Thursday, February 20, 2014

12 U.S. States With the Highest Concentration of English Ancestry

Ever wondered how English your state is? Well you might want to look at these findings, taken from the U.S. census of 2000, which found that some 27 million Americans self reported having descended from English settlers.

Moreover, the state with the highest number of so-called "English Americans" is California, with over 2.5 million residents in the Golden State identifying as descendants of English ancestors. However, with a total population of more than 38 million residents, California doesn't have a particularly high ratio of Anglo-Americans to every resident.

To that end, this list is not about the states with the highest number of Anglo-Americans, but rather the highest ratio of Anglo-Americans.

Counting down from lowest to highest, here are the top 12 most English states in terms of ancestry.


12. Washington
  • Population: 6,971,406
  • Anglo-American population: 836,569
  • Percentage of Anglo-Americans: 12%

11. Rhode Island
  • Population: 1,050,292
  • Anglo-American population: 126,035
  • Percentage of Anglo-Americans: 12%

10. Colorado
  • Population: 5,268,367
  • Anglo-American population: 632,204
  • Percentage of Anglo-Americans: 12%

9. Delaware
  • Population: 917,092
  • Anglo-American population: 110,968
  • Percentage of Anglo-Americans: 12.1%

8. Montana
  • Population: 1,005,141
  • Anglo-American population: 127,652
  • Percentage of Anglo-Americans: 12.7%

7. Oregon
  • Population: 3,899,353
  • Anglo-American population: 514,715
  • Percentage of Anglo-Americans: 13.2%

6. Wyoming
  • Population: 582,658
  • Anglo-American population: 92,643
  • Percentage of Anglo-Americans: 15.9%

5. New Hampshire
  • Population: 1,323,459
  • Anglo-American population: 238,223
  • Percentage of Anglo-Americans: 18%

4. Idaho
  • Population: 1,595,728
  • Anglo-American population: 288,827
  • Percentage of Anglo-Americans: 18.1%

3. Vermont
  • Population: 626,630
  • Anglo-American population: 115,299
  • Percentage of Anglo-Americans: 18.4%

2. Maine
  • Population: 1,328,302
  • Anglo-American population: 285,584
  • Percentage of Anglo-Americans: 21.5%

1. Utah
  • Population: 2,900,872
  • Anglo-American population: 841,253
  • Percentage of Anglo-Americans: 29%


There you have it! Who would have thought that Utah would top the list? Actually, anyone with half an interest in history might not be too surprised. During the 19th Century, thousands of Mormon converts left England for Utah, which is considered to be the cultural center of Mormonism in the world, with 1.8 million residents identifying as Mormon today.

For those of you in the other 38 states, use the map below to find out what percentage of your state's population is Anglo-American.




And for those of you who would just prefer to look at the total number of Anglo-Americans in each state, here is another map with those very numbers.







How did your state rank? Are you yourself an American of English descent? Let us know in the comments below.


Laurence is a British expat living in Indianapolis, Indiana. He is a contributor for BBC America and has written for Anglotopia and Smitten by Britain. Having graduated from Lancaster University with a degree in English Language and Creative Writing, Laurence runs this blog, Lost In The Pond, charting the endless cultural and linguistic differences between Britain and The United States. 

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9 comments:

Expat mum said...

I've been doing my husband and kids' Ancestry. They are more English than me! On both sides of my husband's we can trace people coming over from the UK in the 1600's! I haven't found a single ancestor who came over from anywhere other than the British Isles. They came over to the east coast (obviously) and went through and down, ending up in Texas, which is pretty typical in those times.

Theron Corse said...

I would note that in the Deep South, which was largely left out of the massive influx of immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th century, many families have ancestors who migrated here as far back as the 1600s. If this is based on self-reported data, well, they might not know. My grandmother Armstrong figured there were Scots back there somewhere, but only recently, with the help of sources like Ancestry.com, have I become aware of just how English our roots are. After 350 years, somethings just get forgotten.

vp said...

As you say, the "ancestry" question on the 2000 US census relied entirely on self-reporting. Respondents were asked "what is this person's ancestry or ethnic origin?", and asked to enter either one or two ancestries. The choice of answer was entirely free -- there were no options to choose from. You can see the original question here

Of course, most US residents have ancestors from many different parts of the world. And most are probably unaware of the origin of at least some of their ancestors. So the "ancestry" numbers reported by the census are really asking Americans what ethnicity or national origin they identify with.

Given that, it's not surprising that the numbers for English are low. Outside certain restricted circles, there's little cultural prestige to be gained by identifying as an "English-American". Most Americans believe (however inaccurately), that the "English" are the country they beat in the Revolution. Countries of more recent mass immigration, such as (Catholic) Ireland and Italy, inspire far more fervent ethnic identification. In addition, many African Americans have English ancestry: the slave masters were largely of English descent and many raped their slaves, but, quite understandably, their descendants don't want to identify as English because of these horrific crimes.

I would bet that the majority of Americans have some English ancestry: certainly far more than the 8.7% reported by the census. As an example, Barack Obama has a large amount of English ancestry through his mother, but I'm absolutely sure he didn't identify as "English" on the 2000 census. It's also interesting that Utah has the highest level of census-reported English ancestry. Utah is predominantly Mormon, and Mormons are encouraged by their religion to trace their ancestry systematically. The residents of Utah probably have a better idea, on average, than those of any other state where their ancestors really came from.

tlsmith63 said...

I was raised Mormon, & I am descended from English people who settled in Utah on my father's side. They are definitely more English there. They say "bum" for a person's behind, & they even eat scones, although theirs aren't the English kind. They call fried bread dough a scone. How that happened, I will never know.

Brandon said...

I'm 64% English. I had an ethnicity DNA test is how I know my exact percentage.

Joe Berns said...

I am exactly 0% English. 3/4 German, some Swiss and Luxembourgish, and a smidge Polish. That's fairly on-par with many Minnesotans, though.

Irene C. said...

Mormons are Yankees from 19th century upstate New York -- New Englanders who moved just west for the land then got caught up in revival. So they know they are English because they are all just descendants of the Puritan Migration, and they know it.

Anonymous said...

Hi there, the vast majority of Americans of English descent write that we are of "American" ancestry due to the fact that most of our English ancestors came here in the 1600s. Though this hasn't been forgotten as recently as you might think, if you refer to the 1980 census in which "American" wasn't an option but "English", "Irish", "German" all still are, you'll find that the vast majority of Southerners wrote that they were of "English" or "mostly English" ancestry, and that was as late as 1980.

Here's the data from the govt:
http://www.census.gov/population/www/censusdata/files/pc80-s1-10/tab03.pdf

Anonymous said...

Irene,

That's not the only reason. More people converted to Mormonism in Britain(Primarily England) than anywhere else in the world. A huge percentage of them emigrated to Utah.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints_in_England
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints_in_the_United_Kingdom#cite_note-Sheffield2-28

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