It allowed non-British subjects to apply for naturalisation as citizens, with the same rights as people born in British territories. Especially important was the provision for children of a naturalised subject to inherit real estate in Tasmania.
Naturalisation was automatically granted to women if their husband took the oath, or if they married a natural-born British subject.
The Chinese Immigration Act, 1887 was a discriminatory law to discourage Chinese people from living and working in Tasmania. It levied heavy ‘poll taxes’ on their entry to the colony (ten pounds each) and limited the number that could travel in a single ship – “one Chinese to every Hundred tons of the tonnage of such vessel”. They were exempt from the poll tax if they were naturalised, which accounts for the much higher rate of naturalisation among migrants from China than from any other country.
As with denization, applicants had to petition the Governor and state their:
- number of years lived in the colony
- ‘all other grounds on which he seeks to obtain the rights and capacities of a natural-born British Subject within the Colony’.
The Governor assessed each case and granted a Certificate of Naturalisation. Applicants for Naturalisation had 60 days in which to take their oath.
Oath of allegiance under the Aliens Act 1861:
” I, A.B., do sincerely promise and swear that I will be faithful and bear true Allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Victoria, as lawful Sovereign of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, and of this Colony, dependent on and belonging to the said United Kingdom ; and that I will defend Her to the utmost of my power against all traitorous conspiracies and attempts whatsoever which shall be made against Her Person, Crown, and Dignity ; and that I will do my utmost endeavour to disclose and make known to Her Majesty, Her Heirs, and Successors, all treasons and traitorous conspiracies and attempts which I shall know to be against Her, or any of them : and all this I do swear without any equivocation, mental evasion, or secret reservation, and renouncing all pardons and dispensations from any person or persons whatever to the contrary. SO HELP ME GOD !”