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British Migration - Main Page

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British Migration - Main Page

The object of this project is to provide an index to the numerous projects dealing with this subject and also to give an overview of migration to and from Britain. The aim is also to provide links to resources and further reading available to researchers; contributions are very welcome! Please add projects to the relevant Sections and help researchers by adding links to useful webpages and resources.

Individual profiles can be linked to the People Connected to ... of individual Counties - Counties of England, United Kingdom

The page is arranged into two sub-sections: Immigration into Britain, with sub-divisions of origins and Emigration from Britain with sub-divisions for destinations. These are followed by a Timeline of significant events which influenced both immigration and emigration.


Bold Links are to GENi projects. Links to external web pages are not. It will help if we keep this consistent!

Immigration into Britain

There have been migrants to Britain for more than two thousand years. They helped to create the foundations of the country we know today.

Immigrants have influenced every aspect of life in Britain from clothes, food and language, to religion and politics. As early as the 1st century AD the Roman army built Britain's road system.

In the 16th century French Protestants (Huguenots) brought with them skills in silk weaving and the making of clocks and guns. Irish labourers worked on the construction of new roads, canals and railways in the 18th and 19th centuries. Jewish and Irish tailors in the 19th century, and immigrants from Cyprus, Pakistan and Bangladesh in the 20th century, have made tailored and ready to wear clothes.

Curry and Chow Mein, Italian ice cream, smoked salmon and fried fish were introduced by people from overseas. 'English' is based on the languages spoken by Anglo-Saxons, Scandinavian Vikings and Norman French invaders, with words added from the languages of other immigrants.

Immigrants brought new musical sounds such as reggae and calypso. amongst them are sporting heroes and founders of many well-known businesses. Health and transport services continue to be supported by nurses, doctors and managers from overseas. In towns and cities there are not only churches but synagogues, mosques, Hindu, Sikh and Buddhist temples.

People who settle in Britain are often known as immigrants, refugees, sojourners (people that stay temporarily) and, more recently, asylum seekers and illegal migrants. Some settle permanently, some stay for just a short while and then move on. Others return to their roots. Immigration has continued largely because of Britain's appeal as a place of security and opportunity.


Not all who moved to Britain came because they wanted to leave their home. Some came because their lives and livelihoods, and those of their families, were at risk. Sometimes this was because of war, religious persecution, political discrimination and natural disasters. These people sought refuge and are known as refugees, coming from the word 'refugie' which the Huguenots called themselves when they arrived in the 16th century.

Revolutions in France and other parts of Europe during the 18th and 19th centuries led to the arrival of other refugees. These included French aristocrats as well as German, Italian and Austrian socialists and communists, amongst them Karl Marx. Towards the end of the 19th century and at the beginning of the 20th century many Russian revolutionaries and anarchists spent in Britain. Some made it their permanent home but others like Lenin, Stalin and Trotsky returned.

In the first year of the 1st World War many thousands of Belgians took refuge in Britain, although most did not stay. Small numbers of Russians, escaping the 1917 Revolution and civil war, established a tight-knit community in London. In the interwar years there was the temporary arrival of thousands of Basque children evacuated from the Spanish Civil War, and Jews fleeing Nazism. This included nearly 10,000 children on the kindertransport.

The flow of refugees has been continuous since the end of the Second World War. Many of those who arrived in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s became permanent communities. Those displaced by the conflict of the war were followed by Chinese leaving Mao Tse Tung's communist regime, refugees from the Hungarian Revolution of 1956, Jews escaping the Middle East, Kenyan and Ugandan Asians and Vietnamese Boat People. More recently still there have been refugees from the former Yugoslavia and Rumania, from Afghanistan, West Africa and Zimbabwe. Some have returned home. Many more are going through the long process of trying to gain legal entry into a country in which they hope to find a future.


