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English American

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English Americans
Total population
23,074,947Decrease (2017)[1][2]
American Community Survey
7.1% of the total U.S. population[3]
Regions with significant populations
Throughout the entire United States
New England, the Delaware Valley, the Mormon Corridor and the South
Plurality in New York, the Pacific Northwest, Utah, Maine, Vermont, Idaho and New Hampshire
New York2,320,503[4]
North Carolina1,778,008[4]
English (American and British English dialects)

English Americans (also referred to as Anglo-Americans) are Americans whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in England. In the 2017 American Community Survey, English Americans are (7.1%) of the total population.[1][2]

However, demographers regard this as a serious undercount, as the index of inconsistency is high and many if not most Americans from English stock have a tendency to identify simply as "Americans"[6][7][8][9] or if of mixed European ancestry, identify with a more recent and differentiated ethnic group.[10] In the 1980 Census, over 49 million (49,598,035) Americans claimed English ancestry, at the time around 26.34% of the total population and largest reported group which, even today, would make them the largest ethnic group in the United States.[11] Scotch-Irish Americans are for the most part descendants of Lowland Scots and Northern English (specifically - County Durham, Cumberland, Northumberland and Yorkshire) settlers who colonized Ireland during the Plantation of Ulster in the 17th century.

In 1982, an opinion poll showed respondents a card listing a number of ethnic groups and asked, "Thinking both of what they have contributed to this country and have gotten from this country, for each one tell me whether you think, on balance, they've been a good or a bad thing for this country." The English were the top ethnic group, with 66% saying they were a good thing for the United States, followed by the Irish at 62%. Ben J. Wattenberg argues that this poll demonstrates a general American bias against Hispanics and other recent immigrant populations.[12]

The majority—57%--of the Founding Fathers of the United States were of English extraction. English immigrants in the 19th century, as with other groups, sought economic prosperity. They began migrating in large numbers without state support, 1840s to 1890s.[13]

Sense of identity[edit]

     England       United States. Shows the first permanent English settlement of Jamestown in 1607.

Americans of English heritage are often seen, and identify, as simply "American" due to the many historic cultural ties between England and the U.S. and their influence on the country's population. Relative to ethnic groups of other European origins, this may be due to the early establishment of English settlements; as well as to non-English groups having emigrated in order to establish significant communities.[14]

Since 1776, English-Americans have been less likely to proclaim their heritage in the face of the upsurge of cultural and ethnic pride by African Americans, Irish Americans, Scottish Americans, Italian Americans or other ethnic groups. A leading specialist, Charlotte Erickson, found them to be ethnically "invisible," dismissing the occasional St. George Societies as ephemeral elite clubs that were not in touch with the larger ethnic community.[15] In Canada, by contrast, the English organized far more ethnic activism, as the English competed sharply with the well-organized French and Irish elements.[16] In the United States the Scottish immigrants were much better organized than the English in the 19th century, as are their descendants in the late 20th century.[17]

Number of English Americans[edit]

Self-identification per U.S. census
Year Population % of the United States population Ref(s)
1980 49,598,035 26.34 26.34
1990 32,651,788 13.1 13.1
2000 24,515,138 8.7 8.7
2010 25,927,345 8.4 8.4

The original 17th century settlers were overwhelmingly English. From the time of the first permanent English presence in the New World until 1900, these immigrants and their descendants outnumbered all others firmly establishing the English cultural pattern as predominant for the American version.[23]

Colonial period[edit]


According to the United States Historical Census, the ethnic populations in the British American Colonies of 1700, 1755 and 1775 were:

Ethnic composition of the British American Colonies 1700 - 1775
1700 % 1755 % 1775 %
English / Welsh 80.0% English / Welsh 52.0% English 48.7%
African 11.0% African 20.0% African 20.0%
Dutch 4.0% German 7.0% Scots-Irish 7.8 %
Scottish 3.0% Scots-Irish 7.0% German 6.9%
Other European 2.0% Irish 5.0% Scottish 6.6 %
- - Scottish 4.0% Dutch 2.7%
- - Dutch 3.0% French 1.4%
- - Other European 2.0% Swedish 0.6%
- - - - Other 5.3%
Flag of Great Britain (1707–1800).svg Twelve Colonies* 100.0% Red Ensign of Great Britain (1707-1800).svg Thirteen Colonies 100.0% Flag of the United States (1776–1777).svg Thirteen Colonies 100.0%
Source:[24][25][26] (*Province of Georgia not included)
Colonial English Ancestry 1776
Colonies % of approximate population
New England 70.5%
Middle 40.6%
Southern 37.4%

The category 'Irish' represents immigrants from Ireland outside the Province of Ulster, the overwhelming majority of whom were Protestant and not ethnically Irish, though from Ireland. The distinction between Scots-Irish (Protestant) and Irish (Catholic) came about in the mid-19th century: prior to this time all Irish persons whatever religion were identified as 'Irish.'


