A Nation of Immigrants?: A Brief Demographic History of by David Conway

By David Conway

Examines the historical past of immigration to Britain, and notes that the small numbers fascinated by the prior allowed for the neighborhood tradition to succeed. present tendencies of enormous scale immigration may perhaps switch that.

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Extra resources for A Nation of Immigrants?: A Brief Demographic History of Britain (CS58)

Sample text

This attempt to regularise the settlement of the Jews in England was always destined to fail, since the opportunities for work in England offered to them remained hide‐bound and severely restricted. By the time it became clear to Edward that his attempt at regularising their settlement in England had failed, the Jews there had become so impoverished as to be of little further use to the Exchequer. Accordingly, in 1290, they were summarily ordered to leave the country.  By the time the Jews were forced to leave England, its economy had become so thoroughly commercialised it could not possibly have survived without a fresh supply of moneylenders to fill the financial vacuum created by their departure.

What occasioned it was the need of the immigrants who composed it to flee their homelands to escape persecution for their religious convictions. It may have been Henry VIII who initiated the Reformation in England, but it was his daughter Elizabeth who consolidated that break from Rome.  To remain Protestant, the country had to undergo a bitter civil war, regicide and a further bloodless Revolution at the end of the seventeenth century. Neither Henry nor Elizabeth remotely qualify for being considered tolerant in matters of religion.

So, in a sense, those Irish who settled in Britain then may not rightly be thought of as having been foreign immigrants, nor their descendants, therefore, thought of as descendants of immigrants to Britain.  Nevertheless, for present purposes, the Irish who then settled in Britain will be treated as immigrants to Britain and their descendants who remained there considered as descendants of immigrants to Britain. This is because they certainly considered themselves of distinct nationality from the British, and the British reciprocated those feelings in full.

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