Americans in the united kingdom

Americans in the United Kingdom

Notable people in the United Kingdom with American links or ancestry
Andrew Garfield • Sienna Miller
Winston Churchill • Benedict Arnold
Henry James • Wallis, Duchess of Windsor
Harold Macmillan • Hiram Maxim • Jimmy Wales
Total population
US-born residents
158,434 (2001 Census)
189,000 (2009 ONS estimate)
Regions with significant populations
London, Edinburgh, East Anglia, South East England, North West England
American English and British English
Christianity · Judaism · Atheism

Americans in the United Kingdom or American Britons includes British people born to American parents or parents with American citizenship, people from the United States who are or have become residents or citizens of the United Kingdom.


The 2001 UK Census recorded 158,434 people born in the United States.[1] Estimates published by the Office for National Statistics suggest that, in 2009, the equivalent figure stood at 189,000.[2] The 2011 census counted 177,185 people living in England and Wales were born in the United States.[3]

The largest single local cluster of Americans in Britain recorded by the 2001 Census was in Mildenhall in north-west Suffolk – the site of two of the largest US Air Force bases in the world, RAF Mildenhall and nearby RAF Lakenheath. This is because of the legacy of the Cold War and NATO cooperation. 17.28 percent of Mildenhall's population were born in the US. In London, the majority of Americans are businesspeople and their families which ties in with the strong economic relations between London and Washington DC. Chelsea (where 6.53 percent of residents were born in the US in 2001) and Kensington (5.81 percent), have large American populations.[4]

Prior to the end of the Cold War, the highest proportion of Americans resident in the United Kingdom per head of population was centred on the Scottish seaside town of Dunoon, Argyll and Bute, the former site of the Holy Loch US Navy base. At its height in the early 1990s around a quarter of Dunoon's population was American.[5]

Some Americans in the UK are older, ex-servicemen who returned to Britain after being based in the UK during World War II.[4]


Pocahontas with her son Thomas Rolfe - likely to be the first British born person of American descent, regardless of ethnicity

African Americans

African American immigration to the UK began as early as the late 18th century[6] after American slaves failed in their attempt to defend the British Crown in the American Revolution. The Revolution began in the thirteen American colonies and United States in the late 1770s. The British promised freedom to any slave or rebel who fought the Americans on their behalf.[7] African Americans made up over 20 per cent of the American population at the time, which was the second largest ethnic group in British North America only after the English[8] and as many as 30,000 slaves escaped to British lines.[9] The largest regiment was the Black Pioneers who followed troops under Sir General Henry Clinton.[10] Working as soldiers, labourers, pilots, cooks, and musicians, they were a major part of the unsuccessful British war effort. African Americans who fought against the British were known as Black Patriots (modern day African Americans in the US), but rather if they were fighting for the Crown or American Independence both were mostly doing it in return for promises of freedom from enslavement or indentured servitude.[11]

The British-American Commission identified the Black people who had joined the British before the surrender, and issued "certificates of freedom" signed by General Birch or General Musgrave. Those who chose to emigrate were evacuated by ship.[6] The fallout of the Revolution resulted in an estimated 75,000 to 100,000 Black Americans scattering across the Atlantic world, profoundly affecting the development of Nova Scotia, the Bahamas, Jamaica, and the African nation of Sierra Leone as prominent leaders in the emerging freed black communities.[11][12][13] To make sure no one attempted to leave who did not have a certificate of freedom, the name of any Black person on board a vessel, whether slave, indentured servant, or free, was recorded, along with the details of enslavement, escape, and military service, in a document called the Book of Negroes.[6] Between 400 and 1,000 African Americans emigrated to London and were later given the title of Black Loyalist for their service in the British Armed forces and formed the core of the early Black British community.[11][13] Musician Jimi Hendrix, an African American of Native American heritage, lived most of his career in London as part of his band The Jimi Hendrix Experience.

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders

Sean Lennon is a part-time resident in Great Britain and the U.S. He is the son of the Beatles singer British-born John Lennon and Japanese-born Yoko Ono, although Sean was born in New York City.

Hispanic and Latino Americans

English musician Dhani Harrison is the son of George Harrison of The Beatles and Mexican-American Olivia Trinidad Arias (who also now lives in the UK).[14]

Puerto Ricans

In 2001, 306 Puerto Rican born people alone were residing in the United Kingdom (the 19th most common birthplace amongst Latin American states).[1] Notable British residents of Puerto Rican origin or descent include actress Micaela Nevárez and former Miss World, Wilnelia Merced.[15]

