Oliwia's posts

Harold Pollins, ‘The Jews’

This article by Harold Pollins, as the name suggests focuses on the experiences of Jewish individuals within Britain, with a focus primarily on the years leading up to the First World War. Pollins was a renowned historian of Anglo-Jewish history. 

This article by Pollins provides an thorough discussion into the experiences of European Jews in the years leading up to the First World War and examines some of the push and pull factors for their migration. Pollins discusses that one of the major pull factors of Jewish migration westward was that of greater economic opportunity in lands of economic advancement such as Britain and North America, as well as the promise of freedom in a foreign land. A major push factor – especially for Russian Jews – was exactly the opposite of the pull factors above. Pollins highlights that in 1830s majority of the Russian Jewish population was forced to live in the Pale of Settlement. The Pale of Settlement was a western region of Imperial Russia between 1791 and 1917 where only the Jewish citizens could reside, and there residency was forbidden elsewhere.

The migration of Jews into Britain, as Pollins highlights was often a place of trans-shipment where they stopped temporarily on their way to American cities, such as New York. However, during their stop it is documented that some were tricked out of money, leaving them stranded in Britain (this links well with ‘Point of Arrival’ by Herman Landau, 1887). In some cases however, Pollins advocates for chain migration of European Jews who likely followed their family or friends who arrived here before them. The articles points out that although Jewish migration into Britain was a cause for concern amongst the public, which can be seen through the Royal Commission on Alien Immigration – which was primarily focused on Jews – as well as the 1905 Aliens Act, it is important to note that European Jewish migrants accounted for 1-2% on the population increase between in the year 1881-1911.

Pollins examines the settlement of Jews in Britain also through looking at where they settled and other aspects of their communities. The article summarises that Jewish migrants were easily distinguished in Britain due to speaking Yiddish and their sense of dress primarily, which added to the view of them as ‘aliens’. Pollins notes that Jewish migrants stuck together through settling in cities where they formed their own communities and working primarily in the same sectors/for the same employers.

In terms of evidence, Pollins focuses greatly on statistics of population increases as well as an analysis of the sectors in which Jewish migrants were employed. Further, Pollins reflects on the Booth survey of the 1880’s which he says contributed to the associated of poor working conditions with Jewish immigrants. Lastly, Pollins also refers to a couple of newspapers in order to illustrate the hostile attitudes towards Jewish incomers.

Christy's posts

“The Germans” Aronsfeld, C. C, 1985

This article was written by Author C.C Aronsfeld in 1985,  published within history today. He discusses from his own personal experiences, life as a European Jew, after being impacted by  Nazi Germany. The article describes what life was like for individuals such as Aronsfeld,  after migrating to Britain, in search of a better and safer life during times of war.

By 1914 there was already a large number of Germans living within Britain at approximately 19,000. Many had come in search of freedom, safety, and better economic opportunities. However, Aronsfeld details shortly after this large influx of migrants, the “spymania” craze took place, where many British individuals turned violent and ensued hatred towards the minority group, which became increasingly popular,  blaming the Germans and Jewish for being spies during a time of war. H.G Wells described England at the time,  “All dignity was broken” towards its nationalists who started looting and destroying all shops owned, or even sounding like they were owned under a German name. Even businessmen or parliamentary men who had before been highly respected within the community were targets to the open violence.

“I have been ostracised by my native country…. I am boycotted by my adopted country”

This quote taken from the article (p8.) shows how Aronsfeld described the treatment of the German immigrants living within Britain during this period by the British public.  He describes how they were made to feel like enemy aliens, with the use of extreme prejudice and unfriendly attitudes, after the two world wars, within a place they had once sought refuge within. They no longer felt safe or welcome within either their birth country within Germany or their adopted home in Great Britain.

However, Prime minister at the time (1918) Herbert Asquith declared within parliament about the so-called “aliens” that he felt that a great body of the German minority group were respectful and honest. He discussed how a large sum of them worked with technical job sectors, and could not be spared, as they contributed a lot to the country and its wages.

An example given by Aronsfeld of the types of extreme prejudice and anti-Sematic views came from Sir Robert Van Sitart. Sitart was an understudy to the state of foreign affairs, 1938. He saw nazi views as being “deep-rooted” and refused to spare even those who had been proved anti-nazi living within Britain, he described them as “wolves in sheep’s clothing” giving an insight into how those within places of high power viewed germans as a whole, within Britain, categorizing them all as spies, and betrayers. His views were opposed by liberal groups of refugees who tried to campaign against his anti-semantic views within the “Fight for Freedom”.

