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S U R N A M E S
Rules of Law affecting their Change.
COMMENTS ON THE CORRESPONDENCE OF THE LORD-LIEUTENANT OF
MONMOUTHSHIRE AND CERTAIN OFFICIALS RESPECTING
A CHANGE OF SURNAME.
BY THOMAS FALCONER, Esq.
SECOND EDITION, WITH ADDITIONS.
LITTLE PULTENEY STREET, HAYMARKET.
This Essay was written with the sole object of defending a very respected neighbour from a series of published attacks, of a most censurable character, directed against him on account of his having done a perfectly legal and innocent act.
The Second Part of it contains the Correspondence of Lord Llanover and others on account of Mr Herbert of Clytha having changed his Surname without a Royal License. Among these letters is one, inadvertently it is to be assumed, written by the direction of the Lord Chàncellor, which has given to the dispute more than a personal interest, and has occasioned this Question :namely-When the name of a gentleman is on the Com. mission of the Peace, and such gentleman legally assumes a new name, before a writ of Dedimus Potestatem is issued to administer to him the necessary oaths—can the Lord Chancellor refuse to recognise the change of name and impose conditions——such as the Sign Manual to a license to assume the name, accompanied with a condition making it void if not registered at the Herald's College, or any other similar condition-before a writ of Dedimus Potestatem issues ? Can the Lord Chancellor impose conditions which the law is not known to require when a change of name has been legally made ?
If a magistrate has taken the necessary oaths, and is an acting magistrate, the law does not prevent his assuming a new name. If he does assume a new name, it is his duty to notify the change to the Lord Chancellor. Can the Lord Chancellor refuse to notice the change ? There can be no disqualification on account of having done a legal act. Is it not obligatory on the Lord Chancellor unconditionally to recognise the change of name when it is made under circumstances which establish the legality of the change?
Usk, October, 1862
ON SURNAME S.
The law permits, and permitting, enables a man to change his Surname. The name which is assumed in the place of the original name, provided it be publicly assumed, bonâ fide or without fraud—becomes so soon as it is so assumed, the legal name. The law will promote the object of such a change of name when a succession to an estate is made conditional on the assumption of a new name, and it will also on other occasions recognise the new name as the true and legal name of the person assuming it publicly and bonâ fide, or without any fraudulent purpose. Some persons change their names for the purpose of fraud; but the law condemns all acts of fraud. If a name is honestly and publicly assumed, the change may be useful, or necessary, or fanciful, or meritorious, and it will be legal.
Lord Chief Justice Coke (1 Institute, p. 3) wrote thus : “Regularly it is requisite that a purchaser of land be niamed by the name of baptism and his Surname, and that especial heed be taken of the name of baptism, for that a man cannot have two names of baptism as he may
have divers Surnames :” meaning by “two names of baptism,” names apparently assumed as baptismal names when only such as were given at the time of baptism can be truly baptismal names. But this rule Lord Coke qualified in these