In both of my first two books from the Twins’ trilogy, the issue of whether an American could inherit a title/peerage comes into play as part of the plot. In Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep, Angelica Lovelace’s parents had run off to America, specifically the United States, to live because they married against the wishes of their families and were disowned. As the third son, Horace Lovelace never thought to inherit, but fate (especially in the hands of a writer) has a way to make his inheritance a reality, while staying within the law of the land at that time. For Lovelace, in determining whether he could inherit a peerage in England after living in the United States for more than twenty years, we must first consider that he and his wife were both born in England. However, the question would arrive as to whether they became American citizens by denouncing their English roots or perhaps by simply living in the States and “presenting” themselves in business and socially as an “American.” Moreover, if Lovelace can inherit, what happens to his son’s rights to the earldom when the boy comes of age? What laws would affect the Lovelace’s situation when he returns to England?
In The Earl Claims His Comfort, Book 2 of the Twins’ Trilogy, I present a different sort of “inheritance” question. The man in question was born in England, but was taken to live in Canada from the time he was a toddler until his mid twenties. Eventually, he is told that he is the rightful heir of the 15th Earl of Remmington. The man was English by birth, and Canada was a British province at the time. Would that make a difference?
What was the law about those born elsewhere during the Regency? If a person was born in England, would he automatically be a citizen and not an alien?
Before we address British law, let us first look at the U. S. laws. The U. S. Constitution contains the Title of Nobility Clause (Article I, Section 9, Clause 8). This clause prohibits the federal government from granting titles of nobility. It also restricts members of the government from receiving gifts, emoluments, offices or titles from foreign states without the consent of the United States Congress. The idea was to shield the young “republic” being created by the founders of the U.S. Also known as the Emoluments Clause, this piece of legislation was written to eliminate so-called “corrupting foreign influences.” A corresponding prohibition exists on state titles of nobility in Article I, Section 10, and is reinforced by the Republican Guarantee Clause in Article IV, Section 4. The Framers' intentions for this clause were twofold: to prevent a society of nobility from being established in the United States and to protect their republican form of government from being influenced by other governments. (Title of Nobility Clause)
Now for the English side of the issue. The British Empire came into existence between the 16th and 18th Centuries. During that time, The Crown’s dominion included not only those person within the United Kingdom, but also the British colonies and the self-governing dominions of Australia, Canada, Newfoundland, New Zealand, and South Africa. Children born in the dominions were British citizens, regardless of the status of their parents. Children born to visitors or foreigners acquired citizenship through Jus soli, meaning "right of the soil," commonly referred to as birthright citizenship, which is the right of anyone born in the territory of a state to citizenship. This reflects the rationale of natural-born citizenship: that citizenship was acquired because British-born subjects would have a ‘natural allegiance’ to the Crown as a ‘debt of gratitude’ to the Crown for protecting them through infancy. Therefore, citizenship by birth was perpetual and could not, through common law, be removed or revoked regardless of residency.
In opposition, a foreign-born resident was seen as being unable to revoke his relationship with his place of birth. Therefore, foreign-born individuals could not become citizens through any procedure or ceremony. Under common law, children born to those serving the British Crown as diplomats, etc., were the exception. The Status of Children Born Abroad Act 1350 (25 Edw. 3 Stat. 1) permitted children born abroad to two English parents to be English. The British Nationality Act 1772 (13 Geo. 3 c. 21) permitted natural-born allegiance if the father alone was British.
None of this permitted a “foreigner” born to non-British parents to become a British citizen. In such an instance, the person could, however, gain some rights of citizenship if he became ‘naturalised.’ This process would provide him all the legal rights of citizenship, except holding political office and the like. Naturalisation required an act of parliament, making it a legislative issue. He could also consider denization, which permitted the person all rights of citizenship except political rights. Denization was granted by the monarch, making it an executive issue, as royal prerogative through letters patent.