Lastly, another example of the terrible conditions, and attitudes the German and German Jewish groups within Briain faced, was the use of a striking image (p15) of a camp in North England, 1940. The camp pictures a large group of refugees behind bard wired fences, surrounded by guards after being captured by the police. It is a clear example of anti-semantic behaviour, treating refugees like animals due to their race, religious beliefs, and country of origin.

The article, therefore, gives an insight into the lives and types of conditions, and problems that the Germans, and German Jewish minorities faced during the period of war between Nazi Germany and Britain, from an individual who identifies as a Europan Jewish man himself. It covers the term “aliens” and how this word was used to describe the treatment and attitudes migrants would be subject to, and how this reflects upon immigrants and immigration during the 20th century, from both everyday working families, as well as those in high positions of power such as the government. The article details upon further reading on the topic from a different viewpoint, including; Elie Halevy “history of the English people” pelican, 1979. A. J Sherman “Britain and refugees from the Third Reich 1933-1939″.


Justin's posts

P. J. Waller, ‘The Chinese’.

‘The Chinese’ by P.J Waller was an article published in History Today in 1985. It describes in detail the role of Chinese immigrants who came to Britain post 1851. This article covers a range of topics from attitudes towards Chinese immigrants, the influence the Chinese had on horticulture, and the presumptive stereotypes the British had on the people still living in Asia. One of the main points of this article is to show that despite Chinese immigration being one of the lowest in Britain – 91,000 in 1983 (0.2% of population.) – they still had a profound impact on British culture.

This article focuses on how the Chinese were described as ‘ambivalent’. This was because those who began to dislike them were the poorer classes, whereas those who embraced their culture were typically the British elite. The poorer classes were more likely to dislike the Chinese because they created greater competition for jobs. However, the Chinese were willing to take lesser wages and did not mind harsher working conditions making them more desirable to employers. For example, they opened laundries taking business away from women and the poor who relied on doing washings to help get extra income. This caused 30 Chinese laundries to get wrecked in 1911 by rioters during the transport workers strikes. This was different from the elite who admired their metal, cloisonné, stoneware, porcelain, and ivory designs. However, even amongst the British elite they were still sceptical of what type of people are coming over from China. For example, it was primarily male who immigrated over from China – by 1911, 87 Chinese born were female – causing concern about British racial purity.

Interestingly, the Chinese rarely ever created homogenous communities in Britain and out of all the different immigrant groups, the Chinese were the least assimilated. They were typically dispersed across Britain with there communities covering one or two streets. These were adequately nicknamed, ‘Little Chinatowns’. These communities were quickly given a negative reputation based on the already negative Chinese stereotypes. For example, they were associated with crime, gambling, and opium abuse. The Chinese immigrants were usually refugees escaping persecution from Hong Kong and Malaysia, particularly during the late 19th century. This resulted in them getting homed by the government which was perceived as ‘special’ treatment by the poorer Brits. This meant that Chinese homes were frequently broken into and looted. Chinese restaurants were also a significant economic driver and acted as a communal meeting place for the Chinese. By 1960, there was over a thousand restaurants in Britain, employing anywhere between 5 and 15 people.

Waller spends a good portion of his article describing how the British perceived the people on mainland China. They viewed it as a country with centuries of despotism ruled by the same family for 1300 years. The Brits felt that the Chinese were more primitive as a result due to what they believed was citizens being oppressed for centuries whilst the rich just stayed rich. This also went against the British increasing liberal views, hence why they feared the prospect of millions of Chinese immigrating to Britain at once in the future.

Jennifer's posts

D.R. MacRaild ‘Crossing migrant frontiers: comparative reflections on Irish migrants in Britain and the United States during the 19th century’

Donald MacRaild is Pro vice-chancellor for research and knowledge exchange at London Metropolitan University and is known for his work published on Irish, Britain, Social and labour history.

In this chapter MacRaild starts by detailing that from 1815-1930 more than 50 million people left Europe in the most striking population movement in history. He then continues on to discuss why migrants would choose to go to one place over another. One reason is that Government Legislation made America and Canada major destinations for those wanting to start a new life. He states that for some of the Irish they wanted to be way from Britain and America gave them good job prospects. For others Britain was as for away from Ireland as they could afford. Money was also a large factor as some people could not afford the £20 to travel to America, whereas it cost 2d to get to Britain. Hence why Britain received many of the poorer migrants.

By 1870 95% of Irish born Americans were in 20 of the states, mostly heavy urban states like new England. The Irish were the largest 1st generation of migrants in 27 states and 2nd in the rest of the states.

