Italian Scots

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Italian Scot
Total population
No exact numbers but estimates range from 35,000 to 100,000
Regions with significant populations
Throughout Scotland specifically Glasgow ·
Scots · English · Italian (and related forms)
Roman Catholicism[citation needed]
Related ethnic groups
Italian, Welsh Italians, Italian Americans, Italian Australians, Italian Canadians

Italian Scots are people of Italian descent living in Scotland. These terms may refer to people who are born in Scotland and of Italian descent. It can also refer to people of mixed Scottish and Italian ancestry. A recent Italian voter census estimated that there are 70,000 to 100,000 people in Scotland of Italian descent or Italian nationals, which is up to 1.9% of the overall Scottish population.

Latest available figures from the 2011 UK Census show there were 6,048 people born in Italy living in Scotland. This was up from 4,936 in 2001 and 3,947 recorded in 1991.[1] In 2016, Ronnie Convery, secretary of the Italian Scotland charitable organisation and director of communications at the Archdiocese of Glasgow, asserted that a completely new dimension was being added to the Scots-Italians community. He said, “There has been a brand new migration over the past two years, and the biggest one we have seen in 100 years."[1]

The majority come from the provinces of Lucca, Parma, Frosinone and Isernia.[citation needed]


Arguably the first people from Italy to reach Scotland were the Romans in and around 40AD, although the modern nations of Italy and Scotland did not exist at the time and of course the Roman Empire was a cosmopolitan institution, with some Roman Emperors from the Iberian Peninsula and North Africa. Still, the Romans were for the most part from what is now Italy and they did leave their mark on Scotland at Antonine Wall and other monumental constructions, although it was not until the end of the 19th century that an Italian-Scots identity really began to take shape.

Many Italian-Scots can trace their ancestry back to the 1890s where their forefathers escaped drought, famine and poverty in their homeland for a better life in Scotland; yet it was not until World War I that a sizeable population of Italian-Scots—over 4,000[2]—began to emerge, with Glasgow hosting the third largest community in the United Kingdom.[2] Since then, there has been a steady flow of migration between the two countries.

Italy and the fascist involvement in World War II brought many hardships on Italians settled in Scotland - many families were separated as adult males were interned.[3] The family members that were left behind were forced to cope with mistrust and discrimination. Of those imprisoned many men found themselves held in Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. A number of others were employed in Orkney, at Scapa Flow, to construct a barrier against Nazi U-boats. These men additionally constructed the Chapel of Lambholm from scrap metal and junk.[4] Nowadays, this Chapel is one of Orkney's most popular tourist attractions.

Today, Italian Scots can be found working in all manner of professions. However, a large proportion of the community have plied their trade in the catering industry, working in the chip shops, ice-cream parlours, pizzerias and restaurants across Scotland.

In Edinburgh,The Italo-Scottish Research Cluster (ISRC) aims to study Italian immigration in Scotland and promote relations between Scotland and Italy.[5]

Notable Italian Scots[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "What impact have Scots-Italians had on Scotland?". Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  2. ^ a b "Italian role in Scotland honoured". BBC News. 3 November 2004. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
  3. ^ "History". Retrieved 2008-03-16.
  4. ^ "Orkney's Italian Gift". BBC. Retrieved 2008-03-16.
  5. ^ "About us". The University of Edinburgh. Retrieved 2017-11-09.
  • Pieri, J. (2005) 'The Scots-Italians: Recollections of an Immigrant' The Mercat Press