This blog follows on from my recent article in The Scotsman detailing the standard procedures in Scotland for changing your name, most commonly by way of Statutory Declaration. It provides an overview of ‘alternative’ yet equally important methods of changing your name, focusing on the historic role of the Court of the Lord Lyon in Scotland, as well as the English equivalent of the College of Arms.
What is the Court of the Lord Lyon?
The Court of the Lord Lyon is the heraldic authority for Scotland and is responsible for maintaining Scottish Heraldry and Coats of Arms. The office of Lyon King of Arms is steeped in history and dates back to the 14th century.
What is their role in name changing?
In Scotland, it is possible to petition the Court of the Lord Lyon for a change of name. This is a simple petition which is placed immediately before the Lord Lyon who authorises the preparation of the Certificate of Recognition of Change of Name. The fee at present is £255 and the whole process can be completed within a few days.
It is also possible for the Lord Lyon to recognise a change of name when a person is seeking to re-record armorial bearings. This could occur, for example, when a person is fulfilling the conditions of inheritance. As arms are inseparable from name if the son of a daughter, for instance, is to succeed his maternal grandfather in arms, he must change his name to do so.
Is there an English equivalent?
In England, it is possible to apply to the College of Arms to change your name by way of Royal License. This is an unusual way of changing your name in England and tends only to be required in limited circumstances, such as a clause in a Will requiring someone to change their name to that of the testator’s, in order to inherit a legacy.
A Royal License can only be used to change a surname and unfortunately there is no guarantee that the application will be successful. The Queen, as sovereign, may grant a license to allow a person who is one of her subjects to change their name. The Queen acts on the advice of the Home Secretary when making her decision.
Can I change my name by Act of Parliament?
An extremely unusual way of changing your name is by seeking a Private Act of Parliament. This has not been done since 1907 and was only necessary in exceptional circumstances. A list of Private Acts of Parliament used to change a name makes for some interesting reading.