England, Immigrants and Aliens (National Institute)
The original content for this article was contributed by The National Institute for Genealogical Studies in June 2012. It is an excerpt from their course English: Education,Health and Contemporary Documents by Dr. Penelope Christensen. The Institute offers over 200 comprehensive genealogy courses for a fee ($).
Immigrants and Aliens[edit | edit source]
Many records concerned with the arrival and life of foreign-born aliens can be found scattered throughout the PRO classes at the The National Archives (TNA). Examples include Chancery, Exchequer, State Papers, Oath Rolls of Naturalization, Denizations, and Treasury In-Letters and details can be found in the TNA guides to research D49, D50 and O16.
Naturalization[edit | edit source]
Aliens could become naturalized British subjects only by Act of Parliament before 1844, and after this by a certificate from the Home Secretary. This allowed them all the privileges of someone born in Britain but was costly and time-consuming so usually only achieved by those higher up the social and business scale. Others chose to get denization, but the vast majority did not bother taking out papers at all because they couldn’t afford to. Upon marriage to an Englishwoman their children born in Britain automatically acquired British nationality.
Naturalization papers can be most informative, giving:
- Exact places of birth.
- Dates and places of marriage.
- Spouse’s name and birth details.
- Length of time in Britain.
- Details of guarantors.
- Number of children, but usually not their names.
The original naturalization records are in TNA series HO 1, 2, 3 and 5. Chancery documents in C 65-67, and C 54 also contain many Acts of Naturalization from the 15th century until 1873. Most of these classes have indexes, for example films 0824514-5 and 0917035 contain indexes to naturalizations in the Patent Rolls in C 66 from 1801-1924.
Chart: Index to Certificates of Naturalization 1801-1900
|A 7-column chart giving Name, Country, Date of Certificate, Place of Residence, Number of Certificate, Number of Home Office Paper, Remarks|
|BUHL, Christian Friedrich, Saxony, 17 Dec 1853, [no residence], 1694, [no H.O. paper or remarks]|
|BURNBLUM, James, Constantinople, 16 Jan 1847, [no residence], 522, [no H.O. paper or remarks]|
|BURROUGHS, Silas Maineville, United States of America, 10 May 1890, Dartford, A 6391, B7130|
|BUSCH, Edmund Hermann, Germany, 28 Feb 1884, Cheltenham, A 4062, A 34440|
|BUSCH, Otto, Hannover, 28 Feb 1866, [no residence], 4975, [no H.O. paper or remarks] |
The full transcripts have been published for those up to 1800. If an ancestor took British nationality more than 100 years ago the original papers can be obtained from TNA using the detailed instructions in Kershall and Pearsall. Original records are subject to the 100-year closure rule, but there are indexes at the PRO up to 1935 and if a name is found in these then the relevant edition of the London Gazette where the event should be listed can be consulted.
Denization[edit | edit source]
This is the considerably easier process of granting to an alien by letters patent some of the privileges of naturalization, for example allowing the buying and devising (bequeathing in a will) of land, which aliens could not do. However, a denizen could not inherit land, nor could any of his children born before denization. Neither could he hold any office of trust or receive grants of land from the crown. The original records are at TNA from about 1400 to 1844 in series C 66 and 67.
The indexes to the records of these two processes have been published by the Huguenot Society (Page, and Shaw) and are on microfilm:
- Volume 8 covering 1509-1603 and volume 18 covering 1603-1700 on film 0824513.
- Volume 27 covering 1701-1800, and volume 35 which is a supplement to volumes 18 and 27, on film 0824514.
The index gives the:
- Country they came from.
- Date of certificate.
- Place of residence in British Isles.
- Number of certificate.
- PRO reference number to the Home Office Paper.
- Any remarks.
An index to later denizations 1801-1873 is on film 0917035.
Chart: Index to Denizations 1801-1873 Film 0917035
|A 5-column chart giving Name, Place of origin, Rights conferred, Date of Letters Patent, and Home Office number|
|BUISSON, Charles, France, To be a free Denizen and he and his heirs to have all rights, etc., to free Denizens belonging, 11 Oct 1826, [no #]|
|CANSTATT, Jacob, Manheim [sic], To be a free Denizen and to have all rights, etc., to free Denizens belonging, 14 Jul 1801, [no #]|
|CANTER, James, Denmark, To be a free Denizen and liege subject, 30 Dec 1841, O.S. 8942|
|CAPRON, Henry Joseph Achilles, Flanders, He and his heirs to be liege subjects, 23 May 1842, O.S. 8943. |
Huguenot Society of London[edit | edit source]
The extensive publications of the Huguenot Society of London concern mainly the 16th-early 18th century and are not solely about Huguenots but include many aliens. Various papers connected with the immigration of foreigners, often as refugees from religious persecution, still survive at TNA, for example:
- Aliens Entry Books 1794-1921 (HO 5).
- Certificates of Aliens from 1836-1852 (HO 2).
- Returns and papers 1836-1869 (HO 3).
- Aliens Act Entry Books 1905-1921 (HO 162).
These are of particular use for Jewish immigrants from Europe. Consult TNA guide to research D76 Anglo-Jewish History for further information.
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