Results 1 to 10 of 10

Thread: Shedding of English identity

  1. #1
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Last Online
    Sunday, July 19th, 2009 @ 03:35 PM
    Ethnicity
    Scottish
    Ancestry
    Anglo-Saxon
    Subrace
    Nordid
    Country
    United Kingdom United Kingdom
    Location
    Edinburgh
    Gender
    Family
    Married, happily
    Occupation
    Internet publishing
    Politics
    Right of centre
    Religion
    Theist
    Posts
    15
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    0
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    0
    Thanked in
    0 Posts

    Shedding of English identity

    Why is that the English seem so ready to shed their identity? If you look at countries which the English in particular, rather than the British, have founded, they seem to be eager to become something else within a handful of generations. Now, this may well apply to a greater or lesser extent to Scots, Irish etc too, but who ever heard of an English-American? The Scots have retained their identity world-wide with St Andrews societies from Calgary to Brisbane and Hong Kong to Buenos Aires and Burn's Suppers everywhere. The Irish have St Patrick's Day, even if it was their great-grandfather who last saw the Emerald Isle.

    If you consider that the Lothian area of Scotland was formerly the Anglish kingdom of Bernicia, yet the people there had become Scots in their own heads, judging by comments to that effect in chronicles from the twelfth century Scottish Borders; that the Americans who threw tea into Boston Harbour at the start of the Revolution were overwhelmingly English and that the Aussies whose great sporting enemy is England, why don't they retain (it appears) the same desire to retain Englishness?

    Does this demonstrate a more relaxed English view of nationality, or a lack of self-confidence?

  2. #2
    Account Inactive
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Last Online
    Saturday, June 11th, 2016 @ 01:27 PM
    Ethnicity
    English
    Subrace
    CM-Atlantidish
    Country
    England England
    State
    Lancashire Lancashire
    Location
    Mamvcivm
    Gender
    Age
    39
    Politics
    Nationalist
    Religion
    British
    Posts
    3,586
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    0
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    13
    Thanked in
    13 Posts

    Re: Shedding of English identity

    I was discussing this years ago with a Welshman who lives in the Scottish Highlands, and the talk got round to the difficulty of making a statement about one's Englishness. Part of the matter is that it's TOO easy to be Scottish or Irish, or at least to make a pretence of it in costume and other visual accompaniments.

    What does an Irish-American need to celebrate his Irishness? - A silly green hat, a pint of Guinness, a T-shirt with the tricolor, a 'Celtic' tattoo, Catholicism and remembering a few rebel songs! Scots or their descendants can put on the plaid or a Tam O'Shanter, play some pipe music, and Hey Presto - instant Scot!

    England suffers from a surfeit of such symbolism, and millions of different costumes and associations from our more internally varied history. [I know that's a gross simplification of Celtic history, but we ARE dealing with simplifications here!] How would you dress as an 'Englishman'? There's a different image for every century or so!

    The limited array of stereotypical images in the Scots or Irish repertoire is in part a result of their identities's partial marginalisation by Britishness, but more a matter of deliberate and deceptive selection on the part of the formers of national consciousness in each case. It's often observed that the 'Scottish' symbols are really the preserve of the Gaelic Highlands, and so the Scots have built their image of themselves on a denial of their Strathclyde Welsh, Bernician English, and eastern Pictish heritage.

    I look forward to a time of greater education in ethnic ancestry, when people will realise who they are, and who their kin are, and act accordingly.