National origins, 1790[edit]

In 1790 the U.S. conducted its first national population census. The ancestries of the population in 1790 has been estimated by various sources, first in 1932 then again in 1980 and 1984 by sampling distinctive surnames in the census and assigning them a country of origin. There is debate over the accuracy between the studies with individual scholars and the Federal Government using different techniques and conclusion for the ethnic composition.[28][29] A study published in 1909 titled A Century of Population Growth by the Government Census Bureau estimated the English were 83.5% of the white population.[30][31] The states with the highest percentage by the same Census Bureau data in 1909 (% of the total European population) of English ancestry were Connecticut 96.2%, Rhode Island 96.0%, Vermont 95.4%, Massachusetts 95.0%, New Hampshire 94.1%, Maine 93.1%, Virginia 85.0%, Maryland 84.0%, North Carolina 83.1%, South Carolina 82.4%, New York 78.2%, Pennsylvania 59.0%.[32][33]

Another source by Thomas L. Purvis in 1984[34] estimated that people of English ancestry made up about 47.5% of the total population or 60.9% of the white or European American population (his figures can also be found, and as divided by region, in Colin Bonwick, The American Revolution, 1991 p. 2540-839-1346-2).[34][35] Some 80.7% of the total United States population was of European origin.[36] Around 757,208 were of African descent with 697,624 being slaves.[37]


In 1980, 23,748,772 Americans claimed only English ancestry and another 25,849,263 claimed English along with another ethnic ancestry.[38] It must be noted that 13.3 million or 5.9% of the total U.S. population chose to identify as "American" (counted under "not specified") as also seen in censuses that followed.[39] Below shows the persons who reported at least one specific ancestry are as follows.[40][41]

Response Number Percent Northeast North
South West
Single ancestry 23,748,772 47.9% 2,984,931 4,438,223 12,382,681 3,942,937
Multiple ancestry 25,849,263 52.1% 5,190,045 7,099,961 7,235,689 6,323,568
Total reported 49,598,035 8,174,976 11,538,184 19,618,370 10,266,505


At a national level the ancestry response rate was high with 90.4% of the total United States population choosing at least one specific ancestry and 9.6% ignored the question completely. Of those who chose English, 66.9% of people chose it as their first response. Totals for the English showed a considerable decrease from the previous census.[42]

Response Number Percent
First ancestry 21,834,160 66.9%
Second ancestry 10,817,628 33.1%
Total reported 32,651,788

Responses for "American" slightly decreased both numerically and as a percentage from 5.9% to 5.2% in 1990 with most being from the South.[43]


In the 2000 census, 24.5 million or 8.7% of Americans reported English ancestry, a decline of some eight million people. At the national level, the response rate for the ancestry question fell to 80.1% of the total U.S. population, while 19.9% were unclassified or ignored the question completely.[44] Some Cornish Americans may not identify as English American, even though Cornwall had been part of England since long before their ancestors arrived in North America. Responses were:[45]

Response Number change,
First ancestry 16,623,938 -24.9%
Second ancestry 7,885,754
Total reported 24,509,692
Comparison between 1790 and 2000
1790 estimates 2000
Ancestry Number % of
Ancestry Number % of
English 1,900,000 47.5 German 42,885,162 15.2
Other Race 756,770 19.0 African 36,419,434 12.9
Scotch-Irish 320,000 8.0 Irish 30,594,130 10.9
German 280,000 7.0 English 24,515,138 8.7
Irish 200,000 5.0 Mexican 20,640,711 7.3
Scottish 160,000 4.0 Italian 15,723,555 5.6
Welsh 120,000 3.0 French 10,846,018 3.9
Dutch 100,000 2.5 Hispanic 10,017,244 3.6
French 80,000 2.0 Polish 8,977,444 3.2
Native American 50,000 1.0 Scottish 4,890,581 1.7
Spanish 20,000 0.5 Dutch 4,542,494 1.6
Swedish and Other 20,000 0.5 Norwegian 4,477,725 1.6
- - - Scotch-Irish 4,319,232 1.5
United States 4,000,000 100.0 United States 281,421,906 N/A

In 1900, an estimated 28,375,000 or 37.8% of the population of the United States was wholly or primarily of English ancestry from colonial stock.[47] As with any ethnicity, Americans of English descent may choose to identify themselves as just American ethnicity if their ancestry has been in the United States for many generations or if, for the same reason, they are unaware of their lineages.

