It was about the middle of the fifth century that these tribes first began to desert their continental homes, for new settlements in the British Isles. There was no concerted invasion of Britain under a single leader, as was the case in the invasions of Gaul and Italia. Even the traditional accounts, which speak of a single band under a single leader in each of the different sections, are undoubtedly erroneous. There were a series of conquests and settlements by many detached bands, differing greatly in size and strength, but none of them large. The English Kingdom was only to be developed by a gradual evolution. The many early kingdoms became consolidated into seven; the seven into three, and the three into one. The first great work of the English people was the creation of a united English nation.

The Jutes apparently led the way and settled in Kent, that part of all Britain most easily accessible to continental Europe. Their fabled leaders Hengist and Horsa, bore names which signify the stallion and the mare, and are symbolic of the sacred white horse worshiped by the race. The leading seats of Jutish power became developed at Rochester and Canterbury, and the final union of all the Jutish settlements created the kingdom of Kent. Here Jutish invasion ended. The Jutes played the first and least important part in the Teutonic conquests of Britain.

After the Jute came the Saxon, conquering and settling from Kent westward to Cornwall and Wales, and northward from the sea to the Watling Road. Of the seven kingdoms, Wessex, Essex, Sussex, and a part of Mercia, were Saxon. According to the chronicles the two great streams of Saxon occupations were the invasion of the South Saxons, under Aella in 477, and of the West Saxons under Cerdic and Cynric in 495.

The accounts of the invasions of the Angles are scantier and less circumstantial than those of the Jutes or Saxons, perhaps because nearly all the records of this period come from West Saxon sources. Whatever records may have been retained in Northumbria seems to have disappeared in the anarchy of the eighth century or during the Danish invasions of the ninth. It is only possible to note the general course of the Angle invasion. Landing at various points along the coast, they seem to have pushed far into the interior, along these great rivers which form the natural highways of England, the Humber, the Forth and others. Slowly pushing their way to the north and west they reached at length the borders of Strathclyde and the Highlands of Scotland. Of the seven kingdoms Northumbria formed by a union of Deira and Bernicia, East Anglia, comprising the territory of the north-folk and the south-folk, and the greater part of Mercia - the part held by the middle English, by the Gyrwas and by the Southumbrians, belonged to the Angles.