  3. #3
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Last Online
    Sunday, July 19th, 2009 @ 03:35 PM
    Ethnicity
    Scottish
    Ancestry
    Anglo-Saxon
    Subrace
    Nordid
    Country
    United Kingdom United Kingdom
    Location
    Edinburgh
    Gender
    Family
    Married, happily
    Occupation
    Internet publishing
    Politics
    Right of centre
    Religion
    Theist
    Posts
    15
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    0
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    0
    Thanked in
    0 Posts

    Re: Shedding of English identity

    Exactly right. It was thanks to Sir Walter Scott that the idea of the tartan-clad Scot arose. Well, almost. Before him, there was 'Ossian', of course, first published in 1761, I think. This was fabricated out of the romantic mid-eighteenth century idea of 'noble savage' (see Johnson's 'The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abyssinia' from 1759) or, at least, exotic individual representing a different and, perhaps, better society. It came in the wake of the '45 which tended to brand all Scots as being of the Jacobite attitude. Nothing could be further from the truth. There were more Scots regiments at Culloden than their proportion of the British population merited. However, the brutality with which 'Butcher' Cumberland (a German, not British) dealt with the Highlanders and the banning of certain aspects of Highland, 'Celtic' culture (bagpipes, kilts, speaking Gaelic, being called MacGregor) made them ideal representations of a society that differed markedly from the British state. Thus, they were an ideal way in which the reawakening Scottish nation could achieve some kind of 'ethnic focus' around something that was essentially alien to most Lowlanders. From that romanticisation of the Highlander stems what the world (and many ignorant Scots) perceive as being totemic Scots symbols. It is akin to saying that wearing a smock and a broad-brimmed hat, chewing on a piece of straw and saying,'Ooh, aar!' represented England in its entirety. I think most Yorkshiremen, Londoners etc, might object to that.

    What this represents is a redefinition of a national identity in Scotland which, to a degree, I think the Irish have achieved with shamrock, the Blarney Stone, leprechauns, St Paddy and Guinness. The English , perhaps by dint of their sheer numbers, have resisted that it seems. Does this mean that English identity needs some form of reinforcement, or that it is sturdy enough not to need that?

  4. #4
    Account Inactive
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Last Online
    Saturday, June 11th, 2016 @ 01:27 PM
    Ethnicity
    English
    Subrace
    CM-Atlantidish
    Country
    England England
    State
    Lancashire Lancashire
    Location
    Mamvcivm
    Gender
    Age
    39
    Politics
    Nationalist
    Religion
    British
    Posts
    3,586
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    0
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    13
    Thanked in
    13 Posts

    Re: Shedding of English identity

    It's quite interesting that the Highlander was only ready for this misuse and symbolical exploitation ONLY ONCE he'd been eliminated as a real threat to the Lowlanders, as though they intended to polish him off once and for all by stealing his image when he was too weak to resist. We then are left with a very sanitised romantic stereotype, fit for Victorian audiences and probably having more in common with Rousseau's Noble Savage prototype than anything of anthropological reality.

    As for the question of 'reinforcing' Englishness, I would hope that education into our ethnic origins in the Dark Ages would give the populace enough to go on in forming a new image.

  5. #5
    Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Last Online
    Sunday, July 19th, 2009 @ 03:35 PM
    Ethnicity
    Scottish
    Ancestry
    Anglo-Saxon
    Subrace
    Nordid
    Country
    United Kingdom United Kingdom
    Location
    Edinburgh
    Gender
    Family
    Married, happily
    Occupation
    Internet publishing
    Politics
    Right of centre
    Religion
    Theist
    Posts
    15
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    0
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    0
    Thanked in
    0 Posts

    Re: Shedding of English identity

    Yes. I think Scott wanted to paint each nation is a particular way. I suppose England might have been epitomised by Ivanhoe, though I must admit I haven't read any Scott. Regardless, there's no denying the powerful effect his literature had. He is regarded by many as the father of the historical novel and, quite probably it's true.

    In relation to Englishness, the thing I find most interesting in the Scottish context is the spread of the language and culture throughout lowland Scotland at a fairly early stage. Although Nicolaisen (I think that's the spelling) shows that some place names like Coldingham are relatively early Anglo-Saxon names, many of the place names in Scotland still show who originally lived there. You have Old Welsh (Pencaitland, Penicuik, Pentland) in the south-east alongside the Anglo-Saxon names, yet it was the latter culture that ended up as the dominant one.

