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HO 45/15677


Dec 1924

Aliens naturalization.
Naturalized British Subjects. Use of Foreign Titles.


cf. 464986 [ = ? ]
B11,067 [ = HO 144/962/B11067; Emile Beaumont von Erlanger; open]
318,261 [ = HO 144/1580/318261; Vranyczany; open]
210,565 [ = ? ]
275,859 [ = HO 144/3344; de Crevoisier de Vomecourt; closed for 100 years]
310519 [ = HO 144/1451/310519; de Sousa-Deiro; open]
258203 [ = HO 144/22066; Manzi-Fe; closed for 100 years]
380464 [ = HO 144/3462; von Engelhardt; closed for 100 years]
315569 [ = HO 144/1458/315569; Nagy-Szopory; open]
426017 [ = ? ]


See slips within.

I confess I have an inclination against the present practice of exacting from the prospective grantees of certifs. of natur. an undertaking to "cease to use" ... and "not to resume" a foreign title he or she might possess.  It is of course true, as indicated in the memorandum in 275859/7 that foreign titles are not recognised in English law; and it is essential therefore that we should not refer to the title on the certificate and did inform the application that it is not and will not be officially recognised in the absence of a Royal Licence to use it.  But to go further and in accordance with practice established at HO since 1916 (see B11067/10) to make applicants undertake "not to use" the title (i.e. use for official or any other purpose) is going unnecessarily far. It is obvious that in many cases the applicant so far as ordinary social use of the title goes ignores the undertaking or heeds it only as applicable to its use for official purposes. I do not think it would be possible on legal grounds to treat the breach of the undertaking as a ground for revocation of the C of N under s. 7(1) of the Act of 1914. (I agree with Sir J Fisher Williams' minute on 275859/9 on this point).

It may be said that the present practice (which has been maintained irrespective of the question of enemy or non-enemy nationality) as compared with the old practice does no harm ; but I am inclined to think that it ay tend to lead to difficulties if an applicant otherwise entirely suitable as such point blank refuses to give the undertaking.  Will the SoS refuse to grant him a certificate?

? Decide to resume the former practice [i.e. inform the applicant that it will be in accordance with the usal practice to omit the title from the certificate and that foreign titles do not receive official recognition in this country unless and until Royal Licences to use them have been obtained].
OFD 23/1/25

Sufficient I think to observe the note as is [ ] above and to require the applicant or agent specifically on his behalf to acknowledge his receipt and acceptance of the facts so stated.
JT 28/1/25

This file has been overlooked.
1. Circulate in B division
2. To Mr. Eagleston to see
HH 9/3/25

AJE 16/3

Note in E Division
AJE 16/3

 By an oversight this lady was not requested at the time of asking for the fee for the certificate to give an undertaking to cease to use her title of Baroness; she has apparently no intention of abandoning the title and is asking why it is not given in her certificate.

The undertaking usually required is shown in 318261/? [= HO 144/1580/318261] and 210565/18 - it is to the effect that the applicant on her naturalization will  cease to use the title of  --- and will not resume the use unless and until she obtains a Royal Licence authorising her to do so. The origin of this practice is shown in B11067/10; it was established in 191 as the result of a question in the House of Commons in regard to the case of the Baron d'Erlanger, a naturalized British subject who continued to use his foreign title.  Before the the practice had been to inform the applicant that no official recognition of the title could be given unless a Royal Licence for its use had been obtained.

The practice settled on 311067/10 applied to enemy titles only.  The question of the  line to be adopted in regard to other foreign titles  is discussed on 275859/6 and with a view to a general decision on the point,  but the general decision was never reached:  in the individual case (a French title) it was decided in asking for the fee to inform the applicant that the title was not officially recognised (December  1916).  This course was also followed in 310519/3 (a Portuguese title, December 1916) and also in the case of the Countess Stenbock (316966, November 1916) [ = HO 144/1460/316966] whose title was Swedish.    See Sir  J. Fischer Williams' minute on that file drawing a distinction between enemy and other titles in this connection.

But at present the practice is to require an undertaking of renunciation of the title whether it is ex-enemy or not (cf.  410683  - Dutch, 1922; [ = ? ] 486017  - Greek, 1922; [ = ? ] cf also 258203/8 [ = HO 144/22066, Manzi-Fe] for a discussion of the point in a case in 1921).

There is nothing in law to prevent the use of foreign titles either by natural born or naturalized British subjects if they have in fact a right to such titles (see Mr, Eagleston's minute on B11067/6). The attempt to prevent their use, in the case of naturalized British subjects, by means of an undertaking, is based on grounds of publio policy; if the undertaking is broken, there is nothing we can do unless we take steps to revoke the certificate on the ground of false representation - it is very doubtful if failure to keep the undertaking could be regarded as sufficient grounds for this purpose.  As to this point see Sir J. Fischer-Williams' minutes on 315569/14 and 275859/7.

