Assimilation Aborted: Henry Clerk and the Limits of Anglo-Scottish Integration in the Age of Union

Keith M. Brown, Allan Kennedy

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This article deploys micro-historical analysis to understand an example of abortive diaspora among Scots who failed to make it as immigrants in early modern England. Henry Clerk was the son of a middle-ranking Midlothian baronet who made a doomed effort to build a new life for himself in London between 1698 and 1702. A series of dozens of surviving letters between Clerk and his family members in Scotland allow us to trace his migration experience in unusual detail. This evidence makes his case an excellent candidate for micro-historical reconstruction, and in undertaking such an exercise this article seeks to ask what the nature and circumstances of his failure can tell us about the wider process of migrant assimilation in early modern Britain, as well as the challenges confronted by individuals seeking to make a new life in a new location.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-218
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Scottish Historical Studies
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018



  • Immigration
  • migration
  • assimilation
  • return migration
  • national identity
  • micro-history
  • early modern
  • Scotland

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