Britons in Mexico

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British Mexican
Panteón Inglés, Real del Monte, Hidalgo, México, 2013-10-10, DD 06.JPG
Panteón Inglés, Real del Monte, Hidalgo
Total population
4,182 UK-born residents (2012)[1]
Regions with significant populations
Mexico City and Hidalgo
Mexican Spanish and British English
Related ethnic groups
other British diasporas

British Mexicans are Mexicans of British descent or British-born persons who have become naturalized citizens of Mexico.

The British have had a presence in Mexico since the Colonial era. However, the greatest exchange occurred following independence, notably with the Cornish miners in Hidalgo.[clarification needed][2]


The El Divino Salvador Methodist Church in Pachuca was founded by Cornish immigrants and Mexican converts. The current building was inaugurated in 1901.

During the Colonial era, the Spanish restricted the entrance of other Europeans, however, some non-Spanish Europeans were present. In 1556, the English adventurer Robert Thomson encountered the Scotsman Thomas Blake (Tomás Blaque), who had been living in Mexico City for more than twenty years.[3] Blake is the first known Briton to have settled in what would become Mexico.

During his third voyage, the ship commanded by John Hawkins escaped destruction at the Battle of San Juan de Ulúa (1568). However, after becoming lost in the Gulf of Mexico and with a bloated crew, Hawkins abandoned more than one hundred men near Tampico.[4] A group of the men went north (including David Ingram), while the rest went south and were captured by the Spanish. Notable among this group was Miles Philips who wrote a narrative detailing his and the other Englishmen's struggles. They were taken to Mexico City, given care at a hospital and imprisoned. After attempting to escape, they were sold as servants or slaves.[4] Some were able to accumulate wealth by rising to the position of overseers at mines and other operations. However, after the establishment of the Mexican Inquisition, the men were stripped of any wealth and imprisoned as Lutheran heretics. Three of the men were burned, while some sixty were given penance.[4]

Various British privateers and pirates repeatedly attacked the coastal cities of New Spain, most famously in Campeche. In southern Baja California Sur, a few families retain the English surname "Green". This surname is sometimes cited as a legacy of the British pirates who frequented the Cape region. However, the founder was established to be Esteban Green, an English whaler that settled in the region in 1834.[5]

The first great power that recognized the independence of Mexico was the United Kingdom in 1824, shortly after the sale of mines from Pachuca and Real del Monte occurred. The majority of migrants to this region came from what is now termed the Cornish "central mining district" of Camborne and Redruth. Real del Monte's steep streets, stairways and small squares are lined with low buildings and many houses with high sloping roofs and chimneys which indicate a Cornish influence. Mexican remittances from these miners helped to build the Wesleyan Chapel in Redruth.

The Panteón de Dolores, which became the largest cemetery in Mexico, was founded in 1875 by Juan Manuel Benfield, the son of Anglican immigrants. Benfield fulfilled his father's goal of creating a cemetery after his sister was refused burial in Catholic cemeteries and had to be interred at a beach.[6]

According to the 1895 National Census, 3,263 residents were from the United Kingdom.[7]

The twin silver mining settlements of Pachuca and Real del Monte are being marketed as of 2007 as 'Mexico's Little Cornwall' by the Mexican Embassy in London and represent the first attempt by the Spanish speaking part of the Cornish diaspora to establish formal links with Cornwall. The Mexican Embassy in London is also trying to establish a town twinning arrangement with Cornwall. In 2008 thirty members of the Cornish Mexican Cultural Society travelled to Mexico to try and re-trace the path of their ancestors who set off from Cornwall to start a new life in Mexico.[8]


Sign in El Portal pastes shop in Real del Monte.

The Cornish introduced institutionalized football to Mexico.[9] A plaque was placed at the site of the first game in Real del Monte. The English also introduced other popular sports such as rugby union, tennis, cricket, polo, and chess. Football clubs founded by Britons included the British Club, Rovers FC Mexico and Reforma Athletic Club. The most successful club founded by Britons is C.F. Pachuca.


The paste is a pastry with Cornish roots. Introduced by miners from Cornwall who were contracted in the towns of Real del Monte and Pachuca in Hidalgo.[10] The Cornish miners may have also introduced the turnip to Mexico.[11]


There were 3,589 UK-born residents in Mexico recorded during the 2010 census, up from the 3,172 individuals counted in the 2000 census.[12] The census only requests place of birth (administrative division or country), the government does not ask its citizens for ancestry nor additional citizenship. According to the British Embassy in Mexico, there were about 15,000 British citizens living in Mexico.[13]


British immigrants established several institutions of their own, among others:

Notable individuals[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "International Migration Database". OECD. Retrieved 24 December 2015. Country of origin: United Kingdom, Variable: Stock of foreign population by nationality 
  2. ^ El cementerio británico de Real del Monte Suarez Chavez, Aida, State of Hidalgo, Govement, 2012. (Spanish)
  3. ^ The Melbourne Review, Volume 9. S. Mullen. 1884. p. 462. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c Gunn, Drewey Wayne (2014). "British Travelers in New Spain". American and British Writers in Mexico, 1556-1973. University of Texas Press. ISBN 9780292773110. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  5. ^ Martínez Márquez, Pablo L. Guía Familiar de Baja California. 1700-1900. 
  6. ^ Herrera Moreno, Ethel. "El Panteón de Dolores y sus inicios" (PDF). INAH. p. 78. Retrieved 20 February 2016. 
  7. ^ "Los extranjeros en México" (PDF). INEGI. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 
  8. ^ BBC - The Cornish in Mexico
  9. ^ Bar-On, Tamir. The World through Soccer: The Cultural Impact of a Global Sport. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 45. ISBN 9781442234741. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  10. ^ Millward, David (14 November 2011). "World's first Cornish pasty museum opens in Mexico". The Daily Telegraph. UK. 
  11. ^ Rider, Nick. "Cornish Mexico: How the pasty was transported to the Sierras". The Independent. Retrieved 4 August 2016. 
  12. ^ "Población inmigrante residente en México según país de nacimiento". Observatorio de Migración Internacional. Observatorio de Migración Internacional. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 
  13. ^ Penêda, Vera. "Mexico City: hordes of British expats are struggling to find work". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2 August 2016. 

Further reading[edit]

  • The British in Mexico, British and Commonwealth Society, Issue 2 (1988)
  • Dobson, David, Scots in Latin America, Genealogical Publishing Com. (2003) ISBN 9780806352022 (list of known Scottish migrants to Latin America, primarily during the 19th century)

External links[edit]