202–281,895[5]
Christianity: Predominately Protestantism (Anglicanism • Methodism • Baptists • Congregationalism • Other Protestants) • Mormonism • Roman Catholicism • Irreligious.

The English diaspora consists of English people and their descendants who emigrated from England. The diaspora is concentrated in the English-speaking world in countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Scotland, Ireland, Wales and to a lesser extent, South Africa, South America (most notably in Argentina and Chile), and continental Europe.

Origins of the diaspora[edit]

The first organised large-scale English diaspora began when English Catholics exiled themselves from Henry VIII's religious policies to Habsburg lands, especially the nearest Catholic intellectual centre, the University of Louvain (in present-day Belgium) which was by the late 1540s a bastion of ultra-orthodoxy. This was redoubled by a further wave of emigration under Edward VI's more radically Protestant regime.[6]

Age of Discovery[edit]

After the Age of Discovery the native peoples of England were among the earliest and by far the largest communities to emigrate out of Europe, and the British Empire's expansion during the first half of the 19th century saw an extraordinary dispersion of English people, with particular concentrations in North America and Australasia.[7]

The British Empire was "built on waves of migration overseas by British peoples",[8] who left Great Britain, later the United Kingdom, and reached across the globe and permanently affected population structures in three continents.[7] As a result of the British colonisation of the Americas, what became the United States was "easily the greatest single destination of emigrant British", but in the Federation of Australia the British ethnic groups experienced a birth rate higher than anything seen before, resulting in them becoming one of the dominant ethnic groups in Australia.[7]



English settlers arrived in Buenos Aires in 1806 (then a Spanish colony) in small numbers, mostly as businessmen, when Argentina was an emerging nation and the settlers were welcomed for the stability they brought to commercial life. As the 19th century progressed more English families arrived, and many bought land to develop the potential of the Argentine pampas for the large-scale growing of crops. The English founded banks, developed the export trade in crops and animal products and imported the luxuries that the growing Argentine middle classes sought.[9]

As well as those who went to Argentina as industrialists and major landowners, others went as railway engineers, civil engineers and to work in banking and commerce.[10] Others went to become whalers, missionaries and simply to seek out a future. English families sent second and younger sons, or what were described as the black sheep of the family, to Argentina to make their fortunes in cattle and wheat. English settlers introduced football to Argentina.[11] Some English families owned sugar plantations.[10]

English culture, or a version of it as perceived from outside, had a noted effect on the culture of Argentina, mainly in the middle classes. In 1888 local Anglo-Argentines established the Hurlingham Club, based on its namesake in London. The city of Hurlingham, Buenos Aires and Hurlingham Partido in Buenos Aires Province later grew up around the club and took their names from it. The Córdoba Athletic Club, one of the oldest sports clubs in Argentina, was founded in 1882 by Englishmen that lived in Córdoba working in the railways.

There are about 800,000 people of English descent in Argentina.[12]


In the Canada 2016 Census, 'English' was the most common ethnic origin (ethnic origin refers to the ethnic or cultural group(s) to which the respondent's ancestors belong[13]) recorded by respondents; 6,320,085 people or 18.3% of the population self-identified themselves as wholly or partly English.[14][15] On the other hand, people identifying as Canadian but not English may have previously identified as English before the option of identifying as Canadian was available.[16]


Chileans of English ancestry are estimated to number 700,000 [17] (4% of the national population).

Since the Port of Valparaíso opened its coasts to free trade in 1811, the English began to congregate in Valparaíso. The first to arrive brought with them tools, articles of china, wool and cotton, with instructions to return with copper and hemp. This was the first exchange of what would become a deep-rooted commercial relationship between the UK and Chile.

In the Valparaíso they constructed their largest and most important colony, bringing with them neighborhoods of English character, schools, social, sports clubs, business organizations and periodicals. This influence is apparent in unique areas of Chilean society today, such as the bank and the national marina, as well as in certain social activities popular in the country, such as football, horse racing, and drinking tea.