Native Americans and Alaskan Natives

Sir Richard Grenville captured the Roanoke Island Native American Raleigh (named for Sir Walter Raleigh) and brought him to Bideford following a skirmish in 1586. He had his baptism at Saint Mary the Virgin's Church in March 1588. He died from from influenza in Grenville's house on April 2, 1589. His interment was at that same church five days later. Raleigh was the first Native American to have a Christian conversion and an English resting place.[16] Chief Powhatan's daughter, Pocahontas spent some of her life in London two years after she married English colonist John Rolfe.[17] At age twenty-one, Pocahontas died due to an unknown disease. She was buried at St George's Church in Gravesend afterwards. There are now many British-born people descended of this 17th-century Native American immigrant (the first of whom was her son Thomas Rolfe).[18] More recently, notable British people of Native American descent include actress Hayley Atwell, who has dual UK-US citizenship due to her part-Native American father.[19] Lakota tribes arrived in England when they were part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. Surrounded By the Enemy, a twenty-two year old Oglala gun-slinging and horse-riding stuntman and a year old boy named Red Penny died during the tour in 1887. Their interments were at West Brompton's cemetery. Brulé tribesman Paul Eagle Star died after breaking his ankle when he fell off a horse in Sheffield on August 24, 1891 at age twenty-seven. His interment was in West Brompton near the same plot as Surrounded. Fifty-nine year old Oglala Sioux, Long Wolf died during the tour due to pneumonia on June 13, 1892. His interment was in West Brompton. Two months later, a two year old girl named White Star Ghost Dog died when she fell from her mother's arms during horseback. Her remains shared the same grave as Long Wolf's remains. Long Wolf and Paul Eagle Star's coffins along with White Star Ghost Dog's coffin were repatriated to the Pine Ridge and Rosebud Indian reservations in the late 1990s.[20][21] Tribal descendants include John Black Feather (Long Wolf's great grandson), Moses Eagle Star and Lucy Eagle Star (Paul Eagle Star's two grandchildren). Blackfoot Sioux chief Charging Thunder came to Salford at age twenty-six as part of Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in 1903. Like many Lakota tribesmen, Charging Thunder was an exceptional horseman and performed thrilling stunts in Buffalo Bill's show in front of huge crowds, on the site of what is now Lowry in Salford Quays. But when the show rolled out of town, he remained in London. He married Josephine, an American horse trainer who had just given birth to their first child, Bessie and together they settled in Darwen, before moving to Gorton. His name became George Edward Williams, after registering with the British immigration authorities to enable him to find work. Williams ended up as an elephant keeper at the Belle Vue Zoo. He died on July 28, 1929 from pneumonia at age fifty-two. His interment was in Gorton's cemetery.

White/European Americans

Zoë Wanamaker is a US-born British actress of Jewish-Ukrainian ancestry,[22] Louis Theroux is the son of American writer Paul Theroux,[23] whilst Mika is half Lebanese half 'American'.[24] British Americans in the UK are Americans of British origin that have migrated back to the United Kingdom; many migrate for family reasons and many Americans can actually claim British citizenship through descent.[25]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Country-of-birth database". Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Retrieved 2008-10-05. 
  2. ^ "Estimated population resident in the United Kingdom, by foreign country of birth (Table 1.3)". Office for National Statistics. September 2009. Archived from the original on 10 September 2010. Retrieved 8 July 2010. 
  3. ^ David Barrett (2 March 2013). "Americans renouncing citizenship to become British thanks to tax rise". Telegraph. Retrieved 5 March 2013. The 2011 census found 177,185 people living in England and Wales were born in the US. 
  4. ^ a b "Born abroad: USA". BBC News. 2005-09-07. Retrieved 2009-10-05. 
  5. ^ dobson, Alan P. (2009). Military Bases: Historical Perspectives, Contemporary Challenges. NATO Science for Peace and Security Series 51. Edited by Luí s Nuno Rodrigues, Sergiy Glebov. IOS Press. p. 29. ISBN . 
  6. ^ a b c "Who were the Black Loyalists?". Nova Scotia Museum. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  7. ^ "Home Page". American Revolution. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Home Page". Black Loyalists. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  10. ^ "New status for a black pioneer". Black History Month (MSNBC). 2005-02-11. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  11. ^ a b c Walker, James W. S. (December 1976). The Black Loyalists: In Search for a Promised Land in Nova Scotia 1783–1870. Africana Pub.Co. ISBN . Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  12. ^ "African Americans in Early American Military History". Colorado College. Archived from the original on 4 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  13. ^ a b Blythe, Bob. "The Odyssey of the Black Loyalists". The Unfinished Revolution. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 26 July 2008. Retrieved 2008-07-14. 
  14. ^ Biography for Olivia Harrison at the Internet Movie Database
  15. ^ Roberts, Laura (2008-02-22). Fruit for lunch and the love of a young woman': Bruce Forsyth's recipe for a long life as he turns 80"'". Daily Mail. Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^ The meteoric rise of actress Hayley Atwell
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^ 'Madam Hooch' rides her broomstick in from Odesa: Actress Zoë Wanamaker offers a glimpse into her family history
  23. ^ "You ask the questions: Louis Theroux". The Independent. 7 November 2001. Retrieved 1 June 2010. 
  24. ^ A Prejudice Goes Pop
  25. ^
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