Ethnicity, Law, and Human Rights: The English Experience

By Sebastian Poulter | Go to book overview

1
Introduction

PATTERNS OF IMMIGRATION

People have been coming to settle in Britain for centuries. They have come from near and far, individually and in groups, fleeing from political or religious persecution and in search of economic advancement. 1 Among the many groups of immigrants who entered this country between 1400 and 1900 mention may be made of the arrival of wandering bands of gypsies during the fifteenth century, 2 the importation of African slaves and servants from the sixteenth century onwards, 3 the influx of Huguenot refugees from France during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, 4 and the re-admission of Jews in the middle of the seventeenth century for the first time since the banishment imposed upon them by Edward I in 1290. 5

Around the turn of the twentieth century many Jews fled to Britain from pogroms in Eastern Europe 6 and others followed later, their numbers being swelled during the 1930s by those who escaped from Nazi persecution in Germany. Immediately after the 1939-45 War a large number of political refugees and exiles from Eastern Europe settled here. They were followed from 1948 onwards by economic migrants from the colonies and the New Commonwealth. 7 To begin with they came principally from Jamaica and other islands in the Caribbean, but there were also smaller contingents from the Indian subcontinent, Cyprus, Malta, and Hong Kong (amongst others). Just

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1
For excellent synopses, see Kiernan, V., 'Britons Old and New' in Holmes, C. (ed.), Immigrants and Minorities in British Society (London, 1978), ch 2; Patterson, S., 'Immigrants and Minority Groups in British Society' in Abbott, S. (ed.), The Prevention of Racial Discrimination in Britain (London, 1971), 41-53.
2
See Okely, J., The Traveller-Gypsies (Cambridge, 1983), 3.
3
See generally, Walvin, J., Black and White: The Negro and English Society 1555-1945 (London, 1973); Shyllon, F., Black People in Britain 1555-1833 (London, 1977). Much earlier, Africans had served as soldiers during the Roman occupation of Britain, notably in one of the legions that was stationed at Hadrian's Wall; see Fryer, P., Staying Power: The History of Black People in Britain (London, 1984), 1-2.
4
See Gwynn, R., Huguenot Heritage (London, 1985).
5
See e.g. Hyamson, A., A History of the Jews in England (London, 1908); Roth, C., A History of the Jews in England (Oxford, 1941).
6
For immigration in the more modem period, see generally, Holmes, C., John Bull's Island: Immigration and British Society, 1871-1971 (Basingstoke, 1988).
7
See generally, Rose, E., Colour and Citizenship (London, 1969), Part II.

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