Half Of Brits Have Immigrant Ancestors

Half of Brits have immigrant ancestors

More than half of Britons have immigrant ancestors, according to new research.

By Chris Irvine
Last Updated: 6:56PM GMT 18 Dec 2008

A total of 30 million Brits have foreign ancestors, with 23 per cent originating from Ireland.

One in five Brits is of French or German descent with more than half able to trace their roots to outside the UK, according to social history website Ancestry.co.uk

As the world celebrates International Day of Migrants on Thursday, more than four fifths admit knowing nothing about their immigrant ancestry.

Despite being unaware of our immigrant ancestry, Brits nonetheless practice a variety of foreign traditions over Christmas.

Decorating the Christmas tree is a German custom for example, while eating Christmas Turkey is American, and kissing under mistletoe is a Scandanavian tradition.

The research also found that Brits celebrate 12 other holy festivals in December as well as Christmas, including Jewish festival Hanukkah and Muslim festivals Eid al-Adha and Waqf-al-Arafa.

Ancestry.co.uk spokesman Dan Jones said: “So much of Britain's cultural and political history stems from its immigrant heritage, which makes it even more staggering when we learn how few of us are actually aware of our foreign ancestry.

“For many families, Christmas is the one time in the year when they all come together, which explains why it's one of the most active periods for family history research. If there are rumours in your family of foreign ancestry, this could be the perfect time to find out more about them.”

Britain's foreign descendents originate from the following countries (in percentage):

1. Ireland 23

2. France 10

3. Germany 9

4. Scandinavia 6.5

5. Canada 5