HC Deb 18 May 1849 vol 105 cc666-7

wished to ask the noble Lord the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, whether he would lay on the table of the House the copy of a letter of the 22nd November, 1848, addressed by Under Secretary Lord Eddisbury to Mrs. Castellari, stating that an Englishwoman by her marriage with a foreigner adopts the nationality of her husband, and even after widowhood loses all claim by light to the assistance of Her Majesty's Consul in the place where her husband died, in recovering or ascertaining the state of his property there? And whether he would also lay on the table the instructions which determine the conduct of Her Majesty's Consuls in such cases? He also wished the noble to state whether he had any objection to lay on the table a letter from a Mr. Paget to Lord Ponsonby, with respect to grievances sustained by his wife, Mrs. Paget, she being a Hungarian, and not naturalised?


had no objection to lay the letters on the table of the House. The subject had been fully considered, and had been brought before the Consul, and it had been decided that there was no right, according to usage and practice, on the part of the British Consul, to take any cognisance of the property of the individual in the case alluded to. Instructions had been sent to communicate that fact to the widow, and that the British Government had no right to interfere in the matter, as her claim must fall under the cognisance of the court of the country of which her husband was a native. With regard to the second case, that of Mr. Paget, he would look and see if there was any such letter in his office, and, if there was, he should have no objection to produce it. But that case was essentially very different to the one previously referred to by the hon. and learned Member. A British lady, who married a foreigner, lost, in a foreign country, her nationality. She followed the nationality of her husband. But in this case it was an Austrian subject who had married a British husband, and it was in the Austrian dominions that the question arose. Her marrying a British subject could not, while she remained in her own natural allegiance, divest her of the character which she acquired by birth. The general doctrine, that if a lady of one country married the subject of another, she followed the nationality of her husband, was laid down by the legal advisers of the Crown; and it was a doctrine which in the abstract was most reasonable.