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By David Conway

Examines the heritage of immigration to Britain, and notes that the small numbers occupied with the earlier allowed for the neighborhood tradition to succeed. present tendencies of enormous scale immigration might switch that.

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

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Despite his marriage to a daughter of the Earl of Wessex, Edward the Confessor died without heir. Supposedly, on his deathbed, he had nominated his brother‐in‐law Harold to succeed him. But this king Harold was not allowed to reign for a day without having to face challenge for his crown from rival claimants one of whom was William, Duke of Normandy. William based his claim to the English throne upon his assertion that, some years earlier, Harold had sworn fealty to him as overlord, after being shipwrecked off the coast of Normandy and falling captive to William, a version of events that Harold always denied.

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.

This stream of African immigrants was to dry up towards the end of the eighteenth century, when slavery and the trade in slaves began to become widely abhorrent to British sensibilities.  A recent article4 in the European Journal of Human Genetics reports that seven white British males, who share a rare surname derived from a village in East Yorkshire but who are apparently unrelated, have the same rare type of Y chromosome that is seldom found outside West Africa where it is typical.  This suggested they had a common West African male ancestor in the early eighteenth century, who probably arrived in Britain as a slave, although the possibility that he was a north African Roman soldier who came to Britain eighteen hundred years earlier has not been excluded.

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