"Naturalization" is an often-used term in early American history! We define it here to mean the process by which someone born outside of the British empire was made a British subject. After the Revolution, it means American citizenship for foreign-born residents. In general, it refers to a "foreigner!" The term has been defined further by the New York State Arhives.

In 1664, a number of New Netherlanders swore allegiance to England. Among this group was surgeon Abraham Staats, patroon Jeremias Van Rensselaer, and his brother Richard.

In its early Albany context, the term "naturalization" relates to those men and widows who were not born in New York colony or its Dutch predecessor. "Freemanship" or "Freedom of the city" is a more specific designation bestowed on those born within the city of Albany or else "licensed" to conduct business in the city. "Freeholders" were those adult men who owned property (mostly real estate) within the boundaries of Albany. The "Burghers & Freemen" of New York City are listed online.

Between 1715 and 1717 and afterwards as well, the royal government of New York "naturalized" its foreign-bon residents. This was designed to make British subjects of the large number of recently-arrived German Palantine emigres. Scots and Scots-Irish newcomers were British subjects by birth! Included in this large group were a number of aged New Netherland-ancestry residents of Albany including Dirck Wesselse Ten Broeck, Jan Lansing, old Omie La Grange, the widow Isabella Lydius and her daughters, and Dominie Petrus Van Driessen. We believe that they had been born in continental Europe. In 1716, naturalizations were performed before the Albany city council.

After the Seven Years War, the British (through the province of New York) naturalized additional groups of newcomers. These were mostly Germans and French immigrants. Albany residents included John James Abbott, Peter Young.

Follow this link to more information on naturalization. This page is in-progress and will be further articulated!


The most comprehensive printed resource is: Denizations, Naturalizations and Oaths of Allegiance in Colonial New York published in 1975 (compilers were Kenneth Scott and Kenn Stryker-Rodda). The New York State Archives and the New York State Library have produced a useful resources on the subject!

The oath of 1664 is printed in NYCD, 3:74-77 and indexed indexed online.

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posted: 7/20/02; last updated 1/19/12