Summary of migration between Britain and the Americas

Six maps illustrating the migrations between Britain and the Americas

1584-1614: English colonists settle in Virgina

  • Exploration and colonisation of the Americas in the late 16th and early 17th centuries gave English migrants the opportunity to migrate across the Atlantic to the New World.

1606-1620: The Pilgrim Fathers settle in New England

  • While many migrants were motivated by the hope of acquiring gold or farmland, others, like the Puritans, settled in North America to escape religious persecution in England.

1580-1807: The trafficking of enslaved Africans across the Atlantic

  • Trade remained the most important factor in the movement of people between Britain and the Americas.
  • The sugar plantations of the Caribbean encouraged many people to leave Britain but the heavy work was done by enslaved Africans who had been trafficked across the Atlantic in British vessels.

1780s: Migration of the black Loyalists after the American War of Independence

  • In order to maintain control of the American colonies Britain had to wage war, mostly with France.
  • The taxes imposed on American colonist to pay for these expensive wars was a major factor in the colonists’ decision to fight a war for independence.
  • Not all colonists wanted independence; those that fought with the British Empire, including many black Loyalists, migrated to British Canada and London.

1787: Migration of black Loyalists to Sierre Leone

  • Some Black Loyalists moved on from London to settle in Sierra Leone, a colony which was created as a home for them and for other emancipated slaves.

1948: Migration of Caribbean British citizens

  • After World War Two the British government declared that people from the Commonwealth were legally British citizens and so people from the Caribbean began to migrate to Britain to find work and start a new life in Britain.