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Colonial Naturalizations

Naturalization is a grant of the full legal rights and privileges of a native-born individual to a non-native foreigner. In England, in the American colonies, and in the United States, naturalizations have been granted by special legislative act, or by court proceedings authorized by legislation. The Pennsylvania State Archives maintains naturalization lists of the Supreme Court and the Courts of Nisi Prius for the years 1740-1773. These lists consist of names of those people who swore an oath of allegiance to the British Sovereign. Under British statute of 1740, an alien who had resided in a colony for at lest seven years could be naturalized by swearing an oath of allegiance before a local magistrate. (Immigrants from England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland were not considered aliens, because they were already subjects of the British crown.)