A Brief History of British Racism ; SUNDAY REVIEW

Article excerpt


British kingdoms of Northumbria, Mercia and Wessex fight each other and Vikings (right).


After the battle of Hastings, William the Conqueror ensures Norman control of all levels of government and invites Jews to settle in England

to help develop trade, finance and commerce.


Clergymen and chronicler Gerald of Wales writes Topographia Hibernica in which he derides the barbarism of the Irish people, writing: "They live like beasts."


Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, forces all Jews to wear a badge of white material. Mass persecution follows.


Edward I (left) banishes all Jews, and for 300 years none officially live in the country.


Britain's first slave trader, John Hawkins, captures and sells 300 West African men to planters in Haiti. His lucrative business wins him the patronage of Elizabeth I.


The Earl of Essex leads a colonial expedition to Ulster and massacres the entire population of Rathlin Island, some 600 people in total.


Queen Elizabeth I (below) issues a proclamation to deport all " Blackmoores".


Oliver Cromwell's army invades Ireland, wiping out the entire garrison and townspeople of Drogheda. He later says: "I do not think 30 of the number escaped with their lives. Those that did are in safe custody for the Barbados."


Charles II contracts "The Company of Royal Adventurers" to supply the West Indies with 3,000 slaves annually. It is run by his brother, later James II.


Cromwell embarks upon his policy of " To Hell or Connaught", driving Irish landowners off their land. Those found east of the River Shannon after May face slavery or death.


Cromwell seizes Jamaica from Spain, making the island Britain's West Indian base for the slave trade.


The Act to Regulate Negroes on British Plantations is passed. Punishments include " branding on the face with a hot iron". There is no punishment for mistakenly whipping a slave to death.


The English African Company ships 60,000 slaves (right) from Africa. Only 46,000 survive.


Parliament allows private English merchants to join the slave trade.


The Great Irish Rebellion erupts.

Many rebels are subsequently executed, or shipped to penal colonies in Australia. There is a 37 per cent death rate among the political exiles.


Slavery is abolished in the British Empire. The government pays slave owners compensation of [pound]22m; slaves get nothing.


The Irish Potato Famine (right) kills about 500,000 people. The government in Britain does little to help.


Britain's first non-white MP, Indian Dadabhai Naoroji is elected to the House of Commons.


The Aliens Act is passed to restrict the migration of particular "undesirable" groups and to keep "Britain for the British". It is aimed at Russian and Polish Jews fleeing persecution.


Anti-black riots take place in Liverpool. Black seaman Charles Wootton is chased by a mob of 200 and killed.


Parliament introduces the Aliens Order to regulate the arrival of Jews fleeing Nazi Germany.


The Special Restrictions (Coloured Alien Seaman) Order is passed to prohibit black British sailors from working on British ships, following a slump in the shipping industry.


The Battle of Cable Street takes place in the East End of London between the British Union of Fascists and a collection of Jewish, socialist and Irish groups, who halt Oswald Mosley's Blackshirts (left). …