During the industrial revolution the Irish were used as scapegoats in both America and Britain because of the social unrest. Poorer Irish individuals found themselves labelled with the criminals. Many others made to return to Ireland under laws of settlement and removal as they were seen as an economical threat during hard times. MacRaild continues on by discussing how Irish migrants and free blacks had Similar experiences in America. Irish were seen as “not quite white” and were outcast, just like the free black people. There was competition for labour between the Irish and Black people. This race competition was not as big in Britain as slavery wasn’t as Big in Britain as it was in America.

Britain had less migrants trying to establish themselves Politically. The Irish in Britain shaped urban infrastructure as they would only give job contracts to their own. However, in America the Irish were bribed in elections as there were large numbers of them that could help candidates win.

MacRaild notes how the civil war was an opportunity for the Irish, the union army recruited 150,000 Irishmen and in the heat of battle the Irish American created a new sort of Irish identity. However, the Irish soldiers were often condemned for their drunkenness and brawling while being praised for their valour. There was no opportunity like this in Britain for the Irish as being a soldier in war was an obligation under the act of union, so they had less opportunity to integrate into society like the Irish Americans were able to.

MacRaild concludes the chapter by stating that Irish immigrants were influential in Britain and America, but in different ways. He then finishes on the words of Oscar Handlin, “Once I thought to write a history of the immigrants in America. Then I discovered that the immigrants were American history.” The same could never be said of Britain.

Heather's posts

Bernard Aspinwall, ‘The Formation of the Catholic community in the West of Scotland: Some Preliminary Outlines’

‘The Formation of the Catholic community in the West of Scotland: Some Preliminary Outlines’ by Bernard Aspinwall is a detailed, primary material-based article that analyses how the absence of religious infrastructure in the West of Scotland was changed and in response allowed a solid framework to grow. Throughout the article, Aspinwall shows the Catholic church at the head of this framework, from education, recreational to social services, the church and its benefactors played a key role in consolidating a Catholic community in the nineteenth century.

Centring on three aspects; expansion, embellishment and architectural achievements, the article tracks the progress of this catholic infrastructure. The church, at the head, through various programmes such as Sunday schools to professional lectures allowed the community to grow in knowledge and faith. In addition, the church provided job and social opportunities for example shop keeping which, as Aspinwall argues, allowed spirituality to be sold. Expansion can be seen in the clergy. Aspinwall mentions numerous clergy that preached in Catholic communities or who were crucial to the development of the catholic community such as Charles Eyre, the first Roman Catholic Archbishop of Glasgow. New orders such as the Jesuits helped reform and keep the values of the church alive. Benefactors helped embellish the church with the gifting of land, altars or organs which suggested a communal pride in the church. Embellishment then turned to architecture as churches got bigger and more prominent within society and thus a community was consolidated.

Aspinwall article is generally clear however he mentions the word landau several times which is a coachbuilding term for a carriage.

A large number of primary sources are used, with Aspinwall relying heavily on the Scottish Catholic Directory, a catholic database, for much of his material. Archival material, from the Jesuit Archives to the Rosminians archives, in the form of letters, correspondences and diaries are also referenced in excess. However, Aspinwall frequently refences Catholic newspapers such as the Tablet. Newspapers tend to be bias, towards one particular side and with Aspinwall using only catholic newspapers, the result is no perspective from non-Catholic communities.

There are frequent citing of James Handley’s work, a published historian on the Irish, as well as Emmet Larkin and Stewart Meckie, both published historians on Scotland and the Irish Catholic community. Although, other works such as Thomas Fitzpatrick’s, ‘Catholic Education in Glasgow, Lanarkshire and South-West Scotland before 1872′[1]or Anthony Ross’s, ‘The Development of the Scottish Catholic Community 1878-1978′[2]ould have been useful material in aiding the argument.

The article fits into the topic for session two of Irish immigration in the nineteenth century by detailing the ways in which the Catholic church created a catholic community most of whom were Irish immigrants. The Irish in response found their own identity within Scotland, perhaps to the dislike of Scottish society, which addresses one of the themes of the course.


[1] The Innes Review, Volume 29 Issue 2, Page 111-139, 2010

[2] The Innes Review, Volume 29 Issue 1, Page 30-55, 2010

Sophie's posts

Paddy and Mr Punch, R.F. Foster

The article “Paddy and Mr Punch” by R.F. Foster primarily focuses on the satirical magazine Punch, and its portrayal of Ireland and the Irish from 1841 onwards. Foster chronologically explains the content of the magazine and how it developed through the context of Irish immigration to Britain. He argues that Punch gives a “varied” representation of the complexity of the Irish presence in Britain during the 19th century. He also maintains that Punch undertook a change in attitude towards the Irish due to the Young Ireland movement, explaining that this movement led to many anti-Irish cartoons and jokes, as the magazine viewed the anti-Union Irish as ungrateful. After analysing many primary examples from Punch itself, as well as the editor of Punch’s letter in defence of the magazine, Foster concludes by stating that Punch’s anti-Irishness was perhaps not due to a belief that the Irish were a sub-race, but instead, the magazine was simply against the violent tendencies of the Young Ireland movement and their bitterness towards the Union.