Religious Groups

  • Huguenots

Huguenots (French Protestants) fled Catholic persecution and moved to England during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. They settled in London and in towns like Norwich and Canterbury. Most finally settled in Spitalfields at the east end of London and in Soho at its west end. Some were expert in making clocks and scientific instruments. Others were goldsmiths, silversmiths, merchants and artists. Their skills at weaving silk and velvet helped expand the silk weaving industry in Spitalfields that already employed many Irish workers. Because of their hard work and skills the Huguenots were known as 'the profitable strangers'. During the 18th century members of the Huguenot and Jewish communities gave major financial support to both state and army.

Palatines from the German Palitinate were largely unskilled and destitute. They were based initially in Southwark. By October 1709, an estimated 13,000 had arrived in England. Some moved on to Bolton and Liverpool, while others continued to Ireland, the West Indies and America
The Flemish and Walloons came from "The Low Counties" which are now Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg and parts of northern France and Germany. They came to East Anglia in the 13th and 14th century spurred by warfare, civil strife and good wool. They came in the 16th century escaping religious persecution. In 1440 there were 16,000 foreigners in England, among a population estimated between 2 and 2.5 million, which had fallen by at least 60 percent since the Black Death.


Lascars (sailors from South East Asia and India) came along with seamen from countries like China, West Africa, and those known today as Somalia and the Yemen. Some returned home but others stayed and formed communities in the port cities of London and Liverpool. By the end of the 19th century, the areas of Limehouse Causeway and Pennyfields, close to the London docks, was known as Chinatown. It was renowned for its opium dens, Chinese laundries and Chinese restaurants. The first Chinese restaurant was opened in London in 1901. Today, London's Chinatown has moved to Soho and is on Gerrard Street.

POWs during WW2, and Post-war Labour Recruitment

There were 334,000 German and Italian POWs employed in areas such as agriculture. Some 15,700 Germans and 1,000 Italians remained after the war. The rest were repatriated. After WW2, work-permit schemes recruited Germans, Italians, Ukrainians, Austrians and Poles, although not all remained. By 1952, 110,000 work-permit applicants had been resident in the country for over four years and may be counted among those aliens who planned to make their home in postwar Britain

Political refugees

  • Italy
  • France
  • Germany


Caribbean/ West Indies

Many men from the West Indies had fought for the "mother country" but returned to civilian life with few opportunities. In June 1948 492 workers from the Caribbean came to Britain to assist with post-war reconstruction. Many had returned to rejoin the RAF. Others had been encouraged by adverts for work.

The National Health Service and organisations like London Transport recruited men and women from the Caribbean to build up their labour force.


Migrants also began to move to the textile manufacturing regions of the north and the midlands. Cities like Bradford, Leeds, Huddersfield and Manchester attracted German merchants and manufacturers.

The needs of industry and empire called for a growing clerical workforce. From the mid 19th century, German clerks were attracted to Britain by the higher wages paid. Their efficiency and ability to speak English made them ideal employees.

  • Hansa

There were small numbers of merchants from the Hanseatic League, a trading association of German and Baltic towns. The Hansa merchants were squeezed out when their operation near London Bridge was closed down in 159

  • Palatines


By the first half of the 19th century the need for a better transport system provided work for Irish labourers. They were employed to build the roads, railways and canals that transported goods between the docks, the manufacturing centres and shops in towns and cities around the country. Irish women worked as domestics and street vendors. Irish children as young as four could be seen on the streets selling their wares.


  • 1250-1598 Lombards

There were small numbers of merchants from Lombardy in Italy. Based in London, Lombards gradually replaced Jews as the country's financiers, during this period.
Italians arrived with a large-scale influx of mostly Jewish Eastern Europeans. The Clerkenwell district of London became known as 'Little Italy'. Italians introduced street vending of ice cream, and worked in the catering trade as waiters, chefs, bakers, confectioners and café owners. Later on, in the 1940s and 1950s, men and women from the south of Italy were recruited to work in factories in Luton and Bedford. Some went on to open Italian restaurants and pizzerias locally and further afield.


