Aliens Act 1905

The Aliens Act 1905 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.[2] The Act for the first time introduced immigration controls and registration, and gave the Home Secretary overall responsibility for immigration and nationality matters.[2]

While the Act was ostensibly designed to prevent paupers or criminals from entering the country and set up a mechanism to deport those who slipped through, one of its main objectives was to control Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe.[3] Jewish immigration from Eastern Europe saw a significant increase after 1880[4] which served as some basis for the creation of the Aliens Act 1905. Although it remained in force, the 1905 Act was effectively subsumed by the Aliens Restriction Act 1914, which introduced far more restrictive provisions. It was eventually repealed by the Aliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919.

Aliens Act, 1905[1]
Long titleAn Act to amend the Law with regard to Aliens.
Citation5 Edw. 7 c. 13
Royal assent11 August 1905
Other legislation
Repealed byAliens Restriction (Amendment) Act 1919
Status: Repealed

Demands for restriction

Anti-immigration poster, from 1902

In the 19th century, the Russian Empire was home to about five million Jews, at the time, the "largest Jewish community in the world".[3] Subjected to religious persecution, they were obliged to live in the Pale of Settlement, on the Polish-Russian borders, in conditions of great poverty.[3] About half left, mostly for the United States, but many – about 150,000 – arrived in the United Kingdom mostly in England.[3] This reached its peak in the late 1890s, with "tens of thousands of Jews ... mostly poor, semi-skilled and unskilled" settling in the East End of London.[3]

By the turn of the century, a popular and media backlash had begun.[3] The British Brothers League was formed, with the support of prominent politicians, organising marches and petitions.[3] At rallies, its speakers said that Britain should not become "the dumping ground for the scum of Europe".[3] In 1905, an editorial in the Manchester Evening Chronicle[3] wrote "that the dirty, destitute, diseased, verminous and criminal foreigner who dumps himself on our soil and rates simultaneously, shall be forbidden to land". Anti-semitism broke out into violence in South Wales in 1902 and 1903 where Jews were assaulted.[5]

Aside from anti-semitic sentiments, the act was also driven by the economic and social unrest in the East End of London where most immigrants settled. Work was difficult to come by and families required all members to contribute.[6]

See also

  • Edict of Expulsion 1290 was a prior legal measure against Jewish people under English law.


  1. ^ Short title as conferred by s. 10 of the Act; the modern convention for the citation of short titles omits the comma after the word "Act"
  2. ^ a b Moving Here
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i David Rosenberg, 'Immigration' on the Channel 4 website
  4. ^ Bernard Gainer, The Alien Invasion: The Origins of the Aliens Act of 1905, (London, Heinemann Educational books LTD, 1972) Preface.
  5. ^ David Cesarani, The Jewish Chronicle and Anglo-Jewry 1841-1991, (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1994) p. 98.
  6. ^ Bernard Gainer, The Alien Invasion: The Origins of the Aliens Act of 1905, (London, Heinemann Educational books LTD, 1972) pp. 19-20.

Further reading

  • Bernard Gainer, The Alien Invasion: The Origins of the Aliens Act of 1905 (London, Heinemann Educational books Ltd, 1972)
  • Feldman, David. "Was the Nineteenth Century a Golden Age for Immigrants?" in Andreas Fahrmeir et al., eds., Migration Control in the North Atlantic World: The Evolution of State Practices in Europe and the United States from the French Revolution to the Inter-War Period (2003); pp 167–77 shows the actual impact of the 1905 law was small and largely bureaucratic.
  • Garrard, John A. The English and Immigration, 1880-1910 (1971)
  • Gartner, Lloyd A. The Jewish Immigrant in England 1870-1914, London (1960): Simon Publications.
  • Pellew, Jill. "The Home Office and the Aliens Act, 1905," The Historical Journal, Vol. 32, No. 2 (Jun., 1989), pp. 369–385 in JSTOR

External links

1905 Mile End by-election

The Mile End by-election was a Parliamentary by-election for the seat of Mile End, Tower Hamlets, in the east end of London. It returned one Member of Parliament to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, elected by the first past the post voting system.