English expatriates[edit]

In total, there are estimated to be around 678,000 British born expatriates in the United States with the majority of these born in England.[49] There are around 540,000 of any race in the United States, 40,000 Asian British, 20,000 Black British people and approximately 10,000 people of a mixed background.[50]

Geographical distribution[edit]

Percentages by county.
Population by state.
Percentages by U.S. State.
Predominant ancestry in Florida in 2010


English Americans are found in large numbers throughout America, particularly in the Northeast, South and West. According to the 2000 US census, the 10 states with the largest populations of self-reported English Americans are:

The ten states with the most English Americans States with the highest percentages:
1 California (3,521,355 - 7.4% of state population) 1 Utah (29.0%)
2 Florida (1,468,576 - 9.2%) 2 Maine (21.5%)
3 Texas (1,462,984 - 7%) 3 Vermont (18.4%)
4 New York (1,140,036 - 6%) 4 Idaho (18.1%)
5 Ohio (1,046,671 - 9.2%) 5 New Hampshire (18.0%)
6 Pennsylvania (966,253 - 7.9%) 6 Wyoming (15.9%)
7 Michigan (988,625 - 9.9%) 7 Oregon (13.2%)
8 Illinois (831,820 - 6.7%) 8 Montana (12.7%)
9 Virginia (788,849 - 11.1%) 9 Delaware (12.1%)
10 North Carolina (767,749 - 9.5%) 10 Colorado, Rhode Island, Washington (12.0% each)

English was the highest reported European ancestry in the states of Maine, Vermont and Utah; joint highest along with German in the Carolinas.


Following are the top 20 highest percentages of people of English ancestry, in U.S. communities with 500 or more total inhabitants (for the total list of the 101 communities, see the reference):[51]

  1. Hildale, UT 66.9%
  2. Colorado City, AZ 52.7%
  3. Milbridge, ME 41.1%
  4. Panguitch, UT 40.0%
  5. Beaver, UT 39.8%
  6. Enterprise, UT 39.4%
  7. East Machias, ME 39.1%
  8. Marriott-Slaterville, UT 38.2%
  9. Wellsville, UT 37.9%
  10. Morgan, UT 37.2%
  11. Harrington, ME 36.9%
  12. Farmington, UT 36.9%
  13. Highland, UT 36.7%
  14. Nephi, UT 36.4%
  15. Fruit Heights, UT 35.9%
  16. Addison, ME 35.6%
  17. Farr West, UT 35.4%
  18. Hooper, UT 35.0%
  19. Lewiston, UT 35.0%
  20. Plain City, UT 34.7%

On the left, a map showing percentages by county of Americans who declared English ancestry in the 2000 Census. Dark blue and purple colours indicate a higher percentage: highest in the east and west (see also Maps of American ancestries). Center, a map showing the population of English Americans by state. On the right, a map showing the percentages of English Americans by state.


Statue of John Smith for the first English settlement in Historic Jamestowne, Virginia.

Early settlement and colonization[edit]

English settlement in America began with Jamestown in the Virginia Colony in 1607. With the permission of James I, three ships (the Susan Constant, The Discovery, and The God Speed) sailed from England and landed at Cape Henry in April, under the captainship of Christopher Newport,[13] who had been hired by the London Company to lead expeditions to what is now America.[52]

The first self-governing document of Plymouth Colony. English Pilgrims signing the Mayflower Compact in 1620.

The second successful colony was Plymouth Colony, founded in 1620 by people who later became known as the Pilgrims. Fleeing religious persecution in the East Midlands in England, they first went to Holland, but feared losing their English identity.[53] Because of this, they chose to relocate to the New World, with their voyage being financed by English investors. In September 1620, 102 passengers set sail aboard the Mayflower, eventually settling at Plymouth Colony in November.[54] Of the passengers on the Mayflower, 41 men signed the "Mayflower Compact" aboard ship on November 11, 1620, while anchored in Provincetown Harbor. Signers included Carver, Alden, Standish, Howland, Bradford, Allerton, and Fuller.[55][56] This story has become a central theme in the United States cultural identity.

A number of English colonies were established under a system of proprietary governors, who were appointed under mercantile charters to English joint stock companies to found and run settlements.

England also took over the Dutch colony of New Netherland (including the New Amsterdam settlement), renaming it the Province of New York in 1664.[57] With New Netherland, the English came to control the former New Sweden (in what is now Delaware), which the Dutch had conquered from Sweden earlier.[58] This became part of Pennsylvania.

English immigration after 1776[edit]

Cultural similarities and a common language allowed English immigrants to integrate rapidly and gave rise to a unique Anglo-American culture. An estimated 3.5 million English immigrated to the U.S. after 1776.[59] English settlers provided a steady and substantial influx throughout the 19th century.

