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Posted: 28 Oct 2018 17:50
by victor
We all, well most of us do, know about nationalisation

I learned something new a few days ago.

In 1875 an English wife, born in King's Lynn, married a German, born in Hamburg, in England. They lived here and brought up a family. They are all listed in the census years. They never lived in Germany.
When the husband died, the wife learned that because she married a German she was now regarded as a German citizen. In 1923 she applied for nationalisation after her husband died. I have a copy of her application which was granted. They ran a sweet shop business in Hull.
That is something I was not aware of and may be some of you aren't.

Something to think about how to add this to FH. Probably simple or should there be a special way of adding the details?


Re: Naturalisation

Posted: 28 Oct 2018 18:01
by LornaCraig
There is a standard fact called Naturalisation i.e. the event of obtaining citizenship.
(not Nationalisation - that's something that happens to businesses or industries when government takes them over!)

I would use the Note field of the fact to explain the unusual circumstances.

Re: Nationalisation

Posted: 28 Oct 2018 20:24
by victor
Sorry my error I originally wrote naturalisation but then changed it.

Just thought I would mention this to make others aware of such a marriage making the 'home' person the nationality of the immigrant. Come to think of it, if the wife was German she then have become English after marrying her Englishman.


Re: Naturalisation

Posted: 29 Oct 2018 15:07
by mjashby
No, British (not English) Nationality is not acquired directly through marriage. There's a reasonable, though lengthy, summary here: and, of course the issues associated with nationality; and whether or not an individual's nationality "matters'' have changed over time.

The legalities about obtaining a change of Nationality are, understandably a relatively complex legal area and vary from Country to Country, so there is no one answer. Then, if you add in dual-Nationality and/or membership of the European Union...

Re: Naturalisation

Posted: 30 Oct 2018 23:21
by victor
I am talking about an English woman who married a German in King's Lynn in 1885. Once she married him she became a German even though she never lived in Germany. They ran a business in Hull and are listed in all the appropriate census's
When her husband died she applied for naturalisation in 1923. Just wondered if, at the time, a woman married a foreigner she autumatically becomes a German (or whatever country he came from). If a woman from overseas married an Englishman she would be regarded as British.

The link you provided is about the modern rules not those of a hundered years ago.


Re: Naturalisation

Posted: 30 Oct 2018 23:35
by AdrianBruce
mjashby wrote:No, British ... Nationality is not acquired directly through marriage. ...
So far as I can see from and ... nality_law, you're right but it's perhaps easy to misread your (presumed) meaning.

Under the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914,
British subject status was acquired as follows:
foreign women who married British subject men
This seems to carry on into the present day but I think that the crucial element is that while you are entitled to become a British citizen after an appropriate marriage, nonetheless you still have to actually apply. Or at least, that seems to be how it works now. So perhaps "British ... Nationality is not acquired automatically through marriage" might convey the idea better?? Assuming I've read it all correctly.

Re: Naturalisation

Posted: 31 Oct 2018 07:29
by David2416
Marriage to a British Citizen does not automatically convey British Citizenship today.

There are some hoops to jump through: see

Re: Naturalisation

Posted: 31 Oct 2018 10:54
by LornaCraig
But Victor's example raises different question: why did a British citizen lose her British nationality when she married a German?

She may not have lost her British nationality as soon as she married, but only after the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914. See ... s_Act_1914

The provisons included the following:
British subject status was normally lost by:

naturalisation in a foreign state, such as the United States of America or France
in the case of a woman, upon marriage to a foreign man. Prior to 1933, British subject status was lost even if the woman did not acquire her husband's nationality.
a child of a father who lost British subject status, provided the child also had the father's new nationality.
So there was even a period when a woman could have been stateless, if she didn't adopt her husband's nationality!

See also this article about the treatment of aliens in Britian during WW1: ... 1914-1919/

If you scroll down far enough you will find this paragraph:
As the law was at this time, British-born women who had married foreign nationals (who had not naturalised) acquired their husband’s nationality. Many British born women therefore found themselves to be enemy aliens during the war. Except in a very few cases women were not interned.
I imagine she had to deal with quite a lot of hostility as the wife of a German, in addition to coping with the (possible) internment of her husband.

Re: Naturalisation

Posted: 31 Oct 2018 14:57
by E Wilcock
Your baker is not alone. The First World War threw up other tricky cases. One woman British born but German since she was the widow of a German appealed again her internment as an enemy alien, because her British born son was classified as British and had been conscripted and was serving in the British army.
In Germany too women's nationality came from their husband and male descent is still applied today when considering applications for German citizenship.

Re: Naturalisation

Posted: 31 Oct 2018 16:40
by mjashby
German Legislation: ... html#p0016 which is still based on the legislation put in place in 1913

UK Naturalisation Info: ... -1870-1948

There is no indication that any change of nationality has ever been automatically conveyed to a 'partner' on/after marriage to a citizen of either nation unless a formal application for citizenship was made within the appropriate time limits and approved by the Government Department responsible.

There are, of course, many complexities in defining/understanding who was/is entitled to claim British citizenship over time including the entitlements of Commonwealth citizens during specific periods and also political changes in Ireland including the establishment of the Republic of Ireland. And for Germany, there were also well known problem periods when large numbers of residents were deprived of their citizenship rights by the Nazi regime; the annexation of Austria, which resulted in Austrians being re-defined as German citizens until the country was re-established; etc.

Re: Naturalisation

Posted: 31 Oct 2018 17:08
by LornaCraig
I think the important point in Victor's example is not whether the woman automatically acquired German citizenship (perhaps she didn't, despite what it says in the National Archives blog about aliens in WW1), but that she lost her British citizenship as a result of the 1914 Act, and subsequently applied to become a British citizen again after her husband's death. She may have been 'stateless' in the intervening years.

But a British man with a German wife would not have lost British citizenship. :?

Re: Naturalisation

Posted: 01 Nov 2018 00:07
by victor
Thanks for your replies on this. It has enlightened me on the past and I hope others too so we all have to bear in mind what to put on their FH details

I will ask the great grandson of the woman in question. He was the one who sent me details of her naturalisation application.


Re: Naturalisation

Posted: 01 Nov 2018 12:16
by mjashby
Found this at last after some further searching: ... 1.0EXT.pdf
Much more readable, though it doesn't give explicit answers for every scenario. Lorna's presumption that the woman in this case may well not have applied for German citizenship (nationality) on/after marriage to an 'alien' but would have still lost her entitlement to British citizenship on her marriage as a result of the 1914 Act seems the most probable explanation. This would presumably have meant that any children they had would also have been defined as German, as they would have automatically inherited their father's nationality. From your information, she would seem to have taken the normal route (under the provisions at that time) in applying for her British citizenship to be reinstated after her marriage ended. Presumably, had her husband successfully applied for British citizenship during his lifetime, hers would also have been reinstated at that time.

It all goes to show how some aspects of life have changed (or in some circumstances not changed) over the past hundred years due to the increasing complexity of today's lifestyles.


Re: Naturalisation

Posted: 01 Nov 2018 16:21
by Peter Collier
It was the case that a woman effectively ceased to have her own legal personality on marriage. It affected all areas of life - contract law, property, etc - not just nationality. Thankfully that's changed now, although it was still the case on the Channel Island of Sark until very recently. It may even still be so, I muss confess I don't follow Sercquiais constitutional developments particularly closely!