Reference: Forlong (1880) 7 R. 910

Court of Session ↗, 1st Division B.
15th June 1880

Before (the judges sitting on the bench)

Counsel (the barristers representing the parties)

  • Darling on behalf of Thomas Alexander George Forlong (the Petitioner)

Summary of the facts

Thomas Alexander George Forlong of South Erins, Argyllshire, presented this petition to the Court of Session for authority “to assume and bear the name of Thomas Alexander George Gordon,” and to ordain his petition and the Court’s deliverance thereon to be recorded in the books of sederunt.

Mr Forlong stated that he had succeeded through his mother, Mrs Crawford Gordon or Forlong, to considerable means and estate, and that by her settlement she had specially requested him to assume the name of “Gordon” instead of “Forlong” in remembrance of her.

The grounds on which he made the application to the Court were that he was possessed of heritable and other property acquired by him under the surname of “Forlong”, and that titles and other writs had been conceived in his favour under that name; that he had been appointed as trustee and executor under various deeds, and had been appointed a Commissioner of Supply ↗ for the county of Argyll, and had been married and had issue, and had registered the births of all his children under that name, and that accordingly he was desirous of obtaining the Court’s sanction and authority to carry out the said request, by assuming the name of “Gordon” instead of “Forlong,” so that no doubt of his identity or that of his children might thereafter arise, and that full effect might be given to titles, deeds, &c. conceived in his favour, and to his actings as Commissioner of Supply, trustee, &c. under the name he proposed to assume.


Lord President Inglis —

The petitioner here asks the Court to authorise the alteration of his name from Forlong to Gordon.  From the time I first read the petition I felt great doubt whether we have any proper jurisdiction in the matter.  The petitioner holds no office under the Crown, nor any public office.  The only reason why he desires to change his name is that the lady from whom he had derived considerable property expressed a wish that he should do so.  Now, very many people change their names on coming to successions, e.g., heirs of entail, and if we were to grant the prayer of this petition it might be to throw doubt on the present practice, and we might have all such heirs of entail bringing similar applications.

The petitioner said that there were many instances of our granting the authority craved.  But he only referred us to two precedents — the case of Sempill (A.S. 511, 30th June, 1757) which is more than 100 years old, and occurred at a time when the Court was much more disposed than now to extend its jurisdiction, and the case of Grant (10th July, 1841 [no report]) of more recent date, but with reference to which it does not appear what induced the Court to grant the application.

On the best consideration which I can give to the matter I think it would be unwise, if not absolutely beyond our power, to entertain this application.  The petitioner may, however, consider how far the Lyon King-at-Arms ↗ might be able to give him assistance.

Lord Deas, Lord Mure, and Lord Shand concurred.

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Orders of the court

Petition refused.