The English diaspora in North America

Migration, ethnicity and association, 1730s–1950s

From the early eighteenth century, a vibrant English associational culture emerged that was, by many measures, ethnic in character. English ethnic organisations spread across North America from east to west, and from north to south, later becoming a truly global phenomenon when reaching Australasia in the later nineteenth century. This books charts the nature, extent and character of these developments. It explores the main activities of English ethnic societies, including their charitable work; collective mutual aid; their national celebration; their expressions of imperial and monarchical devotion; and the extent to which they evinced transnational communication with the homeland and with English immigrants in other territories. The English demonstrated and English people abroad demonstrated and experienced competitive and sometimes conflictual ethnic character, and so the discussion also uncovers aspects of enmity towards an Irish immigrant community, especially in the US, whose increasingly political sense of community brought them into bitter dispute with English immigrants whom they soon outnumbered. Towards the end of the nineteenth century, the extent of English ethnic associational culture in North America was such that it resonated within England herself, resulting in the formation of a central organization designed to coordinate the promotion of English culture. This was the Royal Society of St George. Ultimately, the book documents that the English expressed their identity through processes of associating, mutualism and self-expression that were, by any measure, both ethnic and diasporic in character. The English Diaspora is based on a very large amount of untapped primary materials from archives in the United States, Canada, and the UK relating to specific locations such as New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Toronto, Ottawa, and Kingston, and London. Thousands of newspaper articles have been trawled. Several long runs of English associational periodicals have been garnered and utilized. Comparative and transnational perspectives beyond the US and Canada are enabled by the discovery of manuscript materials and periodicals relating to the Royal Society of St George.

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‘This carefully researched and well-documented book will serve as a major source of reference for English ethnic associations in North America.'
D. A. Chekki, University of Winnipeg
Choice
September 2017

‘It is clear that Bueltmann and MacRaild have lessened the invisibility of English associations in North America: they have provided a model of highly focused investigative research that will not need repeating.
Journal of British Studies

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