Notes and Articles for Law students

User Tools

Site Tools


Nemo patriam in qua natus est exuere nec ligeantias debitum ejurare possit

A man cannot abjure his native country, nor the allegiance he owes his Sovereign.

Under the feudal system every owner of lands held them of some superior lord, from whom or .from whose ancestors he had received them ; and there was a mutual trust subsisting between them, that the lord should protect the vassal in the enjoyment of the lands, and that the vassal should be faithful to defend the lord against his enemies. This obligation was called fealty, and an oath of fealty, similar to our ancient oath of allegiance, was taken from the vassal to the lord ; and from this has arisen what is now called allegiance. And it being a settled principle in this country that all lands are considered as being held of the sovereign as lord paramount, this allegiance which was once due and given to the lord as an acknowledgment for his protection of the vassal in the enjoyment of the land held of him, has been brought to signify that respect and obedience which is due from the subject to the sovereign in all engagements whatsoever necessary for the welfare of the country, though without reference to any actual territorial acquisition.

This allegiance, or allegiantia, or ligamen fidei, is the sworn allegiance or faith and obedience which every subject owes to his prince. It is said to be either perpetual, as when by birth or naturalisation ; or temporary, by reason of residence within the dominions of the sovereign. To a subject bom, it is inseparably incident on birth, and follows him whithersoever he goes. It gives to him, in his own country and amongst foreign nations, many privileges, both civil and criminal, in times of peace and war, which are denied to an alienus, or one born out of the allegiance of the sovereign, at the same time that it binds him to a strict observance of the laws of his country.

The rule of law is said to be universal, that the natural-born subject of one prince cannot, by any act of his own, or by any authority less than that of the ruling power of his own country, free himself from his natural allegiance. Nor does the swearing allegiance to a foreign power in any way prejudice the right of the prince to the allegiance due from a natural-born subject, who remains liable to his obligations as such, notwithstanding that by his connection with other powers he may have forfeited his natural rights. Allegiance is the duty the subject owes to the Government of the country in which he was born for the protection afforded to him and his property by that Government ; and, for the like reason, it is due from foreigners also during their temporary sojourn in a foreign country. Every offence, also, affecting the sovereign in his royal person, crown, or dignity, is in some degree a breach of this allegiance ; as, for instance, treason.

The sovereign is entitled to the allegiance of all his subjects, and those who accept any office or employment under the crown in this country, are required to take the oaths of allegiance.

The importance of the bond of allegiance or ligamen, which binds the subject to his native country, may be understood by observing, that wherever the subject goes he carries with him that allegiance ; so that, were he to take possession by his power, or with the assistance of others, of some foreign territory, his possession would be that of the sovereign of his native country, and the territory would be that of his country also ; and of this several instances are on record in the history of this and other nations.

1 Inst. 2, 329 ; 2 Inst. 741 ; 7 Co. 1, 5 ; 1, 2, & 4 Bla. Com. ; Co. Litt. 65, 121) ; Albretoh v. Sussman, 2 Ves. & B. 323 ; Fitch v. Weber, 12 Jur. 76 ; Sutton v. Sutton, 1 Russ. & My. 663 ; Barrick v. Buda, 16 C. B. 493 ; Craw v. Ramsay, Vaugh. R. 279 ; Doe v. Jones, 5 T. E. 1 ; Doe dem. Thomas v. Acklam, 4 D. & R. 394 ; Rittson v. Stordy, 3 Smale & Giff. 230 ; Doe dem. Stansbury v. Arkwright, 5 Car. & P. 575 ; Barrow v. Wadkin, 27 L. J. 129, Ch. ; Doe dem. Auehmuty v. Muleaster, 5 B. & C. 771.

Navigation: Home»Legal Maxims