The partition of India in 1947 was the starting point for what later became a large-scale migration and settlement of people from the Indian sub-continent. Hindus, Christians, Muslims and Sikhs came from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.



In the 1931 census there were 44,462 people claiming Poland as their birthplace. Those who arrived during WW2 and stayed on, constitute the core of the present-day Polish community. In 1951 there were 162,339 Polish-born people in Britain. By 1971 the figure had dropped to 110,925



Emigration from Britain


After 1615 it became increasingly common for convicts to be offered a pardon from a death sentence on condition of transportation, originally to America or the West Indies. From 1718 to 1776 it was to America; and from 1787 to 1867 it was to Australia and Tasmania (then called Van Diemen's Land).

Convicts were sentenced to transportation after trials at assizes, quarter sessions, or the Old Bailey.

Few records survive about individual convicts who were transported to North America and the West Indies.

GENi Projects:




New Zealand

South Africa

South America

  • Brazil

United States

Of Interest

Migration Sources

The National Archives

Guides to records available (not online, although links to online sources are given).

  • information about emigration to North America, Australia and New Zealand
  • information about child emigration, including the emigration of pauper children a section on finding aids to help you search the records

Passenger Lists

Passenger Lists often have dates of Birth included in the information, and addresses that can prove fruitful.

  • have Citizenship and Naturalisation records, Passenger Lists, Incoming Passengers etc.
  • Olive Tree has many emigrant and immigrant passenger Listings
  • The Ship List
  • findmypast (Subscription or Pay-as-you-go charges apply) has a wide range of records designed to help you uncover details of your UK ancestors who moved, travelled, or worked abroad. Their outbound Passenger Lists 1890-1960, are available in partnership with The National Archives, and hold the details of over 24 million passengers leaving the UK on long-haul voyages between 1890 and 1960. Also available are the Register of Passport Applications 1851-1903and Convict departures to New South Wales 1788-1842, which is an index built from government indent records, holding the details of 97,797 convicts who arrived in New South Wales between 1788 and 1842. With this index you can discover the name, date of arrival and the ship transported on for each convict.
  • Search Britain: outbound passenger lists 1890-1960

They also have

  • Bengal Civil Service Gradation List 1869
  • East India Company's Commercial Marine Service Pensions List 1793-1833
  • East India Register & Army List 1855
  • Indian Army and Civil Service List 1873
  • India Office List 1933

The Shipping Registers form part of the Customs and Excise records. Those records which pertain to the ports of Dumfriesshire, Kirkcudbrightshire and Wigtownshire are held in Dumfries Archive Centre, under Charge and Superintendence from the Keeper of the Records of Scotland.

Census Returns

Since 1801, censuses have been taken in Britain every ten years, with the exception of 1941 (due to WW2). Pre 1841 censuses, (and very few survive) are almost all statistical only, i.e. number of males and females in a household, although some do contain the names of the head of the household. Public access to the individual census returns in England and Wales is normally restricted under the terms of the 100-year rule, but In exceptional circumstances the Registrar General for England and Wales does release specific information from 70-, 80-, or 90-year old closed censuses. From 1851 the birthplace of alien ancestors are often given, not only the country.

  • The National Archives (TNA)
  • Returns of British at Sea or abroad
  • Family Search is digitising overseas parish registers, recording ancestors on the move.
  • Immigration Ancestors Project sponsored by the Center for Family History and Genealogy at Brigham Young University uses emigration records, including sources at The National Archives, to locate information about the birthplaces of immigrants in their native countries. Volunteers are creating a database of millions of immigrants based on these emigration sources.

