The registers of the correspondence between England and France for the last five-and-twenty years have been searched; but they do not present many cases of interest.

2 Lord Cowley forwarded, in 1856, a report by M. Treitt on a question between the Trench and British governments respecting the administration to the intestate estate of a naturalized Brazilian subject, named Braga.

Señor Braga died at Paris, leaving a son born in Brazil, of a Brazilian mother, and a second wife, a Frenchwoman, with two sons born in France.

The Brazilian consul first proceeded to administer to the estate on behalf of the eldest son, who was absent in Brazil, and then on behalf of the two younger sons, “enfants mineurs nés eh France, mais sujets Brésiliens aux termes de la loi Française.”

The widow opposed the consul’s interference in regard to the younger sons, and appealed to the “Tribunal Civil de Premiere Instance,” which, by two summary judgments, confirmed the consul’s powers. The matter was then referred to the Brazilian government, who instructed the consul to abstain from taking any further proceedings on behalf of the minor children, as by a recent Brazilian decree, the administration to the intestate property of aliens was vested in the local authorities, and not in the consul of the alien’s country, when the widow was a Brazilian and the children born in Brazil.

This case rather concerns Brazilian than French law; but it is worthy of remark, as illustrative of the French doctrine, as to the nationality of the minor children of aliens born in France.

3 In August, 1856, the French chargé d’affaires in London recommended to the favorable consideration of Her Majesty’s government a petition from the French residents in British Guiana, praying for exemption from the local militia.

4 The French embassy was informed (October 10, 1856) that “to hold out to the French residents in British Guiana, in general terms, that they are specially favored, would, in the opinion of Her Majesty’s government, place them in a false position, and would raise expectations that could not be fulfilled, inasmuch as they cannot be exempted from militia service, which is the particular favor that they solicit.

“As the French settlers appear to make this application from the fact that the Portuguese are exempted from militia service, I have the honor to acquaint your excellency that this exemption is owing to certain provisions of a treaty,5 which appear to Her Majesty’s government to be so manifestly inexpedient and objectionable in principle, that they have now under consideration the propriety of opening negotiations for an alteration of that treaty in this respect.”

6 In December, 1857, the colonial office forwarded copies of a correspondence with the governor and lieutenant-governor of British Guiana on this subject, and asked ‘whether any communication should be addressed to the French government, or whether the claim of the French residents to exemption should be directly negatived.

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1 Lord Clarendon, in reply, stated that he considered that the note to the French embassador of the 10th of October, 1857, was “a sufficient announcement of the intentions of Her Majesty’s government with regard to this question.”

2 In December, 1857, Lord Cowley requested to be informed whether a gentleman named Julien Colonna Walewski, born in London, of Polish parents, was to be considered3 and protected as a British subject in France.

4 Under the advice of the law officers, Lord Cowley was instructed that, under the circumstances stated, M. Walewski was entitled to be so considered.

The correspondence previously referred to (“Argentine Republic—Buenos Ayres,”) arose about this time respecting the protection to be afforded to the children born of British and French parents in Buenos Ayres, in the course of which the French government requested to be informed of the state of the British law with regard to the children of aliens born within British territory.

5 In reply to the inquiries thus made by the French government, Lord Clarendon directed Lord Cowley to state to them, “With reference to the questions put to you by Count Walewski, as reported in your dispatch No. 1625, 1 am not aware of any treaty between this country and a foreign state which would give to children born of British parents in those states the rights of British subjects; and in reply to his excellency’s inquiry as to what is the law of England in such matters, I have to observe that the general law of England in the matter is that all children, of whatsoever parentage, born in the Queen’s dominions, are British subjects by birth, and are in England entitled to the privileges and liable to the obligations of that status.

“The children of British subjects, although born abroad, if their fathers or their grandfathers by the father’s side were natural-born subjects, are by certain British, statutes to be deemed natural-born subjects themselves to all intents and purposes in England; but neither these statutes nor the general principles of English or international law, or of reciprocity or comity so far as great Britain is concerned, would justify her in maintaining that such persons are ‘British subjects’ within the true intent and meaning of a treaty with a foreign nation in which their case is not specially provided for, or in contending that they are, while residing in such foreign country, exempt from the obligations incident to their status as natural-born subjects or citizens of such foreign country, of their actual birth and residence. Great Britain may confer upon them any privileges as far as her own territories are concerned, but no such privileges can avail as against or in derogation of their antecedent natural and legal obligations to the country of their birth.”

[252] Earl of Malmesbury to the Earl of Cowley.

  1. Lord Cowley, No. 1,188; September 7, 1855.
  2. Baron de Malaret; August 21, 1856.
  3. To Count de Persigny; October 10, 1856.
  4. The treaty referred to is the Treaty of Commerce and Navigation of July 3, 1842. Article I. “They shall be exempt from forced loans or any other extraordinary contributions not general or not by law established, and from all military service by sea or by land.” Similar provisions are inserted in most treaties of this description, and are of essential service to protect British subjects from conscription. See treaties with Russia, Italy, &c., and the recent treaty with Colombia, February 16, 1866. Article XVI. “The subjects and citizens of each of the contracting parties in the dominions and possessions of the other shall be exempted from all compulsory military service whatever, whether in the army, navy, or national guard or militia.” There is no such general treaty with France.
  5. Colonial office; December 23, 1857.
  6. To colonial office; January 11, 1858.
  7. Lord Cowley, No. 1691; December 19, 1857.
  8. To Lord Cowley, No. 1813: December 31, 1857.
  9. Law officers; December 26, 1857.
  10. To Lord Cowley, No. 1780; December 24, 1857.