Compared with most ethnic minorities in the UK, the Chinese are socioeconomically more widespread and decentralised, have a record of high academic achievement, and have the second highest household income among demographic groups in the UK, after British Indians.
First visitor, first immigrant and first to be naturalised
Shen Fu-Tsung was the first ever recorded ethnic Chinese person to set foot in what is now the United Kingdom, having visited over 300 years ago in 1685
The first recorded Chinese person in Britain was Shen Fu Tsong, a Jesuit scholar who was present in the court of King James II in the 17th century. Shen was the first person to catalogue the Chinese books in the Bodleian Library. The King was so taken with him he had his portrait painted by Sir Godfrey Kneller and hung it in his bed chamber. The portrait of Shen is in the Queen's collection.
The first Chinese to settle in Britain was William Macao who lived in Edinburgh from 1779. He was the first Chinese to marry a British woman and have children, and was the first to be baptised into the Protestant Church. He worked for The Board of Excise at Dundas House, St Andrew Square, Edinburgh for 40 years, beginning as a servant to the clerks and retiring as Senior Accountant. He was involved in a significant naturalisation law case and for two years, until the first decision was over-turned on appeal, was legally deemed a naturalised Scotsman. For a full biography see Chapter 2, The Chinese in Britain - A History of Visitors and Settlers by Barclay Price.
The British East India Company which was importing popular Chinese commodities such as tea, ceramics and silks began employing Chinese seamen from the early 1880s. Those who crewed ships to Britain had to spend time in London's dock area while waiting for a ship to return to China and so the Limehouse area became the site of the first Chinatown in Britain. A Chinese known as John Anthony was brought to London in 1799 by the East India Company to manage the barracks where the Asian sailors stayed. Anthony married his British partner's daughter. Wishing to buy property, but unable to so while an alien, in 1805 he used part of the fortune he had amassed from his London work to pay for an Act of Parliament. naturalising him as a British subject; thus being the first Chinese to gain British citizenship. However, he died a few months after the Act was passed.