A study of census figures has shown that about one in five white British people has a direct black ancestor. The well-known Professor Steve Jones, an academic geneticist at University College London, said that Afro-Carribean people had lived in Britain for so long that they were now part of the gene pool. He estimated that about 11 million white Britons have Afro-Caribbean blood-relations. 'We have to accept that the rivers of genes which flow through history run into each other all the time', he said.
Professor Jones calculated the figure using British census data from the 16th century which showed that thousands of Africans, who had come to Britain to trade, had settled in London and the West Country. Many married into white families. By the 18th century, there were about 15,000 black people living in London, according to academics.
Professor Jones' calculations coincide with the discovery that many white British people carry the sickle-cell trait, a blood disorder previously thought to be restricted to the Afro-Caribbean community.