In 1857 Madame yon Essen applied to Lord Wodehouse,3 at St. Petersburgh, for a British passport, to enable her to be recognized as a British subject by the Russian authorities, she being the widow of a Prussian who had been naturalized in Russia.

Lord Wodehouse was instructed “to grant her a passport if she can show that she was a natural-born Englishwoman, and that she forfeited upon the death of her husband the rights she acquired in Russia as the wife of a naturalized Prussian subject; but if she did not forfeit those Russian rights, you will inform Madame von Essen that she cannot under such circumstances be provided with a British passport, more especially as she appears to have no intention of leaving Russia.”

The Queen’s advocate remarked, in regard to this case, that there was no law as to the right of a British-born subject to a passport, and that it would be very inexpedient to lay down any inflexible rule in such matters. The primary intention and use of a passport was for traveling purposes, and it was for the secretary of state to give such directions from time to time as he might think fit as to the grant of passports in special cases, having regard to the conditions as to domicile and residence in a foreign country, under which such applications were made.

Shortly afterwards Consul-General Mansfield4 inquired whether a Polish lady married to an Englishman could legally be entered in her husband’s passeport de séjour as a British subject. He was told that during marriage she became entitled to the status and civil rights of her husband, and consequently to the protection of the British government as a British subject.

In 1862 a question arose as to the status of British Jews in Russia.

Her Majesty’s embassador5 was instructed that, having regard to the language of the treaty between Great Britain and Russia of 1859, and to the facts stated with reference to the legal status of Russian Jews in their own country, Her Majesty’s government would not be justified in claiming exemption for British Jews in Russia from the disabilities to which Russian Jews are there liable by law. The effect of the first and eleventh articles of the treaty was to place British subjects on the footing of Russian subjects before the law, each class being alike, and one not more than the other amenable to all general laws applicable in like cases. Russian subjects, being Jews, incurred certain disabilities, and the equality intended and provided by the treaty was not infringed by British subjects who are Jews, whilst residing there, also sharing the same disabilities. In 1865 the British factory at St. Petersburg wished to obtain a revision [Page 1347] of the sixth section of the Russian naturalization law relating to children born after their parents had adopted Russian allegiance, with reference especially to the fact that previously to 1862 no alien could carry on business in Russia without being naturalized, and that the new law of 1864 made no provision for the denaturalization of persons who had assumed Russian nationality before it was passed.

Sir A. Buchanan1 was instructed to assist the factory as far as he could.

At the same time he was warned that it was impossible to press upon the Russian government the law of England as a complete reason for the desired concession.

“The present law2 of England would allow a Russian merchant to carry on his business in Great Britain without being naturalized, and so far the doctrine of reciprocity might be made available: but, on the other hand, the law of England considered that allegiance, whether acquired by birth or by naturalization, is indelible, except, perhaps, in the case of a conflict of duty between the obligations of the naturalized foreigner to the state to which he originally belonged and Great Britain.

“A Russian could exercise wholesale and retail trade in England on the same footing as a British subject, with the exception that he could not lease land or house for a longer term than twenty-one years without being naturalized. A Russian could not,3 according to the theory of the law, put off the allegiance acquired by naturalization, though practically he would do so if he returned to his own country, except, perhaps, in a case of war between Russia and England.”

In March, 1867, Mr. George Wolff4 applied to Sir A. Buchanan for a British passport. Mr. Wolff was born in England of a Hanoverian father and English mother, had resided in England until he was eleven years of age, and had never claimed Hanoverian nationality.

Under these circumstances, Sir A. Buchanan was told that he might give notice to the Russian authorities of Mr. Wolff’s name being withdrawn from the family passr, port, and give him a separate passport as a British subject.

  1. Lord Wodehouse, No. 12; January 3, 1857. Queen’s Advocate; January 15 and 21, 1857. To Lord Wodehouse, No. 69; January 21, 1857.
  2. Consul-General Mansfield, No. 16; February 24, 1857.
  3. To Lord Napier, No. 105; May 15, 1862.
  4. Sir A. Buchanan, No. 21.
  5. Queen’s Advocate; January 31, 1865.
  6. See, however, previously as to British naturalization, the certificates of which, as at present granted, are canceled by absence from England without license beyond a certain specified time.
  7. Sir A. Buchanan, No. 80; March 12, 1867.