Denization was the customary manner by which foreign-born persons became British citizens. The subjects would swear an allegiance to the Crown. There were some naturalisation acts passed that aided the situation, but they would be some 20+ years later than the settings in the first two books of the trilogy. Naturalisation Acts were passed in 1844, 1847 and 1870. The 1870 act preserved the process of denization. However, by introducing administrative procedures for naturalising non-British subjects naturalisation became the preferred process. The 1870 legislation also introduced the concept of renunciation of British nationality, and provided for the first time that British women who married foreign men should lose their British nationality. This was a radical break from the common law doctrine that citizenship could not be removed, renounced, or revoked.
Are you still confused? If not, I would be surprised, for attempting to get the history correct in my books often has my head spinning. In the situation with Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep, as long as Horace Lovelace has not renounced his British citizenship, he is British and could inherit. His son, Carson, however, was born in the United States. The boy is only ten years of age in the book, and the issues could easily be addressed. Lovelace possesses important friends/associates that would have the King’s ear, if necessary. When the boy became of age, naturalisation or denization could be achieved. In The Earl Claims His Comfort, the hero encounters a man putting claims on the earldom. The man was born in England and has lived in Canada. By all rights, he is English and could be considered as a legitimate heir to replace the hero, Levison Davids’s title as the 17th Earl of Remmington.
Introducing The Earl Claims His Comfort: Book 2 in the Twins’ Trilogy, releasing September 16, 2017, from Black Opal Books
-a 2016 Hot Prospects finalist in Romantic Suspense
Hurrying home to Tegen Castle from the Continent to assume guardianship of a child not his, but one who holds his countenance, Levison Davids, Earl of Remmington, is shot and left to die upon the road leading to his manor house. The incident has Remmington chasing after a man who remains one step ahead and who claims a distinct similarity—a man who wishes to replace Remmington as the rightful earl. Rem must solve the mystery of how a stranger’s life parallels his, while protecting his title, the child, and the woman he loves.
Comfort Neville has escorted Deirdre Kavanaugh from Ireland to England, in hopes that the Earl of Remmington will prove a better guardian for the girl than did the child’s father. When she discovers the earl’s body upon a road backing the castle, it is she who nurses him to health. As the daughter of a minor son of an Irish baron, Comfort is impossibly removed from the earl’s sphere, but the man claims her affections. She will do anything for him, including confronting his enemies. When she is kidnapped as part of a plot for revenge against the earl, she must protect Rem’s life, while guarding her heart.
Angel Comes to the Devil’s Keep: Book 1 of the Twins’ Trilogy
-a 2017 Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense finalist
-a SOLA’s Eighth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Award finalist for Historical Romance
Huntington McLaughlin, the Marquess of Malvern, wakes in a farmhouse, after a head injury, being tended by an ethereal "angel," who claims to be his wife. However, reality is often deceptive, and Angelica Lovelace is far from innocent in Hunt's difficulties. Yet, there is something about the woman that calls to him as no other ever has. When she attends his mother's annual summer house party, their lives are intertwined in a series of mistaken identities, assaults, kidnappings, overlapping relations, and murders, which will either bring them together forever or tear them irretrievably apart. As Hunt attempts to right his world from problems caused by the head injury that has robbed him of parts of his memory, his best friend, the Earl of Remmington, makes it clear that he intends to claim Angelica as his wife. Hunt must decide whether to permit her to align herself with the earldom or claim the only woman who stirs his heart--and if he does the latter, can he still serve the dukedom with a hoydenish American heiress at his side?
Excerpt from Chapter 10
Meet Regina Jeffers
With 30+ books to her credit, Regina Jeffers is an award-winning author of historical cozy mysteries, Austenesque sequels and retellings, as well as Regency era-based romantic suspense. A teacher for 40 years, Jeffers often serves as a consultant for Language Arts and Media Literacy programs. With multiple degrees, Regina has been a Time Warner Star Teacher, Columbus (OH) Teacher of the Year, and a Martha Holden Jennings Scholar and a Smithsonian presenter.
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