British Citizen by Act of Parliament: George Frideric Handel

Handel, line engraving

14 April 2009 is the 250th anniversary of Handel's death. Handel House Museum is planning a number of special events and projects as well as a new exhibition in commemoration.  Find out more on their Handel 2009 web pages.

Further information on Handel may be found at the Handel House Museum in Brook St, London.

Handel 2009 Logo, colour

Until 1844 a foreign-born resident could only become a British citizen by means of an Act of Parliament.  This process was known as naturalisation and required individuals to take the oaths of supremacy and allegiance.  From 1609 the individual concerned had to produce a certificate testifying that Holy Communion according to Anglican rites had been received. 

Handel, line engraving, W. Bromley after T. Hudson, 1756 (c) Handel House Collections Trust.
Certificates (HL/PO/JO/10/1/520)
HL/PO/JO/10/1/520

Early certificates were usually handwritten but these examples from the Naturalisation Act for Legge and 104 others, Apr. 1699, were printed.

           


One such individual was the composer George Frideric Handel who was born in Halle, Saxonia, in 1685.  In 1723 Handel was appointed ‘Composer of Musick for his Majesty’s Chappel Royal’ and moved into a house in Lower Brook Street, London,  where he lived until his death in 1759.  This is now the Handel House Museum.

Handel’s works include Music for the Royal Fireworks, composed in 1749.

On 13th February 1727 a petition from Handel for naturalisation was laid before the House of Lords.  The petition was successfully referred to a committee and the Bill by which he became a British citizen received royal assent from King George I a few days later.

The progress of Handel's naturalisation can be followed through the records of the House of Lords. The following extracts record dates in the Old Style form.

House of Lords MS Journal 13 Feb. 1727 (HL/PO/JO/1/79)House of Lords MS Journal 14 Feb 1727 (HL/PO/JO/1/79)Committee Book 17 Feb. 1727 (HL/PO/CO/1/9)

The final Act was passed on 20th Febrary 1727, as can be seen in this extract from the printed Lords Journals.

(HL/PO/JO/2/23 p.44)Signature of Handel courtesy of Handel House MuseumBack to Learning Resources
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