The English eventually numbered more than 32,000 during the port of Valparaíso's boom period during the saltpeter bonanza at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries.[18] The British colonial influence is important to understanding the boom and bust of the port of Valparaíso.

The English colony was also important in the northern zone of the country during the saltpeter boom, in the ports of Iquique and Pisagua. The King of Saltpeter, John Thomas North, was the principal backer of nitrate mining. The English legacy was reflected in the streets of the historic district of the city of Iquique, with the foundation of various institutions, such as the Club Hípico (Racing Club). Nevertheless, said presence came to an end with the saltpeter crisis during the 1930s.

An important contingent of English immigrants also settled in the present-day region of Magallanes. In the same way, they established English families in other areas of the country, such as Santiago, Coquimbo, the Araucanía, and Chiloé.


English people along the Caribbean Coast, or Miskito Coast, of Nicaragua began in 1633. The area was controlled by Britain until 1860, and eventually integrated into Nicaragua by 1894. The Miskito Coast region divided into two autonomous regions within Nicaragua after 1987. The first English settlers of the Miskito Coast arrived in 1633, exchanging products through primitive trade with the Miskitos. The English exchanged manufactured goods such as guns, machetes, beds, mirrors etc., in exchange for cocoa, animal skins, sarsaparilla, rubber, wood, and turtle shells. The formation of an English colony in the region led Spain to protest, but England managed to create a colony on the Caribbean Coast. This colony had two different, but complementary, production methods; one a capitalist basis and the other communal.


The English people in Paraguay mostly arrived during the colonial period as investors and industrialists. They were noted throughout the Southern cone region of Paraguay as being skilled farmers, investors, and bankers and as having created many of the regions railways and settled vast tracts of land.

In the modern day however it is assumed most have become a part of the wider Paraguayan ethnicity, although there are still some in Paraguay who identify as "English". The English indirectly and probably inadvertently played a major part in Paraguay's continual existence, because the British Empire had invested heavily throughout South America, including Paraguay.

United States[edit]

English diaspora in the U.S. 1700-2013
Year Population Percent Ref(s)
1700^ 200,710 80.0% [19][20]
1755^ - 52.0% [19]
1775 - 48.7% [21]
1790 1,897,810 48.3% [22][23]
1980 49,598,035 26.34% [24]
1990 32,651,788 13.1% [25]
2000 24,515,138 8.7% [26]
2010 (ACS) 25,927,345 8.4% [27]
2013 (ACS) 27,657,961 7.6% [27]
Source: Census. ^incl. English and Welsh

English Immigration began in the 1500s. Sir Walter Raleigh led expeditions to North America in order to found new settlements and find gold and named Virginia in honor of Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen. In 1585 Sir Walter Raleigh sent several shiploads of colonists to the 'New World', who settled on Roanoke Island. It was here that Eleanor White Dare gave birth to a daughter, Virginia Dare, the first child born of English parents in America. The first immigrants mysteriously disappeared and Roanoke was given the nickname of "the Lost Colony".

English settlement in America recommenced with Jamestown in the Virginia Colony in 1607. With the permission of James I, three ships (the Susan Constant, The Discovery and The God Speed) sailed from England and landed at Cape Henry in April, under the captainship of Christopher Newport,[28] who had been hired by the London Company to lead expeditions to what is now America.[29] In 1630 another religious group left England in search of religious freedom. This group was called the Puritans who represented the next wave of English Immigration to America. The 'Great Migration' between 1620 and 1640 to America led to the establishment of the first 13 Colonies. It is estimated that over 50,000 undertook the 3,000-mile (5,000-kilometre) journey to America during the Great Migration.

The overwhelming majority of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America were of English extraction, including Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Adams, James Madison[30] and Thomas Jefferson.

