The following definitions for “denizen” are taken from Ballantine’s Law Dictionary (3rd edition), Bouvier’s Law Dictionary (6th edition), Black’s Law Dictionary (2nd edition), and Webster’s Dictionary (1828):
One is a middle state between an alien and a natural-born citizen, and who, though subject to some of the disabilities of the former, is entitled to many of the privileges of the latter [3 Am J2d Aliens § 1].
An alien born, who has obtained, ex donatione legis, letters patent to make him an English subject
He is intermediate between a natural-born subject and an alien. He may take lands by purchase or devise, which an alien cannot, but he is incapable of taking by inheritance [1 Bl. Com. 374]. In the United States, there is no such civil condition.
In English law, a person who, being an alien born, has obtained, ex donatione regis, letters patent to make him an English subject – a high and incommunicable branch of the royal prerogative. A denizen is in a kind of middle state between an alien and a natural-born subject, and partakes of the status of both of these [1 Bl. Comm. 374; 7 Coke, 6].
The term is used to signify a person who, being an alien by birth, has obtained letters patent making him an English subject. The king may denize, but not naturalize, a man; the latter requiring the consent of parliament, as under the naturalization act, 1870 [33 & 34 Vict. c. 14]. A denizen holds a position midway between an alien and a natural-born or naturalized subject, being able to take lands by purchase or devise, (which an alien could not until 1870 do) but not able to take lands by descent (which a natural-born or naturalized subject may do) [Brown].
The word is also used in this sense in South Carolina [see McClenaghan v. McClenaghan, 1 Strob. Eq. (S. C.) 319, 47 Am. Dec. 532].
A denizen, in the primary, but not obsolete, sense of the word, is a natural-born subject of a country [Co. Litt. 129a].
In England, an alien who is made a subject by the kings letters patent, holding a middle state between an alien and a natural born subject. He may take land by purchase or devise, which an alien cannot; but he cannot take by inheritance.
A stranger admitted to residence and certain rights in a foreign country.
Ye gods, natives, or denizens, of blest abodes.
To make a denizen; to admit to residence with certain rights and privileges; to infranchise.