Am I british subject?

by Em


If you were born in 1959 before Jamaica got independence, would you be a British subject?

ANSWER: by Wellesley October 12, 2010

Hi Em,

Great question! I've done a bit a research for you and it looks like the answer is No (technically), but still Yes. Why? Continue reading...

First, for the benefit of everyone else, there is a distinction between a British citizen and a British subject.

I learned that 'prior to 1949, every person born within the dominions and allegiance of the British Crown (and no other) was a British subject under common law.

This meant that to be a British subject, one simply had to be born in any territory (like Jamaica was) under the sovereignty of the British Crown'.

The only exception at common law was that the children of foreign ambassadors took the nationality of their fathers, who were immune from local jurisdiction and duties of allegiance.

However, from 1 January 1949, when the British Nationality Act 1948 came into force, every person who was a British subject by virtue of a connection with the United Kingdom or one of her crown colonies (i.e. not the Dominions) became a Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies.

However, UK & Colonies citizens, in common with citizens of other Commonwealth countries, also retained the status of British subject. The status of British subject was also known by the term Commonwealth citizen. Of course, you and I know that Jamaica became independent in 1962.

So technically if the person was born in 1959, it looks like the person would be (correctly) called a Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies, but as was said above, many colony retained the term 'British Subject'.

Note that after 1 January 1983, upon the coming into force of the British Nationality Act 1981, every Citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies became either a British Citizen, British Dependent Territories Citizen or British Overseas Citizen.

Here's the full article with all the details.

I hope that helps!

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