    To the north of Lothian, there are English placenames in Fife, though some are simply corruptions of earlier, Pictish names. Nonetheless, the language spread at a time when commerce was just beginning under David I (it may have been Alexander, his brother, who founded Durham Cathedral, I don't know). It strikes me that the people of Lothian and the North of England that a number of Scots kings ruled, brought their greater experience to bear upon an emerging Scottish market and settled throughout the country during his reign and thereafter. If you read his charters, you will find the names of the men in various burghs and the signatories are more and more of foreign origin. Many witnesses are, of course, Normans. Many of the burghers are from Flanders and the like. If you read the Chronicles of the religious foundations that survive (Melrose and Holyrood) it is clear that their guiding light is the church in England. Their names are usually English or Norman. Of course, following the Norman Conquest, many English fled to Scotland, so the existing population had been swelled by English generations before. Knowing that Malcolm's Queen was English by blood and speech and that she got what she wanted from him, I find it hard to believe that she was content merely to have these men and women, many of them aristocrats, no doubt, and others relations like Edgar Atheling, confined to Lothian. I fancy that the readiness of the east of Scotland to accept these Inglis speakers was because there were already places in which that language was already being spoken, possibly by the local thanes and lords. After all, the aristocracy in both Scotland and England spoke Norman French for a good couple of centuries or more, so why not English in another time? In an era when transport was difficult, a man granted land would take his family with him and he and his children would speak their common tongue as would their servants, slaves, farm workers etc. The trade clearly stimulated use of English, so it isn't inconsistent to see some form of precursor in place. Again, however, these people who may have seen themselves as being English could well have been like other medieval peoples. They didn't have a great sense of nationality then. Quite probably, they simply became Scots, much as the Picts seem to have done.

    Where I see the difference arising between the Anglo-Saxon Lowlanders and the Picts, is that the Picts language and culture vanished very rapidly. They are regarded as having been defeated, so they had to put up with what was ordered by their lords and masters, the Scots. I contend, however, that, as Roger of Wendover said, Lothian was granted to King Kenneth of Scotland. One of the consequences of this was, I think, that Lothian could not be treated as a conquered territory. It was not unique in this as Cumbria was held by the Scots in the same fashion at the same time. However, Cumbria was later repossessed by England. What was unique in the Scottish context of the tenth century was that there seems to have been no attempt to stamp a Scottish shape on Lothian. David I referred to his subjects of Lothian two hundred years later as 'English'. I believe Edward I actually made Lothian part of England again before the Battle of Bannockburn ended attempts to conquer Scotland. We know that thanes existed in David's time. This is a distinctly English title (cf 'Macbeth'). The measurements of land were English ('oxgangs', which is the name of an area of Edinburgh).

    Without writing an extended essay, what strikes me is the extremely pragmatic attitude displayed by the people who settled in Scotland and who spread throughout the kingdom, taking their speech and customs with them. They may have shed their identification with being English, but they retained the things that made them English in the first place and passed it on as they intermarried with their fellows in the Scottish kingdom of Scotia (north of the Forth and Clyde) as in Scotland (south of the Forth and Clyde). Just as an Aussie will call the English 'Poms' and be disparaging about all things English, I think that much Scots antipathy to the English is that, as many foreigners point out, they can't really tell the difference, because, apart from the superficial, there isn't any. We're too damn' mixed in to unscramble the omelette. Thus, you get an English Prime Minister called Blair and an English Leader of the Opposition called Cameron ;-)

  6. #6
    Funding Member
    "Friend of Germanics"
    Skadi Funding Member

    Leofric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Last Online
    Monday, June 25th, 2018 @ 03:15 PM
    Ethnicity
    English
    Subrace
    Nordid
    Country
    United States United States
    State
    California California
    Location
    Pacific Northwest
    Gender
    Age
    40
    Zodiac Sign
    Aquarius
    Family
    Married
    Occupation
    Telecommunications
    Politics
    Libertarian/Neo-Imperialist
    Religion
    Heathen
    Posts
    1,200
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    10
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    6
    Thanked in
    6 Posts

    Re: Shedding of English identity

    Well, I can speak for the English in America.

