Denizen in English law, an alien born who has received by letters patent from the king certain privileges belonging to natural born subjects. Thus he may take lands by purchase or devise, but not by descent. In American law there is no middle class of this kind between aliens and citizens, unless we may designate as such those who have declared an intention to become citizens, but have not become fully naturalized. In some of the states, by statute, such persons are allowed to take and convey real estate, the difference between them and aliens being that, although the latter can take real estate and hold it until some proceeding is taken by public authority to divest the title, commonly called office-found (i. e., an inquest by official action), yet upon such proceeding being had, the land would escheat to the state although the alien should have conveyed to another. Another signification is sometimes attached to the term, in a more popular sense, though it is also to be found in some law writers, viz., a resident.
This meaning is not wholly inconsistent with the other, as it may at an early period, when the doctrine of citizenship was not well settled, have been understood of the children of aliens born in England. By the present law of that country such children are recognized as subjects, except in certain cases, as the children of persons representing or in the service of foreign governments who are temporarily in England. The same rule is recognized in the United States, and as a consequence it was thought necessary to provide by law that the children of Americans born abroad should be held to be American citizens.