In reply to inquiries from Lord Bloomfield,1 Lord Clarendon furnished him with the following instructions in 1855:

  • “1st. That a woman, a British-born subject, who has married a foreigner, puts on the status of her husband, and during the continuance of that coverture is not entitled to claim the protection of Her Majesty’s legations abroad.
  • “2d. The same woman, on becoming a widow, is entitled to re-assume the character of a natural-born British subject; but her children by her alien husband, if born abroad, follow the nationality of their father, except that by virtue of the 3d section of the 7 & 8 Vict., cap. 66, they are made capable of taking any estate, real or personal, by devise or purchase or inheritance in England.
  • 3d. As already stated, the mother, whilst under coverture, follows the condition of her husband, and is an alien; but the children, as well during as after the coverture, are entitled to the privileges conferred by the 3d section of the 7 & 8 Vict., cap. 66.
  • “4th. During coverture by an alien husband the mother cannot demand a British passport. When ‘discouverte’ she may demand one. The children, however, are aliens and cannot demand passports as British subjects either during or after coverture.”

In 1862, Mr. Crossthwaite,2 Her Majesty’s consul at Cologne, requested to be informed whether, he having been naturalized as a Prussian subject, his sons were liable to the Prussian conscription.

It was decided that the sons of a naturalized Prussian subject (owing allegiance to [Page 1346] Her Majesty) who are between the ages of 17 and 25, and are resident in Prussia would be compellable to serve in the Prussian army.

In 1865 it was decided that a M. Renkewitz,1 a person born in the British colony of Tobago, of a Saxon father and a Danish mother, and who had not resided in British territory since he was seven years of age, might properly receive a British passport from the Berlin embassy.

In October, 1867, the Prussian chargé d’affaires, with a view to the controversy between the Prussian and United States Governments, made an inquiry as to the liability to serve in Her Majesty’s army and navy of British subjects who, having emigrated to a foreign country and become naturalized citizens of that country, subsequently return to their native land.

Count Bernstorff2 was informed “that no practice has prevailed in England since the peace of 1815, which has any bearing on the question of the treatment in Prussia of these subjects of the King of Prussia, liable to military service, who, after they have emigrated to a foreign country, and been naturalized there, come back again to Prussia, inasmuch as the practice in England has always been, both before and since the peace of 1815, to recruit the royal army by voluntary enlistment.

“On the other hand, the militia of the counties which used to be called out by ballot has ceased to be so called out since 1829, and on the last occasion when the militia was embodied, during the Russian war in 1854, the quota of each regiment was furnished by volunteers. There has thus been no opportunity for a tacit practice to grow up either in regard to the army or the militia, under which any privilege of exemption from the liability to military service should become established in Great Britain in favor of those subjects of the Queen who, after they have emigrated and been naturalized abroad, have returned to Great Britain.

“With regard to the royal navy, the same observations apply, as the practice of impressment has been allowed to fall into desuetude and the royal navy has been for some time recruited by voluntary enrollment.”

  1. To Lord Bloomfield, No. 249, August 11, 1865.
  2. Law officers: November 5, 1862.
  3. December 4. 1865.
  4. To Count Bernstorff; November 15, 1867.