West Midlands Refugees

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Refugees are migrants who are forced to leave their homes because of persecution or war. This definition hides many personal stories, which describe experiences which those born in Britain find difficult to imagine.

The first West Midlands refugees were Huguenots, escaping religious persecution in France because they were Protestants. The early Stourbridge glass industry owes a lot to these newcomers.

The first established refugee community was the Jews. By the late-eighteenth century, Birmingham had a synagogue and a Jewish burial ground and men with Jewish names appear as traders or industrialists in directories of the time. The local historian William Hutton described a visit to the synagogue in his History of Birmingham.

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Migration

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