During the Venetian insurrection in 1848 the provisional government claimed a right to exact payment to a forced loan from certain British and Ionian subjects, on the ground that, by an Austrian decree of the 15th of May, 1833, they had acquired Austrian (and therefore Venetian) citizenship.5 (See Laws of Austria, and addenda H.)

This decree provided that all foreigners who, at the date of its publication in those provinces, should have completed an uninterrupted residence of ten years were allowed to free themselves from the Austrian citizenship acquired by such residence, on giving proof that they never had an intention of becoming Austrian citizens. Such proof was to be given within six months from the date of the decree, in default of which it would no longer be admitted.

The Venetians maintained that under this law British subjects who had resided uninterruptedly for ten years in Venice became Venetian citizens, unless they expressly renounced that citizenship.

Mr. Consul-General Dawkins remonstrated against the interpretation put upon this law, and his having done so was approved by Her Majesty’s government.

It appeared, however, that some of the persons thus pleading their quality of British subjects as exempting them from the forced loan had taken office under the Venetian government.

Lord Palmerston instructed Mr. Dawkins that such persons were, by the twenty-ninth article of the Austrian civil code, liable to be considered as subjects of the Venetian government, and consequently not entitled to exemption. Lord Palmerston did not, however, disapprove of Mr. Dawkins having endeavored to preserve them from the severe effect of the forced contribution imposed by the provisional government.

  1. Consul-General Dawkins, No. 117; August 26, 1848. To Consul-General Dawkins, No. 36; November 28, 1848.