It is perhaps a matter for consideration whether we should not at this date revert to the practice indicated in paragraph 3. above i.e. informing the applicant that her title cannot be recognised officially unless she gets a Royal Licence to use it. The considerations on which the present practice was adopted arose out of war-time conditions. On general grounds it is not easy to see why a British born widow who has acquired the title of Baroness by marriage should not retain her title for general purposes just as much as a natural born British subject who inherits a foreign title -though in neither case could the title be recognised for official purposes unless the holder had been granted a Royal Licence.  There is some objection in principle to making an undertaking such as we require in cases of this kind a condition precedent to the grant of a Certificate of naturalisation (cf. Mr. Dowson's minute on 426017/4). But the chief objection is to the requirement of an undertaking which we are in fact powerless to enforce, and which there is little reason to believe is ever actually kept by the grantee, who is J almost certain to continue the use of her title for private and social purposes.

At all events in the circumstances of the present case, having rgard to the the lady's residence abroad, there seems no reason why she should be asked to renounce her title,  and it is too late now to do so as the certificate has already been granted.  The best course would appear to be to inform her in returning the certificate, after registration, that [it is the established practice to omit foreign titles from certificates of naturalization and] she cannot be described therein her certificate as a Baroness, nor can any official recognition of her title be given unless she obtains a Royal License for its use.


Mr Dawson

See memo attached which represents some further delving into the question of foreign titles.

I am not sure whether this is a very opportune moment to raise the question of existing practice, which has been going on for some time without any disastrous effects, and anyway I think the action on the individual case can be taken without goinf into the general question; perhaps this would be the best thing to do at present.


Mr Eagleston

I am not sure whether this is a matter on which you can assist B. Dw. : my own view is that our practice in requiring an undertaking to discontinue the foreign title goes further than necessary; and perhaps further than is expedient. We cannot secure obedience to the undertaking or prevent the holder from using for non-official purposes any foreign title which he or she may claim to possess; and we know as a fact in some cases that such use continues after naturalization.

I shd like to go back to the former practice to merely tell the applicant that his other title cannot receive any official recognition in the absence of a Royal Licence to use it.  Have you any views on this subject?


I entirely agree with your view.  In the case of natural-born subject (and this would obviously include the British-born children of naturalised B.S.) there is no power to prevent any one using foreign title in social life, but it is never recognised officially without a Royal Licence.  It is of course notorious that various people use Papal titles, which are never in any circumstances recognised.

I cannot see any object in putting (or rather attempting to put) naturalised persons on a different footing from the British born. The former practice to which you suggest reverting seems to me both more reasonable and safer than the one adopted during the war of asking for an undertaking which cannot (I gather) be effectively enforced in any case it is disregarded.  Cannot the decision on B11067/10 be treated as a war-time expedient no longer necessary?



March 31st

Use of Foreign Titles


From memo within it will be seen that His Majesty has given direction that no further grants of Royal Licences for the use of foreign titles are to be made and any application made are to be refused  without submission to the King.  Therefore when an applicant bearing a foreign title has applied for a C/N the applicant has been informed that "Foreign titles do not receive official recognition in this country unless and until Royal Licence to use them has been obtained" and the applicant is required to acknowledge acceptance of these terms before certificate is granted.

In view of the change in procedure it would perhaps be better to omit these words, and to inform applicant in draft within.

? draft letter for appl

<initials> 16/3/32

The principal point here is whether it is desired to avoid anything which might encourage the holder of a foreign title, on appl. for naturalization, to apply for a Royal Licence to continue the use of the foreign title.
<initials> 18.3.32

I agree that it is better not to say anything about a Royal Licence, but I should prefer something more positive than the suggested draft.  I suggest adding as shown on the draft the words "foreign titles do not receive official recognition in this country."  This would be quite true as to applicants for naturalization.
AJE 21.3.32

It seems that by slightly recasting the old letter we can make the statement as to foreign titles of applicants for natur. not merely relatively true, but (hypothetically) absolutely true.

? Note Draft B within as a precedent for circulation in 'A' Division, and typing PoM.
HHC 25.4.32

With reference to the application of .........
for the grant of a certificate of naturalization, I am directed by the Secretary of State to say that he thinks it right to point out that,

[With reference to your letter of the ........., I am directed by the Secretary of State to say that it is open to apply for the grant of a certificate of naturalization in accordance with the enclosed instructions.

The Secretary of State thinks it right to point out that,]

if your client becomes a British subject, his (her) foreign title will not receive official recognition in this country and that in accordance with the established practice it will be omitted from the certificate, if granted.   I am to request that [, if an application is lodged,] your client, or you on his (her) behalf, will specifically acknowledge his (her) acceptance of this position.

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