130 Baird, Annie

The Chargé in Great Britain (Atherton) to the Secretary of State

No. 307

Sir: I have the honor to request instructions as to what representations the Department desires me to make to the Home Office, through the Foreign Office, with regard to the citizenship status of Miss Annie Baird and the legality of her adoption from the standpoint of British law. The matter has been referred to the Embassy by the American Consul at Dundee, pursuant to the Department’s instructions to him under date of July 28, 1932.18

According to the information furnished by the Consul, Annie Baird was born Ann Allan Baird Gardyne, daughter of John Gardyne, May 21, 1915 at Dundee, was adopted on August 2, 1915 by Mr. and Mrs. James Baird by an agreement in writing between them and John Gardyne, was taken to the United States by her adoptive parents, was included in James Baird’s petition for naturalization, acquired American citizenship [Page 20] through his naturalization and on April 27, 1931 obtained an American passport for a visit to Scotland. It is not stated that the fact that she was an adopted child was shown in the petition for naturalization or in her own passport application.

It appears that the authorities at Dundee regard Miss Baird as a British subject and in this relation the Consul quotes a letter written on May 10, 1932 by the Home Office to a firm of local attorneys, as follows:

“With reference to your letter of the 5th instant regarding Miss Annie Baird, I am directed by the Secretary of State to say that he has no authority to determine questions of nationality but is advised that as it appears that Miss Baird acquired at birth the status of a natural born British subject no action of her adoptive parent can have the effect in English law of depriving her of the British nationality so acquired. The Secretary of State cannot express any opinion as to her status in American law.”

The Embassy has discussed this case with the Consulate General and shares the latter’s opinion that it may establish a precedent, neither office being aware of any similar case in which American citizenship has been acquired by an adopted child through the naturalization of the adoptive father. Under this principle, assuming that the legality of the adoption can be shown, the question arises whether the British authorities would not be required by the provisions of the Naturalization Convention of 187019 to recognize the loss of British nationality, though possibly not before the person concerned has attained full age.

Respectfully yours,

Ray Atherton
  1. Not printed.
  2. Malloy, Treaties, Conventions, etc., vol. i, p. 691.