English immigration to the U.S. 1820-1970
Period Arrivals Period Arrivals
1820-1830 15,837 1901-1910 388,017
1831-1840 7,611 1911-1920 249,944
1841-1850 32,092 1921-1930 157,420
1851-1860 247,125 1931-1940 21,756
1861-1870 222,277 1941-1950 112,252
1871-1880 437,706 1951-1960 156,171
1881-1890 644,680 1961-1970 174,452
1891-1900 216,726 1971-1980 -
Total arrivals: 3,084,066[60][61][62]

The first wave of growing English immigration began in the late 1820s and was sustained by unrest in the United Kingdom until it peaked in 1842 and declined slightly for nearly a decade. Most of these were small farmers and tenant farmers from depressed areas in rural counties in southern and western England and urban laborers who fled from the depressions and from the social and industrial changes of the late 1820s-1840s. While some English immigrants were drawn by dreams of creating model utopian societies in America, most others were attracted by the lure of new lands, textile factories, railroads, and the expansion of mining.

A number of English settlers moved to the United States from Australia in the 1850s (then a British political territory), when the California Gold Rush boomed; these included the so-called "Sydney Ducks" (see Australian Americans).

During the last years of the 1860s, annual English immigration grew to over 60,000 and continued to rise to over 75,000 per year in 1872, before experiencing a decline. The final and most sustained wave of immigration began in 1879 and lasted until the depression of 1893. During this period English annual immigration averaged more than 82,000, with peaks in 1882 and 1888 and did not drop significantly until the financial panic of 1893.[63] The building of America's transcontinental railroads, the settlement of the great plains, and industrialization attracted skilled and professional emigrants from England.

English-born in the U.S. 1850–2010
Year Population % of foreign-born
1850 278,675 12.4
1860 431,692 -
1870 550,924 10.0
1880 662,676 -
1890 908,141 9.8
1900 840,513 -
1910 877,719 6.5
1920 813,853 -
1930 809,563 5.7
1940 - -
1950 809,563 -
1960 528,205 5.4
1970 458,114 4.8
1980 442,499 -
1990 405,588 -
2000 423,609 -
2010 356,489 0.9

Also, cheaper steamship fares enabled unskilled urban workers to come to America, and unskilled and semiskilled laborers, miners, and building trades workers made up the majority of these new English immigrants. While most settled in America, a number of skilled craftsmen remained itinerant, returning to England after a season or two of work. Groups of English immigrants came to America as missionaries for the Salvation Army and to work with the activities of the Evangelical and LDS Churches.

The depression of 1893 sharply decreased English emigration to the United States, and it stayed low for much of the twentieth century. This decline reversed itself in the decade of World War II when over 100,000 English (18 percent of all European immigrants) came from England. In this group was a large contingent of war brides who came between 1945 and 1948. In these years four women emigrated from England for every man.[63] In the 1950s, English immigration increased to over 150,000.and rose to 170,000 in the 1960s.[66] While differences developed, it is not surprising that English immigrants had little difficulty in assimilating to American life. The American resentment against the policies of the British government[67] was rarely transferred to English settlers who came to America in the first decades of the nineteenth century.

Political influence[edit]

As the earliest colonists of the United States, settlers from England and their descendants often held positions of power and made and enforced laws,[68] often because many had been involved in government back in England.[69] In the original 13 colonies, most laws contained elements found in the English common law system.[70]

John Trumbull's famous painting, Declaration of Independence.

The majority—57%-- of the Founding Fathers of the United States were of English extraction. Scottish extraction characterized 16%, 19% were Irish or Scots-Irish, and 5% were Welsh. A minority were of high social status and can be classified as White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP). Many of the prewar WASP elite were Loyalists who left the new nation.[71]

While WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants usually of English origins) have been major players in every major American political party, an exceptionally strong association has existed between WASPs and the Republican Party, before the 1980s. A few top Democrats qualified, such as Franklin D. Roosevelt. Northeastern Republican leaders such as Leverett Saltonstall of Massachusetts, Prescott Bush of Connecticut and especially Nelson Rockefeller of New York exemplified the pro-business liberal Republicanism of their social stratum, espousing internationalist views on foreign policy, supporting social programs, and holding liberal views on issues like racial integration. A famous confrontation was the 1952 Senate election in Massachusetts where John F. Kennedy, a Catholic of Irish descent, defeated WASP Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.. However the challenge by Barry Goldwater in 1964 to the Eastern Republican establishment helped undermine the WASP dominance.[72] Goldwater himself had solid WASP credentials through his mother, of a prominent old Yankee family, but was instead mistakenly seen as part of the Jewish community (which he had never associated with). By the 1980s, the liberal Rockefeller Republican wing of the party was marginalized, overwhelmed by the dominance of the Southern and Western conservative Republicans.[73]

Asking "Is the WASP leader a dying breed?" journalist Nina Strochlic in 2012 pointed to eleven WASP top politicians—typically scions of upper class English families. She ending with Republicans G.H.W. Bush elected in 1988, his son George W. Bush elected in 2000 and 2004, and John McCain, who was nominated but defeated in 2008.[74]


English language distribution in the United States.