The table shows the ethnic English population in the United States from 1700 to 2013. In 1700 the total population of the American colonies was 250,888 of which 223,071 (89%) were white and 80% were ethnically English and Welsh.[19][20]

In the 2013 American Community Survey, English Americans were (7.7%) of the total United States population behind the German Americans at (14.6%) and Irish Americans at (10.5%).[31]

George Washington is highlighted as being the "father of his country"[32][33]
Benjamin Franklin had English roots on both sides.

However, demographers regard this as a serious undercount, as the index of inconsistency is high and many, if not most, people from English stock have a tendency (since the introduction of a new 'American' category in the 2000 census) to identify as simply Americans[34][35][36][37] or if of mixed European ancestry, identify with a more recent and differentiated ethnic group.[38] In the 1980 United States Census, over 49 million (49,598,035) Americans claimed English ancestry, at the time around 26.34% of the total population and largest reported group which, even today, would make them the largest ethnic group in the United States.[39] Six out of the ten most common surnames in the United States are of English origin, the other four are of Welsh and Spanish origin.[40] Scots-Irish Americans are descendants of Lowland Scots and Northern English (specifically: County Durham, Cumberland, Northumberland and Westmorland) settlers who colonised Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster in the 17th century.

Americans of English heritage are often seen, and identify, as simply "American" due to the many historic cultural ties between England and the U.S. and their influence on the country's population. Relative to ethnic groups of other European origins, this may be due to the early establishment of English settlements; as well as to non-English groups having emigrated in order to establish significant communities.[41]


Self-identified English ancestry
Year Population
Percent % change Ref(s)
1986 6,607,228 42.3% Steady [42]
2001 6,358,880 33.9% Decrease [43][44]
2006 6,283,647 31.6% Decrease [45]
2011 7,238,533 33.7% Increase +15.2% [46][47]
2016 7,852,224 36.1% Increase [48]
Australian Census 2011 show English ancestry responses.


Australia's biggest city Sydney was founded by the British government as a penal colony. Visitors described the English character of Sydney for at least the first 50 years after 1788, noting the traditional English appearance of the churches overlooking the convict barracks. First-generation Sydney residents, other than the disappearing Aborigines, were predominantly English. 160,000 convicts came to Australia between 1788 and 1850.[49] Between 1788 and 1840, 80,000 English convicts were transported to New South Wales, with the greatest numbers coming between 1825 and 1835. The New South Wales Census of 1846 accounted for 57,349 born in England.

From the beginning of the colonial era until the mid-20th century, the vast majority of settlers to Australia were from the British Isles, with the English being the dominant group, followed by the Irish and Scottish. Among the leading ancestries, increases in Australian, Irish, and German ancestries and decreases in English, Scottish, and Welsh ancestries appear to reflect such shifts in perception or reporting. These reporting shifts at least partly resulted from changes in the design of the census question, in particular the introduction of a tick box format in 2001.[50]

Until 1859, 2.2 million (73%) of the free settlers who immigrated were British.[51]

Australians of English descent, are both the single largest ethnic group in Australia and the largest 'ancestry' identity in the Australian census.[3] In the 2016 census, 7.8 million or 25.0% of respondents identified as "English" or a combination including English, a numerical increase from 7.2 million over the 2011 census figure. The census also documented 907,572 residents or 3.9% of Australia as being born in England, and are the largest overseas-born population.[52]

English migrants and English Australians were by far the single most influential ethnic group in colonial Australia.[53] The founding of Australia by English people is still evident in place names, buildings and street layouts, and that 80 percent of the population speak English as their mother tongue and the low church hegemony in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, the biggest in the country.

