French migration to the United Kingdom
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2009)|
|3,000,000 (French ancestry)|
|Regions with significant populations|
|London, South East England, Birmingham|
|Mainly Roman Catholicism,
Reformism, Calvinism, Judaism, Sunni Islam
|Related ethnic groups|
French migration to the United Kingdom is a phenomenon that has occurred at various points in history. The Norman Conquest of England by William the Conqueror in 1066 resulted in the arrival of French aristocracy, while in the 15th and 16th century Protestant Huguenots and Calvinists fled religious persecution to West London.
Today, many British people have French ancestry. According to a study by Ancestry.co.uk, 3 million British people are of French descent. The French consulate claims that 300,000 and 400,000 French citizens live in the British capital, London.
The French language remains the foreign language most learned by Britons mostly because Britain and France are so close geographically.
Much of the UK's mediaeval aristocracy was descended from Franco-Norman migrants to England at or after the time of the Norman Conquest. Well known families that originated from the Norman Conquest period, include the Grosvenor family whose original name was "Gros Veneur" meaning (in Norman) "great hunter" or "grand hunter". Their legacy can be found throughout much of London with at least five hundred roads, squares and buildings bearing their family names and titles, and the names of place and people connected with them, including Grosvenor Square and Grosvenor House. A large number of British people are also descended from the Huguenots, French Protestants who in the 16th and 17th centuries fled religious persecution in France. Although a substantial French Protestant community existed in London from the sixteenth century, the suppression of Protestantism in France in the 1680s led to a mass migration of predominantly Calvinist refugees, most of whom settled in London. Divided between Spitalfields in the east and Soho in the west, the French Protestant community was one of the largest and most distinctive communities of the capital.
A large proportion of the Black British and British Arab population came from former French-speaking as well as English-speaking colonies and many still speak French. People in these regions were French citizens until decolonisation around 1960.
Population and distribution
The number of French people living in the UK has increased every year since 1991, according to French government statistics. It jumped by 8,716 in 2006, the biggest gain in at least twenty years. French people are situated throughout much of London, but are particularly found within the Kensington area. There are several French schools, some independent, and others: La Petite École Française in west London and the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, situated in South Kensington and run by the French state.
Famous French Britons
- Sir Joseph William Bazalgette, civil engineer of the Victorian era
- Jacqueline Bisset, actress
- Charles Blondin, acrobat
- Marc Isambard Brunel, engineer, and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel, engineer and creator of the Great Western Railway
- J. J. Burnel, bassist of The Stranglers
- Philip Hermogenes Calderon, 19th-century painter
- George Basil Cardinal Hume, prelate of the Roman Catholic Church (French mother)
- Dido, singer (French mother)
- Hilaire Belloc, writer and politician
- Claude Duval, 17th century Highwayman
- Isaac Barré, soldier and politician
- Benoît Grimes-Viort, fashion model
- Augustus Charles Pugin and Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin, Architects
- Eddie Izzard, stand-up comedian and actor of Huguenot descent
- George Orwell, pen name of novelist and journalist Eric Blair (French maternal grandfather)
- George du Maurier (cartoonist) and his granddaughter Daphne du Maurier (Novelist)
- Davina McCall, television personality (French mother)
- Isaac Casaubon, classical scholar
- Méric Casaubon, scholar
- Jean-Christophe Novelli, celebrity chef
- Michèle Roberts (French mother), writer whose novel 'Daughters of the House' was shortlisted for the 1992 Booker Prize
- Michel Roux, award-winning chef
- Jean-Benoît Blanc, actor
- Louis Theroux, director (French-Canadian grandfather)
- Louis de Bernières, writer (Some French ancestry)
- Roland Joffé, director
- Samia Smith, actress (Some French ancestry)
- Emma Watson, actress (born in France to British parents, French maternal grandmother)
- Noel Fielding, actor and comedian (French grandmother)
- Jazzie Zonzolo, actor and comedian
- Eva Green, actress, dual citizenship
- Boris Johnson, politician and mayor of London
- Simon Le Bon, musician of Huguenot descent
- "Britons can trace French ancestry after millions of records go online". "The documents disclose that despite our rivalry with our continental counterparts, 3 million Britons - one in 20 – can trace their ancestry back to France."
- "London, France's sixth biggest city". BBC News. 2012-05-30. Retrieved 2013-02-23. "The French consulate in London estimates between 300,000 and 400,000 French citizens live in the British capital"
- IHT - the French making themselves at home in London
- French Institute London
- French Protestant Church of London
- France in London - The essential guide for French in London
- Institut français du Royaume-Uni (French Cultural Institute in the UK)
- La Petite Ecole Francaise Primary School
- Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, a large French primary and secondary school situated in South Kensington
- L'école maternelle bilingue Mars Montessori
- London Macadam, a Web site and bimonthly magazine for expats
- London French Rugby RFC
- Reassessing what we collect website – French London History of French London with objects and images