The question of citizenship became an important issue early in the American colonial experience. The colonies needed settlers for military security, economic prosperity, and population growth. Since not enough English colonists were available to fulfill these demands, the colonies invited foreigners to do so. Many of these non-English settlers sought citizenship before leaving for America. Still others sought an English grant after their arrival. They could follow two main avenues to British citizenship–one was naturalization, the other denization. Initially, during the 17th century and first decade of the 18th century, French Huguenots accounted for the majority of non-English stock seeking citizenship. German colonists, however, surpassed their number thereafter. While Germans accounted for the largest number of alien colonists to gain British citizenship between 1607 and 1776, other settlers seeking citizenship were from Bohemia, Denmark, France, Greece, Italy, Jamaica, Luxembourg, Norway, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Switzerland.
Unfortunately, colonial denization and naturalization records can be difficult to find, since their location varies from one colony to another. They may be found at the local jurisdictional level as well as the colonial level, in court minutes, government records, deed books, legislative journals, statutes, private papers of proprietors such as William Penn, and land patents. Now, with this work by Lloyd Bockstruck, the task of locating information about those who were granted British naturalization or denization in the American colonies between 1607 and 1775 has become much less daunting! Bockstruck compiled this comprehensive register of denization and naturalization records from a large body of published literature, then expanded and improved on the information by examining original source material not previously available to scholars.
For the more than 13,000 persons listed in this invaluable work, some or all of the following information is given: place and date of naturalization or denization; names of spouse and children, as well as where or when they were naturalized or endenized; country of origin; religion; length of time in the colony; location of current residence; occupation; and any alternate names found in the records. Primary surnames are arranged alphabetically for easy reference, while a separate index itemizes spouses, children, and other parties mentioned in the records. Included also is an Appendix listing more than 1,000 naturalizations granted by the French in Quebec, most of which involved individuals from the English colonies.