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Naturalisation for Family History

1. Why use this guide?

Use this guide if you are looking for the records of when a foreign national became a British subject before 1844 or between 1854-1961.

2. What are the records?

Before 1844, foreign nationals wishing to become British subjects (the process known as naturalisation) had to do so by obtaining a private act of parliament. As well as the acts, supporting documentation may also survive among the House of Lords Main Papers.

After 1844 the Home Office issued certificates of naturalisation instead. 

3. What information do the records contain?

The Act of Parliament will include the date of naturalisation and the names of people being naturalised under the Act.

Surviving supporting documents may include naturalisation bills, petitions for bills, and certificates. 

4. How to get started?

To search for naturalisation records, type your ancestors’ surname in the search box at the top of this page.

Next, select ‘Acts of Parliament/Laws/Legislation‘ from the left hand menu.

You can sort your results by using the ‘sort by’ fields of year and title. these are also in the left hand menu.

TIP! Acts may have naturalised a number of people, while any surviving supporting documents may only be described in relation to the first person mentioned on the Act. Also that ‘naturalisation’ is sometimes spelled as ‘naturalization’.

5. How to access the records?

You can access the documents in our search room, but first you will need to identify the document(s) of interest to you and make a note of their catalogue reference. Use the instructions above to get started.

Once you have catalogue references, you’ll need to follow the instructions on our Plan Your Visit page.

We can produce copies of most documents in our care. For more information please see our Ordering Copies page.

6. Records online?

Some Acts of Parliament have been digitised. If the act you’re interested has been digitised, the copy will be attached to the catalogue description.

7. What records are held elsewhere?

The records of the certificates issued by the Home Office after 1844 are held by The National Archives: see their Research Guide for naturalisation records for further information.

Returns of names of aliens issued with these certificates can be found printed among House of Commons Parliamentary Papers between 1867-1962, covering the period 1854-1961. Some Parliamentary Papers are available online. Please see our Parliamentary Papers page for more information.

The following book may be found in libraries: Letters of denization and acts of naturalization for aliens in England and Ireland, edited by William A. Shaw for the Huguenot Society of London. Volume 1 1603-1700 (published 1911) and volume 2 1701-1800 (published 1923).