I believe that one of my ancestors may have moved to Britain around the turn of the 19th century from a British colony, possibly the West Indies or the US, and landed in Liverpool.

From some surface level research, it would seem that immigration records were kept for Aliens, I.E. people born outside of the Empire, but citizens of the Empire were considered British and thus not aliens, even if they were not born in Britain.

Were any records kept of "non aliens" that moved here, and if so where are they available?

  • I don't know of any records of the type requested - ie about "Empire" citizens - but would suggest shipping / passenger lists might give a snapshot of arrival, if that helps. Though incoming passenger lists are only available for certain periods. (Not sure what "turn of the 19th century" means to the poster - 1800s turning into 1900s? Or 1700s turning into 1800s?)
    – AdrianB38
    Feb 28 '20 at 10:04
  • To clarify, 1700s turning into 1800s
    – Charlie
    Feb 28 '20 at 10:59
  • 1
    That time period is too early for the keeping of passenger lists by the government. That doesn't mean that there aren't surviving passenger lists from then - I think that some documentation survives for East India Company ships - but they were confined to the UK / India / East Indies routes. TNA Research Guide nationalarchives.gov.uk/help-with-your-research/research-guides/… might help for aliens but that's probably not what we're talking about. Re USA - remember that wasn't in the "Empire" by this point though people born there before 1776 might be considered British?
    – AdrianB38
    Feb 28 '20 at 11:47
  • @AdrianB38 this is what I'm not sure about. I believe that some American Loyalists were offered the opportunity to resettle in Britain after the Revolutionary War, and thus may still have counted as British rather than Alien as they were technically born in the Empire.
    – Charlie
    Feb 28 '20 at 12:02
  • My ancestor was born circa 1778 though so may have counted as an alien by this point. If he came from the West Indies though, this was still in the Empire until the last century.
    – Charlie
    Feb 28 '20 at 12:03

Someone born in a British colony in the 19th century was regarded as British and so did not require any permission to enter the UK. That remained the law until colonies gained their independence in the 20th century.

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