Aliens Act

"Aliens Act" or "Alien Act" can refer to:

The Aliens Act 1698 (11 Will. 3 c. 6) (England)

The Alien Act 1705 (England)

The Aliens Act 1905 (UK)

The Aliens Act of 1937 (South Africa)

The Alien and Sedition Acts (USA)

The Aliens Act (Sweden) (utlänningslagen)

Barbadian nationality law

The Barbadian nationality law is governed by both the Barbados Citizenship Act and the Barbados Constitution.

British Brothers League

The British Brothers' League (BBL) was a British anti-immigration, extraparliamentary, proto-fascist pressure group (the 'largest and best organised' of its time) that attempted to organise along paramilitary lines.The group was formed in May 1901 in east London as a response to waves of immigration that had begun in 1880 and had seen a rapid increase in the numbers of Russian and Polish Jews, as well as others from Eastern Europe, into the area. As a result, Captain William Stanley Shaw formed the BBL to campaign for restricted immigration with the slogan 'England for the English' and soon formed a close alliance with local Conservative MP Major Evans-Gordon. Initially the League was not antisemitic and was more interested in keeping out the poorest immigrants regardless of background, although eventually Jews became the main focus. The League promoted their cause with large meetings, which were stewarded by guards whose role was to eject opponents who entered and raised objections.The League claimed 45,000 members, although membership was actually fairly irregular as no subscriptions were lifted and anyone who signed the organisation's manifesto was considered a member, with Tory MP Howard Vincent amongst those to do so. As a result of this, attempts to militarise the group were largely a failure, although the movement continued to organise demonstrations against immigrants. The Aliens Act 1905, which restricted immigration, was largely seen as a success for the BBL and, as a result, the movement by and large disappeared. It officially carried on until 1923, albeit on a tiny scale, and was associated with G. K. Chesterton and the distributist movement. Nonetheless they would resurface from time to time as new immigrant scares and shortly before the outbreak of the First World War they were even given a public donation of ten shillings by Arthur Conan Doyle, who had been caught up in a growing public swell of Germanophobia as war loomed.The League also left behind a legacy of support for far-right groups in east London and this was exploited by the British Union of Fascists, the British League of Ex-Servicemen and Women, the Union Movement and the National Front who gained followings in the same environs.

British West Indies

The British West Indies, sometimes abbreviated to the BWI, is a collective term for the British territories in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos Islands, Montserrat, the British Virgin Islands, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize (formerly British Honduras), Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis , Grenada, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Guyana (formerly British Guiana), Jamaica (formerly Colony of Jamaica), and Trinidad and Tobago. Before the decolonization period in the later 1950's and 1960's it included all British colonies in the region, together with two mainland colonies, as part of the British Empire.In 1912, the British West Indies were divided into different colonies: The Bahamas, Barbados, Guiana, British Honduras, Jamaica (with its dependencies the Turks and Caicos Islands and the Cayman Islands), Trinidad and Tobago, the Windward Islands, and the Leeward Islands.Between 1958 and 1962, all of the island territories except the British Virgin Islands and the Bahamas were organised into the West Indies Federation, which did not include the mainland colonies of British Honduras and British Guiana. It was hoped that the Federation would become independent as a single nation, but it had limited powers, many practical problems, and a lack of popular support. Consequently, the West Indies Federation was dissolved in 1962.

Most of the historic British territories, including all of the larger ones, are now independent as separate countries, with membership in various international bodies, such as the Organization of American States, the Association of Caribbean States, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, the Caribbean Community, the Commonwealth of Nations and the Caribbean Development Bank among others. The remainder are British overseas territories.

Common Travel Area

The Common Travel Area (CTA; Irish: Comhlimistéar Taistil) is an open borders area comprising the United Kingdom, Ireland, the Isle of Man, and the Channel Islands. The British Overseas Territories are not included. Based on agreements that are not legally binding, the internal borders of the Common Travel Area (CTA) are subject to minimal controls, if any, and can normally be crossed by British and Irish citizens with minimal identity documents with certain exceptions. The maintenance of the CTA involves considerable co-operation on immigration matters between the British and Irish authorities.

