Stirling Council Archives holds a collection of alien registration cards from Stirlingshire Constabulary, 1916 – 1952.
Any individual who resided in the UK and did not meet the criteria to be considered a natural-born British subject was classified as an ‘alien’. The passing of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1914 meant that from 1915 ‘aliens’ were required to register with the police and carry an alien registration card. They were also required to report regularly to their local Police Station where any updates regarding their personal circumstances were noted on their registration card. The cards were held at the local Station.
The Act specifies that even British-born women would lose their British nationality if they married an ‘alien’. However, the same was not true for men. In fact, a foreign women marrying a British man could gain British nationality. At the time it was considered very unseemly for a British woman (living in any part of the Empire) to enter a mixed-race marriage and it was hoped that this legislation would deter women from doing so.
The registration card shown belonged to Catherine Ferguson who was born in Stirling in 1871. Despite being born in Britain she became regarded as an ‘alien’ because she immigrated to the USA and was naturalised in 1928 in Los Angeles. Catherine returned to the UK in 1936, working as a housekeeper. We learn all this from her card, in addition to her home address, marital status, government service, and we are also provided with her photo and signature. The cards provide a wealth of information and can be of great use to family historians.