Migration Timeline - Significant events

Up to 12th Century

  • AD43 - 411

Britain was part of the Roman Empire. During this 400 year period people came from all over the known world as soldiers, merchants and administrators but especially from France, Germany and Eastern Europe. Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Vikings followed.
Firstly, Celtic and Pict tribes arrived and formed the first communities in the British Isles.
In 250AD, Rome sent a contingent of black legionnaires, drawn from the African part of the empire, to stand guard on Hadrian’s Wall. The Romans quit in the fifth century leaving the way clear for Germanic tribes that would slowly become the English.
Four hundred years after the Jutes, Angles and Saxons colonised modern-day southern England, the Vikings arrived, bringing a new influence to the cultural pot. The Vikings' sphere of influence was northern Britain and modern-day East Anglia.
The most significant of these immigrations was the Norman Conquest in 1066. The Normans, descended from Vikings who had settled in France, brought with them their early-French language which fundamentally changed the direction of English, government and law. A number of Parliamentary ceremonies today can be dated back to the Franco-Norman era.
The first Norman king, William the Conqueror, invited Jews to settle in England to help develop commerce, finance and trade.

  • 1106

Flanders in Belgium is devastated by floods. Many Flemish people escape to Britain and settle in Pembrokeshire, Wales.

13th Century

  • 1290

Jewish businessmen, physicians and scholars settled in London, and other major centres. This established Jewish community was expelled by Edward I. New waves of immigrants and sojourners followed, including German merchants and Italian bankers from Lombardy who gave their name to Lombard Street in London. In the centuries after, Irish soldiers, trades people and labourers, Dutch brick makers and brewers as well as textile weavers all came to settle in Britain. Africans were here in Roman times and by the reign of Elizabeth I, were working in the households of the rich as domestic workers.
Shortly after Wales was conquered by Edward I of England, the King issued the 1290 Edict of Expulsion expelling the Jews from England, and executed over three hundred English Jews.

16th Century

  • 1501

The first Romani person is recorded in Britain.

  • 1505

African drummers lived in Edinburgh in 1505. In London, Henry VII and his son Henry VIII both employed a black trumpeter named in one scroll as "John Blanke". Not long afterwards black slaves began appearing in wealthy households in England. When wealthy plantation owners sent their children to schools in England, they would sometimes be accompanied by slaves.
The legal status of these immigrants isn't clear because their arrival was tied to their English owner and their freedom appeared to relate to whether or not they were Christian. There was some debate on whether a man brought to a free country could be anything but free. But it amounted to nothing and the trade grew.
There was some legal debate on whether or not a man brought to a free country could be anything but free. But it amounted to nothing and the trade grew.
There was some legal debate on whether or not a man brought to a free country could be anything but free. But it amounted to nothing and the trade grew.

  • 1562

John Hawkyns made England's first foray into the slave trade when he sold 300 West African men to planters in Haiti.

  • 1585

First settlement in America by the British in Virginia.

17th Century

In the seventeenth century, small African communities were growing in the major ports of Britain such as Cardiff, Liverpool, Bristol and London.

  • 1600

The first Indian migrants arrived in Britain in the seventeenth century.

  • 1607

First permanent English settlement at Jamestown, Virginia, on the north American coast.

  • 1617

London Common Council and the Virginia Company considered sending ‘vagrant’ children (street kids) to Virginia.

  • 1619

The first 100 vagrant children were rounded up and despatched to Virginia; the venture was declared a success and a second group was planned.

  • 1620

In January there was opposition to child migration; the first group had been sent illegally, but on 31 January the Privy Council authorised child migration. Second 100 children were sent to America.

  • 1640

Evidence of the first Muslims living in London.

  • 1655/6

Oliver Cromwell allowed the Jews to return and settle. Merchants, bullion dealers and diamond brokers built the foundations of the future Jewish community. These were Sephardi Jews who came from Spain and Portugal. They were followed by Ashkenazi Jews from eastern and central Europe. Many of these earned their living as tradesmen, old clothes dealers and peddlers (travelling traders).