    Well, all right, I can't. But I can speak for myself, and to some extent, my family, and can talk about my observations about the fellow Anglo-Americans.

    I don't think the English in America are all too quick to shed their Englishness. I have known a lot of Englishmen from loyalist America (i.e., Canada) who are very vociferously proud of their Englishness, and not a few Englishmen from rebel America (i.e., The United States) who are just as proud of being English.

    I know I was raised to think of myself as English and to think of the United States as an English country (along with Canada, England, Australia, and New Zealand). I run into people all the time who have the same outlook — they're proud to be United Statesian (and everything that means), and equally proud to be English (just not under Parliament).

    In fact, very many United Statesian Englishmen I meet think of the Queen when asked to think of the most important person they could ever meet. The President of the United States is definitely ranked lower than she is.

    Also, a lot of the English folks I know feel that it if the UK wants to join up in some kind of superstate, it would be far better to form an English superstate than for them to run to the EU. We, as Englishmen, would always allow for more sovereignty for member states in such a union, and no one in the US, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand would be too likely to force the UK to metricate in everything or to give up the Pound or anything else like that. And we would never reject a constitution for being too Anglo-Saxon.

    Also, from what I understand, among the upper classes of New England, it would be unthinkable to live in such a stereotypically unEnglish way as, say, to convert to Catholicism. That's for the Irish immigrants, not for the sons of the Mayflower.

    I think that self-identification means stands for quite a lot, and a whole lot of the English Americans I know are proud to identify themselves as English.

    The only problem is that, as Oswiu says, it's really easy to identify yourself as Irish or Scottish. Wear a shamrock or a kilt and you're done. In America at least, English is the standard. It doesn't stand out as much as everything else, because it's what's expected. So it's harder to show off.

    But at the same time, it's also much more of a way of life.

    My father is so adamantly English that he can't imagine living any other way and wouldn't ever want to. He strongly equates American (Canadian or United Statesian — he sees the two as only being different in silly political terms) with English and feels like every American who isn't English might as well be a third world immigrant, fresh off the boat (even if their last immigrant ancestors got here during the potato famine). He never considers an Englishman an immigrant, even if he is fresh off the boat. He definitely thinks Americans are superior to Brits, but not because one group is English and the other isn't (though if he had to choose, I'm guessing he'd say that all the real English left Britain to come to America).

    But even though my father doesn't make a big show of being English, everything he does is, according to him, because he's English. And everything bad that anyone else does is often because they're not English (or at least, because of some immigrant ancestry that messed up their upbringing). For my dad, to live is to be English.

    It's the same for my mom, which is always really fun when they fight. My dad blames her shortcomings on her few German ancestors and my mom blames his on his few Ulster ancestors. It's always good for a laugh.

    My wife has a hard time with both of them, since she's mainly German and Swedish, so they always treat her like she's a pretty good person, for an immigrant. It kind of upsets me, but not quite as much as she would like.

    I'm kind of rambling here in a rather annoying fashion. But I guess my points are these:

    1) I don't think English identity is quite so readily shed as it would seem.
    2) I don't think it's such a bad thing that we don't have cheap cultural icons that act as semblances of cultural identity, since our identity, when maintained, is maintained as a real way of life rather than a 50-cent adornment.

  7. #7
    Senior Member æþeling's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Last Online
    Wednesday, March 19th, 2008 @ 09:46 PM
    Age
    38
    Posts
    330
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    0
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    1
    Thanked in
    1 Post

    Re: Shedding of English identity

    Interesting post Leofric.

