French migration to the United Kingdom
137,862 (2011 Census)
150,000 (2013 ONS estimate)
3,000,000 (2010 Ancestry.co.uk estimate)
|Regions with significant populations|
|London, South East England|
|Mainly Roman Catholicism and Protestantism;|
Judaism, Irreligious and other minority faiths
|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 16th and 17th centuries Protestant Huguenots fled religious persecution to East London. Other waves (but less likely to have put down permanent roots) are associated with monasticism, particularly post-conquest Benedictines and Cistercians, aristocracy fleeing the French Revolution, expulsion of religious orders by Third Republic France, and current economic migrants.
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.
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Much of the UK's medieval aristocracy was descended from Franco-Norman migrants to England from the time of the Norman Conquest. Prominent families of the period, include the Grosvenor family originally, "Gros Veneur" (in Norman) "great hunter": their influence can be found throughout central London with many roads, squares and buildings bearing their family names, such as Grosvenor Square and Grosvenor House. Ancestors of the Molyneux family, the Earls of Sefton who arrived in England around the time of the Norman Conquest, bore the name "de Molines": they came from Molineaux-sur-Seine, near Rouen, in Normandy where they resided in the Château de Robert-le-Diable also known as Château de Moulineaux. Other well known names are the Beauchamps (Beecham), Courtois and Le Mesurier. Some British people are 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, partly in Spitalfields in the east and Soho in the west. The French protestant community was one of the largest and most distinctive communities in the capital in the 18th-century. Later, during and after the French Revolution, there was also an influx of French Catholics.
Population and distribution
The 2011 UK Census recorded 127,601 French-born residents in England, 2,203 in Wales, 7,147 in Scotland, and 911 in Northern Ireland, making a UK total of 137,862. The previous, 2001 UK Census, had recorded 96,281 French-born residents. The Office for National Statistics estimates that 150,000 French-born immigrants were resident in the UK in 2013.
Of the French-born people recorded by the 2011 census, 66,654 (48.4 per cent) lived in Greater London and 22,584 (16.4 per cent) in South East England. Within London, particular concentrations were recorded in the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster and Hammersmith and Fulham. There are several French schools in London, some independent, and others, La Petite École Française in west London and the Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle, situated in South Kensington are run by the French state. The French Consulate in London has estimated that 270,000 French people live in the city, but the ONS contests this, pointing out that the number of French passport holders recorded by the 2011 census was only 86,000. The French Embassy's estimate includes London plus "the south eastern quadrant of the UK including Kent, Oxfordshire and maybe Sussex too".
French international schools in the United Kingdom:
- Lycée Français Charles de Gaulle
- Lycée International de Londres Winston Churchill - London
- École française de Bristol
- École d'entreprise Total (Aberdeen)
Famous British people who can trace their ancestry back to France include Joanne Harris, Davina McCall, John Hegley, Simon Le Bon, Noel Fielding and Emma Watson. Top French chief executives attracted to Britain have been: Xavier Rolet (LSE) and Vincent de Rivaz (EDF Energy). In the kitchen chefs working in the UK include Raymond Blanc, who has spent most of his working life in Britain and presents cookery programmes on British television. Brothers Albert and Michel Roux, were the first chefs in Britain to be awarded three Michelin stars in 1982 for their restaurant, Le Gavroche. At the start of the 2011–12 season, aside from home-grown and Irish talent, there were more French-born footballers in the Premier League than any other nationality. Frenchman Arsène Wenger was the Premier League's second-longest serving manager, since assuming the role at Arsenal F.C. in October 1996 before retiring in May 2018.
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- Stephenson, Wesley (1 April 2014). "Is London really France's 'sixth biggest city'?". BBC News. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- Wardrop, Murray (12 April 2010). "Britons can trace French ancestry after millions of records go online". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
The documents disclose that despite our rivalry with our continental counterparts, 3 million Britons - one in 20 – can trace their ancestry back to France
- Frith, Maxine (2 November 2012). "Top (French) chef Raymond Blanc admits British are best at food". Evening Standard. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
- Sansom, Ian (1 January 2011). "Great dynasties of the world: The Roux family". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 August 2015.
- Bowater, Donna (12 August 2011). "Premier League: which countries are the players from?". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 15 August 2015.
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- French Institute London
- French Protestant Church of London
- Reassessing what we collect website – French London History of French London with objects and images