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British Citizenship

Ways to become a British citizen in the Georgian era

Could our India-born hero in A Spark of Romance marry the heroine, purchase property in England, and possibly run for Parliament?

Citizenship laws during the Georgian era changed due to the expansion of the British Empire. Prior, the laws followed those set during medieval England, namely common law.

The long and short of common law was that if one was born in England, they were natural-born subjects, but if born elsewhere, they were aliens and could never become British citizens.

Then came the British Empire, which expanded Crown dominion to anywhere England had colonized. Jus Soli—Right of Soil—took precedence, wherein any child born within the dominion, regardless of parentage, was a British-born subject.

The British Nationality Act 1772 specifically granted natural-born allegiance to any child born anywhere if the father was British.

There were exceptions, such as the Status of Children Born Abroad Act 1350 to naturalise children of British parents born abroad, the Sophia Naturalization Act and Act of Settlement 1701, designed to ensure Protestant descendants had a claim to English nationality, the Act of Union 1707 to unite England and Scotland, etc.

Exceptions aside, the basic rules to follow were that no “foreigner” not of British parents could become a British citizen, but citizenship was granted to those born within the Crown’s dominion and of a British father (emphasis on father only).

To answer our original question, YES, our hero of A Spark of Romance, despite being born in India, would be a natural-born British subject, be able to purchase property, and even be able to run for Parliament. The only problem would have been if he were not Protestant, but lucky for him, his parents saw fit to raise him under the Church of England.

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