In 2014, the British and Irish governments began a trial system of mutual recognition of each other's visas for onward travel within the Common Travel Area. As of June 2016 it applies to Chinese and Indian nationals and is limited to certain visa types. Other nationalities and those holding non-qualifying visas still require separate visas to visit both countries and may not avail of a transit visa exception if wishing to transit though the UK to Ireland.

Since 1997, the Irish government has imposed systematic identity checks on air passengers coming from the United Kingdom and selective checks on sea passengers, and occasional checks on land crossings.

David Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale

David Bertram Ogilvy Freeman-Mitford, 2nd Baron Redesdale (13 March 1878 – 17 March 1958), was an English landowner and was the father of the Mitford sisters, in whose various novels and memoirs he is depicted.

East End of London

The East End of London, usually called the East End, is the historic core of wider East London, east of the Roman and medieval walls of the City of London, and north of the River Thames. It does not have universally accepted boundaries, though the various channels of the River Lea are often considered to be the eastern boundary. It comprises areas of Central London, East London and London Docklands.

The East End began to emerge in the Middle Ages with initially slow urban growth outside the eastern walls, which later accelerated, especially in the 19th century, to absorb pre-existing settlements. The first known written record of the East End as a distinct entity, as opposed its component parts, comes from John Strype's 1720 Survey of London, which describes London as consisting of four parts: the City of London, Westminster, Southwark, and "That Part beyond the Tower". The relevance of Strype's reference to the Tower was more than geographical. The East End was the urbanised part of an administrative area called the Tower Division, which had owed military service to the Tower of London since time immemorial. Later, as London grew further, the fully urbanised Tower Division became a byword for wider East London, before East London grew further still, east of the River Lea and into Essex.

The area was notorious for its deep poverty, overcrowding and associated social problems. This led to the East End's history of intense political activism and association with some of the country's most influential social reformers. Another major theme of East End history has been migration, both inward and outward. The area had a strong pull on the rural poor from other parts of England, and attracted waves of migration from further afield, notably Huguenot refugees, who created a new extramural suburb in Spitalfields in the 17th century, Irish weavers, Ashkenazi Jews, and, in the 20th century, Sylheti Bangladeshis.The closure of the last of the East End docks in the Port of London in 1980 created further challenges and led to attempts at regeneration and the formation of the London Docklands Development Corporation. The Canary Wharf development improved infrastructure, and the Olympic Park mean that the East End is undergoing further change, but some parts continue to contain some of the worst poverty in Britain.

Edict of Expulsion

The Edict of Expulsion was a royal decree issued by King Edward I of England on 18 July 1290 expelling all Jews from the Kingdom of England. Edward advised the sheriffs of all counties he wanted all Jews expelled by no later than All Saints' Day (1st November) that year. The expulsion edict remained in force for the rest of the Middle Ages. The edict was not an isolated incident, but the culmination of over 200 years of increased persecution. The edict was overturned during the Protectorate more than 350 years later, when Oliver Cromwell permitted Jews to return to England in 1657.

Foreign Protestants Naturalization Act 1708

The Foreign Protestants Naturalization Act 1708 (7 Anne c. 5), sometimes referred to as the Foreign and Protestants Naturalization Act 1708, was an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain. The act was passed on 23 March 1709, which was still considered part of the year 1708 in the British calendar of the time. It was passed to allow the naturalisation of French Protestants (Huguenots) who had fled to Britain since the revocation of the Edict of Nantes in 1685. It was one of the British Subjects Acts 1708 to 1772.The Whig majority in Parliament passed the Act with the support of both Houses of Parliament, despite some opposition concerning a "conflux of aliens that would be invited over". A counter-argument is presented in the preamble of the Act, that "the increase of people is a means of advancing the wealth and strength of a nation".

The effect of the Act was that all foreign Protestants could be naturalised, provided they swore allegiance to the government and received sacrament in any Protestant church. Following passage of the Act, up to 12,000 Palatines, Suabians, and other German Lutherans arrived in Britain between May and June 1709, owing to war in those places. Some German Catholics who arrived were sent back, and some immigrants were sent on to Ireland, New York and Carolina.