New Zealand[edit]

New Zealand's foundational culture was English, given the strong representation in the mid and late-nineteenth century with the English being the largest in migration inflows.[54] A 19th-century English company the "New Zealand Company" played a key role in the colonisation of New Zealand. The company was formed to carry out the principles of systematic colonisation devised by Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who envisaged the creation of a new-model English society in the southern hemisphere.[55]

Year English-born
% of local
1851 13,485 50.5% [56]
1861 36,128 36.5% [57][58]
1871 67,044 26.1% [59][60]
1881 119,224 24.33% [61][62]
1901 111,964 14.50% [63]
1911 133,811 13.28% [64]
1916 140,997 12.84% [65]
1961 154,869 - [66]
2001 178,203 - [67]
2006 202,401 - [68]
2013 215,589 5.1% [69]

From 1840 the English comprised the largest single group among New Zealand’s overseas-born, consistently being over 50 percent, sometimes 60 percent of those who were born in the United Kingdom and Ireland.[70] Despite their prominence as migrants, at no point after the early 1850s did the English-born constitute a majority of the colonial population. In the 1851 Census 50.5% of the total population were born in England, this proportion fell to 36.5% (1861) and 24.3% by 1881.[71] In the most recent Census in 2013, there were 215,589 English-born representing 21.5% of all overseas-born residents or 5 percent of the total population and is still the most-common birthplace outside New Zealand.[72]

James Cook claimed New Zealand for Britain on his arrival in 1769. The establishment of British colonies in Australia from 1788 and the boom in whaling and sealing in the Southern Ocean brought many Europeans to the vicinity of New Zealand. By 1830 there was a population of about 800 non Māori which included a total of about 200 runaway convicts and seamen. The seamen often lived in New Zealand for a short time before joining another ship a few months later. In 1839 there were 1100 Europeans living in the North Island. The Canterbury Association was founded in London on 27 March 1848 and incorporated by Royal Charter on 13 November 1849. They recruited settlers from the south of England, creating a definite English influence over that region.[73] In the 1860s most migrants settled in the South Island due to gold discoveries and the availability of flat grass covered land for pastoral farming.



Plantations in 16th- and 17th-century Ireland were the confiscation of land by the English crown and the colonisation of this land with settlers from England (particularly the Border Counties) and the Scottish Lowlands. They followed smaller-scale immigration to Ireland as far back as the 12th century, which had resulted in a distinct ethnicity in Ireland known as the Old English.

The 16th-century plantations were established throughout the country by the confiscation of lands occupied by Gaelic clans and Hiberno-Norman dynasties, but principally in the provinces of Munster and Ulster. The Crown granted these lands to colonists ("planters") from England. This process began during the reign of Henry VIII and continued under Mary I and Elizabeth I. It was accelerated under James I, Charles I and Oliver Cromwell; in their time, land was also granted to Scottish planters.

The early plantations in the 16th century tended to be based on small "exemplary" colonies. The later plantations were based on mass confiscations of land from Irish landowners and the subsequent importation of numerous settlers and labourers from England and Wales, and later from Scotland. The final official plantations were established under the English Commonwealth and Cromwell's Protectorate during the 1650s, when thousands of Parliamentarian soldiers were settled in Ireland. Apart from the plantations, significant immigration into Ireland continued well into the 18th century, from both Great Britain and continental Europe. The plantations changed the demography of Ireland by creating large communities with a British and Protestant identity.


South Africa[edit]

Some English groups emigrated to South Africa in early-18th century, but English emigrants emigrated more since British Empire get Cape of Good Hope from the Dutch Republic in 1795.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The 2011 England and Wales census reports that in England and Wales 32.4 million White British people associated themselves with an English identity alone and 37.6 million identified themselves with an English identity either on its own or mixed with other identities, being 57.7% and 67.1% respectively of the population of England and Wales.
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  5. ^ (Ethnic origin) The 2006 New Zealand census Archived 19 February 2008 at the Wayback Machine reports 44,202 people (based on pre-assigned ethnic categories) stating they belong to the English ethnic group. The 1996 census used a different question Archived 2008-02-19 at the Wayback Machine to both the 1991 and the 2001 censuses, which had "a tendency for respondents to answer the 1996 question on the basis of ancestry (or descent) rather than 'ethnicity' (or cultural affiliation)" and reported 281,895 people with English origins; See also the figures for 'New Zealand European'.
  6. ^ Locating the English Diaspora, 1500-2010 By Tanja Bueltmann, David T. Gleeson, Donald M. MacRaild (Page 18)
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