  • 1680s The persecution of Protestants in France led to the movement of 50 000 Protestant Walloons and Huguenots to Britain. Similar numbers migrated from germany, Scandinavia and America over the following few decades.
  • 1684

Catholic France persecutes the Protestant Huguenots. 50,000 Huguenots are forced to leave France for Britain.

18th Century

In the early eighteenth century, treaties between European powers changed the political map. The United Kingdom, as it had now become, won more access to the New World.

  • 1718

The British Government introduced the penalty of transportation for a range of non-capital offences to America until 1776 and to Australia until 1868. Over 220 000 people were transported between 1615 and 1868.
Merchants from Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow and London expanded the slave trade and brought goods and riches back to Britain, wealth that bankrolled the industrial revolution. They also increased the number of African men, women and children living in Britain. Approximately 14,000 black people were living in England by 1770. Only a few of them had real freedom and a movement to abolish slavery emerged.

  • 1757

The British seized control of Bengal in the Battle of Plessey, marking the beginning of a long period of rule over India

  • 1769

As a result of the British slave trade, approximately 14,000 Black people live in England during this period.

  • In 1772, the abolitionists brought a famous case to the courts. The judges were reluctant to rule on slavery, not least because of its economic importance to the UK. The abolitionists won a minor point that a slave could not be forcibly transported from England. But in practice it made little difference to their lives.
  • 1785

First evidence of Jewish people living in Sheffield, including Isaac and Philip Bright who had come from Biarritz in France.

  • 1793

The Aliens Act was passed to regulate the growing numbers of refugees fleeing to Britain to escape the French Revolution, and to address the fear that enemy spies might infiltrate Britain during the Napoleonic Wars. In one week in 1789, 1,700 émigrés landed in Brighton and 1,300 in Eastbourne.

  • 1799

Scandinavians started to come to Cardiff as sailors.

19th Century

The discovery of gold in the United States, Canada, Brazil, South Africa and Australia led to an exodus of millions of people from Europe to those destinations.

  • 1807 In 1807 the slave trade was abolished in Britain. Parliament banned the trade - but not slavery itself. In effect, slaving ships still operated, the only difference being that captains threw their captives overboard if they were in danger of being caught.
  • 1815

The British took control of the Cape Colony in South Africa.

  • 1820

Several groups or parties of white British colonists 1820 Settlers were sent by the British government and the Cape authorities in the South African to colonise the Cape in 1820. Initially, about 4,000 Settlers arrived in the Cape in around 60 different parties between April and June 1820.

  • 1833

Slavery itself was abolished throughout the British Empire. Investigations showed that tied labour still existed in many areas including India.
Abolition meant a virtual halt to the arrival of black people to Britain, just as immigration from Europe was increasing.
There were exceptions. Wealthy families brought Indian servants to Britain. Cama and Company became the first Indian merchant to open offices in London and Liverpool. Black and Chinese seamen began putting down the roots of small communities in British ports, where they were abandoned there by their employers.

  • 1830 - 1850

Tens of thousands of Irish arrived in Britain, fleeing poverty at home.
The British occupied Aden, an important port in British Somaliland. Many Somalis began to work on British ships. They were transported to Britain and began to settle in the docks area of Cardiff in the latter part of the nineteenth century.

  • 1844

The Naturalisation Act required that every alien wishing to stay in Britain should provide information about their age, trade and residence, and swear an Oath of Allegiance. A certificate would then be issued, granting them the right to stay in the country.

  • 1845-1849

Irish Potato Famine - Irish peasants relied exclusively on potato crops for food and income, and in 1845 potato blight decimated these crops. It is estimated that one million people died of starvation in Ireland between 1845 and 1851, as a result of the crop failure.

  • 1849

The first Sikh settler was recorded in Britain. Maharajah Duleep Singh was the last ruler of the Sikh kingdom of Punjab. The Maharajah was dethroned after six years' rule, and exiled to Britain in 1849 at the age of 14, after the Anglo-Sikh wars.

