English immigrants, particularly men, came to Nevada in large numbers during the nineteenth century and frequently occupied significant social and economic positions, often becoming community leaders who helped shape the state. English immigrants were active in the western Great Basin prior to the establishment of Nevada Territory, and they were among the earliest settlers to arrive in the 1850s. At least one Comstock mine sent some of its ore to England for milling, a testament to the value of the material and the links with the home country.
By 1860, a year after the discovery of the Comstock Lode, census enumerators recorded 295 people claiming English origin in what would become the state of Nevada, making them one of the largest immigrant groups. Between 1860 and 1870, the English ranks swelled to 2,693, exceeded only by the Irish and Chinese. However, people born in Cornwall often identified themselves as English based on birthplace despite the cultural identification as Cornish, complicating the classification of English immigrants. Within the group, English women were poorly represented, rising from sixteen percent (1860) to almost eighteen percent (1870). Both English women and those of Cornish origin were often classified by surname, an unreliable method since women changed their surnames upon marriage, and assigning ethnicity based on surname is speculative.
While up to half of the men in nineteenth-century Nevada who claimed English status were from Cornwall, (non-Cornish) English women outnumbered their Cornish counterparts. Nonetheless, the gender imbalance resulted in marriages between English men and Irish women, who arrived in the state in surprisingly large numbers.
The 1880 census recorded 4,085 people from England living in Nevada. Women in this group grew to roughly twenty-six percent; this was an increase from the 1870 census but continued the trend of gender imbalance in this immigrant group. While there was a considerable Cornish presence, a substantial number of other English immigrants were present and exerted a profound effect on the state.
With the decline of Nevada mines beginning in the 1880s, the English, like so many immigrant groups, found the region less attractive. By 1900, the number of English-born residents in Nevada had declined to 1,185. The women of the group had increased to over a third, but English immigrants were no longer a dominant part of the population.
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