French migration to the United Kingdom

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
French Britons
Richard coeur de lion.jpg
King Charles II by John Michael Wright or studio.jpg
Louis-Philippe de Bourbon.jpg
Michel Roux.jpg
J. K. Rowling 2010.jpg
Louis Theroux at Nordiske Mediedager 2009.jpg
Christophe Berra.jpg
Emma Watson 2013.jpg
Total population
3,000,000 (French ancestry)[1]
Regions with significant populations
London, South East England, Birmingham
English, French
Mainly Roman Catholicism and Protestantism;
minorities practice other faiths
Related ethnic groups
French people

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 16th and 17th centuries Protestant Huguenots fled religious persecution to East London.

Today, many British people have French ancestry. According to a study by, three million British people are of French descent.[1] At the UK Census 2011, 137,862 natives of France lived in the United Kingdom, 66,654 of whom in Greater London.[2][3][4]

French remains the foreign language most learned by Britons. It has traditionally been spoken as a second language by the country's educated classes and its popularity is reinforced by the close geographical proximity between Great Britain and France.


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.

Population and distribution[edit]

The number of French people living in the UK has increased every year since 1991, according to French government statistics.[5] It jumped by 8,716 in 2006, the biggest gain in at least twenty years.

According to the UK Census 2011, 48% of the natives of France in the United Kingdom live in Greater London,[2][3][4] where they make up the ninth-largest foreign-born community after immigrants from India, Poland, the Republic of Ireland, Nigeria, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Jamaica, and Sri Lanka.[2]

French people reside throughout much of London, but are particularly found within the Kensington area. The UK Census 2011 found that 26% of the natives of France in Greater London lived in the three boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, and Hammersmith and Fulham.[2] 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[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wardrop, Murray (2010-04-12). "Britons can trace French ancestry after millions of records go online". The Daily Telegraph (London). "The documents disclose that despite our rivalry with our continental counterparts, 3 million Britons - one in 20 – can trace their ancestry back to France." 
  2. ^ a b c d Office for National Statistics. "2011 Census: Country of birth (detailed), local authorities in England and Wales". Retrieved 2014-03-21. 
  3. ^ a b General Register Office for Scotland. "Scotland's Census 2011 - Table QS203SC - Country of birth". Retrieved 2014-03-21. 
  4. ^ a b Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency. "Northern Ireland's Census 2011 - Country of Birth - Full Detail: QS206NI". Retrieved 2014-03-21. 
  5. ^ IHT - the French making themselves at home in London

External links[edit]