  • From 1850

There was migration to Britain from Cape Verde. Cape Verdeans are believed to have been Cardiff Docks' first and oldest immigrant community. They were borne from seamen escaping their severely drought ridden country during the very early and late 1800s. During the late 1800s Cape Verdean seamen were frequent visitors to Cardiff.

  • 1855

The earliest reference to Chinese settlers in Sheffield. The burial register for St Paul’s churchyard (now the Peace Gardens) lists 'A. Chow, son of Too Ki (a magician)'.

  • 1858

Start of Direct British Rule in India - the East India Company gained control of local administrative functions in India in the 18th century. After the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the company passed this control into the hands of the British government. Many British people went to work in the Indian Civil Service due to the good salaries, and the opportunities for promotion.

  • 1861

Britain ruled Nigeria through 'indirect rule'.

  • 1868

Abolition of Transportation. Transportation of convicts to penal colonies around the world started in the 17th century. The practice was abolished in 1868, the year that the last prison vessel set sail for Australia.
The Norwegian sailors' church was built in Butetown, Cardiff.

  • 1869

The Suez Canal is built, making travel between the Americas and Europe easier. Welsh steam coal fuelled the merchant and navy ships of the world and the British had already gained control of Aden, which was a strategic coaling station. Every P & O ship that sailed through Suez, to and from India and the Far East, refuelled there and many took on Yemeni stokers, engineers and sailors. Many settled in the Cardiff docks.

  • 1870

Naturalisation Act - Changes to the naturalisation laws were made in 1870. These required applicants to have served the Crown or to have lived in Britain for at least five years before being considered.

  • 1881

Assassination of Alexander II of Russia. Alexander II was assassinated by radical revolutionaries. His successor, Alexander III, in his attempts to ensure that one religion only existed in Russia, persecuted Jews living in the Russian Empire. As a result, many fled to Britain.

  • 1888

Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) came under British control.

  • 1892 Britain's first non-white MP, Indian Dadabhai Naoroji, was elected to the House of Commons in A few years earlier, Arthur Wharton, born in modern day Ghana, became Britain's first black professional footballer.
  • 1895

Britain ruled Kenya following the formation of British East African Protectorate.

20th Century

  • 1910

A Chinese man named Yun Wong opened a laundry business on Abbeydale Road, Sheffield.

  • 1911

The Great Unrest - in 1911 Cardiff underwent a year of turmoil. The Chinese were one of the first groups to introduce the idea of public laundry services and take away meals to Britain. Highly organised riots targeted Chinese communities in 1911. There were 34 Chinese laundries in Cardiff; 32 were attacked in one night in different parts of the city.

  • 1914

Alien Reg. Act and British Nationality Act. At the outbreak of World War One, all aliens over 16 were required to register at local police stations and to demonstrate a good character and knowledge of English. This was partly due to a fear of spies.
Around 3,000 civilian and wounded soldiers from Belgium went to Sheffield as refugees from the First World War. They came to an area of the city named Shirle Hill in Nether Edge. There was great public sympathy. Most left after the war.
During the First World War, 215,000 civilians from places such as South Africa, India, the West Indies, Mauritius, the Fiji Islands as well as from China and Egypt were deployed as part of the British war effort. They were transported to work and fight in parts of Africa, the Middle East and the battlefields of Europe as well as the home front in Britain.

  • 1935

Anti-Semitic laws passed in Nazi Germany. The Nazi party passed anti-Semitic laws, in particular the Nuremburg Laws, which lead to increased persecution of Jews in Germany and, after 1938, in Austria. Thousands of Jews fled to Britain to escape this oppression.

  • 1939-1945

Polish Free Forces arrive in Britain. Thousands of Poles fled to Britain after Germany's invasion of Poland. Among them were 160,000 men of the Polish Army, who were attached to the British army, alongside British forces.