I believe Foster effectively portrays his argument for a number of reasons. Firstly, the article is written in a formal and coherent manner. Secondly, Foster’s abundant use of primary evidence successfully portrays his points, as he includes detailed descriptions of many jokes that were included in the magazine throughout the years. Foster also analyses some prefaces to Punch issues, which often discuss the affairs that were taking place during the issue’s release. The author also includes images of Punch’s caricatures which allows readers to see real examples of Punch’s work. I found some of the images hard to decipher however that is possibly a technological error. Additionally, the author also strengthens his argument through references of relevant historians, such as Hoppen and Price. It could be argued that the article lacks secondary sources, however, I believe that this style of article, which acts as a case study of Punch, is more successful when dealing with primary sources from the magazine itself.

Furthermore, Foster’s article relates to the topic of Irish immigration during the 19th century as he explains the prominent stereotyping of the Irish as well as the attitude towards Irish immigration that was held by many British people. He notes the Irish famine, which was a significant Push factor for Irish immigration, and effectively depicts much of the media’s opinion on the political and economic turmoil taking place in Ireland during this period. However, it could be argued that Foster does not efficiently explain other opinions of Irish immigration during this time, and instead focuses on one view that, although was popular, was held only by some British people.

Therefore, “Paddy and Mr Punch” by R.F. Foster, to a certain extent, successfully depicts the anti-Irish view many British people held during the 19th century. By analysing the content of the magazine Punch, Foster allows readers to understand the degree of prejudice against the Irish, thus highlighting one of the major aspects of Irish immigration during the 19th century.

Abbie's posts

Donald MacRaild ‘Culture, Conflict and Migration: The Irish in Victorian Cumbria’

Donald MacRaild’s ‘Culture, Conflict and Migration: The Irish in Victorian Cumbria’ is a meticulous account on sectarian violence and communal division in the county of Cumbria. MacRaild documents four main incidents that occur between the host community and the Irish over the period of thirty nine years. The factors which communicate the anti-Irishness that England portrayed during the time (that MacRaild lists) include: the Barrow anti-Irish riot of 1864, the disorder that accompanied notorious protestant preacher William Murphy’s lectures in Whitehaven, 1871, the CleatorMoor Orange Day riot of 1884 and the violence that followed John Kensitt’s Wycliffe Preachers to Barrow in 1903.

While it would take more than a few pages to surmise the events that MacRaild highlighted in his chapter, the common denominator remains the same throughout each incident: violence was a common language between English and Irish. Throughout each incident, the anti-Irishness felt by the English had devastating consequences, specifically showcased in the Barrow riot of 1864 that had spawned merely due to, what is assumed, a rumour that the Irish were brought in to undercut wages. Upon hearing word of this, a crowd formed in rage who later stalked the streets, battering down dwellings known to contain Irishmen. Sectarianism was the main cause of the following three factors, which resulted in mobbing’s, planned attacks, deaths on both sides and brutal violence. The Murphy riots highlighted the inter-communal hostilities within Cumbria and was the root of the Orange orders revival in the area, as William Murphy was badly beaten by the Irish after he had given a controversial performance. Murphy died the following year (whose death was attributed to his beating) after being bed-ridden for what can be assumed as months due to the injuries he had sustained from the Irish in Whitehaven. This furthered tensions in Cumbria to a dangerous level. The Orange Day riot of 1884 was a boiling point for the county, as a riot broke out when Catholics had heard that an Orangeman had ‘struck one of the crowd a blow to the face.’ Revolvers were then drawn with sixteen of the crowd arrested. MacRaildnotes it could be possible to dismiss these instances as an inevitable feature of working class life that has only been heightened by incendiary elements. In regards to John Kensitt’s Preachers, Catholic tensions had rose upon their visit when George Wise, a prominent Protestant leader ‘cut left and right at Roman Catholics’ before the Preachers gave their lecture. When the Preachers began, an argument quickly surfaced among the Catholics and a ‘rush was made for the preachers’ and the following day, they were surrounded by a mob with one Ulster Irishmen savagely beaten. The Preachers were charged for causing a breach of the peace.