    I tend to define “American” as those of English ancestry; or other parts of the British Isles, and at a push the Dutch and the Germans.
    Wita sceal geþyldig, ne sceal no to hatheort ne to hrædwyrde, ne to wac wiga ne to wanhydig, ne to forht ne to fægen, ne to feohgifre ne næfre gielpes to georn, ær he geare cunne. Beorn sceal gebidan, þonne he beot spriceð, oþþæt collenferð cunne gearwe hwider hreþra gehygd hweorfan wille.

    http://www.odinic-rite.org/index2.html
    http://www.steadfasttrust.org.uk/

  8. #8
    Funding Member
    "Friend of Germanics"
    Skadi Funding Member


    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Last Online
    Friday, September 5th, 2008 @ 07:36 AM
    Subrace
    Nordid
    Country
    United States United States
    State
    California California
    Gender
    Family
    Married
    Posts
    4,095
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    0
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    17
    Thanked in
    16 Posts

    Re: Shedding of English identity

    I have a very English sounding name and English ancestors going way back to the founding of America.

    English culture was the dominant in America. The English way was the proper way in everything. England is our mother country. America would come to the aid of England in a heartbeat as we would with any Anglo country. I don't think it is any different in any former English colony (Canada, N.Z., Australia). All that you are seeing is some small effort on the part of former colonials to assert a seperate cultural reality from England. We do not live in an English enviornment and we have naturally made some cultural changes which are reflected in our daily lives. This does not mean we want to lose cultural contact with England. Consider the Beetles and Princes Diana. I rest my case.

  9. #9
    Senior Member RedJack's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Last Online
    Tuesday, December 10th, 2019 @ 08:14 PM
    Ethnicity
    English
    Subrace
    Atlanto-Saxon
    Country
    Canada Canada
    State
    Alberta Alberta
    Location
    Alberta
    Gender
    Politics
    conservative
    Religion
    Christian
    Posts
    1,847
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    4
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    3
    Thanked in
    3 Posts

    Re: Shedding of English identity

    Long live the Anglosphere!
    Don't let Europe Rule Britannia!

    "If we reunited, then we would be an economic and military powerhouse without peer for centuries to come."-Leofric

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Last Online
    Tuesday, August 14th, 2012 @ 09:01 PM
    Ethnicity
    Germanic
    State
    Teutonic Order Teutonic Order
    Gender
    Posts
    840
    Thanks Thanks Given 
    0
    Thanks Thanks Received 
    1
    Thanked in
    1 Post

    Re: Shedding of English identity

    There's not a day that goes by that I don't thank God for the descisions my anscestors made to come to America since before the Revolution. My family was quick to adapt and assimilate all things English since coming from the Old Country and has lived on graciously to my arrival, and will continue to live on in my children and, God willing, their children and so on. For me Englishness is definatley a cultural thing, and even though I am French by blood, I feel hardly any kinship with my fellow Franks and that is especially true since my last visits to Quebec. I don't consider myself "English" in any sense of the word, other than the fact I have been given by kind providence the honour to speak it, and embrace it's culture, which in effect is true "Canadian" culture, for I believe that sort of title is rightly bestowed upon those who descended from the original Anglo Saxons. That's not to say that I don't have such anscestry, which I am well aware that I do, and indeed all descendants from the original settlers and migrants do as well, but still, when most people look at me they see my father, a Frenchman. And it's not very hard to spot a Frenchman in a crowd! So I have to try and find some equal ground between two completely different entities, by embracing both English culture and values, and honouring the very fresh French blood that's been thrown onto a quite old and proud British/English and German family tree.

    I guess it's a kind of identity crisis. I compare it to a mother and father standing in front of a child, urging him to pick and choose which parent to walk to. My Grandmother encourages me to maintain the family ways, which is what's held the glue together so far.

    anyway, a little off topic I guess, sorry for the rant.
    I am sure there are some people here questioning why on earth a Frenchman would embrace English "Identity" and I am sure there are those of you who would probably think I have no buisness doing such things. But hey, I can't help it!

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 45
    Last Post: Monday, September 23rd, 2019, 06:19 PM
  2. Replies: 31
    Last Post: Wednesday, April 11th, 2012, 12:55 AM
  3. English National Identity : by Robert Henderson
    By Sigurd Volsung in forum England
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: Saturday, November 11th, 2006, 04:34 AM
  4. Replies: 0
    Last Post: Monday, May 16th, 2005, 01:00 PM

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •