The Anglo-Russians were an English expatriate business community centred in St Petersburg, then also Moscow, from the 1730s till the 1920s. This community was established against the background of Peter I's recruitment of foreign engineers for his new capital, and generally cooperative diplomatic relations between the Russian and British empires. Some of the families were resident in Russia for several generations, though generally retaining UK citizenship and sending their children to be educated in England. Some lived there for so long that their English acquired a distinctive accent peculiar to Anglo-Russians.[1][2][3]

Notable Anglo-Russian families were built around the trading houses and businesses of the Cazalet family, - the Cazalet-Miller business empire including the Ebsworth family, and Whishaw family.[4][5] One of the first Anglo-Russian families was established by Noah Cazalet (1757-1800), a silk weaver, settled in St Petersburg and expanded into the burgeoning business of rope manufacture for sailing ships.[6] In 1860 Edward Cazalet married an Elizabeth Marshall, and became connected to the company of William Miller & Co, of Leith in Scotland. The Whishaw family, of Hills and Whishaw Ltd, included James Whishaw, and influential intermediary in development of the Baku oilfields[7] and Stella Zoe Whishaw, later Baroness Meyendorff, an Anglo-Russian actress who wrote a memoir Through terror to freedom - the dramatic story of an Englishwoman's life and adventures in Russia before, during & after the revolution in 1929, and then became a film diva in the 1930s.[8]

A fictional account of Anglo-Russians is found in Penelope Fitzgerald's The Beginning of Spring (London, 1988).

Russian people of English descent

Nothing is recorded of the children of Joseph Billings (c.1758-1806) an English navigator who joined the Tsar's navy and settled in Russia. More notable are the descendants of William Sherwood, an English cotton machine engineer who came to Russia in 1800. (1798 at the invitation of Tsar Paul I according to family papers (Marcus Sherwood-Jenkins). His sons were John Sherwood, (Ivan Shervud in Russian) an influential lieutenant to Alexander I and Joseph Sherwood, who died in 1832 when his son Vladimir Osipovich Sherwood, later a famous architect (responsible for the building of The State Historical Museum on Red Square, Moscow.), was five years old. William's descendants include great-grandsons Vladimir Vladimirovich Sherwood, also an architect, and Leonid Sherwood, a sculptor, and great-great-grandson, the artist Vladimir Favorsky. John Sherwood (Ivan Shervud) was responsible for unmasking the Decemberist plot in 1825 and was ennobled by the Tsar for his services and given the honorific Shervud Vernyi (Sherwood the loyal).

In addition there were the expatriate-born children of British businessmen in Russia, such as conductor Albert Coates, whose father was general manager for a British company in St Petersburg. He was raised from the age of 12 in England. Chess playing sisters Vera Menchik and Olga Menchik were daughters of a Czech father and English mother in Moscow, who moved to Britain in 1921 when the sisters were 15 and 13 years old.


  1. ^ David Greer A numerous and fashionable audience: the story of Elsie Swinton, 1997, p. 2, "Before the Revolution of 1917 a great many Britons lived and worked in Russia. Some lived there for so long that they acquired a curious accent, a singsong manner of speaking peculiar to Anglo-Russians. ... Another enduring symbol of British influence is the Ukrainian industrial town of Donetsk, the birthplace of Nikita... The story of the Cazalet family is a further illustration of the longstanding involvement of British companies in Russia.."
  2. ^ Дом Э. П. Казалета "В 1865 году владелец сменился – им стал Эдуард Петрович Казалет (Cazalet), торговавший от фирмы «Виллиам Миллер и Ко.». Он был внуком английского негоцианта Ноя Казалета, основавшего в 1780-е годы торговую фирму "Крамп и Казалет"."
  3. ^ Чем Петербург обязан берегам туманного Альбиона "Первые британцы, поселившиеся в новой русской столице, были приглашены основателем города Петром I. Это были моряки, инженеры, математики, врачи. Британская община стала одной из первых иностранных общин Санкт-Петербурга, она продолжала расти и после смерти императора Петра I, несмотря на разрыв дипломатических отношений в 1720 году. Отношения возобновились через 10 лет, а в 1734 году был заключен первый англо-российский торговый договор, который придал Британии статус страны наибольшего благоприятствования, и английские купцы поехали в Петербург." TRANSLATION "The first Britons who settled in the new Russian capital, were invited by the founder of the city, Peter the Great. These were sailors, engineers, mathematicians, doctors. The British community was one of the first foreign communities of St. Petersburg, and it continued to grow after the death of Peter I, despite the severance of diplomatic relations in 1720. Relations were resumed after 10 years, and in 1734 the first Anglo-Russian trade agreement was signed, which gave Britain most favored nation status, and many English merchants went to St. Petersburg."
  4. ^ Memoirs of James Whishaw (London, 1935)
  5. ^ Julian Ebsworth, Some Notes of the Ebsworth Family in Russia and their Connections with the Cazalet and Miller Families and William Miller and Co.
  6. ^ Greer "By the time Noah's grandson Edward (1827-83) entered the firm, its interests had further diversified to include brewing, soap and candle-making. It appears that one of the firm's contracts was to supply all the Tsar's palaces with candles."
  7. ^ The Corporation under Russian Law, 1800-1917 Page 121 Thomas C. Owen - 2002 "Whishaw earned a sizable income leasing land for petroleum drilling operations carried out in Baku by English companies. Since he had taken Russian citizenship, the onerous restrictions on foreigners, especially the need to obtain ."
  8. ^ Stella Arbenina photo