Our earliest ancestors in Britain By Boyd Dawkins

William Boyd Dawkins


“In the year A.D. 449 certain Englishmen–for they were Englishmen before our England had received its name–came over here from the North of Germany and from the southern shores of the Baltic Sea. They came with their wives; families, and little ones–they brought their England with them; and after a long war of conquest a series of fighting’s and battles–they gradually pushed away farther and farther to the west that population which had been in possession of this country before it was England–during the time in which it was known under the name of “Britain.” It was not till the year 607 that these English men pushed the borders of England westward as far as Chester. Immediately after the fall of Chester those Englishmen who carved out for themselves the kingdom of Northumbria, including Yorkshire, advanced northwards, and conquered this district, which we now know under the name Lancashire.”

“Up to that time the district was as completely a part of Wales as Denbighsire or any other Welsh county is now; and it was merely by a long process of conquest that the English pushed the Britons west and north, until at last they are only to be found in Wales, Cumberland, Westermoreland, the Highlands of Scotland, Cornwall, and part of Devon. The people whom these English displaced were saturated with Roman civilization. They boasted they were citizens of the Roman Empire—Cives Romani. During that long war of invasion by which our ancestors displaced the people who had preceded them in this country, we hear of great outcries as to the ruthless nature of this invasion. Our ancestors were not men of peace in any sense–they were men of war; and they burned and destroyed everything that was Roman, everything that was British, everything that was termed Welsh–for the term “Welsh” we owe to them–they destroyed that civilization utterly by fire and sword. I must now say a word regarding the Roman invasion. The Roman invasion of this country was distinctly analogous to our occupation of India.”


“The Romans did not establish great bodies of Italian colonist in this country, like our colonies in America. They merely occupied it as a military colonists; they formed garrisons here and there; they developed trade; they took as much money out of the country as they could by a most oppressive system of taxation; but in exchange for all that they introduced their own laws and system of politics, doing so much the same work that we are doing in India. They did not introduce into this country any new ethnical elements which are traceable in the present population. The Welsh, or “Ancient Britons,” as they are called in books were in possession of this country long before the Romans came here. When we come to analyze the Welsh people, we find there are two distinct types. On the one had we have the ordinary Celt, or Welshman, as we term him— a tall, fair haired, round headed sort of man–and on the other hand we have the small dark Welshman, who is totally different.”

“I wish to call your attention to these small dark Welshman. for although at first blush of it you might think there was nothing very interesting about them, yet before we leave this room I think we shall have reason to believe that there is a great deal of interest attaching to the arrival of these small dark Welshmen in this country, and to the civilization which they brought along with them. Before I put these points before you I must give you an outline of the sort of materials in my possession which will enable me to give you an idea of these things. Outside the historical frontiers, beyond the written record of history, we have a regular series of civilizations established all over Europe. Just on the other side of the historical record we have that civilization which is marked by the knowledge of iron–that i to say, long before the written record existed in this country there was a people here who were acquainted with the knowledge of iron, and such a knowledge necessarily implied a comparatively high civilization. (p. 96-97)

“At the time when Wales was conquered by the Romans we find that Tacitus describes a certain small dark Iberian population, which I have named. At the present time you have merely to go into the market-places of St. Asaph or Denbigh and you will see small dark Welshmen, with black eyes and hair, contrasting in every point with our ordinary ideas of Welshmen. We find traces of these small dark people in the Highlands of Scotland. Here and there one meets with what is called a “dark Highlander” — a small, black, long-headed man– quite differently from ones idea of a Highlander. So in the southern parts of Ireland we meet a race of people identical with small dark Welshmen. (p. 104)