English is the most commonly spoken language in the U.S, where it is estimated that two thirds of all native speakers of English live.[75] The American English dialect developed from English colonization. It serves as the de facto official language, the language in which government business is carried out. According to the 1990 census, 94% of the U.S. population speak only English.[76] Adding those who speak English "well" or "very well" brings this figure to 96%.[76] Only 0.8% speak no English at all as compared with 3.6% in 1890. American English differs from British English in a number of ways, the most striking being in terms of pronunciation (for example, American English retains voicing of the letter "R" after vowels, unlike standard British English) and spelling (one example is the "u" in words such as color, favor (US) vs colour, favour (UK)). Less obvious differences are present in grammar and vocabulary. The differences are rarely a barrier to effective communication between American English and British English speakers, but there are certainly enough differences to cause occasional misunderstandings, usually surrounding slang or dialect differences.

Some states, like California, have amended their constitutions to make English the only official language, but in practice, this only means that official government documents must at least be in English, and does not mean that they should be exclusively available only in English. For example, the standard California Class C driver's license examination is available in 32 different languages.


"In for a penny, in for a pound" is an expression to mean, ("if you're going to take a risk at all, you might as well make it a big risk"), is used in the United States which dates back to the colonial period, when cash in the colonies was denominated in Pounds, shillings and Pence.[77] Today, the one-cent coin is commonly known as a penny. A modern alternative expression is "In for a dime, in for a dollar".

Cultural influences[edit]

American cultural icons, apple pie, baseball, and the American flag.

Much of American culture shows influences from English culture.


  • Apple pie - New England was the first region to experience large-scale English colonization in the early 17th century, beginning in 1620, and it was dominated by East Anglian Calvinists, better known as the Puritans. Baking was a particular favorite of the New Englanders and was the origin of dishes seen today as quintessentially "American", such as apple pie and the oven-roasted Thanksgiving turkey.[78] "As American as apple pie" is a well-known phrase used to suggest that something is all-American.
  • Roast Beef - In the middle of the 17th century a second wave of English immigrants began arriving in North America, settling mainly in the Chesapeake Bay region of Virginia and Maryland, expanding upon the Jamestown settlement. There roast beef was often served with Yorkshire puddings and horseradish sauce. (It was despised by the French.)


The First Thanksgiving at Plymouth Colony by English Pilgrims in October 1621.
  • Thanksgiving - It has become a national secular holiday (official since 1863) with religious origins, but in England it remains a Church festival giving thanks to God for the harvest. The first Thanksgiving was celebrated by English settlers to give thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony survive the brutal winter. This feast lasted three days, and—as accounted by attendee Edward Winslow[79]—it was attended by 90 Native Americans and 53 Pilgrims.[80][81] Englishman William Bradford is credited as the first to proclaim the American cultural event which is generally referred to as the "First Thanksgiving".


English-born Henry Chadwick is often called the "father of Baseball".
  • Baseball - The earliest recorded game of base-ball for which the original source survives, involved none other than the family of the Prince of Wales, played indoors in London in November 1748. The Prince is reported as playing "Bass-Ball" again in September 1749 in Walton-on-Thames, Surrey, against Lord Middlesex.[82] The English lawyer William Bray wrote in his diary that he had played a game of baseball on Easter Monday 1755 in Guildford, also in Surrey.[83][84] English lawyer William Bray recorded a game of baseball on Easter Monday 1755 in Guildford, Surrey; Bray's diary was verified as authentic in September 2008.[85][86] This early form of the game was apparently brought to North America by British immigrants. The first appearance of the term that exists in print was in "A Little Pretty Pocket-Book" in 1744, where it is called Base-Ball. Today, Rounders which has been played in England since Tudor times holds a similarity to Baseball. Although, literary references to early forms of "base-ball" in the United Kingdom pre-date use of the term "rounders".[87]
  • American football - can be traced to early versions of rugby football, played in England and first developed in American universities in the mid-19th century.[88]


The American legal system also has its roots in English law.[89] For example, elements of the Magna Carta were incorporated into the United States constitution.[90] English law prior to the revolution is still part of the law of the United States, and provides the basis for many American legal traditions and policies. After the revolution, English law was again adopted by the now independent American States.[91]


Another area of cultural influence are American Patriotic songs:

  • American national anthem - takes its melody from the 18th-century English song "To Anacreon in Heaven" written by John Stafford Smith from England for the Anacreontic Society, a men's social club in London and lyrics written by Francis Scott Key of English descent. This became a well-known and recognized patriotic song throughout the United States, which was officially designated as the U.S. national anthem in 1931.[92][93][94]
  • Hail to the Chief - is the song to announce the arrival or presence of the President of the United States. English songwriter James Sanderson (c. 1769 – c. 1841), composed the music and was first performed in 1812 in New York.[95]

Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom.

