The Gallery shows Migrants across Britain’s history 

What the Romans can teach us on immigration and integration

As a Roman historian, I’m struck by how often people ask why the Roman empire ended, since a far more interesting question is surely how it managed to survive for such a long time while extended over such an enormous area. At its largest, the Roman empire encompassed an area from Spain in the west to Syria in the east, and while start and end dates are largely a matter of perspective, it existed in the form most people would recognise for over 500 years. The empire of course had many great strengths – but it could be argued that one of the most important keys to its durability was its inclusiveness. Roman society was, of course, marked by stark inequalities. It was inherently misogynistic and rigidly classed, while slavery was ubiquitous. But in other ways, it was surprisingly open-minded – even by the standards of 2015.In 48 AD, a discussion took place in the Roman Senate concerning the admittance of members of the Gallic aristocracy to the venerable body.According to the Roman senator and historian Tacitus, there was opposition to the move; some senators said that Italy was perfectly capable of providing its own members, and that it was enough that northern Italians had been admitted without having to resort to foreigners who had been, until recently, their enemies in war.


My ancestors … encourage me to govern by the same policy of transferring to this city all conspicuous merit, wherever found. And indeed I know, as facts, that the Julii came from Alba, the Coruncanii from Camerium, the Porcii from Tusculum, and not to inquire too minutely into the past, that new members have been brought into the Senate from Etruria and Lucania and the whole of Italy, that Italy itself was at last extended to the Alps, to the end that not only single persons but entire countries and tribes might be united under our name.

We had unshaken peace at home; we prospered in all our foreign relations, in the days when Italy beyond the Po was admitted to share our citizenship…. Are we sorry that the Balbi came to us from Spain, and other men not less illustrious from Narbon Gaul? Their descendants are still among us, and do not yield to us in patriotism.

Everything, Senators, which we now hold to be of the highest antiquity, was once new.



Of course, this account probably doesn’t record precisely what was said on that day; Tacitus often embellished his historical narratives by putting rousing speeches in the mouths of key personalities. But an inscription in Lyon, commonly called the Lyon Tablet, indicates that this address did take place.

And whether authored by Claudius or Tacitus, the content of the speech as recorded shows that 2000 years ago in Rome, prominent figures were putting forward the idea that incorporating citizens from a variety of ethnic backgrounds could strengthen rather than weaken a state.

Ursula Rothe     SEE HERE – The Conversation


The Huguenots count among the most successful of Britain’s immigrants

Fleeing oppression after 1685, tens of thousands of French Protestants came here to start again.

In the handsome 1720s house on Fournier Street where she runs an antique business and café, Fiona Atkins unrolls a large and beautifully detailed hand-drawn map. Created by the artist Adam Dant, it records the addresses of around 300 Huguenot families who lived in Spitalfields.

They were part of the great wave of French Protestant migration that transformed London, and England, after Louis XIV had in 1685 cancelled the civil rights granted them by the Edict of Nantes. At first, she had wondered whether many Huguenot descendants knew or cared where their ancestors had lived. Battalions of them did. “People were very engaged with the project,” she reports. “I’m proud to have done it.”

The map is just one of 100 or so events in this year’s “Huguenot Summer” season. It remembers and celebrates their contribution, not only to London but 20 towns where the French settled – from Canterbury to Norwich, Plymouth to Rochester (where a Huguenot museum has opened and the “French Hospital” still reserves its almshouse accommodation for their descendants). Organiser and Spitalfields resident Charlie de Wet, who staged her first festival in 2013, has just returned from a talk in Plymouth. There, after the diaspora took root, “a third of the population were Huguenots, and nobody knows about it”.

SEE HERE – Huguenots count among the most successful of Britain’s immigrants


A reflection on Jewish migrants to the UK over history – 

JEW – Photographs by John Offenbach

15 November 2019 – 19 April 2020 
jewishmuseum.org.uk / @jewishmuseumLDN

JEW is a new exhibition at the Jewish Museum London by photographer John Offenbach exploring the nature of what it means to identify as Jewish today: from religious to secular, rich to homeless, criminal to lawful through 34 striking large-scale photographs.

Photos are shown below in the Gallery.


Archive images show the Windrush generation arriving in Britain more than 70 years ago as the UK celebrates its first ever Windrush Day (22 June 2019) 

On June 22, 1948, some 482 people arrived from the Carribean at Tilbury Docks, Essex, on the HMT Empire Windrush, marking a seminal moment in Britain’s history.

A national day was announced to commemorate their arrival and the ensuing wave of migration that helped to rebuild the country after the Second World War.


Anne Yarwood

March 2020