Graphic by Victoria  2011

South Carolina Naturalization and Citizenship Records
by Victoria Proctor


1600s - 1776
It wasn't until 1740 that England's Parliament passed a law setting forth requirements for naturalization in it's colonies: 7 years' residence and an oath of allegiance to the British Crown. Prior to that time, immigrants to South Carolina were often from the British Isles and therefore already citizens. Those from other nations, the French Huguenots for example, were not required to become British citizens but sometimes chose to officially petition for citizenship.

Petition for Naturalization by French Huguenots - 1696

All those who supported the Revolution were automatically considered citizens of South Carolina. In 1788, the Articles of Confederation made all citizens of all states citizens of the new nation. In 1790, Congress enacted a naturalization act which required: one year's residence in the state, two year's residence in the U.S., and a loyalty oath to be sworn in a court.

By 1802 naturalization laws had settled upon five years' residence and a declaration of intent to be filed three years before taking an oath.

Laurens District, South Carolina Petitions for Naturalization - BOYD Surname (predominantly Irish, on Clan Boyd web site)

In 1906 the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization was set up and naturalization records from October of that year will be found via this agency.

Naturalization records usually list the petitioner's date of birth, sometimes just the year and their age. An immigrant could apply for naturalization at any state supreme, superior, district, or circuit court, or at any federal circuit or district court.

Most naturalization records for the period before 1906 have been microfilmed by the LDS church and the films may be rented through the LDS Family History Centers. Many have been indexed or transcribed for publication and are available at local and regional libraries.


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