The Act was largely repealed by the Tories in 1711 by the Naturalization Act 1711 (10 Anne c. 9). The section dealing with naturalizing the children of British subjects born abroad was, however, not repealed. This section says "3. ... the children of all natural born subjects born out of the ligeance of her Majesty her heires and successors shall be deemed adjudged and taken to be natural born subjects of this kingdom to all intents constructions and purposes whatsoever."

Jews escaping from German-occupied Europe to the United Kingdom

After Adolf Hitler came into power in 1933, Jews began to escape German-occupied Europe and Britain was one of the destinations. Some came on transit visas, which meant that they stayed in Britain temporarily, while waiting to be accepted by another country. Others entered the country by having obtained employment or a guarantor, or via Kindertransport. There were about 70,000 Jewish refugees who were accepted in Britain by the start of World War II on September 1, 1939, and an additional 10,000 people who made it to Britain during the war.

St James's Gazette

The St James's Gazette was a London evening newspaper published from 1880 to 1905. It was founded by the Conservative Henry Hucks Gibbs, later Baron Aldenham, a director of the Bank of England 1853–1901 and its governor 1875–1877; the paper's first editor was Frederick Greenwood, previously the editor of the Conservative-leaning Pall Mall Gazette.The St James's Gazette was bought by Edward Steinkopff, founder of the Apollinaris mineral water company, in 1888. Greenwood left, to be succeeded by Sidney Low (1888–97), Hugh Chisholm (1897–99) and Ronald McNeill (1900–1904). Steinkopff sold the paper to C. Arthur Pearson in 1903, who merged it with the Evening Standard in March 1905, ending the paper's daily publication.

A weekly digest of the paper, the St James's Budget, appeared from 3 July 1880 until 3 February 1911.

Thomas Dewar, 1st Baron Dewar

Thomas Robert "Tommy" Dewar, 1st Baron Dewar (6 January 1864 – 11 April 1930) was a Scottish whisky distiller who, along with his brother John Dewar, built their family label, Dewar's, into an international success. They blended their whisky to make it more appealing to the international palate and Dewar demonstrated particular skills in marketing, travelling the world to find new markets and promote his product, exploiting romantic images of Scotland and tartan in his advertising.

Tottenham Outrage

The Tottenham Outrage of 23 January 1909 was an armed robbery in Tottenham, North London, that resulted in a two-hour chase between the police and armed criminals over a distance of six miles (10 km), with an estimated 400 rounds of ammunition fired by the thieves. The robbery, of workers' wages from the Schnurmann rubber factory, was carried out by Paul Helfeld and Jacob Lepidus, Jewish Latvian immigrants. Of the twenty-three casualties, two were fatal and several others serious, among them seven policemen. The two thieves committed suicide at the end of the pursuit.

Helfeld and Lepidus were members of the Latvian Socialist Party responsible for smuggling revolutionary literature into Russia. Both had been living with Lepidus's brother Paul in Paris in 1907 when Paul was killed by the premature detonation of the bomb he was carrying to assassinate the president of France, Armand Fallières. They fled France to north London, where they became members of a small group of Latvian agitators. For some time before the robbery, Helfeld was employed at the Schnurmann factory.

The bravery of the police during the chase led to the creation of the King's Police Medal, which was awarded to several of those involved in the pursuit. A joint funeral for the two victims—Police Constable William Tyler and Ralph Joscelyne, a ten-year-old boy—was attended by a crowd of up to half a million mourners, including 2,000 policemen. The event exacerbated ill feeling towards immigrants in London, and much of the press coverage was anti-Semitic in nature. This affected public sentiment after another criminal act by Latvian immigrants in December 1910, culminating in the Siege of Sidney Street, in which three policemen were murdered.

UK Immigration Service

The United Kingdom Immigration Service, (previously known from 1920 to 1933 as the Aliens Branch and from 1933 to 1973 as the Immigration Branch), was the operational arm of the Home Office, Immigration and Nationality Directorate. The UK Immigration Service was, until its disbandment in 2007, responsible for the day-to-day operation of front line UK Border Controls at 57 ports "designated" under the Immigration Act 1971 including airports, seaports, the UK land-border with Ireland and the Channel Tunnel juxtaposed controls. Its in-country enforcement arm was responsible for the detection and removal of immigration offenders such as illegal entrants, illegal workers and overstayers as well as prosecutions for associated offences. On its disbandment, Immigration Service staff were re-deployed within the short lived Border and Immigration Agency which was replaced by the UK Border Agency which, in turn, was replaced by three separate entities UK Visas and Immigration, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement. All three overseen by Home Office.