  • The Liberty Song - written by John Dickinson of English descent in 1768 to the music of Englishman William Boyce's "Heart of Oak", is perhaps the first patriotic song written in America. The song contains the line "by uniting we stand, by dividing we fall", the first recorded use of the sentiment.
  • My Country, 'Tis of Thee - whose melody was indirectly derived from the British national anthem,[96] also served as a de facto anthem before the adoption of "The Star-Spangled Banner."[97]
  • Amazing Grace - written by English poet and clergyman John Newton became such an icon in American culture that it has been used for a variety of secular purposes and marketing campaigns, placing it in danger of becoming a cliché.[98]
  • Yankee Doodle - is written and accredited to Englishman Dr. Richard Shuckburgh an army doctor. The tune comes from the English nursery rhyme Lucy Locket.[99]

English ballads had a large influence on American folk music, eventually spawning such genres as old time, country, and bluegrass.

English family names[edit]

Of the top ten family names in the United States, seven have English origins or having possible mixed British Isles heritage, the other three being of Spanish origin.[100] Many African Americans have their origins in slavery (i.e. slave name). Many of them came to bear the surnames of their former owners. Many freed slaves either created family names themselves or adopted the name of their former master. According to 2000 U.S. Census data, eight of the top ten surnames in the United States are of British Isles origin, while two are the most common surnames among Hispanics.[101] In the last UK Census in 2001, surnames in England can be compared to the United States with 6 of the family names in England being in both their top ten.[102] Many English surnames are also found in Ireland. This is attributable to a number of factors, including the Protestant Plantation of Ireland, the imposition of the Penal Laws in the 1700s which forced many Irish people to Anglicize their surnames, and English ancestry in the Irish population itself, especially in the area around Dublin. Also, in the 9th century, Viking invaders brought many Norse names to Ireland that they had already brought to England when they established and settled the Danelaw. Scandinavian names may have been brought to England in pre-Viking times, especially in the North and East, due to Anglo-Saxons from Denmark. and the Anglo-Normans who invaded Ireland in the 1170s brought many Norman French names which had already spread to England.

Name Rank - 2010 Number Country of Origin England - 2001 [102][103]
Smith 1 2,442,977 England,[104] Scotland,[105] Ireland[106] (Common however also among German Americans who are likely originally held the surname "Schmidt") Smith
Johnson 2 1,932,812 England, Scotland [107][108] Jones
Williams 3 1,625,252 England, Wales[109] Taylor
Brown 4 1,437,026 England, Ireland, Scotland[110] Brown
Jones 5 1,425,470 England, Wales[111] Williams
García 6 1,166,120 Spain[112] Wilson
Miller 7 1,161,437 England, Ireland, or Scotland (Miller can be the anglicized version of Mueller/Müller - a surname from Germany)[113] Johnson
Davis 8 1,116,357 England, Wales[114] Davies
Rodríguez 9 1,094,924 Spain[115] Robinson, Roderick
Martinez 10 1,060,159 Spain Wright

It should be pointed out, however, that a significant number of non-English immigrants anglicized their surnames. For example, "Smith" may come from German Schmidt, or Dutch Smit; "Johnson" from Norwegian or Danish Johansen, Dutch Jansen, or Swedish Johansson, "Brown" from German Braun, "Miller" from German Müller, and so forth.[citation needed] On the other hand, "Williams",[116] "Jones",[117] and "Davis",[118] which are often associated with Welsh ancestry due to their common occurrence in Wales, are actually mostly English, as Wales has a much smaller population (and diaspora) than England.

English place names in the United States[edit]

Boston, Massachusetts, is named after Boston, England.
In 1664, the English renamed "New York" after (James II of England) the Duke of York.[119]

There are many places in the United States named after places in Great Britain as a result of the many British settlers and explorers; in addition, some places were named after the English royal family. These include the region of New England and some of the following:


  • Birmingham after Birmingham, England


  • Westminster after Westminster in London, England


  • Dover after Dover, England
  • Wilmington named by Proprietor Thomas Penn after his friend Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington, who was prime minister in the reign of George II of Great Britain.


  • Georgia was named after King George II.[120]



  • Boston after Boston, England[122]
  • Gloucester after Gloucester, England
  • Northampton after Northampton, England
  • Southampton after Southampton, England[123]
  • Springfield after Springfield, Essex, England

New Hampshire[edit]

New Jersey[edit]

  • Burlington County and Burlington after the English east-coast town of Bridlington.[126]
  • Camden named by local Jacob Cooper after Charles Pratt, 1st Earl Camden.[127]
  • Gloucester County and Gloucester City after the city of Gloucester / county of Gloucestershire in England.[128]
  • Newark after the town of Newark-on-Trent, England[129]

New York[edit]

  • Cornwall (originally "New Cornwall") after the county of Cornwall in southwest England
  • New York City (after the Duke of York[130])
  • New York (State) (also after the Duke of York)


  • Berks County after Berkshire (pronounced "Barkshire"), England
  • Bristol and Bristol Township after Bristol, England[131]
  • Bucks County after Buckinghamshire, England
  • Chester County and Chester after Chester, England
  • Darby derived from Derby (pronounced "Darby"), the county town of Derbyshire (pronounced "Darbyshire")[132]
  • Horsham after Horsham (pronounced "Hor-sham"), England
  • Lancaster County and Lancaster after the city of Lancaster in the county of Lancashire in England, the native home of John Wright, one of the early settlers.[133]
  • Northampton County after Northamptonshire, England
  • Reading, Berks County after Reading (pronounced "Redding"), Berkshire (pronounced "Barkshire"), England
  • Warminster after the small town of Warminster in the county of Wiltshire, at the western extremity of Salisbury Plain, England.[134]
  • Warrington after Warrington, England[135]
  • Warwick after Warwick, England[136]

The Carolinas[edit]

  • The province, named Carolina (The Carolinas-North and South) to honor King Charles I of England, was divided into SC and NC in 1729, although the actual date is the subject of debate.[137]


  • The name Virginia was first applied by Queen Elizabeth I (the "Virgin Queen") and Sir Walter Raleigh in 1584.[138]
  • Norfolk after the county of Norfolk, England
  • Portsmouth after Portsmouth, England[139]
  • Richmond named by William Byrd II after Richmond, London where he spent part of his childhood.
  • Suffolk after the county of Suffolk, England


Georgian style homes in Philadelphia.

American Architecture, particularly in the nation's earlier years, has long been strongly influenced by English styles. The United States Capitol building, for example, was first designed by English-educated American Architect William Thornton, and bears a resemblance to St Paul's Cathedral in London. Also, many American college campuses, such as Harvard, Penn, Yale, Brown, Williams, Princeton University, and the University of Delaware, have English Georgian or English gothic architecture.

Notable people[edit]

Presidents of English descent[edit]

Gilbert Stuart Williamstown Portrait of George Washington.jpg
George Washington
Official Presidential portrait of John Adams (by John Trumbull, circa 1792).jpg
John Adams
Official Presidential portrait of Thomas Jefferson (by Rembrandt Peale, 1800).jpg
Thomas Jefferson
Abraham Lincoln O-77 matte collodion print.jpg
Abraham Lincoln
Gerald Ford - NARA - 530680.jpg
Gerald Ford
George W. Bush

Most of the Presidents of the United States have had English ancestry.[140] The extent of English heritage varies in the presidents with earlier presidents being predominantly of colonial English Yankee stock. Later US Presidents' ancestry can often be traced to ancestors from multiple nations in Europe, including England.

