Barlow v Bateman

Reference: Barlow v Bateman (1730) 3 P.Wms 65

24 Eng. Rep. 971 2 Ab. Ca. Eq. 214

Court of Chancery
13th July, 1730

Trinity Term
Appealed in the House of Lords
— see Barlow v Bateman (1735)

Before (the judges sitting on the bench)

The parties to the case

  • Charles Barlow (the Plaintiff)
  • Robert Bateman, otherwise Barlow (the Defendant)

Summary of the facts

Mr George Barlow, of Wales, gave an additional legacy of £ 1000 to his daughter, Mary Barlow, upon condition that she married a man who bore the name and arms of Barlow; and in case the daughter married one who should not bear the name and arms of Barlow, then the testator devised the £ 1000 to the plaintiff.  The daughter married the defendant, whose name was Bateman; but about three weeks before the marriage he called himself Barlow; and it was said, that it was usual to have an act of Parliament to take a new name, which had not been done in the principal case.  Besides, it was the intention of the testator, that the person who should marry his daughter, and be entitled to this additional legacy, should be one of his family, and have originally borne that name; whereas the defendant was of a family much inferior, and would, in all probability, as soon as he should have received the legacy, take again his true name of Bateman; wherefore the plaintiff claimed the £ 1000.


Sir Joseph Jekyll —

The plaintiff would entitle himself to this legacy as a devise over, on a supposition that the daughter has forfeited it: but I am of opinion, that the condition is complied with, by the defendant’s taking the name of Barlow.  Surnames are not of very great antiquity; for in ancient times the appellation of persons were by their Christian names, and the places of their habitation; as Thomas of Dale, (viz) the place where he lived.  I am satisfied the usage of passing acts of Parliament for the taking upon one a surname is but modern; and that any one may take upon him what surname, and as many surnames as he pleases, without an act of Parliament.

Whereupon, though the plaintiff’s counsel desired the court would direct, that the defendant should ever after retain the surname of Barlow, from an apprehension that he would, when he should have received the legacy, resume his old name of Bateman; yet Sir Joseph Jekyll refused to make any such decree.

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Orders of the court

Order accordingly.