Citizenship issues

Dear Mrs Macaulay,

I am a British national, married to a Jamaican, and currently own property here in Jamaica. I am trying to obtain my Jamaican citizenship through my grandfather. He has died, and lived in the United Kingdom (UK) for the majority of his adult life. I have his birth certificate but no passport as this was lost many years ago.

The problem I have is, in England he used his father's name, but his birth certificate is in his mother's name. On his marriage certificate to my grandmother, who is English, his name is listed as his mother's name and "otherwise known as" his father's name. I assumed I had provided enough evidence to show the link from him to myself, but the Passport, Immigration & Citizenship Agency (PICA) says without his Jamaican passport or school records showing him using his father's name, the application cannot progress. He was born in 1926, so do you think I have any chance of finding his records at his school? I know the street and area where he lived in Jamaica, but not the school. Any help you can offer would be most helpful.

Your problem is not surprising, as your grandfather chose to ignore his name in his birth certificate, that is, his mother's surname. I wonder what name he had on his passport when he travelled to the UK. You cannot say of course as you state that his passport was lost many years ago.

Yet you also state that on his marriage certificate he used his mother's surname, which was his real and birth surname as appears on his birth certificate. Entering an "otherwise known as" surname as his father's surname, means that he certainly did not intend to make things easy for anyone.

I certainly understand PICA's decision. I am sure that you can also, if you think carefully about it. I'm assuming you were given your paternal grandfather's surname, which your father decided to use without even doing a deed poll to make legal his change from his legal surname to his father's. In fact, his father's entry on his marriage certificate would only be an alias, and not a legal legitimate surname.

As you do not know the name of the school he attended in Jamaica, I cannot possibly give you any assistance to find and identify his school, especially as he was born in 1926. The only thing that I can suggest to you is that you either try to find a close family member of his who knows about his use of his father's surname despite his registered surname in his birth records and certificate as bearing his mother's surname; who can do a statutory declaration to declare (as it is a sworn document before a Justice of the Peace in Jamaica or Notary Public in the UK) that he was so and so born of his mother on such date, in such a place, but that he married your grandmother in the UK in his said name but inserted on his marriage certificate that he was otherwise known as so and so, and from then on went on using his father surname as his name and for all purposes of his identity. They must also know the facts of your birth to state that you were born of the child of himself and your grandmother, and the date of your birth, and your name on your birth certificate as you used it thereafter. They must be able to swear that he was one and the same person named by his mother's surname and also using his father's surname.

If you do not have anyone who knows and can swear to such facts, then the only thing I can suggest is that you would have to engage the services of an investigating agent to find his school and his school records and send them to you.

You have not stated when he went to the UK or whether you tried to trace his passport application records before he left Jamaica. This is something you can also ask the investigator to try to obtain for you.

I am afraid these are the only suggestions I can give to you on the paucity of facts given in your letter.

I would have suggested an application to the Family or Supreme Court for a declaration of paternity, but you would need your parents' active participation. But you have not even mentioned your parents and such an application must be supported by clear evidence which is why I cannot suggest this to you.

I wish you all the very best and hope you succeed in having the information obtained by an investigator, which you can then use.

Margarette May Macaulay is an attorney-at-law, Supreme Court mediator, notary public, and women's and children's rights advocate. Send questions via e-mail to; or write to All Woman, 40-42 1/2 Beechwood Avenue, Kingston 5. All responses are published. Mrs Macaulay cannot provide personal responses.


The contents of this article are for informational purposes only and must not be relied upon as an alternative to legal advice from your own attorney.

Margarette Macaulay

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