Information that may prove helpful in understanding the process of Naturalization in the late 18th-19th century, can be found by following one of the links below.

{Naturalization Process} | National Archives Website {Link}


Naturalization is the process by which an alien becomes an American citizen. It is a voluntary act; naturalization is not required.

General Rule: The Two-Step Process

Congress passed the first law regulating naturalization in1790 (1 Stat. 103). As a general rule, naturalization was a two-step process that took a minimum of 5 years. After residing in the United States for 2 years, an alien could file a "declaration of intent" (so-called "first papers") to become a citizen. After 3 additional years, the alien could "petition for naturalization." After the petition was granted, a certificate of citizenship was issued to the alien. (These two steps did not have to take place in the same court.)

Exceptions to the General Rule:

Having stated this "two-step, 5-year" general rule, it is necessary to note several exceptions.
ball The first major exception was that "derivative" citizenship was granted to wives and minor children of naturalized men. From 1790 to 1922, wives of naturalized men automatically became citizens. This also meant that an alien woman who married a U.S. citizen automatically became a citizen. (Conversely, an American woman who married an alien lost her U.S. citizenship, even if she never left the United States.) From 1790 to 1940, children under the age of 21 automatically became naturalized citizens upon the naturalization of their father. Unfortunately, however, names and biographical information about wives and children are rarely included in declarations or petitions filed before September 1906.
ball The second major exception to the general rule was that, from 1824 to 1906, minor aliens who had lived in the United States 5 years before their 23rd birthday, could file both their declarations and petitions at the same time.
ball The third major exception to the general rule was the special consideration given to veterans. An 1862 law allowed honorably discharged Army veterans of any war to petition for naturalization -- without previously having filed a declaration of intent -- after only 1 year of residence in the United States.

Step One: Declarations of Intent

As of 29 Feb 2012 – We have not located this document
ball As a general rule, the "declaration of intent" generally contains more genealogically useful information than the "petition." The "declaration" may include the alien's month and year (or possibly the exact date) of immigration into the United States.

Step Two: Petition for Naturalization

We have located the filed Petition in the New York, Superior Court, Naturalization records
ball New York, Courts (New York County), Naturalization records, 1792-1906 – Index
Family History Library Call # 1,002,356 {JPG 27 kb}
Ancestry {Link} | Front {JPG 108 kb} | Back {JPG 85 kb}
ball Family Name: McLaren
ball Given Name or Names: James
ball Title and Location of Court : Superior Court, New York County.
ball Date of Naturalization: OCT.14,1868
ball Volume or Bundle No: 213
ball Page No:
ball Copy of Record No: 435
ball Address of Naturalized Person: 169 WILLIAMS ST. CITY OF N.Y.
ball Occupation:
ball Birth Date or Age:
ball Former Nationality: Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Ireland.
ball Port of Arrival in the United States:
ball Date of Arrival:
ball Witness To Naturalization: SAMUEL FIELDS, 102 AVE C.
ball New York, Superior Court – 1868 - Bundle 213, Records 354-534 – Petition
Family History Library Call # 0,984,425
Cover {JPG 120 kb} | Document {JPG 2,146 kb}
Online view of this has not been found at FamilySearch or Ancestry.
ball IN THE MATTER OF James McLaren On his application to become a Citizen of the United States. Miner.
ball Filed and Sworn in open Court, Oct. 14th 1868
ball Witness To Naturalization: SAMUEL FIELDS, 102 AVE C.
ball Address of Naturalized Person: 169 WILLIAMS ST. CITY OF N.Y.
ball NO! Parents, or Birth Date Mentioned.

Step Three: Issuing of Certificate

Keith McLaren had the original “Certificate of Citizenship” that James carried with him while he was alive or at least had a photo copy of it. While the current location of this document is unknown, we have a photo copy.
ball Certificate that was in his posession {JPG 42 kb}