(2016 Australian census)
25.0% of Australia’s population
|Related ethnic groups|
English Australians, also known as Anglo-Australians, are Australians of English descent, and are the largest 'ancestry' identity in the Australian census. In the most recent 2016 census, 7.8 million or 25.0% of respondents identified as "English" or a combination including English. The census also documented 907,572 residents or 3.9% of Australia’s population as being born in England. English Australians have more often come from the South than the North of England.
English immigrants have been the largest group to migrate to Australia since the establishment of New South Wales as a penal colony in 1788.
History of English Australians
Sydney was founded by the British government as a penal colony. Visitors described the English character of Sydney for at least the first 50 years after 1788, noting the traditional English appearance of the churches overlooking the convict barracks. First-generation colonial Sydney residents were predominantly English. 160,000 convicts came to Australia between 1788 and 1850. Between 1788 and 1840, 80,000 English convicts were transported to New South Wales, with the greatest numbers coming between 1825 and 1835. The New South Wales Census of 1846 accounted for 57,349 born in England, 47,547 born in Ireland and 14,406 born in Scotland.
Notable English convicts transported to Australia
- James Blackburn – known for contributions to Australian architecture and civil engineering
- William Bland – naval surgeon transported for killing a man in a duel; prospered and was involved in philanthropy; had a seat in the legislative assembly
- William Buckley – escaped and lived with Aboriginal people for many years
- John Cadman – had been a publican; as a convict became Superintendent of Boats in Sydney; Cadmans Cottage is a cottage granted to him
- Daniel Cooper – successful merchant
- Margaret Dawson – First Fleet, "founding mother"
- William Field – Tasmanian businessman and landowner
- Francis Greenway – Australian architect
- William Henry Groom – successful auctioneer and politician; served in the inaugural Australian Parliament
- William Hutchinson – public servant and pastoralist
- Mark Jeffrey – wrote famous autobiography
- Henry Kable – First Fleet convict, arrived with wife and son (Susannah Holmes, also a convict, and Henry) filed 1st lawsuit in Australia, became wealthy businessman
- Simeon Lord – pioneer merchant and magistrate in Australia
- Nathaniel Lucas – one of the first convicts on Norfolk Island, where he became Master carpenter, later farmed successfully, built windmills, and was Superintendent of carpenters in Sydney
- Isaac Nichols – entrepreneur, first Postmaster
- William Redfern – one of the few surgeon convicts
- Mary Reibey – operated a fleet of ships
- Henry Savery – Australia's first novelist; author of Quintus Servinton
- Robert Sidaway – opened Australia's first theatre
- William Sykes – historically interesting because he left a brief diary and a bundle of letters
- John Tawell – served his sentence, became a prosperous chemist, returned to England after 15 years, and after some time murdered a mistress, for which he was hanged
- Samuel Terry – wealthy merchant and philanthropist
- James Hardy Vaux – author of Australia's first full length autobiography and dictionary
- Mary Wade – youngest female convict transported to Australia (age 11); had 21 children and at the time of her death had over 300 living descendants
- Joseph Wild – explorer
- Solomon Wiseman – merchant and operated ferry on Hawkesbury River, hence town name of Wisemans Ferry
Many more English people immigrated to Victoria by the gold rush of the 1850s. By 1854 there were 97,943 England-born people in Victoria. Immigration policies and assistance schemes helped maintain high levels of immigration from England. Of the 1 million immigrants who arrived between 1860 and 1900, just over half came from England.
When transportation ended, convicts made up 40 percent of Australia's English-speaking population. Between 1840 and 1870 there were more Irish than English assisted migrants which did not change until the 1870s, when there were more English.
At least 75 per cent of all overseas-born people in Australia during the 19th century were from the British Isles. The proportion who had been born in England or Wales remained quite stable (at about 47 per cent) from 1861 to 1911, as did the proportion born in Scotland (about 12 per cent).
Australians born in England or of English ancestry made up more than 50 percent of the population at the time of Federation (1901). From 1922 the Empire Settlement Act assisted thousands of migrants from England. After the Second World War, even as immigration from other countries expanded dramatically, English citizens had almost unrestricted entry into Australia. Arthur Calwell, Minister for Immigration, wanted nine out of ten new immigrants to be UK-born. The majority of England-born migrants received assisted passages until the scheme was abolished in 1982. In 2006 the English were still the largest group of overseas-born in Victoria, with over 3% of Victorians born in England.
Surges of English immigration in the 1880s, between 1910 and 1914, again in the 1920s and, most of all, in the 1950s and 1960s, sustained the English-born as the largest single immigrant group. In 1978 Australians born in England or Australians of predominantly English ancestry made up over 45 per cent of the population. English ancestry was reported by 6.6 million people (46%) in 1986, and 6.4 million (37%) in 2001.
The English continue to be well-represented among immigrants to Australia, the overall decline of English immigration to Australia since the 1980s has meant that the England-born component of the population as a whole is falling. With over 200 years of English settlement, however, Australian society continues to be influenced by its strong English heritage.
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English migrants and English Australians were by far the single most influential ethnic group in colonial Australia. The founding of Australia by English people is still evident in place names, buildings and street layouts, and that 80 percent of the population speak English as their mother tongue and the Low Church hegemony in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, the biggest in the country.
In Sydney, at least 50 suburban names are derived directly from 20 English counties, of which the largest numbers are from Kent, Surrey and London. Among the best known are Surry Hills, Croydon, Hornsby, Epping, Chipping Norton, Brighton-le-Sands, Bexley, Canterbury, Ryde, Kensington, Lewisham and Penshurst.
Prime Ministers of English descent
- Edmund Barton, 1st Prime Minister, 1901–1903 (English parents)
- Alfred Deakin, 2nd Prime Minister, 1903–1904, 1905–08, 1909–10 (English parents)
- Joseph Cook, 6th Prime Minister, 1913–14 (born in Silverdale, Staffordshire, England)
- Earle Page, 11th Prime Minister, 1939 (father from London, England)
- Harold Holt, 17th Prime Minister, 1966–67 (English descent)
- John Gorton, 19th Prime Minister, 1968–71 (English father)
- Gough Whitlam, 21st Prime Minister, 1972–75 (English descent)
- John Howard, 25th Prime Minister, 1996–2007 (partial English descent)
- Kevin Rudd, 26th Prime Minister, 2007–10, 2013 (his 4th great-grandparents, convicts Thomas Rudd from London and Mary Cable from Essex, England)
- Tony Abbott, 28th Prime Minister, 2013-2015 (English father; born in London, England of English, Dutch, Scottish and Welsh descent)
- Malcolm Turnbull, 29th Prime Minister, 2015–present (maternal grandmother, May Lansbury (née Morle), born in England)
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