Did you know that until the 17th century the Monarch had the prerogative right to control the movement of his subjects overseas and, because of that, passport applications were rarely made?
During the 18th and 19th centuries, passports were issued more frequently and in 1846 regulations relating to applications for passports were finally created.
During this period passports were issued to British-born subjects for a single journey and could be used for any subsequent journey with the condition that the passport was countersigned afresh by a Minister or Consul in the country of which the holder intended to visit.
The entries provide details of:
•The bearer of the passport
•The date the passport was issued
•Any observations that may have been noted during the application
It is estimated that around 360,000 applications are recorded between 1851 and 1903. If you have found a gap in your ancestors’ trail, it may be worth checking if they were overseas during that period.