MacRaild’s chapter is both fascinating and a complex account of issues that are integral to understanding Irish immigration. His chapter is accessible, broken down into large sprawling sections with an incredible attention to detail on each incident. A key component is that he never favours one side over the other, he expresses the brutality of both sides and refuses to harbour the trials and tribulations both sides face. The topic of Irish Immigration in Cumbria is niche, but MacRaild manages an impressive 141 sources to document his journey, dealing mainly in newspapers from the time. While the majority of the chapter is excellent, a weakness is that the reasons for the breakouts in the riots are entirely speculated, and can never be definitively proven. Therefore, the truth still remains unknown for who started the riots, or the specifics of what caused such devastating violence.

Emily's posts

Session 2 – ‘Irish immigration in the 19th century Irish Emigration in the later Nineteenth Century’- D. Fitzpatrick

This chapter mentions how nearly half of the population of Ireland disappeared in the late 19th century, due to both the high mortality rate during the great famine, and mass emigration, but discusses mass emigration in more depth.

Fitzpatrick explains that Britain was an attractive destination to Irish emigrants as the journey cost less, meaning it was more accessible to migrants of many different social classes. Britain also attracted Irish migrants as it was easier for people to return home if they wanted to. As Fitzpatrick puts it “For those wishing to increase their earnings without abandoning hope of future employment at home, Britain was the most attractive destination”-pg 128

America was also popular with Irish expatriates, and in 1870, when the Irish overseas population reached its peak at over 3million, around three fifths of Irish expatriates lived in America. This was in part due to the coinciding of the Irish potato famine and the industrial recession in Britain.

State assistance for emigration to Australia greatly increased the number of Irish migrants who travelled there. Assistance meant that people from many different social classes could emigrate to Australia. As Fitzpatrick explains, “during the famine and its immediate sequel more than four-fifths of Irish emigrants to the Australian colonies were state assisted, and assistance in various guises remained the rule until the 1890s”-pg. 131

Irish immigrant groups were often recognised out of proportion to their numbers. This was due to “the unprecedented squalor, ignorance and ill-health of the famine emigrants” as Fitzpatrick puts it.-pg. 134.

This chapter also comments that Irish expatriates would often cluster together. This was in part a response to the narrow range of jobs that were available to them. This was not the case in Australia however, as Irish emigrants in Australia mixed much more. Fitzpatrick describes the diffusion of Irish migrants throughout the Australian population as “remarkable”-pg. 136. The chapter also states that there was a more equal balance of both men and women In Irish immigrants to Australia than there was in English or Scottish migrants.

This chapter provided detail into the reasons of Irish migrants’ movements outside of Ireland, specifically to Britain, America and Australia.

Induction session


Good day folks and welcome to the blog post site for module HISU9G7: Immigration to Britain c.1880s-1980s.

This is a example post by your module coordinator, Dr Jacqueline Jenkinson.

Refugees to Britain during the First World War

Over 1 million civilian Belgian refugees fled their country at the start of the First World War during the Germans invasion.

250,000 Belgians came to Britain, forming the largest (albeit temporary) migrant community in Britain of the 20th century.

We will look both at the impact of the First World War on migrants and refugees living in Britain in session 7 and at the experiences of Belgian refugees in a session next semester specifically on refugees.

Some of the key works on Belgian refugees in Britain are:

Cahalan, Peter, Belgian Refugee Relief in England during the Great War (London: Taylor and Francis, 1982)

Jenkinson, Jacqueline ed. Belgian Refugees in First World War Britain (London: Routledge, 2017)

You should use the same sort of style indicated above to report on your assigned reading. However, this is just a suggested approach. It isn’t required for you to add images of the author or the book cover or journal article that you are writing about.

However, as well as inserting your sentences and paragraphs of text reporting on the contents, evidence used and arguments contained in your assigned reading you may want to add relevant images and URL links to your blog posts.

For example, below is an Imperial War Museum photograph collection item showing Belgian refugees leaving by ship for Britain which I use as my Canvas front page. The photograph is followed by the relevant URL link to the collection.



I hope this sample post gives you a good idea of what to do when you come to write up your blog posts.

Best of luck,




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HISU9G7: Immigration to Britain c.1880s to 1980s

Immigrants arriving in London

This picture, entitled “Aliens arriving at Irongate Stairs”, was published in 1901. “Alien” was the official term for someone from outside Britain and the empire.
George R. Sims, Living London, vol.1 p.50 (1901-03)



This is the blog post site for HISU9G7: Immigration to Britain c.1880s to 1980s

This is the space where you will add your posts featuring your write ups on your fortnightly assigned reading item.

This is also where you will comment on the blog posts of other students in your group on the weeks when you have no assigned reading yourself.

I hope you enjoy this part of your module coursework.