English Australians, also known as Australians of English descent or Anglo-Australians, are Australians whose ancestry originates wholly or partly in England. In the most recent 2016 census, 7.8 million or 36.1% of respondents identified as "English" or a combination including English and is the largest 'ancestry' self-identity in the Australian census.
English Australians have more often come from the South than the North of England.
Sydney was founded by the British government as a penal colony. Visitors described the English character of Sydney for at least the first 50 years after 1788, noting the traditional English appearance of the churches overlooking the convict barracks. First-generation colonial Sydney residents were predominantly English. 160,000 convicts came to Australia between 1788 and 1850. Between 1788 and 1840, 80,000 English convicts were transported to New South Wales, with the greatest numbers coming between 1825 and 1835. The New South Wales Census of 1846 accounted for 57,349 born in England, 47,547 born in Ireland and 14,406 born in Scotland.
Until 1859, 2.2 million (73%) of the free settlers who immigrated were British.
Many more English people immigrated to Victoria by the gold rush of the 1850s. By 1854 there were 97,943 England-born people in Victoria. Immigration policies and assistance schemes helped maintain high levels of immigration from England. Of the 1 million immigrants who arrived between 1860 and 1900, just over half came from England.
When transportation ended, convicts made up 40 percent of Australia's English-speaking population.
Between 1840 and 1870 there were more Irish than English assisted migrants which did not change until the 1870s, when there were more English.
At least 75 per cent of all overseas-born people in Australia during the 19th century were from the British Isles. The proportion who had been born in England or Wales remained quite stable (at about 47 per cent) from 1861 to 1911, as did the proportion born in
Scotland (about 12 per cent).
Australians born in England or of English ancestry made up more than 50 percent of the population at the time of Federation (1901). From 1922 the Empire Settlement Act assisted thousands of migrants from England. After the Second World War, even as immigration from other countries expanded dramatically, English citizens had almost unrestricted entry into Australia. Arthur Calwell, Minister for Immigration, wanted nine out of ten new immigrants to be UK-born.
The majority of England-born migrants received assisted passages until the scheme was abolished in 1982. In 2006 the English were still the largest group of overseas-born in Victoria, with over 3% of Victorians born in England.
Surges of English immigration in the 1880s, between 1910 and 1914, again in the 1920s and, most of all, in the 1950s and 1960s, sustained the English-born as the largest single immigrant group.
In 1978 Australians born in England or Australians of predominantly English ancestry made up over 45 per cent of the population.
English ancestry was reported by 6.6 million people (46%) in 1986, and 6.4 million (37%) in 2001.
The English continue to be well-represented among immigrants to Australia, the overall decline of English immigration to Australia since the 1980s has meant that the England-born component of the population as a whole is falling. With over 200 years of English settlement, however, Australian society continues to be influenced by its strong English heritage.
In the 2016 census form, people were asked ‘What is the person’s ancestry?’.
People of English descent were by far the single most influential ethnic group in colonial Australia. The founding of Australia by English people is still evident in place names, buildings and street layouts, and that 80 percent of the population speak English as their mother tongue and the Low Church hegemony in the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, the biggest in the country.
Many of the Prime Ministers of Australia have English ancestry. The extent of English Heritage varies, with earlier Prime Ministers being predominantly of English stock. To date all Australian Prime Ministers have had whole or partial Anglo-Celtic background.