  • 1940-1944

Wartime Child Emigration. Child emigration has taken place since the first British colonies of the 17th century. During the Blitz in World War Two, thousands of British children were evacuated to safety in countries such as Canada and Australia.
During the Second World War, almost 60,000 British merchant seamen came from the sub-continent. Some of the men stayed in Britain during the inter-war years, forming small communities in ports.
Bengali seamen, known as Lascars, went to work in Scottish collieries but were subjected to racial prejudice.
At the end of the Second World War there were work shortages in Europe and labour shortages in Britain. The government began looking for immigrants.
About 157,000 Poles were the first groups to be allowed to settle in the UK, partly because of ties made during the war years. They were joined by Italians but it was not enough to meet the need.

  • 1942-1952

More than 100 000 war brides left the United Kingdom to be with their Canadian and GI partners.

  • 1948

Arrival of Empire Windrush. Many men from the West Indies had fought for the "mother country" but returned to civilian life with few opportunities. In June 1948, the merchant vessel Empire Windrush arrived at Tilbury Docks carrying 492 workers from the Caribbean. They had come to Britain to assist with post-war reconstruction. Many had returned to rejoin the RAF. Others had been encouraged by adverts for work.
British Nationality Act. In the aftermath of World War Two, definitions of British nationality were re-defined, often to encourage colonial residents to come to Britain to help with post-war reconstruction.

  • 1950s

Mass immigration continued in the 1950s, coinciding with a rise in racial violence and prejudice. Many areas including Birmingham, Nottingham and west London experienced rioting as white people feared the arrival of a black community.
Legislation had allowed people from the Empire and Commonwealth unhindered rights to enter Britain because they carried a British passport.
There was also significant movement from britain to its Dominions, mainly South Africa, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. More than 1.5 million people went to Australia, lured by a fare of just £10, providing that they stayed for 2 years. The scheme operated from 1947 to the 1970s.

  • 1960s

Expulsion of Asians from Kenya

  • 1962

Commonwealth Immigration Act. Legislation was passed to restrict the number of Commonwealth immigrants to Britain. Applicants now had to have work permits, which were given mostly to skilled migrants, such as doctors.

  • By 1972, legislation meant that a British passport holder born overseas could only settle in Britain if they had a work permit and could prove that a parent or grandparent had been born in the UK. This meant that children born to white families in the former colonies could enter Britain.

About 83,000 immigrants from the Commonwealth settled in the UK between 1968 and 1975, largely through gaining work permits or obtaining permission to join relatives.

  • 1972
  • The Ugandan dictator General Idi Amin expelled 80,000 African Asians from the country, families who had been encouraged to settle there during the days of Empire. Many held British passports and, amid a major crisis, the UK admitted 28,000 in two months.
  • 1976

The government established the Commission for Racial Equality, the statutory body charged with tackling racial discrimination.

  • 1978

Viv Anderson became the first black footballer to be selected for the full England team and went on to win 30 caps.
By the 1980s Britain's immigration policy meant that there were strict controls on entry and the state said it would protect the rights of ethnic minorities. Critics suggested that the two prongs gave conflicting signals on the place of the immigrant communities - and their British-born children - in society. As manufacturing declined, work permits were harder to get unless applicants had specialist skills or professional trading.
This meant that the largest immigrant groups were Americans (to banking and industry), Australians, New Zealanders and South Africans making use of the family-ties entry rules, and South Asian men and women entering the medical professions.

  • 1991

In the years following the fall of the Iron Curtain, a new movement of people began, some fleeing political persecution, others seeking a better life in western Europe.

21st Century

The growth of asylum seeker applications contributed to a new growth of immigration to the UK.

1998 - 2000
About 45,000 people arrived from Africa, 22,700 from the Indian sub-continent, 25,000 from Asia and almost 12,000 from the Americas. Some 125,000 people were allowed to settle in the UK in 2000.

  • 2004

Legislation in the European Union allowed populations from member countries to move within the EU without restriction.

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