Tuesday, 25 January 2011

change your name

This blog entry is off-topic though related to my blog on Alexander John Ellis. In that blog on Ellis I wrote that he had exchanged his last name Sharpe for Ellis, his mother's maiden name.
I quote from the National Archives at www.nationalarchives.gov.uk:
Despite what people generally think, it has always been possible to change your name without having to register the change with any official body. It is still perfectly legal for anyone over the age of 16 to start using a new name at any time, as long as they are not doing so for a fraudulent or illegal reason. 
Some of these changes were made or had to be made more official (e.g. if two parties were involved in it). In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries Royal licences to a change of name were particularly common. Many of these licences were published in The London Gazette.

There I found the licence granted to Alexander John Sharpe to call himself and be called Alexander John Ellis. It's in Gazette number 18197 of the 24th of November, 1825. Here is the extract:

A change of your name may, at times, put you in the position of living unhampered by pecuniary sorrows. Mmh ... I guess I've got the wrong name. Any generous offers out there?


  1. When a person wishing to change their name signs their
    Deed Poll document they must do so in the presence of a witness
    who must:
    Require everybody to address them only by their new name
    Be at least 18 years old
    Live at a different address
    Be known to the person but be independent of them,
    therefore not a family member
    Have the ability to speak, read, and understand English.

    Although there is no law in the United Kingdom that prevents one
    from calling oneself by whatever title one likes,
    an order for a Deed Poll that includes a first name
    that may result in others believing you have a conferred
    or inherited honour, title or rank will not be accepted.
    This is because of the obvious deception such a first name
    will cause to the general public.
    Therefore, applications for a new first name
    such as Sir, Lord, Lady, Baron, Baroness,
    Count, Earl, Countess, Duke, Duchess,
    Colonel etc will not be accepted.

  2. @Limey:

    Did not Screaming Lord Sutch stand as a candidate in many elections? Was his "Lord" not a problem?

  3. I'm not a solicitor, but Deed Polls are unlike Royal Licences. Here is what www.nationalarchives.gov.uk says on Deed Polls: "A deed poll is a legal contract involving only one party. Changes of name by deed poll were (and are) made before a solicitor who issues the document to the person changing their name. The solicitor may keep a copy on file, but it is unlikely to be a certified copy, and the file is unlikely to be kept for more than five years."
    Another way to have had one's name changed was by a private Act of Parliament.

  4. @vp There can be little doubt that official permission to stand for election was accorded to David Edward Sutch whatever he may have billed himself as in his election campains.