George Washington (English)
1st President 1789–97 (great-grandfather, John Washington from Purleigh, Essex, England.[141][142])
John Adams (English)
2nd President 1797–1801 (great-great-grandfather, Henry Adams born 1583 Barton St David, Somerset, England, immigrated to Boston, Massachusetts.[143][144])
Thomas Jefferson (English, Welsh and Scots-English)
3rd President 1801–09 (Maternal English ancestry from William Randolph.)
James Madison (English)
4th President 1809–17[145] (Isaac Maddeson, born 1590 in London, England)
John Quincy Adams (English)
6th President 1825–29 (Henry Adams born 1583 Barton St David, Somerset, England.[143][144])
Andrew Jackson (Scots-Irish & English)
7th President 1829-1837: His parents were Ulster-Scot colonists who emigrated from Boneybefore, near Carrickfergus, in County Antrim in Ulster in the north of Ireland.[146] His patrilineal family line originated in Killingswold Grove, Yorkshire, England.[147]
William Henry Harrison (English)
9th President 1841–41[148]
John Tyler (English)
10th President 1841–45[149]
Zachary Taylor (English)
12th President 1849–50
Millard Fillmore (English)
13th President 1850–53[150]
Franklin Pierce (English)
14th President 1853–57[151]
Abraham Lincoln (English & Welsh)
16th President 1861–65 (Samuel Lincoln baptised 1622 in Hingham, Norfolk, England, died in Hingham, Massachusetts.[152][153])
Andrew Johnson (Scots-Irish & English)
17th President 1865–69[154]
Ulysses S. Grant (Scots-Irish, English & Scottish)
18th President, 1869–77 (Matthew Grant, born 1601 in Wool, Dorset)
Rutherford B. Hayes (English)
19th President 1877–81[155]
James A. Garfield (English, Welsh and French)
20th President 1881–81 (Edward Garfield, born 1583 in Hillmorton, Warwickshire)[156]
Chester A. Arthur (Scots-Irish & English)
21st President 1881–85
Grover Cleveland (Scots-Irish & English)
22nd and 24th President, 1885–89 and 1893–97 (Moses Cleveland, born 1619 in Ipswich, Suffolk)
Benjamin Harrison (Scots-Irish & English)
23rd President, 1889–93 (Benjamin Harrison, born 1594 in Northampton)
William McKinley (Scots-Irish & English)
25th President, 1897–1901
Theodore Roosevelt (Scots-Irish, Dutch, Scots, English & French)
26th President, 1901–09
William Howard Taft (Scots-Irish & English)
27th President 1909–13 (Robert Taft, born 1640 in Norwich, Norfolk)[157][158]
Warren G. Harding (Scots-Irish & English)
29th President 1921–23[159]
Calvin Coolidge (English)
30th President 1923–29 (John Coolidge, born 1604 in Cottenham, Cambridgeshire)[160]
Herbert Hoover (German, English & Irish)
31st President 1929-33
Franklin D. Roosevelt (Dutch, French & English)
32nd President 1933–45
Harry S. Truman (Scots-Irish, English & German)
33rd President 1945–53[161][162]
Lyndon B. Johnson (English, Scots-Irish, German and Scottish)
36th President 1963–69
Richard Nixon (Scots-Irish, Irish, English & German)
37th President, 1969–74
Gerald Ford (English)
38th President 1974–77 (Phillip King, born 1709 in Dartmouth, Devon)
Jimmy Carter (Scots-Irish & English)
39th President 1977–81 (William Carter emigrated from London, England to Isle of Wight County, Virginia.[163])
Ronald Reagan (Irish, English & Scottish)
40th President 1981–89: He was the great-grandson, on his father's side, of Irish migrants from County Tipperary who came to America via Canada and England in the 1840s. His mother was of Scottish and English ancestry.[164]
George H. W. Bush (Scots-Irish, English, Dutch & German)
41st President 1989–93: County Wexford historians have found that one of his ancestors, Richard, 2nd Earl of Pembroke, nicknamed "Strongbow", offered his military services in the 12th-century Norman invasion of Wexford, Ireland. Lord Pembroke - better known as Strongbow - married Aoife, daughter of Dermot MacMurrough, the Gaelic King of Leinster who had welcomed the Norman assistance to regain his throne in Ireland. .[165][166]
Bill Clinton (Scots-Irish & English)
42nd President 1993–2001
George W. Bush (Scots-Irish, English, Dutch, German & Welsh)
43rd President 2001–09: Reynold Bush from Messing, Essex, England emigrated in 1631 to Cambridge, Massachusetts.[167]
Barack Obama (Luo, English & Irish)
44th President 2009–2017: His maternal ancestors came to America from France, England, Germany, Switzerland and Ireland.[168][169] His ancestors lived in New England and the South and by the 1800s most were in the Midwest. His father was Luo (or Jaluo) from Kenya, and was the first person in his family to travel or live outside of Africa.

The U.S. Presidents which lacked recent English ancestry were James Monroe, Martin Van Buren, James K. Polk, James Buchanan, Woodrow Wilson, Dwight Eisenhower, and John F. Kennedy. Also, President Donald Trump does not have recent English ancestry, with all of his recent ancestry coming from Germany and Scotland.[170]

See also[edit]

Other articles of the topic United States : Handmaids to Kitty Girls, TrumpiLeaks, Ratchet (Transformers), North Carolina, Twentieth Century Fox Film Studios Corporation, Oakwood Adventist Academy, The Resident (season 2)

Other articles of the topic England : Heidi Katrina, Dua Lipa, Ph1LzA, United Kingdom, Portsmouth ERF, The United Kingdom, Yorkshire and the Humber Labour Party
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  • American ethnicity
  • Americans or American people
  • Anglo America
  • Anglo-Celtic Australian
  • Boston Brahmin
  • British American
  • Demographic history of the United States
  • English (ethnic group)
  • English colonial empire
  • English diaspora
  • European American
  • Immigration to the United States
  • Maps of American ancestries
  • Old Stock Americans
  • Scotch-Irish American
  • Scottish American
  • Anglo-American relations
  • Welsh American
  • White Anglo-Saxon Protestant
  • White Southerners
  • Yankee


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