3 The following extract from a dispatch addressed by Sir W. Temple to Mr. Vice-consul Barker in 1837, explains the views of the Neapolitan government in a case of disputed nationality which occurred at that date:

“I have represented to Prince Cassaro the case of Mr. John and Mr. Benedict Stuart, and he is decidedly of opinion, as well as myself, that they are British subjects, and therefore not liable by treaty to be called upon to serve in the sanitary cordon. Their father, Lieutenant Stuart, having been born in England, was a British subject, and his marrying a Messinese made no difference in the nationality of his sons, for, according to law, the wife follows the condition of the husband. Unless, therefore, the sons in coming of age had declared their intention of being naturalized, and had gone through the formalities prescribed by the law for that purpose, they remain British subjects. Prince Cassaro informed me that this question had been already decided in the case of a French subject, and he has promised me that, if it is necessary, he will apply to the minister for the affairs of Sicily for an order to secure these gentlemen from further molestation.”

4 A question was raised by the Sardinian government in 1851 respecting the nationality of John Paul Baptiste Vertu, born at Halifax, Yorkshire, of Sardinian parents. The Turin government contended that he was a Sardinian subject.

5 Lord Palmerston’s instructions to Mr. Hudson were: “I have now to state to you that, as a general principle, children of alien friends, born in the British dominions, become de facto subjects of Great Britain, although not absolutely, and in all cases, to the entire cessation of all the bonds, privileges, and duties which might attach to them as children of the State to which their parents might belong, particularly when they themselves return to, and abide in, their parents’ country, and claim to be, and act as, subjects thereof.

“The right to be considered as British subjects, if fully and completely acquired, and not abandoned or forfeited, may be lawfully extended to them in the foreign state of which their parents were subjects; and it is not necessary, in order to render his children. British subjects, that an alien-friend transferring his domicil to Great Britain should previously have obtained his legal liberation from his duties and obligations to the state to which he had originally belonged.”

6 In 1843 M. Salteri requested to be informed” whether his son, who was born and then resident in England, was liable to the conscription in Tuscany.

Lord Aberdeen replied that his son, having been born and being resident within the [Page 1341] dominions of the British Crown, cannot he liable to the conscription law of Italy, or of any other foreign country.

1 In November, 1864, the Marquis d’Azeglio requested information as to the nationality of Mr. R. E. Sofio, who had claimed exemption from the conscription at Messina as a British subject, although his brother was counsel to the municipality, and as such undoubtedly an Italian.

2 After some inquiry, it proved that Mr. Sofio had been born at Massina, and the Marquis d’Azeglio was accordingly told that Her Majesty’s government could not protect him as a British subject.

3 Mr. Sofio, who was a merchant at New York, in the meanwhile returned to the United States, having been only a short time in Sicily on commercial business.

4 In Febuary, 1865, the Marquis d’Azeglio made a similar inquiry respecting MM. Carlo Hammet and Mariano Stuart, (son of the gentleman whose case has been previously referred to,) and Lord Russell then urged the Italian government to abide by the doctrine laid down by the Neopolitan government in 1837.5

6 It seems unnecessary to enter into a detailed account of this correspondence, as the Sicilian law upon which this claim was founded, and which was then in force, has been superseded by the new Italian code. (See “Laws of Italy.”)

In January, 1866, Mr. Elliot reported the case of Philip Smith, who had been drawn for the conscription at Bologna. General La Marmora refused to except him, on the ground that he came within the provisions of the Sardinian code, his father having resided for twenty years in Italy, and the profession of coachman which the father exercised not being considered “comme un commerce ou une Industrie.”

The papers were referred to the counsel to the Florence legation, who pointed out that under the new code Smith could declare himself a British subject on attaining his majority, and thus procure his discharge; but that in the meanwhile (he being twenty years of age) he must be considered as an Italian subject, and liable to military service.

This opinion is worth notice, as the age for conscription is generally eighteen; and in countries where a law similar to that of Italy prevails, it follows that the son of a British subject may be called upon to serve in the army from eighteen to twenty-one, when he can become a British subject and discharge himself.

It would certainly seem fairer that the youth should have the option of choosing his nationality when he is called upon to perform the duties of a native. It is obviously an anomaly that a man should be considered old enough to be a soldier, but not old enough to decide whether he would be a citizen.

This anomaly is obviated by the French law.

7 In April, 1866, M. Rosario Messina claimed British protection in Sicily as a naturalized Maltese. The Italian authorities denied his British nationality, asserting that his naturalization applied only to the island of Malta.

He was informed that his naturalization could not protect him against the law of his native country; the exception of this rule being found in eases in which the ‘country of the original allegiance allows her subjects to put off their allegiance and become the subjects of another country, which was not alleged to be the law of Italy.

In May, 1867, Mr. Elliot requested instructions as to the liability of Messrs. Hall and Hoare, and other British subjects, to contribute to a forced loan levied on mines, and other undertakings in which they were associated with Italians.

8 Mr. Elliot was instructed that under the fifteenth article of the treaty of commerce, British subjects could claim exemption from such loans being levied on dividends payable to them personally, but they could not claim exemption from loans assessed on the value of the mine or other concern in which they were collectively engaged with Italian subjects who were legally liable to it.

  1. Sir W. Temple to Mr. Barker September 16, 1837. (Inclosure in Vice-consul Rickard’s No. 14, March 1, 1865.)
  2. Sir R. Abercromby, No. 152; December 3, 1851.
  3. To Mr. Hudson, No. 9; March 23, 1852.
  4. To M. Salteri; July 3, 1843.
  5. Marquis d’Azeglio; November 28; 1864.
  6. To Marquis d’Azeglio; February 6, 1865.
  7. Mr. Rickards, No. 15; March 1, 1865.
  8. Marquis d’Azeglio; February 16, 1865.
  9. To Count Maffei; February 26, 1865.
  10. Marquis d’Azeglio; April 4, 1865.
  11. Messrs. Walton and Bubb; April 28, 1866.
  12. To Sir A. Paget, No. 3; September 5, 1867.