The enabling Act which provided the basis of immigration control was the Aliens Act 1905 and it was followed by the Aliens Restriction Acts of 1914 and 1919. The powers exercised by Immigration Service officers were/are largely based on the Immigration Act 1971 that came into force on 1 January 1973 and its associated rules. Other subsequent legislation includes:

British Nationality Act 1981, which came into force on 1 January 1983,

Immigration Act 1988,

Asylum and Immigration Appeals Act 1993,

Asylum and Immigration Act 1996,

Immigration and Asylum Act 1999,

Immigration (Leave to enter and remain) Order, 2000,

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002,

Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004,

Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006,

UK Borders Act 2007.For the earlier part of its history the Immigration Service's work was dominated by control of passengers at seaports and the control of crews. By the 1920s, The Immigration Service was divided into districts under the charge of an Inspector. The Immigration Officers' grade was confined to men aged over 25. Those under 25 were automatically classified as Assistant Immigration Officers. Immigration Officers enjoyed an annual salary of between £200-300 and controlled passengers and seamen at ports throughout the United Kingdom. This included Ireland until the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922 and, even after this, UK immigration officers controlled Irish ports until 1925 while the new administration made its own arrangements.

By the late 1950s the numbers of arriving passengers at airports overtook that of seaports for the first time and the distribution of staff began to reflect this. Immigration control at airports gradually changed from the late 1990s onward as a new emphasis was given to controlling passengers in visa issuing posts abroad. During the 2000s new technologies opened up opportunities to create a new "flexible" border control that better focussed its resources on high risk passengers.

There were little or no IS resources dedicated to dealing with in-country immigration offenders before 1973 and the detection of potential deportees was seen as a matter for the police. The enforcement arm developed slowly in the 1980s and 1990s but, in the 2000s, underwent a transformation in terms of its remit, training and powers and, by 2006, removed more in-country offenders than were refused entry at UK ports for the first time.

In 2007 IS Ports Directorate became a uniformed service for the first time. IS Enforcement Directorate was disbanded and its operational resources divided among new regional "Local Immigration Teams".

In April 2007 staff were informed that the UK Immigration Service would henceforth cease to exist as a distinct body.

United Kingdom immigration law

United Kingdom immigration law is the law that relates to who may enter, work in and remain in the United Kingdom. There are many reasons as to why people may migrate; the three main reasons being seeking asylum, because their home countries have become dangerous, people migrating for economic reasons and people migrating to be reunited with family members.

Will Crooks

William Crooks (6 April 1852 – 5 June 1921) was a noted trade unionist and politician from Poplar, London, and a member of the Fabian Society. He is particularly remembered for his campaigning work against poverty and inequality.

William Evans-Gordon

Major Sir William Eden Evans Gordon (8 August 1857 – 31 October 1913) was a British MP who previously served as a military diplomat in India.

As a political officer on secondment from the British Indian Army from 1876 to 1897 during the British Raj, he was attached to the Foreign Department of the Indian Government. His career in India was a mixture of military administrative business on the volatile North-West Frontier, and diplomacy and foreign politics advising Maharajas or accompanying the Viceroy in the Princely States.

After leaving the Army, Evans Gordon returned to Britain and in 1900 was elected as Conservative Party MP for Stepney on an anti-alien platform. As a result of the pogroms in Eastern Europe, an increasing number of Jews were arriving in Britain either to stay, or en route for America. Evans Gordon, as a 'restrictionist', was heavily and actively involved in the passing of the Aliens Act 1905, which sought to limit the number of people allowed to enter Britain, even temporarily. He held Stepney from 1900 to 1907.

William Haldane Porter

Sir William Haldane Porter (15 May 1867 – 12 September 1944) was a British civil servant, who was responsible for the creation of the Aliens Branch of the Home Office, now the UK Border Force.

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