Friday, December 08, 2006

Are you 100% English ? Think carefully now...

While researching immigration into King's Lynn and West Norfolk, I came across the article below:
It comes from the ASKCAB site of the Citizen's Advice Bureau.
It's a well written piece, and since the option to e-mail it to a friend is offered, I presume it's OK to repeat here.

"Over the last few years there has been a great deal of talk about asylum seekers, immigrants and refugees. Most of the comments have been negative but if you think about things logically you will realise that your family will trace its origins back to an immigrant of some description. I hear you saying "that’s rubbish" but is it ? Ask yourself the question was my family trapped here when the last ice age finished and the North Sea covered the land bridge to Europe? Unless they were you’ll find that your ancestors were immigrants.

Just to give you some examples a body was recently discovered at Stonehenge, about 4000 years old, by checking some chemicals in the teeth the scientists were able to show that the person had been born and brought up in Central Europe. During the Roman occupation, from 43 CE to 407 CE, people from all over the Empire came to live and work here. Bodies and inscriptions have been found which identify people as coming from as far away as Syria and North Africa. Indeed when the Roman soldiers retired they were given land in Britain and some of these Colonists stayed after the Roman Legions left. Even the Celts, who were here before the Romans conquered them, had come from Europe to Britain.

After the Romans went the Anglo - Saxons, etc. arrived gradually overrunning the country. Don’t think it stopped here because it didn’t. In the mid to late 700s the Vikings started raiding the country and many decided to stay. In fact they took over much of Northern England, Northern Scotland, bits of Ireland. Why did they all come? Largely for economic reasons as Northern Europe’s population was growing and other peoples were coming from further east meaning there was less land and when they saw an opportunity to better themselves in Britain they took it.

In 1066 the country was invaded and conquered again this time by the Normans, who were French. Once the conquest was complete thousands of French men and women came to England to work for the new masters. The Normans brought the Jews back to England and then in 1254 deported them again. The Jews did not return to this country until the latter part of the 17th Century.

In 1336 there is the first mention of the Dutch coming to Norfolk and over the next few hundred years many Dutch/Flemings came to Norfolk and settled here. In fact there are still many Dutch and Belgians living and working in the county.

In Kings Lynn the German Hanseatic League set up a trading post, which stayed in the town for hundreds of years. As well as Dutch and Germans there were Italians, French, Swedes, Danes, Portuguese and practically every other country in Europe had people coming to live and work in the UK.

During the 17th and 18th Centuries we started to see people returning to the UK who had not been here since Roman times plus others from the Americas including Pocahontas who had married John Rolfe from Heacham and Africans from below the Sahara. We also started to see people from the UK beginning to move out of the UK to America: many people from Norfolk among them, such as Samuel Lincoln from Hingham, an ancestor of Abraham Lincoln.
As travel around the world became easier and the British Empire grew larger and larger so from the 17th we saw more and more immigration from those countries to the UK. However at the same time as people were coming from the Empire to the UK many more were leaving the UK to colonise the Empire especially, America (both before and after independence in 1783), Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Southern Africa.

So I go back to my opening point are you English, British or what?"

What are your opinions on this piece ? Why not add a comment ?

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